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1.1 Explain a computer network.


Unit Reference Number


Unit Title


Unit Level


Number of Credits


Total Qualification Time (TQT)


Guided Learning Hours (GLH)


Mandatory / Optional


Sector Subject Area (SSA)

14.1 Foundations for learning and life

Unit Grading Structure

Pass / Fail

Unit Aims

The aim of this unit is to enable learners to understand the importance of networks to computer systems and their essential use in a variety of application. Learners will also gain knowledge about network technologies and the delivery of a wide range of networked services.

Learning Outcomes, Assessment Criteria and Indicative Content

Learning Outcomes – The learner will:

Assessment Criteria – The learner can:

Indicative contents

1. Understand networking principles .

1.1 Explain a computer network.

1.2 Differentiate between ‘client computers’ and ‘peer computers’ from network services perspective.

1.3 Describe local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN).

1.4 Describe the benefits and constraints of different network topologies.

  • Computer Network:
    • sharing hardware resources
    • sharing software resources
    • sharing common data
    • potential intranet provision
    • e-mail communication between users
    • centralised management services
  • ‘Client computers’ and ‘Peer computers’
  • LAN and WAN including VLAN, WLAN and VPN
  • Topology:
    • Linear Bus Topology
    • Ring Topology





  • Star Topology
  • Mesh Topology
  • Tree Topology
  • Hybrid Topology

2. Understand how network hardware and software components are connected.

2.1 Explain how hardware, software and addressing combine to support network communications.

2.2 Describe potential issues with computer networks.

2.3 Explain the steps required to set up and test a simple local area network.

  • Hardware: network cards eg ethernet, wireless; workstations; servers eg file, printer, web; routers; switches; wireless devices
  • Communication: network cabling eg fibre optics, UTP, STP, coaxial; connectors; addressing; WAN connectivity eg ADSL, ISDN, broadband
  • Software: application-based eg internet browsers, firewalls, email; operating system; utility
  • Issues:

speed eg bandwidth, contention; costs; staff skills; down time; security issues eg unauthorised access, loss of data, malware, virus protection; backup eg recovery; hacking; firewalls 1.1 Explain a computer network.


  • Preparation: components eg cabling, devices, network interface cards, software
  • Set up: hardware; software; security; health and safety awareness
  • Simple LAN: eg peer to peer, client-server
  • Faults: commonly occurring eg address conflict, network card failure, faulty cable; loss of service eg print, file, email
  • Testing: functionality; connectivity; addressing
  • Security: eg firewall configuration, file and folder permissions, access control, user rights
  • Use: communication; transfer files; others eg allocate user rights, allocate file space





  • Troubleshoot: problem solving eg connectivity, IP addresses

3. Understand the usage and security concerns related to networking.

3.1 Evaluate the features and services provided by a local and a wide area network.

3.2 Identify security issues related to networking and how those security issues can be minimised.

3.3 Explain steps to configure security on a local area network.

  • Features: topologies eg star, bus, circle; types eg peer-to-peer, client server; data rates; addressing eg IP, MAC Services: communication eg email, conferencing; file transfer; login; security; software deployment
  • Security: eg firewall configuration, file and folder permissions, access control, user rights
  • Wireless encryption methods: WPA, WPA2, WEP, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), Remote Access


To achieve a ‘pass’ for this unit, learners must provide evidence to demonstrate that they have fulfilled all the learning outcomes and meet the standards specified by all assessment criteria. 1.1 Explain a computer network.

Learning Outcomes to be met

Assessment criteria to be covered

Type of assessment

Word count (approx. length)

All 1 to 3

All AC under LO 1 to 3


3000 words

Indicative Reading list

  • Kurose, J. & Ross, K. (2017) Computer Networking: a top-down approach. 7th ed. Pearson
  • Kizza, J. (2015) Guide to Computer Network Security. 3rd ed. Springer
  • Tanenbaum, A. & Wetherall, D. (2013) Computer Networks. 5th ed. Pearson 1.1 Explain a computer network.

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