Course syllabus

An introduction to data communications: the OSI reference model, particularly how the lower layers combine to implement the application layer. An introduction to secure communication and computer systems.

Prerequisite: PHYSICS 140 and 15 points from COMPSCI 105, 107, 130

We will be using Piazza for class discussion. Rather than emailing questions to the teaching staff, we encourage you to post your questions on Piazza.

Find our class page at   

Lecture Times

These are indicative. You should check your own class timetable to get the current lecture time and venue

Lectures: Mon 3:00PM - 4:00PM, Tue 2:00PM - 3:00PM, Thu 3:00PM - 4:00PM  (201N-346, Human Sciences - North, Room 346)

Tutorial Times

These are indicative. You should check your own class timetable to get the current lecture time and venue

Tue 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM (303S-G75, Science Main, Room G75),

Wed 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM (303S-G75, Science Main, Room G75),

Wed 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM (303S-G75, Science Main, Room G75),

Wed 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM (303S-G75, Science Main, Room G75),

Wed 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM (303S-G75, Science Main, Room G75),

Wed 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM (303S-G75, Science Main, Room G75),

Wed 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM (303S-G75, Science Main, Room G75),

Thu 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM (302-190, SCIENCE B302, Room 190),

Thu 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM (303S-G75, Science Main, Room G75),  

Fri 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM (303S-G75, Science Main, Room G75),

Fri 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM (303S-G75, Science Main, Room G75),

Fri 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM (303S-B75, Science Main, Room B75).


Class Reps

Course Schedule (tentative)

  • Week 1: Overview, layering, protocol introduction
  • Week 2: Link layer, Ethernet, MAC addresses, ARP
  • Week 3: IP (v4, subnets, v6)
  • Week 4:  TCP and UDP
  • Week 5: Cryptography preliminaries
  • Week 6: Classic cryptographic schemes
  • Week 7: Symmetric and public-key cryptosystems
  • Week 8: Key Management and exchange, Message integrity, digital signatures
  • Week 9: HTTP basics 
  • Week 10: HTTP compression and caching 
  • Week 11: HTTP authentication 
  • Week 12: HTTPS, DNS, DNSSec 

Learning Outcomes

A student who successfully passes this course should be able to:

  • List and define the appropriate network terminology, and describe the layered structure of a typical networked architecture
  • Describe the operation of and differences and interrelations between IP and Ethernet, and describe the operation of reliable delivery protocols.
  • Describe the purpose of cryptography and understand ways it is used in data communications.
  • Understand message integrity and digital signatures
  • Understand the concept of HTTP, HTTP authentication, DNS, DNSSec.


Examination: 60%; Class test: 20%; Assignments: 20%.

Unless otherwise stated, we have an assignment due every MONDAY 1 PM. The assignments are auto-marked, and it is important to follow the answer format strictly. If you submit before FRIDAY 8 pm, we will email you a provisional mark. If you think you can improve the mark, please feel free to re-submit your solution, but before the assignment is due. No extension will be granted unless there is a valid medical certificate endorsed by the university health services.  

There will be weekly assignments 11 in total with 1.6% each.

The test is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, 30th April 2019. This will be in-class, that is, 2:00PM - 3:00PM. The test will be in the material covered in Weeks 1-6 (inclusive).


Tutorials help you to understand better what we will be discussing in class during the lectures. In order to ensure that every student makes an effort to attend them we require each student to attend at least 90% of them. This will give you 2.4% of the total marks (from the assignment component). 

Lecture Recordings

All lectures are recorded.  They may be a delay of 1-2 days before the lecture recordings are distributed through Canvas.  You can find the lecture recordings on the Lecture Recordings page (COMPSCI 215 > Pages > Lecture Recordings).  Note that although the lectures are recorded, some learning activities conducted in class do not translate well to the recordings.  To maximise your learning opportunities, attending the lectures in person is paramount

Class Reps

To be announced (after elected by the class). 

Handling illness or absence

  • If you must leave for family emergencies etc., please talk to the lecturer, or somehow get a message to the department. Very few problems are so urgent that we cannot be told quite quickly.
  • For problems affecting assignments or tests, see the lecturer, as soon as reasonably possible.
  • For illness during exams (or other problems that affect exam performance) students must contact the University within one week of the last affected examination, to apply for an aegrotat pass (for illness) or compassionate pass (other problems).

Refer to the University information about Aegrotat and Compassionate Considerations:

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 his or her learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the world-wide web. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against electronic source material using computerised detection mechanisms. Upon reasonable request, students may be required to provide an electronic version of their work for computerised review.

Sharing solutions to assessments or sharing source code leading to solutions violate the principles of academic integrity.

Please refer to 


Every member of the University has a right to dignity and respect. Please see the policy on harassment:

Course summary:

Date Details