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Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Introduction to Databases

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Computer Information Systems

DESCRIPTION Study-Unit Aims:

- The aim of this study-unit is to introduce students to a background of databases and DBMSs, their use and architecture, concepts of database design and implementation details, and to teach basic skills and techniques in creating, updating and querying databases.
- An introduction to the database approach, characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of using a DBMS is made.
- The candidate is introduced to the principal components and architecture of a DBMS. The processes of database design and implementation, Database conceptualisation, modelling the database, logical and physical data independence, the three-schema conceptual architecture.
- The use and composition of ER diagrams is enforced as an important abstraction for design.
- The relational model and SQL are used throughout this unit.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• Evaluate a DBMS through its component parts;
• Understand the main components of a DBMS in terms of functionality and interaction with data storage;
• The role and usage of abstract design;
• The data dictionary approach and its usage for describing a wide variety of database schemas;
• The relative merits and capabilities associated with relational data design;
• The relative merits and capabilities for relational languages (declarative and procedural);
• The capabilities of structural design constructs and triggers to implement a database design;
• The usage and scope of server side programming languages;
• The importance of roles and other management issues associated with a live database.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• Name the main parts of a DBMS;
• List the resources required by each DBMS component and their interaction;
• Aware of the various modelling techniques (ERM and data normalisation up to 3NF);
• Choose and apply a design technique appropriate to a system’s data requirement;
• Apply knowledge of SQL DDL and DML for the specification of tables and constraints, basic updating of data and various query operations;
• Understand the translation of declarative into procedural queries (e.g. in relational algebra);
• Write basic triggers;
• Write basic server side programs.


• R Elmasri & S Navathe, Fundamentals of Database Systems, Addison-Wesley.
• A manual for a 4GL will be decided in class.


STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Practical

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Practical Yes 15%
Examination (2 Hours) Yes 85%

LECTURER/S Joseph Vella

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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