COMPSCI 351 : Fundamentals of Database Systems


2023 Semester One (1233) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Database principles. Relational model, Relational Algebra, Relational Calculus, SQL, SQL and Programming Languages, Entity Relationship Model, Normalisation, Query Processing and Query Optimisation, ACID Transactions, Transaction Isolation Levels, Database Recovery, Database Security, Databases and XML.

Course Overview

Databases are at the core of most modern software applications. In this course, you will learn the foundations of database systems, enabling you to build effective and efficient database applications. The course is divided into two parts: the first teaches you how to design and use a database application and the second covers transaction and looks in-depth at how database systems are built to work in the current changing environment.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: COMPSCI 220, and COMPSCI 225 or MATHS 254 Restriction: COMPSCI 751, SOFTENG 351

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe and explain the basic concepts and structures of how databases and database systems work. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  2. Demonstrate and apply conceptual data modelling techniques for a database design. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  3. Use and apply the relational data model and the conversion from conceptual data models into relational databases. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Develop the practical skills associated with Structure Query Language (SQL) to build database solutions in line with their usage. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Use and apply theoretical database knowledge such as relational algebra, functional dependencies and normalisation. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  6. Critically evaluate quality aspects of relational database design in terms of functional dependencies and associated normal forms. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  7. Describe and explain the key implementation techniques of database management systems, such as file storage, data retrieval and indexing, etc. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  8. Describe and explain the key concurrency techniques of database management systems, such transaction processing, recovery, serializability, etc. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  9. Describe and explain the advanced data models and modern query languages. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  10. Describe and explain modern distributed database systems and their applications. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 30% Individual Coursework
Laboratories 15% Individual Coursework
Term Test 10% Individual Test
Final Exam 45% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Term Test
Final Exam


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Key Topics

Focus on the fundamental concepts necessary for designing, using and implementing database systems and database applications.
  • Database Systems and Concepts 
  • Data Modeling – Entity-Relationship (ER) diagrams 
  • Relational Data Model and Database Design 
  • Structured Query Language (SQL) 
  • Relational Algebra, Functional Dependencies and Normalization 
  • Transaction processing 
  • Storage and Retrieval 
  • Data Models and Query Languages 
  • Distributed Data 

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15-point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect:

  • 3 hours of lectures
  • A 1-hour tutorial
  • 4 hours of reading and thinking about the content
  • 2 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

This course is designed for in-person delivery. Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including labs/tutorials to receive credit for components of the course.

Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including tutorials/labs will not be available as recordings.
The course will not include live online events including tutorials.
Attendance on campus is required for the test. Attendance on campus is not required for the exam.

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Course Material:
  • The course materials will be covered by the lecture notes, lab exercises, and assignment handouts. 
  • There are no required coursebooks or textbooks. There are three reference textbooks for the purpose of additional reading only.
  • Piazza is the course forum for posting questions, answering, and discussions. Students are encouraged to actively participate in the online discussions of the material taught in the course.
Recommended Readings:
  • Fundamentals of Database Systems, 7th Edition, by Ramez Elmasri and Shamkant B. Navathe, Pearson Publisher.
  • Designing Data-Intensive Applications, by Martin Kleppmann, O'Reilly Media, Inc. Publisher.
  • Database System Concepts Avi Silberschatz, Henry F. Korth S. Sudarshan,  McGraw-Hill

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Based on student feedback, the exam weight is reduced this year and  the weights of the lab and assignment components are increased.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 08/11/2022 12:26 p.m.