Course Title: Introduction to Computer Systems

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Introduction to Computer Systems

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


140H Computer Science & Information Technology


Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 1 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 1 2017,
Sem 2 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 1 2020,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2021


RMIT University Vietnam


140H Computer Science & Information Technology


Viet2 2011,
Viet1 2012,
Viet3 2012,
Viet2 2013,
Viet1 2014,
Viet2 2014,
Viet2 2015,
Viet1 2016,
Viet3 2016


RMIT University Vietnam


171H School of Science


Viet3 2017,
Viet2 2018,
Viet3 2018,
Viet3 2019,
Viet3 2020,
Viet3 2021

Course Coordinator: Dr Qiang Fu

Course Coordinator Phone: by appointment

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

One of the roles of the IT professional is to design and build systems and integrate them into an organization.


You should encounter a variety of platforms in your career. The role of the IT professional is to select, deploy, integrate and administer platforms or components to support the organisation’s IT infrastructure. This course aims to cover the skills in the fundamentals of hardware and software and how they integrate to form essential components of IT systems. It aims to develop skills and concepts that are essential to the administration of operating systems, networks, software, and file systems, file servers, web systems In addition it provides an introduction to networking concepts and components that are in common use, including mobile telephony and networks. It also aims to develop the skills to gather requirements, source, evaluate and integrate components into a single system, and validate the system.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Program Learning Outcomes

This course contributes to the following program learning outcomes for BP094 Bachelor of Computer Science, BP096 Bachelor of Software Engineering and BP162 Bachelor of Information Technology:

  • PLO1: Enabling Knowledge:

You will gain skills as you apply knowledge effectively in diverse contexts.

  • PLO2: Critical Analysis:

You will learn to accurately and objectively examine and consider computer science and information technology (IT) topics, evidence, or situations, in particular to: evaluate and compare designs of software artefacts and IT systems on the basis of organisational and user requirements.

  • PLO3: Problem Solving:

Your capability to analyse problems and synthesise suitable solutions will be extended as you learn to: design and implement software solutions that accommodate specified requirements and constraints, based on analysis or modelling or requirements specification. 

Upon successful completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. describe some of the fundamental hardware building blocks of computer systems and some basic algorithms by which they are used
  2. demonstrate understanding of number systems, such as binary, octal, decimal and hexadecimal.
  3. use Boolean algebra to model basic algorithms in hardware using logic gates such as binary addition/multiplication, template pattern matching, stream encryption, data multiplexing,
  4. describe fundamentals of computer architecture and organisation, operating systems, and system integration and deployment
  5. critically review and (re-)design existing computer system specifications for meeting stated performance criteria.
  6. Describe the layered networking model, basic networking protocols and ways in which data is encoded and transmitted

Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities included in this course are:

  • Key concepts will be explained in classes in which course material will be presented and the subject matter will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples;
  • Tutorial / Laboratory sessions provide the opportunity to consolidate and deepen your knowledge from. The sessions include practical analysis and problem-solving exercises to enable you to analyse, compare, rank and trouble-shoot computer system components and designs. For example you may be given a logic problem to analyse, or a sample computer system specification and asked to redesign it to meet stated needs; and
  • Private study, which should include working through the content as presented in classes and other learning materials, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and technical problems. It is essential to keep up to date with provided class exercises as well as doing your own broader reading on the topics covered.

A total of 120 hours of study is expected during this course, comprising:

Teacher-directed activities (48 hours):  Each week there will be 2 hours of class activities such as discussions, explanations and demonstrations of course materials plus 2 hours of tutorial and computer laboratory work. You are encouraged to participate in class activities through asking questions, commenting on the course material based on your own experiences and through presenting solutions to written exercises. The tutorial / laboratory sessions will introduce you to the tools necessary to undertake the assignment work.

Student-directed activities (72 hours): You are expected to be self-directed, studying independently outside class.

Overview of Learning Resources

The course is supported by the Canvas learning management system which provides specific learning resources. See the RMIT Library Guide at

Overview of Assessment

The assessment for this course comprises  two written assignments, and a take-home end-of-semester test. The assignments involve reviewing current hardware systems capabilities when designing a system to meet stated needs. The final test examines the understanding of all topics covered in this course.

Note: This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment tasks

Assessment Task 1:  Written Assignment 1

Assignment 1 has a focus on number systems, logic gates and circuits and bit operations.

Weighting 30%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1-5

Assessment Task 2: Written Assignment 2 

Assignment 2 has a focus on processor architecture, memory cache design, mass storage and data communications

Weighting 50%

This assessment task supports CLOs 4-6

Assessment Task 3: Take-home End-of-semester Test

The test examines the understanding of all topics covered in this course. This assessment needs to be completed within 24 hours after it is released.

Weighting 20%

This assessment supports CLOs 1-6