Topic outline

  • About this course

    A free online course from the OpenLearn section of the Open University. The link gives you immediate access to begin the course.


    20 hours study
    Level 2: Intermediate

    No account required. 
    (If you do decide to create an account and enrol for free you receive a free statement of participation.)

    'There is more to computers and processors than simply PCs. In fact computers are ubiquitous in everyday life. This unit challenges how we view computers through the examples of processors in kitchen scales and digital cameras, as well as a work of art that, at heart, is a computer.'

    1. Computers and processors: introduction
    2. Computers and computer systems
    3. Some facts about processors
    4. Representing data and instructions inside a computer
    5. Examples of computers
    6. A look to the future
    7. Computer programs

    • Learning outcomes

      After studying this course, you should be able to:

      • understand what all the terms highlighted in bold in the text mean

      • understand the fundamental hardware components that make up a computer’s hardware and the role of each of these components

      • understand the difference between an operating system and an application program, and what each is used for in a computer

      • describe some examples of computers and state the effect that the use of computer technology has had on some common products

      • identify the principal components of a given computer system and draw a diagram after the style of Figures 6 and 12 to represent the data flows between them.