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BCS Diploma in IT Study Materials & Resources - Computer Networks

Computer networks

3.00 PM Friday / January 24, 2014

Millions of people all over the world are exposed to the World Wide Web of computers and the information they provide.

Virtually every computer is connected, or has the potential to be connected, to other computers. When connected locally, they provide vital services such as print servers, file servers, CPU servers and when connected externally, offer access to the Internet, world-wide-web and electronic mail.

The use of networking technologies and the long established use of local area networks has made the study of computer networks and the underlying communication technology as important as the more traditional foundations of computer science such as computer architecture, operating systems and programming.


  • To develop an understanding of the modern network technologies in common use today
  • To appreciate how computer networks are able to format and transfer data at high speed and over both the local and wide area
  • To identify potential and actual limitations with existing networks and identify advances in technology that may solve them

What You will be Studying


Historical perspective, theoretical and practical models of network architecture particularly the ISO OSI seven layer model and the TCP/IP protocol stack. Example networks and services including prototype new technologies. These would include Frame Relay, ISDN, ATM, WiFi, xDSL, WiMAX, 2G and 3G.


Physical properties of copper media, fibre optics, radio communication, and data communication standards. Maximum data rates (theoretical and practical) for different media including some simple analysis of signals. Data encoding of digital signals. The distinction between, and analysis of, physical media and wireless media properties. The difference between narrow band and broad band technologies with particular reference to ISDN and xDSL.


Types of LAN covering standards, topology and performance. Example architectures such as ethernet and fast ethernet, ATM, and WiFi. The operation of LAN switches and the configuration of virtual LANs.


Circuit versus packet switching and associated routing and flow control. Detailed examples of existing architectures such as Frame Relay, ISDN, ATM, Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Virtual Private Networks (VPN).


Principles of inter networking, architectures, addressing and protocols. Particular reference to IPv4, IPv6, TCP and UDP.


The main causes of errors and their effects on transmission. Single bit and burst errors. Various error detection and correction strategies including parity, block sum, Hamming Codes, Cyclic Redundancy Checks and Forward versus Backward error control. Statistical analysis of the effectiveness of error detection and correction code.


A definition of quality of service and the main parameters that define network performance. Router functionality including frame prioritisation, classification and queue management techniques. The provision of quality of service management in practical networks such as Frame Relay, ATM and the Internet.

Books to Refer

Primary Texts

Halsall, Fred, Computer Networking and the Internet, Addison Wesley (5th Ed), 2005, ISBN: 0321263588
Stallings, William, Data and Computer Communications, Prentice Hall Int. (8th Ed), 2007, ISBN: 0132433109

Alternative Texts

Stallings, William, Wireless Communications and Networks (2nd Edition), 2004, ISBN: 0131967908
Tanenbaum, Andrew, Computer Networks (International Edition) (4th Edition), 2002, ISBN: 0130384887

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