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Module Specifications

Archived Version 2021 - 2022

Module Title
Module Code

Online Module Resources

NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

This course provides a programmer's view of how computer systems execute programs, store information, and communicate. It enables students to become more effective programmers, especially in dealing with issues of performance, portability and robustness. It also serves as a foundation for courses on compilers, networks, operating systems, and computer architecture, where a deeper understanding of systems-level issues is required.

Learning Outcomes

1. Apply problem-solving tecniques to writing well-structured programs in the C programming language.
2. Recognise the relationship between programs expressed in C and in assembly code, including the implementation of expressions, control, procedures, and data structures.
3. Demonstrate ability to understand basic intention of a program through its binary representation and apply these skills to debugging programs.
4. Investigate the programmer’s interaction with the underlying system through the different APIs and abstractions.
5. Analyse the consequences of imperfect system usage, such as poor memory and CPU performance, crashes, and security vulnerabilities.
6. Apply analytical abilities to create reliable and efficient programs exercising the different components of a modern computing system.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture24No Description
Laboratory22Practical programming session
Assignment Completion25Programming assignment
Independent Study54Students to practice skills acquired in lectures and labs and to carry out research and reading around the topic.
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

Introduction to C Language Syntax
Variable Declarations. Numeric Representations. Iteration and Control Flow. Functions (including parameters and return types. Arrays.

Machine-Level Representation of Programs
A historical perspective. Program Encodings. Data Formats. Arithmetic and Logic Operations. Control Procedures. Representation of Arrays. Representation of other datastructures.

Memory Management
Memory Models. Basic Arrays Pointers (near and far ) dynamic Memory Allocation Garbage Collection.

Input and Output
Basic I/O in the Unix Operating System File I/O. Opening and closing files. Reading and writing files. Reading file metadata. Reading directory contents. Sharing files. I/O redirection.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment% Examination Weight%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reassessment Requirement
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
Indicative Reading List

  • Bryant & O’Hallaron: 2015, Computer Systems A Programmer’s Perspective, 3rd, 978-0-13-4092
  • Dennis Ritchie: 1988, The C Programming Language,
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes