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COMP104 Fundamentals of Computing

Unit rationale, description and aim

Data communication networks that were originally envisaged simply as a means of connecting multiple computer systems to enable the exchange of inherently digital information (text, scientific data etc.) are now leveraged to provide the dissemination of pod-casts and the streaming of movies - presenting massive challenges to the entertainment industries. The original internet chat sessions and news groups have undergone rapid evolution into social media platforms which in their turn have been vital to numerous revolutionary political upheavals.

This unit focuses on the fundamentals of digital data communication networks, their architecture, and principles of operations. One goal will be to give students some insight into the rationale of why networks are structured the way they are today and to understand the issues facing the designers of next-generation data networks.

This unit helps students to examine the impact and interrelatedness of digital data communication systems. Students will gain insight into the ways in which computers are linked in networks to facilitate the transfer and retrieval of information and will acquire knowledge and skills to facilitate basic networks and to configure and use internet tools to conduct effective data communications. Security and privacy issues will be highlighted from both a technical and an ethical perspective.

The aim of COMP106 is to equip you with a knowledge and understanding of the technical basis for digital data communications and associated networking techniques together with an appreciation of their ethical and social consequences, so that students will be ready to work with, and adapt to, present and future digital technologies.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - describe the features, scope and role of communications systems (GA5, GA9, GA10) 

LO2 - examine the nature of data transmission and protocols (GA5, GA10) 

LO3 - understand and appreciate key aspects of network design, protocols and hardware technologies (GA3, GA5, GA10) 

LO4 - describe, configure and use internet and data communication tools critically within an ethical framework (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10) 

LO5 - develop skills in research, working as a team and presentation skills to communicate effectively using appropriate technologies to explore data transmissions including network protocols, hardware, and their social impact (GA5, GA7 GA10). 

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include: 

  • Computer networks  
  • Fundamentals of data and signals 
  • Conducted and wireless media 
  • Errors, error detection, and error control 
  • The internet 
  • Networking 
  • Network security and privacy issues 
  • Network design and management 
  • Ethical and social aspects of data communications in society. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit builds on the unit COMP104 Fundamentals of Computing where students learnt how the various aspects of computing systems are configured to meet the needs of organisations/end-users. This unit will teach students to use data communication tools critically within an ethical framework. 

While COMP106 is designed primarily for students who are non-computing majors enrolled in the Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Arts (Technology) degree program, the concepts presented will be of use to students from any non-computing discipline. Students will find that the data communications tools and techniques taught here will help them to understand the design and execution of structures that allow information to be transferred from computer to computer or across voice and data networks.  

The weekly two hour lectures will focus on specific aspects of communication systems. The weekly two hour tutorials will provide in-depth and more interactive coverage of selected topics from the week’s lecture. Assessable tests, including student presentations and quizzes, will take place in some of these tutorials. 

COMP106 comprises 150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 4 hours per week of directed study (lectures and tutorials). The balance of hours becomes private study and includes the completion of assessable assignments. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment tasks have been developed to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. These have been designed so that they use a variety of tasks to measure the different learning outcomes of the unit. The schedule provides scaffolded learning with opportunities for you to monitor your own progress, practice your skills and receive feedback. 


In particular, the assessment tasks allow you to display students’ knowledge of major aspects of data communications: 


  • A tutorial quiz will assess students’ understanding of data communications concepts through theory quizzes during tutorial classes. The purpose of these quizzes is to provide students with feedback on their understanding of the early course content. This quiz will be conducted before week six to provide early feedback to students.  
  • Quiz/Computing Challenge will be undertaken in class and will provide students with feedback on their understanding of the course content as the unit progresses, which covers data-transmission, network protocols and hardware. 
  • Group Assignment: a group assignment and presentation will enable students, as team members, to demonstrate their research and presentation skills in relation to an in-depth exploration of selected aspects of data communications. 


In order to pass this unit, students are required to: 

  1. Submit completed two tutorial quizzes within the allocated time. Partial completions will result in partial marks;  
  2. Submit the group assignment within the allocated time. Marks will be allocated based on the scoring rubrics; 
  3. Obtain a pass mark (or better) overall (from the combination of marks for all assignments). 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Tutorial Quiz: The quiz will be held prior to week six to provide early feedback to students.  


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA5, GA9, GA10 

Tutorial quiz/computing challenge: facilitated by the tutor in a computer lab. Learning activities during tutorials will provide opportunities to develop an understanding of the course content covering data-transmission, network protocols and hardware and the quizzes will test the level of achievement of that understanding. 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA5, GA9, GA10 

Group Assignment: will demonstrate students’ ability, as team members, to show their research and presentation skills through the in-depth exploration of selected aspects of data transmissions including network protocols, hardware, and their social impact.  


Prior to the commencement of the group assignment, students will clarify their individual role and responsibilities and will confirm this with the lecturer. An individual mark will be assigned to each student, for their part of the assignment. 


LO4, LO5 

GA3-GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Representative texts and references

Required text(s) 

White, C. (2016). Data communications and computer networks: A business user’s approach (8th ed.). Boston: Course Technology (Cengage Learning). 

Recommended references 

Dean, T. (2013). Network + guide to networks (5th ed.). Boston: Boston Course Technology. 

Dooley, A. (2014). Digital Business Networks. Sydney: Pearson Education. 

Fitzgerald, J., & Dennis, A. (2014). Business data communications and networking (12th ed.). New York: Wiley.  

Olenewa, J. (2016). Guide to Wireless Communications. Boston: Cengage. 

Panko, R. (2015). Business data networks and telecommunications (10th ed.). Sydney: Pearson Education. 

Souza, K., & Oz, E. (2014). Management information systems (7th ed.). Boston: Cengage. 

Stallings, W., & Case, T. (2013). Business data communications (7th ed.). New York: Prentice-Hall. 

West, J., Dean, T., & Andrews, J. (2018). Network+ Guide to Networks. Boston: Cengage. 

The websites for the following professional organisations provide further in-depth information and opportunities to explore related topics and ongoing professional issues. 


The “Internet Engineering Task Force” (IETF) 

The “Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers” (IEEE)  

The “Association for Computing Machinery” (ACM)  


In particular, the ACU Library provides a portal to the “ACM Digital Library” database accessed via 

(Access requires your current ACU username and password)  


This ACM database contains the full text of all papers presented at ACM conferences or printed in ACM journals. It also contains abstracts for computing related paper from the IEEE conferences. 

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