Computers and Electronics

The details
Essex Pathways
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Foundation/Year Zero: Level 3
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 28 June 2024
07 November 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BSC G620 Computer Games (Including Foundation Year),
BENGG520 Computer Networks (Including Foundation Year),
BSC G403 Computer Science (Including Foundation Year),
BENGH750 Computer Systems Engineering (Including Foundation Year),
BENGGH46 Computers with Electronics (Including Foundation Year),
BENGH61P Electronic Engineering (Including Foundation Year),
BENGHP41 Communications Engineering (Including Foundation Year),
BENGH618 Robotic Engineering (Including Foundation Year),
BSC GH3P Computing and Electronics (Including Foundation Year),
BENGH733 Mechatronic Systems (Including Foundation Year),
BENGH172 Neural Engineering with Psychology (Including Foundation Year),
BSC I401 Artificial Intelligence (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

This module provides an introduction to the fundamental principles in Computer Science: basic architecture and general components of digital computer systems. This module looks at general operating system functionality and gives some hands-on experience with a modern Unix/Linux and Windows based operating system.

This module also covers material for Electronic Engineering: starting with digital systems design - digital logic, logic gates, and Boolean algebra. This module then provides an introduction to fundamental electronics: a study of basic electronic circuits, and the common circuit laws and theorems. A computer-based electronics simulator Multisim will be used for building and testing digital logic circuits and simple electronic circuits.

Module aims

The module aims are:

1. To introduce students to the fundamental knowledge of computer science and electronic engineering.
2. To familiarise students with computer architectures and components, and the general concepts of operating systems and operating system functions.
2. To introduce students to the subject of digital logic using Boolean algebra and Truth tables.
3. To introduce students to some of the fundamental principles of electronics and simple electronic circuits.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module a student will be expected to be able to:

1. Describe the basic architecture, components, and operating system functionality of a modern digital computer system.
2. Demonstrate correct usage of Unix commands through a command line interface.
3. Explain various computer network terminologies; for example, topology, connection mechanisms, and the OSI protocol stack.
4. Demonstrate an ability to work with different number representations and perform conversions between decimal, binary, octal, and hexadecimal.
5. State the output from the standard logic gates, and design simple digital logic circuits through the use of Truth Tables, Boolean Algebra simplifications, and Karnaugh Maps.
6. Identify electronic circuit components and analyse schematic diagrams; define the common circuit laws and theorems (in particular Ohm’s Law and Kirchhoff’s Laws), and apply these to a given problem.

Module information


1. General computer technology, Computer history, and Computer architecture (Topics include: Computing from the mechanical era, through the early electronic era, and up to the current modern era of computing. An overview of computer components. Computer and CPU architectures.)
2. Input / Output (Topics include: How I/O devices communicate with the CPU and main memory. A study of a serial I/O protocol: RS-232).
3. Operating Systems (Topics include: Definitions and descriptions of different OS's. The high and low level responsibilities of OS's. Some examples of current modern OS's.)
4. Unix/Linux (Topics include: A beginner's introduction to Unix and Linux. A hands-on exercise with a Linux OS. A Tutorial in Unix scripting.)
5. Computer and Communication networks (Topics include: Types of networks – topologies and connection mechanisms. Network protocols and the OSI protocol stack, focussing mainly on IP and TCP.)
6. Data Compression (Topics include: Run-length encoding. Lossless and Lossy compression methods on different data types.)
7. Computer Security and Encryption (Topics include: An overview of general computer and network security. Methods of access control and authentication. Ensuring data integrity. Single key and dual key encryption.)
8. Number representation (Topics include: Working in Binary, Octal, and Hexadecimal. Converting numbers between Decimal, Binary, Octal, and Hexadecimal. Handling negative numbers in binary – One's and Two's complement.)
9. Digital logic (Topics include: Boolean algebra and simplification of Boolean algebra expressions. Logic gates and schematic diagrams. Using Karnaugh maps to simplify Boolean algebra expressions.)
10. Computer Simulation (Topics include: A tutorial of NI Multisim – a powerful computer software package for designing, creating, testing, and analysing, analogue and digital electronic circuits.)
11. Fundamental SI Units (Topics include: A historical perspective of electricity and electronics. The International Standard of Units. The metric system.)
12. Circuit components (Topics include: Symbols and basic schematic diagrams. Resistance, Current, and Voltage. Ohm's Law. Kirchhoff's Laws. Resistors in series and in parallel.)
13. Capacitors (Topics include: Capacitance. Capacitors in DC circuits in series and in parallel. Resistor-Capacitor circuits)

Skills for your professional life (Transferable Skills)

By the end of this module, you will have practised the following transferrable skills:

1. To improve your literacy and numeracy skills.
2. To develop your IT skills by learning to work with Microsoft Excel for plotting graphs and analysing results.
3. To develop skills in using specialized computing and electronics applications/software including Windows and Linux Operating systems, Multisim, and Network speed measuring tools.
4. To enhance your communication skills through in class discussions;
5. To develop your personal plan of setting targets and time management to undertake coursework and exam.

Learning and teaching methods

Teaching and learning on Essex Pathways modules offers students the ability to develop the foundation knowledge, skills, and competences to study at undergraduate level, through a curriculum that is purposely designed to provide an exceptional learning experience. All teaching, learning and assessment materials will be available via Moodle in a consistent and user-friendly manner. The module will be delivered by a weekly 1 x 2-hour lecture and a 1 x 2-hour laboratory. Students will be expected to attend all lectures and labs, complete lab exercises and tasks related to the weekly topic during their self-study time.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   IA119 In-person, open book (restricted) Computing Progress Moodle Test     60% 
Coursework   IA119 - Electronics Lab Report  02/04/2024  40% 
Exam  Main exam: In-Person, Open Book (Restricted), 180 minutes during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: In-Person, Open Book (Restricted), 180 minutes during September (Reassessment Period) 

Additional coursework information

Formative assessment In addition to various class exercises, throughout the term there will be: - A practice task before Lab Report 1 - Unix file and directory structure manipulation exercise in the first term - Number representation and conversion exercises in the first term - A practice progress test in Week 10 - Digital logic circuit simplification exercises using Boolean algebra in the second term - A practice experiment before Lab Report 2 Summative assessment Online Progress Test (Moodle, 1 hour and 15 minutes, 15%) The progress test will take place at the end of the first term. It will assess student’s knowledge and understanding of the concepts and theories learnt during the first term. The progress test will be composed of a variety of question types including multiple choice, short descriptive, and numerical. Lab Report 1 (15%) Students will submit a 1,500 word report at the end of first term. Students will be expected to carry out a series of experiments and document their findings in the form of a technical report. This will assess student’s understanding of the topic and their ability to document the findings in a form of a technical report. Lab Report 2 (20%) Students will submit a 2,200 word report towards the end of second term. As with the first report, students will be asked to carry out a series of experiments and document their findings in the form of a report. The report will assess student’s understanding of the topic and their ability to write technical report. Three-hour Moodle timed exam (50%) The exam will cover the full range of topics taught during the two terms. There will be a variety of question types including multiple choice, descriptive, and numerical. Reassessment strategy Failed exam - Resit the exam which is re-aggregated with existing coursework mark to create a new module mark. Failed coursework - Resubmit a piece of coursework (2,200 words) which is re-aggregated with existing exam mark to create a new module mark. The reassessment task will replace the coursework component and will enable the relevant learning outcomes to be met. Failed exam and coursework - Resit the exam and resubmit one piece of coursework (2,200 words) to be aggregated to create a new module mark.

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Ian Mothersole, email: imothe@essex.ac.uk.
Stefan Marincas - smarin@essex.ac.uk
Kate Smith - catsmith@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Austin Tomlinson
University of Birmingham
Available via Moodle
Of 159 hours, 50 (31.4%) hours available to students:
106 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
3 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information
Essex Pathways

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