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COMP9120: Database Management Systems (2019 - Semester 2)

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Unit: COMP9120: Database Management Systems (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Evening
On Offer: Yes
Level: Postgraduate
Faculty/School: School of Computer Science
Unit Coordinator/s: Chang, Lijun
Session options: Semester 1, Semester 2
Versions for this Unit:
Site(s) for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: None.
Prohibitions: INFO2120 OR INFO2820 OR INFO2005 OR INFO2905 OR COMP5138 OR ISYS2120. Students who have previously studied an introductory database subject as part of their undergraduate degree should not enrol in this foundational unit, as it covers the same foundational content.
Brief Handbook Description: This unit of study provides a conceptual and practical introduction to the use of common platforms that manage large relational databases. Students will understand the foundations of database management and enhance their theoretical and practical knowledge of the widespread relational database systems, as these are used for both operational (OLTP) and decision-support (OLAP) purposes. The unit covers the main aspects of SQL, the industry-standard database query language. Students will further develop the ability to create robust relational database designs by studying conceptual modelling, relational design and normalization theory. This unit also covers aspects of relational database management systems which are important for database administration. Topics covered include storage structures, indexing and its impact on query plans, transaction management and data warehousing.

In this unit students will develop the ability to: Understand the foundations of database management; Strengthen their theoretical knowledge of database systems in general and relational data model and systems in particular; Create robust relational database designs; Understand the theory and applications of relational query processing and optimisation; Study the critical issues in data and database administration; Explore the key emerging topics in database management.
Assumed Knowledge: Some exposure to programming and some familiarity with data model concepts
Lecturer/s: Chang, Lijun
Timetable: COMP9120 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 2.00 1 13
2 Tutorial 1.00 1 13
3 Independent Study 5.00 14
4 Project Work - own time 3.00 10
T&L Activities: A variety of learning situations will be employed during the unit of study, including lectures, on-line demos, tutorials, directed computer laboratory exercises, self-learning SQL exercises (`SQL Challenge`), assessed assignments and a small practical database project. To benefit fully from this unit it is necessary to participate fully in all aspects of the unit of study.

Laboratory: Laboratory and Tutorial work includes hands-on use of DBMS, the SQL Challenge system, and also practice in problem-solving related to the course content.

Independent Study: Work on assignments, reading material from notes/references, etc; this should allow students to engage with the material and to integrate it into their understanding.

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
Experience in conceptual data design and ability to design a schema which says how information about a particular domain will be stored in a relational DBMS (given a conceptual data model); also ability to apply normalization theory to evaluate or improve a relational schema. Ability to capture business rules as integrity constraints in a database schema. Design (Level 3)
Understanding of the concept of a DBMS: differences from other ways to store and share data; DBMS role in organizations; the types of work done with a DBMS.

Ability to work with data stored in a relational database management system (understand table definitions including integrity constraints, extract information through SQL queries, modify information through SQL queries, use views and permissions for security)

Experience of how application software can use data stored in a DBMS (eg a dynamic content web site) and understand the basic architectural alternatives for data management applications.

Understanding of the basic concepts of transaction management.
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 3)
The unit teaches the students the basic technology needed for managing data on a very large scale.

Understanding of the SQL mechanisms for basic concepts of data security and privacy.
Professional Conduct (Level 3)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018.

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

Design (Level 3)
1. Students should have basic understanding of the design of database solutions to data management problems
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 3)
2. Understanding of the transaction concept and its role in transaction processing systems
3. Students should be competent in the use of SQL
4. Indexing of databases and query optimisation
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Conceptual design assignment Yes 10.00 Week 6 (Friday, 11 pm) 1, 3,
2 DB design assignment Yes 10.00 Week 9 (Friday, 11 pm) 1, 2, 3, 4,
3 DB application development assignment Yes 10.00 Week 12 (Friday, 11 pm) 1, 2, 3, 4,
4 Homework exercises No 10.00 Multiple Weeks 1, 2, 3, 4,
5 Final Exam No 60.00 Exam Period 1, 2, 3, 4,
Assessment Description: Homework exercises: Each week a set of questions will be posed, based on course content and/or the recommended reading. Answers are submitted online and are mostly limited to simple formats such as multiple choice.

Conceptual design assignment: Students work together in small groups to develop a conceptual model based upon a given problem description.

DB schema assignment: In this assignment students work together in small groups to develop a SQL schema from a given conceptual model and then create this in Oracle.

DB application development assignment: In this group project, students gain experience in application development using a database. This includes learning how to expose database records to a client interface, as well as the implementation of more advanced back-end features such as stored procedures and indexes. This assignment will require students to be comfortable with programming in the Java or Python programming language.

Mark summation: There may be statistically and educationally defensible methods used when combining the marks from each component to ensure consistency of marking between markers, and alignment of final grades with grade descriptors.

Penalties for lateness: Late submission of assignment and homework will incur 5% penalty per day.

Similarity detection: The University has authorised and mandated the use of text-based similarity detecting software Turnitin for all text-based written assignments.

Final Exam: Final exam
Assessment Feedback: Homework submissions are graded, and correct answers are presented during lecture or on eLearning.

Assignments receive feedback.
Grade Type Description
Standards Based Assessment Final grades in this unit are awarded at levels of HD for High Distinction, DI (previously D) for Distinction, CR for Credit, PS (previously P) for Pass and FA (previously F) for Fail as defined by University of Sydney Assessment Policy. Details of the Assessment Policy are available on the Policies website at . Standards for grades in individual assessment tasks and the summative method for obtaining a final mark in the unit will be set out in a marking guide supplied by the unit coordinator.
Minimum Pass Requirement It is a policy of the School of Computer Science that in order to pass this unit, a student must achieve at least 40% in the written examination. For subjects without a final exam, the 40% minimum requirement applies to the corresponding major assessment component specified by the lecturer. A student must also achieve an overall final mark of 50 or more. Any student not meeting these requirements may be given a maximum final mark of no more than 45 regardless of their average.
Policies & Procedures: IMPORTANT: School policy relating to Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism.

In assessing a piece of submitted work, the School of Computer Science may reproduce it entirely, may provide a copy to another member of faculty, and/or to an external plagiarism checking service or in-house computer program and may also maintain a copy of the assignment for future checking purposes and/or allow an external service to do so.

Other policies

See the policies page of the faculty website at for information regarding university policies and local provisions and procedures within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.
Prescribed Text/s: Note: Students are expected to have a personal copy of all books listed.
  • Database Management Systems
Recommended Reference/s: Note: References are provided for guidance purposes only. Students are advised to consult these books in the university library. Purchase is not required.
  • A First Course in Database Systems
  • Database Systems: An Application-Oreinted Approach
  • Database Systems: The Complete Book
Online Course Content: University of Sydney LMS (Canvas) will be used as the main gateway to all resources, including:

- Lecture slides

- Lecture recordings

- Introductory videos

- Activity Worksheets and solutions

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar

Week Description
Week 1 Introduction
Week 2 Conceptual Database Design
Week 3 Relational Data Model & Logical Database Design
Week 4 Relational Algebra and SQL
Week 5 Complex SQL
Week 6 Database Integrity
Assessment Due: Conceptual design assignment
Week 7 Introduction to Database Application Development
Week 8 Transaction Management
Week 9 Schema Refinement and Normalisation
Assessment Due: DB design assignment
Week 10 Storage and Indexing
Week 11 Query Evaluation
Week 12 Query Optimisation
Assessment Due: DB application development assignment
Week 13 Review
Exam Period Assessment Due: Final Exam

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Graduate Certificate in Data Science 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Software) 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Graduate Certificate in Information Technology 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Graduate Certificate in Information Technology Management 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Graduate Diploma in Computing 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Graduate Diploma in Health Technology Innovation 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Graduate Diploma in Information Technology 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Graduate Diploma in Information Technology Management 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Master of Health Technology Innovation 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Master of Information Technology 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Master of Information Technology Management 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Master of IT/Master of IT Management 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 3) No 0%
Design (Level 3) Yes 27.5%
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 3) Yes 72.5%
Professional Conduct (Level 3) Yes 0%

These goals are selected from Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018 which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018 for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.