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ZUG4032 – Computer Networks

Undergraduate – Module

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this module is offered.


Business, Engineering and Technology


South Africa
On-campus block of classes

  • Semester 1, 2021 (Mainstream Programme)
  • Semester 1, 2022 (Extended Programme)

8 credits, NQF Level 8


The module provides an introduction to data networks based on a mix of underlying networks such as the telephone networks, wired and wireless networks, and optical networks. Internet applications using data centres is seen as a primary application and  the course covers the concepts, principles and architectures that lead to optimal use. Basic tools for modelling and simulation are applied to assess network and performance. Concepts of queueing theory and optimization are applied.

The OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) reference model will be used to discuss each of the layers and the functionality it provides. Application layer discussions will focus on standardised protocols. Transport layer discussions will focus on achieving reliable transfer over an unreliable channel. Traffic flow and congestion control are discussed. Network layer discussions will cover global hierarchical addressing and the operation of routing. The data link layer will cover local area networks and their operation connecting to the coverage in Telecommunication Systems and Data Communications.

The module introduces the student to the topics of security and cryptography covering encryption, measures of effectiveness of encryption algorithms, symmetric and asymmetric algorithms, standards, block ciphers and stream ciphers, public key algorithms, authentication and integrity.


On completion of the module, students will be expected to be able to:

1Describe the basic operation of networks that have evolved over a variety of technologies and physical media
2Apply the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) or simplified 5-layer TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol) model to interpret network operation
3Apply basic simulation tools to assess network performance
4Describe and apply basic encryption methods


Coursework assessment: 30%
Examination: 70%

Workload requirements

The module equips the student with the fundamentals of computer networks in order to apply network design or use networks in engineering applications. There will be a combination of lectures that include interactive elements, tutorials, laboratory practicals and Moodle, for sharing learning aids, to help students test their own knowledge through informal quizzes, and to administer short formal tests. All outcomes will be assessed by means of tutorial work, assignment, class tests and final examination.

Chief examiner(s)





Telecommunications Systems