COMP SCI 7081 - Computer Systems

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2022

This course introduces the elements of computer systems from the level of basic hardware gates, through to compilers, languages and applications. The aim is to give an overview of the layered nature of computer systems and how the use of simple interfaces can make the design of complex and powerful systems possible. Topics covered include: digital logic, memory, processors, assembly language, virtual machines, recursive descent parsing, code generation and operating systems.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code COMP SCI 7081
    Course Computer Systems
    Coordinating Unit Computer Science
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 2.5 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites COMP SCI 7103, COMP SCI 7202, COMP SCI 7202B or COMP SCI 7208
    Assumed Knowledge Mathematics as taught in MATHS 1012 or MATHS 1008 and MATHS 1004
    Restrictions Master of Computing and Innovation, Master of Data Science, Master of Cyber Security, Grad Dip in Computer Science and Grad Cert in Computer Science students only
    Assessment Written exam and/or assignments
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Mr Ian Knight

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

    1 Demonstrate an understanding of the layered and modular nature of computer systems
    2 Design the core components of a computer from basic components
    3 Understand and Apply knowledge of how computers represent programs and data
    4 Explain how a computer executes a program
    5 Write assembler and machine code
    6 Understand the translation process from higher level representations into machine language
    7 Explain how Input/output operations are implemented, and describe some basic I/O devices

    The above course learning outcomes are aligned with the Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competency Standard for the Professional Engineer.
    The course is designed to develop the following Elements of Competency: 1.1   1.2   1.3   1.5   1.6   2.1   2.2   2.3   3.1   3.2   3.3   3.4   3.5   

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The textbook for the course is: The Elements of Computing Systems, second edition, by Noam Nisan and Shimon Shocken, MIT Press, 2021, ISBN13-978-0-262-53980-7.

    It is highly recommended that you buy this book. It is available in soft cover form and available electronically as an e-book. If you have access to the first edition, use that instead. There is no significant difference in the material covered by both editions.

    The first six chapters of the textbook are on the Nand2Tetris website used by the course but we will be using materials in chapters beyond this.
    Online Learning
    The primary electronic resource for the course is the MyUni pages. These pages link to other electronic resources you will need such as the web submission system.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    The course will be taught using a combination of pre-recorded lectures, lecture review quizzes, workshops, quiz exams and programming assignments. There is no end of semester written exam.

    You are expected to read the relevant chapters of the text book before and after each lecture, and to actively participate in workshop activities.

    The lecture review quizzes will be open during the week that they are due. Please check the course website regularly so you do not miss the lecture review quiz due dates.

    To get the most out of the workshop sessions you need to prepare in advance and make sure that you focus on the workshop material during the workshop. This is the best time to get direct feedback on and assistance with the practical skills covered in the workshop. If you do not attend the workshops and ask questions, you may not be properly prepared for the programming assignments.

    The programming assigments build on the practical skills shown in the workshops and give you an opportunity to demonstrate what you are learning. To get the most out of the programming assignments it is important to reflect on what you may be learning whilst attempting them by keeping a logbook that records how you developed your work. The timing, frequency and content of the logbook entries are all considered in the assessment of the programming assignments.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    You are expected to spend 10 hours per week on the course. This includes:
    • attending all of your enrolled classes,
    • up to 2 hours per week on lecture preparation / review,
    • up to 5 hours per week on the assignments and workshop preparation, and
    • any remaining time working on the following week's material.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The lecture topics, quizzes, workshop descriptions and assignment descriptions are all available on the course website.

    A schedule is available on the course website but specific due dates are only available in each quizz, workshop description or assignment description.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Weighting (%) Individual/ Group Formative/ Summative
    Due (week)*
    Hurdle criteria Learning outcomes
    Weekly Quizzes 5 Individual Summative 1 to 11 1. 3. 6.
    Practical Assignments 36 Individual Summative 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11 1. 2. 3. 5. 6.
    Practical Exams 14 Individual Summative 4, 8 1. 2. 3. 5. 6.
    Written Examination 45 Individual Summative Exam Period Min 40% 1. 4. 7.
    Total 100

    * The specific due date for each assessment task will be available on MyUni.

    This assessment breakdown is registered as an exemption to the University's Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy. The exemption is related to the Procedures clause(s):

    This course has a hurdle requirement. Meeting the specified hurdle criteria is a requirement for passing the course.

    Assessment Related Requirements
    Hurdle Requirement: If your overall mark for the course is greater than 45 F but, your mark for the Written Exam is less than 40%, your overall mark for the course will be reduced to 45 F.
    Assessment Detail
    Week 3 Unsupervised Quiz Exam

    The scheduled Tuesday lecture time in week 3 will be used to run a 45 minute unsupervised quiz exam, which contributes up to 5%. The quiz will be open for 1 hour which should accommodate any additional time requirements for students with a DAP. This exam covers all material covered in the first two weeks of the course.

    Supervised Quiz Exams

    The scheduled workshop times in weeks 4, 8 and 12 will be used to run 45 minute supervised quiz exams which contribute up to 15%, 25% or 25% respectively. Each quiz will be open for 1 hour which should accommodate any additional time requirements for students with a DAP. Remote students will be monitored using zoom (a webcam will be required to show who is taking the exam).

    These quiz exams will test your understanding of the lecture, workshop and assignment material. You must achieve at least 40% of the marks available in the week 12 supervised quiz exam or its replacement to satisfy one of the hurdle requirements for the course. These quiz exams must be taken under supervision.

    Replacement Quiz Exams

    The supervised quiz exams all examine material covered in earlier quiz exams so, where appropriate, a subset of the questions in a supervised quiz exam can be used as a replacement exam for the previous quiz exam. The final mark for a quiz exam is the better of the original exam mark or the replacement exam mark.

    Week 3 Unsupervised Quiz Exam: The Week 4 Supervised Quiz Exam is automatically used as the replacement exam for all students regardless of circumstances. This gives every student a second chance.

    Week 4 Supervised Quiz Exam: If a student is eligible for a replacement exam as demonstrated by appropriate written evidence, eg a medical certificate, the relevant subset of questions in the Week 8 Supervised Quiz Exam will be used as the replacement exam.

    Week 8 Supervised Quiz Exam: If a student is eligible for a replacement exam as demonstrated by appropriate written evidence, eg a medical certificate, the relevant subset of questions in the Week 12 Supervised Quiz Exam will be used as the replacement exam.

    Week 12 Supervised Quiz Exam: If a student is eligible for a replacement exam as demonstrated by appropriate written evidence, eg a medical certificate, there is a separate Week 12 Replacement Supervised Quiz Exam.

    Programming Assignments

    All programming assignments require you to write programs that will be assessed by considering three aspects of your submissions, automatic assessement by the Web Submission System, including an automatic review of the submitted programs coding style, and a manual review of the associated logbook. The logbook is a vital part of your assessment - a lack of a log-book with a narrative of your development process may result in a mark of 0 for the assignment. Details of how the three aspects are combined and a marking rubric is provided on the course website. These are linked to by each programming assignment description.

    Each assignment has two submission times at which marks are awarded, a milestone submission and a final submission. The milestone submissions require some work to be completed early. You must achieve at least 20% of the marks available in programming assignment 3 to satisfy one of the hurdle requirements for the course.

    Assignment Milestone Due Final Due Description Weighting
    Assignment 1 Tuesday Week 7 Friday Week 7 Programming 5%
    Assignment 2 Tuesday Week 9 Friday Week 9 Programming 5%
    Assignment 3 Friday Week 11 Monday Week 13 Programming 20%

    Late Penalties
    Programming Assignments

    All programming assignments must be submitted using the School of Computer Science online Submission System. Details are included in each assignment description on the course website.

    Submissions made to a 'Submit Here' assignment are allocated a set of marks by a test script that are then used to separately calculate a a mark for each sub-assignment. Each sub-assignment has its own due date that is also used to cap the mark given to a specific submission, based on how many days late it is, as follows:

    • up to 1 day late — mark is reduced to 75%, marks below 75% are not affected.
    • up to 2 days late — mark is reduced to 50%, marks below 50% are not affected.
    • up to 3 days late — mark is reduced to 25%, marks below 25% are not affected.
    • More than 3 days late — mark is reduced to 0.
    • For each sub-assignment, you get the best mark awarded for any of your submissions after late penalties. Marks awarded for a particular submission cannot reduce the marks awarded for any other submission.
    • We use the time at which a particular revision is submitted to the Web Submission System to determine late penalties not when the revision was committed to your svn repository.
    • We expect to be able to return the final marks of each assignment within three weeks of the final due date.
    • Any extensions will be displayed in the web submission system against specific sub-assignments and automatically used to adjust any late penalties.
    • Extensions under a Disability Action Plan may be automatically granted at the start of semester. Failure to submit a DAP within the first two weeks of semester may result in any extension requests being refused.
    Quiz Exams and Practical Exams

    Students who do not attend an exam will be dealt with on a case by case basis subject to appropriate documentation being provided. Late submissions for any exam will receive a mark of 0.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

    Myuni Grade Book

    The programming exam marks will be collated and published in the myuni grade book after the last student has completed the exam.

    The programming assignment marks will be collated and published in the myuni grade book when the final submissions have been marked. Note, these may appear to be different from those in the web submission system because of the individual weightings applied to the milestone and final submission marks. A grade book comment may be included that describes how the components were used to calculate the final assignment mark.

    All quiz exams will be muted after they are taken. After the last student has completed the quiz exam, a separate myuni assignment will be created to publish the quiz marks. A grade book comment may be included that describes a breakdown of the quiz exam marks by question categories and it may also include some general feedback. Access to the original quiz exam attempts will not be permitted.

    A provisional final mark for the course may be published in the myuni gradebook which may be different to the final official result that is published later. The final official results will only be available through Access Adelaide.
  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.