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Introduction to Computer Systems

Short name: ICS
SITS code: BUCI008H4
Credits: 15
Level: 4
Module leader: Keith Mannock
Lecturer(s): Keith Mannock
Online material: Moodle

Module outline

Computer architecture, operating systems, algorithms, databases, formal models of computation, software engineering, artificial intelligence, social issues relating to computers, mobile computing.


The purpose of the course is to give a brief introduction to a selection of central subjects within Computer Science such that the participants obtain an understanding of what Computer Science is. Another purpose is to introduce some applications and tools useful during the study of computer science.

Learning Outcomes

After the course the students are expected to be able to:

  • convert between decimal, binary, and floating-point representations
  • use simple error-correcting codes
  • construct simple logical circuits
  • program in a simplified machine language
  • recognize deadlock and race condition situations
  • perform simple data modelling and simple queries in a relational database
  • design and implement simple algorithms, and understand their properties
  • explain the idea behind encryption and perform related calculations
  • describe and apply some principles for artificial intelligence
  • describe basic elements from software engineering methods
  • write programs in a simple universal programming language (Python)


  1. Introduction and Overview
  2. Algorithms
  3. Programming (with Python)
  4. Data Storage
  5. Data Manipulation
  6. Data Abstractions
  7. Operating Systems
  8. Networking and the Internet
  9. Software Engineering
  10. Databases
  11. Theory of Computation


  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Computer Graphics




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




  • One two-hour written examination (80%), and
  • Online Test (20%)

Recommended reading

  • Brookshear, J.G. and Brylow, D. B. (2019), Computer Science: an overview, 13th edition, Pearson.