This Unit


Lecture Material


Unit 20: Computer Hardware

 For details about this course follow the links below.


Assessment & Grading


Unit Overview

The computer hardware unit is one unit that counts towards a BTEC National award and involves 17 lessons taken over the one semester.

This unit outlines the basic hardware of a computer. The unit gives learners the ability and confidence to build and upgrade PCs and to rectify simple faults. Most of the classroom activities will be practical workshops but there will also be research based activities.

 Summary of Learning Outcomes

To achieve this unit a learner must:-

Investigate basic computer architecture and the functions of devices

Dismantle and re-assemble a microcomputer system, including the base unit

Configure CMOS and system boards to match CPUs and peripheral devices

Troubleshoot and maintain a microcomputer system.


Assessment & Grading

    How will I be assessed?

This unit is internally assessed and will be by means of four assignments, a series of class activities and quizzes and a written test.  

The assignments are designed to cover all aspects of the grading criteria (see the table below) apart from practical work that must be carried out in the computer workshops.

The class activities are designed to cover the practical parts of the grading criteria.  This means that you should attend all classes unless you have a VALID reason for not attending.  In this case arrangements will be made for covering the missed activity.

    How will I be graded?

In order to pass this unit, the evidence that the learner presents for assessment needs to demonstrate that they can meet all of the learning outcomes for the unit.  The criteria for a pass grade describe the minimum level of achievement required to pass this unit.

The table below shows the grading criteria.  A printer friendly version is available that details how the assignments or classroom activities provide the student evidence opportunities for each grading criteria.

Assessment Criteria


To achieve each outcome the student must demonstrate the ability to:

1     Investigate basic computer architecture and function of devices

    demonstrate a basic knowledge of binary and hexadecimal numbers

    describe basic logic functions

    draw a block diagram of a simple CPU

    draw a block diagram of a basic computer including DMA IRQ and I/O controllers

2.    Dismantle and re-assemble a microcomputer system  

    dismantle a computer system into its constituent parts

    recognise the shape and pin numbering of various connectors

    demonstrate an understanding of the variety of plugs and sockets on a PC case and the range of peripheral devices

    associate each connector with the appropriate peripheral parts

3.    Dismantle and re-assemble a microcomputer base unit

    define & recognise different form factors

    install CPU's

    differentiate between various bus slots

    describe memory devices and install RAM

    configure and install backing store devices

     install multimedia devices and drivers

    explain monitor operation in terms of resolution, refresh rates and bandwidth 

    install and configure printers.    

4.    Configure CMOS and system boards to match CPU's and peripheral devices

    configure CMOS set up for a variety of BIOS manufacturers

    evaluate the selection process and configuration of a system board for a range of CPUs

5.    Install and use modern operating systems

    contrast the functions of different types of operating systems, e.g. Windows 95 and 98 and Windows NT

    install, use and customise an operating system

6.    Troubleshoot & maintain a microcomputer system


    demonstrate an understanding of those aspects of the Health and Safety at Work Act as it applies to computer users

    demonstrate safe working practice and an awareness of ESD

    specify the process of the post and its limitations

    use diagnostic tools to rectify simple faults in a microcomputer system

    use disk tools to correctly organise disks.



The areas of computer hardware this unit will cover are...

    1   Architecture and the functions of devices

Basic system block diagrams including CPU, ROM, RAM, I/O, system buses

    2   Microcomputer system, base unit

Microcomputer system: serial and parallel ports, PS/2 and serial mice, keyboard connectors, COM1 and COM2, LPT1, graphics ports, modem, network, joystick, sound

    3   Microcomputer base unit

System boards: e.g. Socket 7/Socket 370 Slot 1/A; form factors

CPU, e.g. AMD, Cyrix, IDT, speeds, performance 

Bus system, e.g. ISA/PCI/AGP

Chip sets, e.g. LX, BX

Memory: ROM, CMOS, cache, EDORAM, SDRAM, SIMMs, DIMMs, virtual

Expansion cards, e.g. graphics, sound, modem, network cards

Backing store, e.g. hard disks, floppy, optical, zip, tape, CDR/W, DVD-ROM

Monitor,  resolution, refresh rates, bandwidth

Printers: e.g. dot matrix, ink jet, laser

    4   CMOS and system boards

System board configuration: settings for bus and CPU speeds, voltage ratings, etc, system board manuals

CMOS set up: configuration for system

    5   Operating systems

operating system installation: install operating system, e.g. Windows (modern version), Linux, etc.

    6   Troubleshoot and maintain

Electro Static Discharge (ESD) precautions: safe and correct working practice, Health and Safety at Work Act, etc.

Troubleshooting: observation of Power On Self Test (POST) sequence, use of hardware and software diagnostics

Maintenance: system tools, disk management


All the best for the course!!


 Site Home

Unit Home  

This Unit 

Unit Information





Scheme of Work




Learning Center




Lecture Materials

Tutorials & Notes



Site Home Top Unit Home

ADR 2002