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Basics of Computer Systems


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


How do computers actually work? How does a written program code get executed? How can computers work on multiple tasks at the same time? How do computers communicate with each other over a computer network? And how is content from an Internet website hosted at the other side of the world retrieved to our computer? Answers to these and many other questions will be covered in this course. The aim is that students acquire working knowledge about the structure of modern computer systems and networks.

Students will study the principles of design and operations of computer systems and computer networks. In the computer systems part students will learn the basics of computer architecture and operating systems, and how programs are organized in main memory and executed. In the networks part students will learn about packet switching, hierarchical design of networked operations (conceptualized as the OSI model) and will study the structure of the Internet and the core internet protocols (HTTP, DNS) in order to understand how Internet applications operate.

Course objectives

After this course students can dissect how computer systems and networks are structured and how they operate.

Students understand the main concepts and principles of computer systems: CPU, main memory, program execution, multiprogramming, memory management.

Students understand the main concepts and principles of computer networking and the Internet: packet switching, OSI model, Internet protocols, how common Internet applications work (web sites, e-mail).

Students are able to conceptualize elementary computer architecture and networked applications by describing how they function under certain conditions.


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudymap will automatically be displayed in MyTimetable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Pleas note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

Workforms: lectures and self-study.

Assessment method

Exam (100% of the grade) – at the end of the course
In the case of written assessment methods, the examiner can always initiate a follow-up conversation with the student to establish whether the learning objectives have been met.

Reading list

TBA on Brightspace


Note: Registration in EduXcange does not directly mean that you can participate in the minor. You will receive an e-mail that confirms your registration and placement.

Questions about registration should be sent to


T. Ralaivaosaona


Not applicable.