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Raspberry Pi Foundation

How Computers Work: Demystifying Computation

Raspberry Pi Foundation via FutureLearn

This course may be unavailable.


Understand computation, the basis of every computer system

On this course, you’ll gain an understanding of how computers work at a fundamental level.

You’ll explore system architecture, along with how computers use binary and logic. Once you’ve examined the von Neumann model of computer architecture and the Fetch-Execute cycle, you’ll learn to build a range of simple circuits for maths, and then simulate various logic gates.

Ultimately you’ll complete the course with an understanding of the processes that underpin every modern computer – from supercomputers to smartphones, and everything in between.

This course would suit teachers of KS3 and GCSE Computer Science - plus educators from other countries that teach at an equivalent level.


  • What is a computer anyway?
    • Introduction
    • What is a computer?
    • How computers count
  • Logic Gates
    • Welcome to Week 2
    • NAND gates
    • All the gates
    • Combinational Logic Circuits
  • Mathematics with circuits
    • Binary mathematics
    • Binary multiplication
    • Maths with logic gates
  • How Computers Work
    • Welcome to Week 4
    • Von Neumann architecture
    • The Little Man Computer

Taught by

Marc Scott


2.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

4.6 rating at FutureLearn based on 89 ratings

Start your review of How Computers Work: Demystifying Computation

  • Jim Faley
    I'm leaving the class. This is not a class for absolute beginners. The explanations are very confusing, they intersperse the explanations with things like "...but dont worry about that not, we'll talk about that later" or things to that effect. The deal killer was the notion of a switch that only works when it's off. Yeah, right. And then a reference link to some site that was written in hieroglyphics. Not good. That's a shame because I really wanted to try to build a Raspberry Pi computer, thought this might give me a base to work from. Apparently not.

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