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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Computer Systems
Module Code CA103
School School of Computing
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Monica Ward
Semester 2: Monica Ward
Autumn: Monica Ward
Module TeachersMonica Ward
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

To instill a basic knowledge of how computers and their peripherals work and to develop this understanding by focusing on the architecture of a particular microprocessor.

Learning Outcomes

1. State the components of a standard computer system (CPU, Motherboard, Memory, Peripheral Bus, etc) and describe their function.
2. Understand computer specifications, and make an informed decision as to what constitutes “value for money”.
3. Draw labeled diagrams of standard computer systems and summarise the operation of the system.
4. Understand how various peripherals (e.g. hard disk, DVD drive) work.
5. Understand how the hardware of the Internet works.
6. Understand binary data representations.
7. Understand how computers do simple arithmetic.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture24No Description
Independent Study101No Description
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Number Systems
The binary system. Hex, Octal. Conversions between number systems. Bits, bytes and words.

Overview of the architecture of a computer
The CPU, Bus and Memory subsystems. Multi-core processors. Looking at a motherboard and identifying the subsystems.

Boolean Logic
Elementary logic AND, OR, NOT and XOR and their application. Karnaugh maps and how to build a seven segment display counter from logic gates using Boolean algebra. Flip-flops and storage of bits.

Basic Computer Arithmetic
Simple binary arithmetic circuits. How Logic implements a half adder and a full adder. Representation of whole numbers, floating-point numbers, alphanumerics and special data on a computer. 2 s complement arithmetic. Multiplication and division. Signed and unsigned arithmetic.

ALU, Registers, Status flags.

The computer memory hierarchy – registers, cache, main memory and the hard disk. The stack.

Major Computer Peripherals
Input/Output. Hard disks, DVD drives and how they work. USB ports – how they work. Connecting to the Internet – elementary data communications.

Understanding Computer specifications.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Short Answer QuestionsTake Home Exam10%Week 2
Loop QuizQuiz15%Week 3
Short Answer QuestionsTake Home Exam15%Week 5
Loop QuizQuiz15%Week 7
Short Answer QuestionsTake Home Exam15%Week 8
Loop QuizQuiz15%Week 9
Short Answer QuestionsTake Home Exam15%Week 10
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Stokes: 2006, Inside the Machine: An Illustrated Introduction to Microprocessors and Computer Architecture, No Starch Press,
  • Tanenbaum: 2005, Structured Computer Organisation, 5, PrenticeHall,
  • Maxfield and Brown: 2005, The Definitive Guide to how computers do Math, WileyBlackwell,
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
COMSCIBSc in Computer Science
DSBSc in Data Science
Date of Last Revision02-NOV-10

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