COMP 378 (Introduction to Database Management) is a three-credit, senior-level computer science course that is developed along the database development life cycle, allowing students to easily relate topics to one another along a logical path. The structure of the course follows the development of the material in Modern database management. Students must successfully complete COMP 361 (Systems Analysis and Design) prior to enrolling into COMP 378. This course has a challenge for credit option, for those who are interested in taking that route.
Introduction to Database Management is made up of nine units, one assignment weighing ten percent, two assignments that weigh fifteen percent each, a project worth twenty percent, an online quiz worth ten percent, and a final examination worth thirty percent. The nine units within this course cover various aspects of database management, such as physical database design, SQL (Structured Query Language), two-tier and three-tier architectures, data warehousing, data modeling, object-oriented databases, and much more. To receive credit for COMP 378, students must achieve an average grade of at least a “D” or fifty percent from the combined marks of the invigilated final examination and the online quiz, and an average grade of at least a “D” or fifty percent from the combined marks of the assignments and project.
Computer Science 378 is accompanied by a set of labs and a project to familiarize students with the database techniques and languages that are being used in work environments. The labs use the Teradata University Network, while the project can be implemented using either SQL Server or Oracle. You can download SQL Server using the SCIS access to the MSDN Academic Alliance Software Center, or download the free version of the Oracle database.
Students who are concerned about not meeting the prerequisites for this course are encouraged to contact the course coordinator before registering.
Will Kiiskila is a full-time, fourth year student in the Bachelor of Science program, majoring in Computing and Information Systems at Athabasca University. Will provides an introduction, stating “I started as a Computer Science major at UNBC (University of Northern British Columbia), and transferred to Computing Science at TRU (Thompson Rivers University) before ending up at Athabasca University. I’m not working now but have been at different times throughout my degree.”
When asked to explain the course to students, Will explains that COMP 378 “Covers the essentials to creating and using relational databases. You learn to properly create databases, which you will end up doing in further upper level classes such as COMP 466. You also learn to get familiar with SQL, which you will be using in other COMP courses and your professional career. The textbook was great at introducing a lot of the topics but can often get too detailed into niche cases that are irrelevant for the course.”
As for the structure of the course, Will states that “The course consists of one quiz, two labs, three assignments, one project, and a final exam. The quiz is entirely multiple-choice and relates directly to what is covered in the textbook. The two labs are ungraded but give you a chance to practice writing SQL. All three assignments are written short answer questions. The project contained a handful of short answer questions, as well as creating and designing a complex database. The project also requires you to create a program that accesses a database; however, the professor was very flexible about the tools you can use to accomplish this. I haven’t taken the final exam yet, but the practice exam has a simple format. There are a few descriptions of problems with lots of background information, and a handful of short answer questions to answer about each problem.”
Will would recommend other students to take COMP 378, stating “COMP 378 will help you in your future classes, and professional career. The course is not very difficult compared to other 300/400 level COMP courses, but it has its fair share of complex topics that are covered. I found writing SQL became very easy after working through a lot of practice problems, however designing databases can become very complex when you are working with a large system with complex relationships.”
As for any tips or tricks to successfully completing this course, Will states “Near the start of the course I would complete a tutorial (that COMP 466 recommends) to help you practice writing SQL. It’s free and you do not have to download anything to use it. There is also an eight-hour video which summarizes everything covered in the course, that I found to be a wonderful summarizer to prepare for the final exam.”
When asked how communications with his tutor was, he explains that “The marking for this course was incredibly quick, as well as all communications. They were very helpful and understanding of the problems I encountered. The tutor provided feedback on each question I lost marks on in the assignments and helpful feedback on my project.”
Whether COMP 378 is a degree or program requirement of yours, or the topics discussed above are of interest to you, this course will have you learning a lot of interesting content surrounding the topic of database management.