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COMP200A Computer Systems

10 Points

This paper provides an overview of the operation of computer systems, including their hardware and software. The central theme of the paper is the way in which the hardware and software of a computer system co-operate to allow the execution of programs written in a high-level language.

Topics covered include:

  • data representation
  • assembly language programming
  • operating systems

Learning Outcomes
Students who pass this paper will be able to explain the low-level operation of a typical computer, and how high-level languages can be implemented on such computers with the aid of system software.

Pre Requisite Papers
COMP104 Introduction to Computer Science 2 or
COMP134 Software Engineering 1 or
COMP103 Introduction to Computer Science 1 and ENEL111 Introduction to Electronics

Lecturers and Tutors

A Semester

Moodle Link
COMP200 Moodle Page


Official Timetable Information

Two informal drop-in tutorials per week, held in various rooms around campus. The places and times for the tutorials are available by clicking here.

Other Reading Material

The course notes and handouts will be available on-line from the course web-site. It should be noted that the material is NOT a substitute for attending lectures.

The recommended textbook is:

Englander, I., "The Architecture of Computer Hardware and Systems Software: An Information Technology Approach", 4th edition, John Wiley and Sons, 2009

Computing Resources

Students have access to Lab 1 (R.G.06). For most of the exercises you will be using the Linux machines around the outside of the room, which have REX boards, attached to them. The software that you will be using includes emacs, a terminal program to communicate with the REX boards and a C compiler and assembler, which output code for the WRAMP (Waikato RISC Architecture MicroProcessor) architecture. The WRAMP architecture and Instruction set have been designed at the University of Waikato to support the teaching of Computer Systems. Because most of the exercises depend on the REX boards it will not be possible to complete them on machine at home.

Assessment Ratio
Internal assessment/final examination ratio 1:1

Assessment Components
An overall mark of 50% is required for a pass, with a minimum of 40% in the final exam. To be allowed to sit the final exam you must have submitted all the exercises and taken the internal test.

Grading Schedule

The weightings for the various pieces of assessment are as follows:

Lab 1-4: (6% each) 24%
Lab 5: (8% x 2) 16%
Internal test: 10%
Exam: 50%

Assessment Deadlines

Attendance Policy
Class attendance is expected. The course notes provided are not comprehensive, additional material will be covered in class. You are responsible for all material covered in class.

Paper Structure

In addition to the lecture timetable, the course consists of four labs, an assignment, and a written test. Verification of the labs are due on the Monday of weeks 3, 5, 8, and 10. Verification of the assignment is due in study week. Two informal hour long tutorials will be held each week, starting in week 2. You should attend these tutorial sessions if you are having problems with the material contained in the course or with any exercises. If the tutors are unable to solve your problems then you should see the course lecturer. Only limited help with debugging code will be available during these times. Specific programming problems should be directed to the tutor coordinator at the email address contact-comp200@cs.waikato.ac.nz.

Tutor Coordinator
If you have problems or questions about the paper, you should start by contacting the Tutor Co-ordinator through

Academic Integrity
Follow this link for
Academic Integrity information and this link for detailed explanation of How to prevent plagiarism in Computer Science assessment items.

Performance Impairment
Follow this link for information on Performance Impairment.

Student Concerns and Complaints
Follow this link for Student Concerns and Complaints information.

Application for Extension
Follow this link for information on applying for an Extension.

Review of Grade
Follow this link for information on applying for a Review of Grade.

University Regulations
Your attention is drawn to the following regulations and policies, which are published in the University Calendar:

  2007 FCMS. The University of Waikato - Te Whare Wananga o Waikato