Computer Science (COMP) 503

Information Technology Hardware and Software (Revision 5)

COMP 503

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. Dunwei Wen

**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 Systems graduate student in order to take this course.  Minimum admission requirements must be met.  Undergraduate students who do not meet admission requirements 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. It will help you gain a good understanding of general computer organization, basic microprocessor architecture and assembly language, and operating system internals.


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

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, you should be able to

  • 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%) or better, and you must achieve an average grade of at least 60% on the assignments and achieve a grade of at least 60% 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., Gagne, G., & Galvin, P. B. (2018). Operating System Concepts (10th ed.). 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

Estimated weekly workload:

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

Special Course Features

COMP 503 is offered in computer-mediated communications (CMC) mode and can be completed your workplace or home.

Image Credits:

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 5, December 10, 2020.