Computer Science (COMP) 503

Information Technology Hardware and Software (Revision 4)

COMP 503

Revision 4 is closed for registrations, see current revision

Delivery Mode: Grouped Study Online (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: IS Foundations

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Science and Technology

Centre: School of Computing and Information Systems

Instructor: Dr. Mahmoud Abaza

**Note: This is a graduate level course and students need to apply and be approved to one of the graduate programs or as a non-program School of Computing and Information graduate student in order to take this course.  Minimum Admission Requirements must be met.  Undergraduate students who do not meet admission requirement will not normally be permitted to take this course.


This course provides a background in hardware and software technology that will enable systems development personnel to understand the trade offs in computer architecture for effective use in a business or scientific environment. The course will explain system architecture for single-user, central, and networked computing systems; and single- and multi-user operating systems.

Course Objectives

After completing this course, the student should be able to:

  • understand general computer organization.
  • understand basic microprocessor architecture and assembly language;
  • understand operating system internals.


  • Unit 1: Overview
  • Unit 2: Process Management
  • Unit 3: Storage Management
  • Unit 4: Protection and Security
  • Unit 5: CPU Architecture

Learning Outcomes

In COMP503, the learner will

  • know modern computer architecture components;
  • begin to write Assembly Language programs;
  • obtain detailed knowledge about the internals of single-user and multi-user operating systems.


In order to receive credit for COMP 503, you must achieve a cumulative course grade of "B-" (70 percent) or better, and must achieve an average grade of at least 60 percent on the assignments and achieve a grade of at least 60 percent on the Final Examination. Your cumulative course grade will be based on the following assessment.

Assessment Weight
Assignment 1 20%
Assignment 2 20%
Assignment 3 20%
Final Examination 40%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

  • Silberschatz, A., Galvin, P. B., & Gagne, G. (2013). Operating System Concepts (9th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Other Resources

The remaining learning materials for COMP 503 are delivered through Athabasca University's learning management system (LMS), Moodle. Online course materials include discussion forums, learning materials, and assignments. Assignments must be submitted online through the LMS.

Course Workload

The estimated weekly workload for this course is approximately:

  • readings = 6 hours
  • synthesis and/or exercises = 6 hours

Special Course Features

Computer Science 503 is offered in computer-mediated communications (CMC) mode, and can be completed at the student's workplace or home.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 4, August 31, 2015.