Course Exam—COMP 314 (Operating Systems)

COMP 314 (Operating Systems) is a three-credit computing and information systems course that teaches students “the fundamental concepts, principles, and structures of operating systems.” COMP 314 has a prerequisite.  Students should have completed COMP 206 (Introduction to Computer Programming in C++), COMP 268 (Introduction to Computer Programming in Java), or an equivalent university level programming course as a prerequisite.  Prior to enrolling students should be familiar with the basic structure and hardware of a computer.

Operating Systems is comprised of five units, four assignments, and one final exam.  The five units within this course cover topics such as basic machine components (CPU, RAM, storage), process management (processes, threads, CPU scheduling, deadlocks), storage management (main memory, virtual memory, file-system interface and implementation, mass-storage structure, input / output systems), protection, security, and virtual machines.  Students should note that there are no programming questions within this course; it is entirely a writing course (tons of writing).

The first assignment, weighing ten percent, covers unit one and is split up into two parts.  Part one has students answering twelve questions and each question should be about one hundred and fifty words.  Part two of this assignment has students answering three questions that are one to two pages in length each.  The second assignment, weighing ten percent, covers unit two and has students answering sixteen questions at one hundred and fifty words each.  The third assignment, weighing ten percent, covers unit three and has students answering thirteen questions at one hundred and fifty words each.  The fourth and last assignment, weighing fifteen percent, covers units one through five and is also split up into two parts.  Part one has students answering five questions at one hundred and fifty words each and part two has students writing a ten to fifteen-page research project (which should be written in either conference paper format or journal format).  The final exam is worth fifty-five percent and covers the topics discussed in the five units.

Dr. Mahmoud Abaza, the course coordinator and tutor for COMP 314, has been with Athabasca University for eighteen years.  During these eighteen years he has tutored and/or coordinated COMP 314 (Operating Systems), COMP 315 (Closed), COMP 318 (Introduction to Game Design and Development), COMP 374 (Closed), and COMP 503 (Information Technology Hardware and Software).

Dr. Mahmoud Abaza recommends this course to “any student who had a basic knowledge on computers as well as a one high-level programming language.”

Abaza states, “This is a standard course on operating systems.  We follow a course plan like any other university and that is why this course is transferred to most universities.  Our main resource is the textbook: Operating System Concepts by A.  Silberwchatz and P.  Calvin.  There are three assignments and a final exam.  The final exam covers most of the material in the textbook.”

He continues, “Students should solve all exercises that appear in the textbook while you are reading the text.  If you happen to know another person who is taking the course, whether on the  forum or otherwise, it is good to discuss material with.”

Last, he states “The main benefit of COMP 314 is to learn the structure of computers as well as the internals of operating systems.”

From personally being enrolled in this course (unfortunately it is a core degree requirement), I can tell you that it is a lot of work.  The first three assignments are very lengthy and time consuming, and that is not even considering the final assignment that has a ten to fifteen-page research paper! To reiterate, this course has no programming component; it is a writing course. It requires you to explain, compare, illustrate, and define key terms discussed in the textbook and paraphrase those key terms into one hundred and fifty-word paragraphs.  Some of the terms in the textbook did not even provide enough detail to write one hundred and fifty words so I had to rely on Google to answer some of the questions.  This course has more writing than some of the English courses that I have taken. I also found it a bit strange that all this work does not even equal to fifty percent of your final grade (the final exam is worth fifty-five percent).  Ultimately, this is not a course that you want to procrastinate on and  not a course that I would recommend unless it’s required by your degree or the topics that are discussed are something that you are extremely interested in.

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