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ITEC101 Computer Networks

Unit rationale, description and aim

Almost all computing devices from super computers to personal computers and even to mobile devices are connected using computer networks. The rapid advancement of communication technologies and the long-established use of local area networks have made the study of computer networks as important as the more traditional foundations of information technology such as computer architecture and programming. There is a need of professionals who exercise knowledge and leadership in the area of computer networks and its applications. This unit covers the fundamental topics of computer networks and data communication. The unit demonstrates the basic networking concepts, OSI and TCP/IP networking model, functionalities and characteristics of different layers, network devices, and protocols. Students will learn how these devices and protocols are used in computer networks and application programs. The practical works will help students to learn how to design, configure, build and test a small-scale peer-to-peer network for an organisation. In addition, the unit focuses on designing a network solution that utilises optimal resources and thus, aims to minimise negative impacts on the environment.  

In a nutshell, the unit aims to equip students with background knowledge in computer networking, which scaffolds an advanced unit in emerging technologies of blockchain and IoT. It will produce graduates with i) a wide range of professional knowledge and skills relevant to networking and communication technologies, ii) adaptability to changing technology and society, iii) capability to design network solutions utilising minimal computing resources.

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:

identify basic components of networking devices such as switch and router, configure and troubleshoot these devices (GA5, GA8)

design and implement a hierarchical IPv4 and IPv6 addressing scheme to ensure an effective network for stewardship of resources (GA2, GA5)

describe the characteristics and functionalities of each layer of the OSI and TCP/IP model (GA4, GA5)

plan, build, and test a small network using packet tracer network simulator (GA5, GA10).

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

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

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


Topics will include:·     

  • Basic switch and end device configuration
  • Protocols and models
  • Physical layer
  • Data link layer
  • Network layer
  • IP addressing
  • Subnetting
  • Transport layer
  • Application layer
  • Build a small network.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Mode of delivery: This unit is offered mainly in ‘Attendance mode’ with aspects of ‘Multi-mode’ incorporated into the delivery to maximise the learning support offered to students. Students will be required to attend face-to-face workshops in specific physical location/s (including supervised lab practical sessions) and have face-to-face interactions with teaching staff to further their achievement of the learning outcomes. This unit is also structured with some required upfront preparation before workshops – learning materials and tasks set via online learning platforms. This will provide multiple forms of preparatory and practice opportunities for students to prepare and revise.

Further to this, to ensure students are ready to transition from the Diploma and articulate into the second year of undergraduate study, transition pedagogies will be incorporated into the unit as the key point of differentiation from the standard unit. This focuses on an active and engaging approach to learning and teaching practices, and a scaffolded approach to the delivery of curriculum to enhance student learning in a supportive environment. This will ensure that students develop foundation level discipline-based knowledge, skills and attributes, and simultaneously the academic competencies required of students to succeed in this unit.

Students should anticipate undertaking 150 hours of study for this unit, including class attendance, readings, online forum participation and assessment preparation.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. The first assessment item consists of a number of weekly labs designed to give students practical knowledge of installing, configuring and troubleshooting network devices as well as planning and building a small network. The second assessment task will help to gain practical knowledge on subnetting which ensures optimal uses of network resources. The final assessment item includes a case scenario where students need to apply their knowledge and skills to find configuration errors, and apply patches to make the network operational.

Strategies aligned with transition pedagogies will be utilised to facilitate successful completion of the unit assessment tasks. For each assessment, there will be the incorporation of developmentally staged tasks with a focus on a progressive approach to learning. This will be achieved through activities, including regular feedback, particularly early in the unit of study to support their learning; strategies to develop and understand discipline-specific concepts and terminology; in-class practice tasks with integrated feedback; and greater peer-to-peer collaboration. 

The assessments for this unit are designed to demonstrate the achievement of each learning outcome. To pass this unit, students are required to:

  • obtain an overall mark of at least 50% 
  • attempt all three assessment items.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Lab Assessments

This assessment consists of a series of weekly lab exercises where students are required to use packet tracer to configure, build and troubleshoot network systems. The feedback from this assessment will help students to understand critical concepts of network security and their applications. 

Submission Type: Individual 

Assessment Method: Lab Practical task

Artefact: PT file/Lab report


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2: Practical task – Subnetting IP networks

This is a skill-based assessment where students will be given a network scenario and a set of requirements. Students will be asked to divide the networks in sub-networks to create an optimal network design plan.

The purpose of this assessment is to assess students’ critical and analytical ability to solve practical problems. 

Submission Type: Individual

Assessment Method: Practical/Laboratory

Artefact: Network scenario (PT file)



GA2, GA5

Assessment Task 3: Practical Task – Configure, Build and Troubleshoot a network

This assessment task will test the students’ grasp of both theoretical and practical aspects of the unit. In the first part of the task, students will be provided a network scenario and need to configure the devices to make the network operational. They will also be given a misconfiguration scenario to troubleshoot network devices and fix the errors.  

In the second part, students will be given to plan, design and build a small network for an organisation. They need to consider various aspects of computer networking to design an optimal and effective solution. Students will also need to answer a number of questions related to their design and implementation process.  

Submission Type: Individual

Assessment Method: Practical/Laboratory

Artefact: PT file & Answer script


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10

Representative texts and references

Cisco Networking Academy, 2020, Introduction to Networks Companion Guide (CCNAv7), Cisco Press, Hoboken.

Dordal PL, 2020, An Introduction to Computer Networks (e-book), 2nd edn, Loyola University Chicago.

McMillan T, 2015, CISCO Networking Essentials, 2nd edn, Sybex, Indianapolis.

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