Course Details

Course Code COMP3331/9331
Course Title Computer Networks and Applications
Units of Credit 6
Lecture Wen Hu
Admin Ayda Valinezhad Orang
Classes Lectures: Monday 14:00-16:00 Hrs, Thursday 09:00 -11:00 Hrs, On-line: Zoom (links on Lectures page )
Consultations Thursday: 11:00 - 12:00
Venue: on-line ( Zoom Consultations )
Course Website Course Website
Course Contact Email
Handbook Entry Handbook Entry
Student Reps ... to raise major issues about the course

Course Summary

This course is an introductory course on computer networks, aimed at students with a background in computer science / electrical engineering. We will focus on common paradigms and protocols used in present data communication. Through lectures, in-class activities, labs and assignments, you will learn the theory and application of:

(1) Medium access control, congestion control, flow control, and reliable transmission,

(2) Addressing and naming,

(3) Routing and switching,

(4) Widely used protocols such as Ethernet, IP, TCP, UDP, HTTP, etc.

(5) Security threats and common defensive techniques, and

(6) Special purpose networks such as content delivery networks, peer-to-peer networks and wireless networks.

This is a combined undergraduate and postgraduate course.

Course Timetable

There will be 4 hours of lectures every week:

(i) 2-hour lecture on Mondays 14:00 - 16:00 and

(ii) 2-hour lecture on Thursdays 09:00 - 11:00

Both on-line ( Zoom )

There will be 2-hour labs during 8 weeks (starting in Week 2). The detailed lab schedule will be posted on here .The detailed course timetable is available here .

Course Aims

  • To provide an in-depth introduction to a wide range of topics in the field of computer networks including the Internet.
  • To get a hands-on understanding of the working of network protocols.
  • To gain expertise in network programming, designing and implementing network protocols, evaluating network performance and problem-solving skills.
  • To build the necessary foundational knowledge required in subsequent networking courses (COMP4335-4337, COMP6733, COMP9332-9337).

Student Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students will:

  • Have a working knowledge of computer networks, and will be able to demonstrate by describing aspects of the topics and by solving problems related to the topics
  • Have a solid understanding of the current architecture of the Internet and the entities involved in its operations
  • Be able to identify soundness or potential flaws in proposed protocols
  • Be equipped with the necessary skills to design networked applications and protocols
  • Implement and write protocols and applications in C, Java or Python
  • Analyze and evaluate the performance of computer networks
  • Be able to capture and network traffic
  • Be able to understand and explain security and ethical issues in computer networking

This course contributes to the development of the following graduate capabilities:

Graduate Capability

Acquired in

Scholarship: of their discipline in its interdisciplinary context

Lectures, labs, assignment

Scholarship: Capable of independent and collaborative

Labs, assignment

Scholarship: rigorous in their analysis, critique, and reflection

Lectures, labs, exams, sample problems

Scholarship: able to apply their knowledge and skills to solving problems

Labs, assignment, exams, sample problems

Scholarship: capable of effective communication

Labs, assignment, lectures, exams

Scholarship: digitally literate

All aspects of the course

Scholarship: information literate

All aspects of the course

Leadership: collaborative team workers

Labs, assignment

Professionalism: capable of independent, self-directed practice

All aspects of the course

Professionalism: capable of lifelong learning

All aspects of the course

Professionalism: capable of operating within an agreed Code of Practice

Labs, assignment

Global citizens: culturally aware and capable of respecting diversity and acting in socially /responsible ways

Labs, course forums

Assumed Knowledge

Before commencing this course, students should:

  • Have a good understanding of data structures and algorithms, basic probability theory.
  • Be able to write working programs in C, Java or Python. The course will include programming assignment and labs.

Teaching Rationale

This course takes a top-down approach to teaching computer networks. The rationale behind this is that most students have first-hand experience using applications running over the Internet. This allows them to relate to each layer of stack as we travel down the layers. Once they are committed, they participate in appropriate cognitive aspects such as learning the details with a focus to understand them. Students get mentally prepared to answer questions very often there is no single answer or the answers can be unexpected. This results in deep learning and gives students a sense of accomplishment and confidence.

Learning will be largely facilitated through the delivery of lectures. The hands-on laboratories will provide an opportunity to gain deeper understanding of the concepts discussed in the lectures. The sample problems, homework problem set and tutorials will help in the development of problem-solving skills and in preparing for the exams. The programming assignments are mainly geared to allow students to gain familiarity with basic network programming and designing network protocols.

Teaching Strategies

  • Lectures: introduce theory demonstrate how they apply in practice
  • Lab Work: reinforce concepts taught in lectures by conducting hands-on experiments and network performance
  • Assignment: allow students to design and implement network evaluate network performance
  • Homework Problems: allow students to solve problems based on content from lectures, develop problem-solving skills, assist with exam preparation
  • Consultations, Tutorials and Course Forum: allow students an opportunity to ask questions and seek help.


There will be four assessment components as listed below:

Component Weight
Lab Exercises 20%
Programming Assignment 20%
Mid-term Test 20%
Final Exam 40%

To pass the course a student MUST receive at least 40% marks in the final exam. The following formula outlines precisely how the final mark will be computed:

lab = marks for lab exercises (scaled to 20) 
assign = marks for the programming assignment (out of 20 marks) 
midTerm = mark for the mid-term exam (out of 20 marks) 
finalExamScaled = scaled mark for the final exam (out of 40 marks) 
mark = lab + assign + midTerm + finalExamScaled 

grade = HD|DN|CR|PS if mark >= 50 && finalExamScaled >= 16 
      = FL if mark < 50 = UF finalExamScaled < 16 

Plagiarism is defined as using the words or ideas of others and presenting them as your own UNSW and CSE treat plagiarism as academic misconduct, which means that it carries penalties as severe as being excluded from further study at UNSW. There are several sources to help you understand what plagiarism is and how it is dealt with at UNSW:

Make sure that you read and understand these. Ignorance is not accepted as an excuse for plagiarism. In particular, you are responsible for the of your assignment files such that they are not accessible by anyone but you by setting proper permissions on your CSE home directory and/or on online code repositories. Note also that plagiarism includes paying or asking another person to do a piece of work for you and then submitting it as your own work.

Course Schedule

The following table lists the tentative weekly schedule. Students will be informed of any changes during the lecture and by announcements on the notices page.

Week Lecture Dates Lecture Topics Labs Assessment Tasks
1 15 & 18 Feb
Course Logistics
  • What is the Internet?
  • Network edge and core
  • Performance of networks
  • Layering and Encapsulation

Self-Study of Lab
resources and tools
(no submission and no marks)
2 22 & 25 Feb
Application Layer:
  • Principles of networked applications
  • The Web & HTTP
  • Email
  • Domain Name Service (DNS)
  • Peer-to-Peer Networks and DHT
Lab 1 Lab 1 submission deadline: 11:00 am
Tue 02 March 2021

3 01 Mar & 04 March 2021 Application Layer:
  • Content Distribution Networks
  • Socket Programming

Transport Layer:

  • Transport services
Lab 2 Lab 2 submission deadline: 11:00 am
Tue 09 March 2021

Assignment Specs Released (Expected)

4 08 & 11 March 2021 Transport Layer:
  • Multiplexing & Demultiplexing
  • UDP
  • Principles of reliable data delivery
  • Pipelined Protocols
Lab 3
Lab 3 submission deadline: 11:00 am
Tue 16 March 2021

5 15 & 18 March 2021
Transport Layer:
  • TCP
  • Connection management & flow control
  • Congestion control
  • Fairness
Tutorial 1

6 No lecture No lecture
No Lab No Lab

7 29 Mar & 01 Apr 2021 Network Layer, Data Plane:
  • Overview
  • IP
Lab 4
Mid-term Test on 29 March during lecture hours

Lab 4 submission deadline: 11:00 am
Tue 06 April 2021
08 Apr 2021
Network Layer, Data Plane:
  • IP Addressing
  • NAT
  • IPv6
Lab 5
05 April 2021 is Easter Monday public holiday.

Lab 5 submission deadline: 11:00am
Tue 13 April 2021

9 12 & 15 Apr 2021 Network Layer, Control Plane:
  • Routing algorithms
  • Link State and Distance Vector
  • Hierarchical routing
  • ICMP
Link Layer:
  • Error detection
Lab 6
Lab 6 submission deadline: 11:00 am Tue 20 April 2021
10 19 & 22 Apr
Link Layer:
  • Multiple Access Protocols
  • Link Layer Addressing and ARP
  • Ethernet
  • Switches
Wireless Networks
  • Wireless characteristics
  • 802.11
A day in the life of a web request
Network Security (self study)
  • Basic Cryptography
  • Message integrity & Digital signatures
  • Authentication
Tutorial 2
Assignment Due
Exam Period 30 Apr - 13 May 2021
Exam Period
Final Exam

Resources for Students

Course Textbook:

  • Computer Networking - A Top-Down Approach Featuring the Internet, J. Kurose and K. Ross, Pearson, 7th Edition, 2017 (Sixth edition will suffice for most parts).

Reference Texts:

  • Unix Network 1 - Networking APIs: Sockets and XTI, W. Richard Stevens, Prentice Hall, Second Edition, 1998.
  • Java Network Programming, E. R. Harold, O'Reilly, Third Edition, 2004.
  • Learning Python, Mark Lutz, O'Reilly, Fifth Edition, 2013.
  • Computer Networks: A Systems Approach, Larry Peterson and Bruce Davie, Morgan Kaufmann, Fifth Edition, 2011.
  • Introduction to Computer Networks and Cybersecurity, John Wu and J. David Irwin, CRC Press, 2013.
  • Computer Networks, Andrew Tanenbaum and David Wetherall, Fifth Edition, Pearson, 2010.

Links to additional reading material will be available on the lecture notes page.


For the labs, we will be using several Unix-based network utility programs. The purpose of these programs and information on how to use them will be provided in the lab handouts. We will also use a packet sniffing tool called Wireshark which has been widely deployed on CSE machines. In addition, we will also use Ns-2 a widely used network simulator for a few labs. Ns-2 is installed on the CSE lab machines. The simulator is written in C++. However, it uses OTcl as its command and configuration interface. In the lab exercises, we will use scripts written in OTcl. We will provide some of the scripts for the lab exercises. You will be expected to run the scripts, make some changes in the scripts, and certain performance metrics. You will not be required to write C++ code. Detailed resources for all tools used will be made available on the lab page.

Programming assignment is expected to be developed in C, Java or Python. Students are assumed to have sufficient expertise in one of these programming languages. Links to network programming in C, Java and Python will be available under the assignment link the course Sample code demonstrating a simple client/server application will be supplied as a starting point for students..

Course Evaluation and Development

Student feedback on this course, and on the effectiveness of lectures in this course, is obtained via electronic survey () at the end of each term. Student feedback is taken seriously, and continual improvements are made to the course based in part on this feedback. Students are strongly encouraged to let the lecturer in charge know of any problems as soon as they arise. Suggestions and criticisms will be listened to openly, and every action will be taken to correct any issue or improve the students’ learning experience.

Special Consideration

You can view the Special Consideration policy at the link here

UNSW handles special centrally (in the Student Lifecycle division), so all special must be submitted via the UNSW Special Consideration website. If your work in this course is affected by unforeseen adverse circumstances, you should apply for Special Consideration. Special must be accompanied by documentation on how you have been affected, which will be verified by Student Lifecycle. Do not email the course directly about special consideration. If your request is reasonable and your work has clearly been impacted, then

  • an assignment, you may be granted an extension
  • Mid Term Exam, you may be granted an opportunity to take the exam later
  • Final Exam, you may be offered a Supplementary Exam

Note the use of the word "may". None of the above is guaranteed. It depends on you making a convincing case that the circumstances have clearly impacted your ability to work. Note that UNSW expects you to be available to sit Supplementary Exams, if required. If you are awarded a supplementary exam and do not attend, then your exam mark will be zero.

If you are registered with Disability Services, please forward your documentation to your Lecturer within the first two weeks of term.

Contacting LiC and Course Admin: No personal emails please.

9 months ago , last modified 8 months ago .

Resource created Tuesday 12 January 2021, 11:21:18 AM, last modified Thursday 04 March 2021, 08:46:36 AM.

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