COMP SCI 7081 - Computer Systems

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2018

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 2
    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
    Assumed Knowledge Mathematics as taught in MATHS 1012 or MATHS 1008
    Restrictions Master of Computing and Innovation, Graduate Diploma in Computer Science and Graduate Certificate in Computer Science students only.
    Assessment written exam, assignments
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Alfred Fred Brown

    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)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The textbook for the course is: The Elements of Computing Systems, by Noam Nisan and Shimon Shocken, MIT Press, 2008, ISBN13-978-0-262-64068-8.

    It is highly recommended that you buy this book. It is available in soft cover form and available electronically as an e-book.

    The first six chapters of are on the Nand2Tetris website used by the course but we will be using materials in chapters beyond this.
    Online Learning
    Online resources, such as the web-submission system can be accessed via the course myuni pages.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    The course will be taught using a combination of lectures, quizzes, workshops and programming assignments.

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

    Most lectures may have an associated review quiz which will open at the start of the lecture and close at 5pm on the next day. Additional quizzes are provided for revision but these are not assessed. Please check the course website regularly so you do not miss the 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 spend time on catching up on other work first, you may not be properly prepared for the assignments.

    The programming assigments build on the practical skills demonstrated in the workshops and give you an opportunity to demonstrate what you are learning.


    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 CBOK Alignment**
    Lecture Review Quizzes 10 Individual Formative Weeks 1-12 1. 3. 6.  1.2 3.1
    Workshops 10 Individual Formative Weeks 1-12 1. 2. 3. 5. 6. 1.1 1.2 3.1 3.2 4.1
    Assignments+ 20 Individual Formative Weeks 7, 9, 12 1. 2. 3. 5. 6. 1.1 1.2 3.1 3.2 4.1
    In-workshop Exams 10 Individual Formative Weeks 4, 8 1. 2. 1.1 1.2 3.1 3.2 4.1
    Exam 50 Individual Summative Exam Period Min 40% 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 1.1 1.2 3.1 3.2 4.1
    Total 100
    * The specific due date for each assessment task will be available on MyUni.

    +All assignments are mandatory: a submission must be made for each assignment within one week of its due date or any opportunity for an additional assessment will be denied.
    This assessment breakdown complies with the University's Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy.
    This course has a hurdle requirement. Meeting the specified hurdle criteria is a requirement for passing the course.

    **CBOK is the Core Body of Knowledge for ICT Professionals defined by the Australian Computer Society. The alignment in the table above corresponds with the following CBOK Areas:

    1. Problem Solving
    1.1 Abstraction
    1.2 Design

    2. Professional Knowledge
    2.1 Ethics
    2.2 Professional expectations
    2.3 Teamwork concepts & issues
    2.4 Interpersonal communications
    2.5 Societal issues
    2.6 Understanding of ICT profession

    3. Technology resources
    3.1 Hardware & Software
    3.2 Data & information
    3.3 Networking

    4. Technology Building
    4.1 Programming
    4.2 Human factors
    4.3 Systems development
    4.4 Systems acquisition

    5.  ICT Management
    5.1 IT governance & organisational
    5.2 IT project management
    5.3 Service management 
    5.4 Security management
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Hurdle Requirement: If your overall mark for the course is greater than 44 F but, your mark for the final written exam is less than 40%, your overall mark for the course will be reduced to 44 F.

    Additional Assessment: All assignments are mandatory: you must make a submission for each assignment within one week of its due date or any opportunity for an additional assessment will be denied.
    Assessment Detail
    The written exam is held in the end-of-semester exam period. The exam will test your understanding of the lecture, workshop and assignment material.

    There will be two in-workshop written exams during weeks 4 and 8. Each in-workshop exam contributes up to 5%.

    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, a manual review of the submitted hardware programs, 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 very low mark 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 points, a milestone submission and a final submission. The milestone submissions are an opportunity to receive marks for work completed early. Milestone submissions are only subject to automatic marking by the Web Submission System but the work will be fully assessed as part of the final submission.

    Assignment details:

    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 Friday Week 12 Programming 10%

    You will receive a participation mark for each workshop that you attend and actively participate in. The workshop participation marks are equally weighted so that if you attend and actively participate in all of them, the marks will add up to 10%.

    There will be a significant number of lecture review quizzes available on the course website. The lecture review quizzes are equally weighted so that if you attempt all of them and get full marks, the marks will add up to 10%. The due dates are available on the course website.
    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.

    If you hand in your work late, your mark may be capped, 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.

    We expect to be able to return the final marks of each assignment within three weeks of the deadline.

    Due to the nature of the quizzes, no late submissions are permitted.

    Failure to attend an in-workshop exam will be dealt with on a case by case basis subject to appropriate documentation being provided.
    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.

  • 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.