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Computer Organisation and Systems Software

Short name: COSS
SITS code: BUCI055H5
Credits: 15
Level: 5
Module leader: Carl Barton
Lecturer(s): Carl Barton
Online material:

Module outline

During the module the students will become familiar with the main parts of the computer, their functions and interconnections. They will also learn the main functions of the operating system and how it interacts with the hardware.


The main aim of the module is to understand the basics of computer architecture and organisation, and the role and mechanisms of operating systems.


1. Basics of Computer Architecture

2. Memory Hierarchy

3. Instruction Sets

4. Pipelining

5. Processes and Threads

6. Scheduling and Resource Allocation

7. Concurrency

8. Input/Output

9. File Systems


Passing the Introduction to Computer Systems module


Indicative timetables can be found in the handbooks available on programme pages. Personalised teaching timetables for students are available via My Birkbeck.


Computational and algorithmic exercises


Written examination (90%) and coursework (10%)

Recommended reading

J.A. Harris, Operating Systems, Schaum’s Outline Series, McGraw-Hill, 2002

N. Carter, Computer Architecture, Schaum’s Outline Series, McGraw-Hill, 2002