COMP47550 How Computers Work

Academic Year 2019/2020

In order to teach Computer Science at second level teachers require an in-depth understanding of how computers work. In the modern world of Cloud Computing this extends beyond the software and hardware in a laptop, to cover networks, servers and virtualisation.

The course will give a general overview of the basic elements and functional components of computing systems. The material to be covered divides into three parts, foundations of computing at the CPU level, network computing and the Web and scalability and cloud computing. The introduction to the foundation of computing and the CPU will cover Boolean algebra, the operation of a CPU and memory and storage. The section on networking and the Web will introduce the key concepts in network computing and Web services. The final section will cover large scale computing and the concepts underlying cloud computing.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completing the module the student should understand the following:1. CPU and Peripherals- The fundamentals of the Boolean algebra and basic digital arithmetic.- The operation of a central processing unit (CPU), performance metrics.- Memory hierarchy: primary memory, cache memory, secondary memory- Data storage, RAID the move to SSDs. 2. Modern Web Services Architectures - Basic ideas in Network Computing- Fault Tolerance and Scalability- Vertical vs Horizontal Scalability- Load Balancing- Caching / Distributed Caching- Data Partitioning, Master-Slave DB Replication, Sharding3. Scalability and Moving to the Cloud- Multiprocessing, parallelisation- Cluster computing- Virtualization- Elastic Compute Services (Amazon EC2)

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Teaching and learning approaches will include active/task-based learning; peer and group work; lectures; critical writing; reflective learning; lab work; enquiry & problem-based learning; case-based learning; student presentations, etc. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.  
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Coursework Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Examination: Closed-book written exam Varies over the Trimester No Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback for CA will be individual, post-assessment. Online automated feedback may also be used depending on the trimester.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.  

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