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University of London International Programmes

How Computers Work

University of London International Programmes via Coursera


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Computers are everywhere, they aren't just the desktops and laptops we use for work but the phones in our pockets and even the watches on our wrists are also computers. You probably use a computer every day and in fact you are reading this on a computer! Just because we use computers all the time, doesn't mean that we understand them, or find them easy to use. Computer Science is the science of computers, it is the field of knowledge that experts use to understand computer systems. Knowing a little computer science will help you understand the computers all around you. This isn't a how-to course for a particular piece of software, instead you will learn some fundamental concepts that you can apply to any software or computer system. You'll apply these concepts to the kind of computer systems we use every day, including word processing applications, e-commerce, the internet and web sites. You will learn how to apply computer science concepts to solve problems in daily computer use and generally be a better computer user. Taking this course could be the start of your career in computer science, and the course is an introduction to the Bachelors in Computer Science from University of London, but it is also for you if you just want to learn a little computer science to help you better understand the computers you use in your ordinary life.


  • Abstraction
    • This week starts your journey into understanding computer science. You will think about how computer science can help you understand the technology you use every day and you will also learn one of the most important concepts in computer science: abstraction.
  • State, modularity and applications
    • In this week you will learn about the computer science concepts of state and modularity and how they can help you understand the computer applications that you use every day.
  • Networks
    • This week you will learn about how computers communicate with each other over networks, including the internet. You will also learn about some of the security threats that the internet entails and how they can be avoided.
  • How the web works
    • In this week you will apply all of the computer science concepts you have learned in this course to understanding how modern websites work.

Taught by

Dr Marco Gillies


3.7 rating, based on 3 Class Central reviews

4.6 rating at Coursera based on 541 ratings

Start your review of How Computers Work

  • Profile image for Sulsoyy
    This course is very easy and covers very basic of computer science. I was able to complete this within a week during the free-trial period. However, the major downfall of this course is that it lacks the depth of contents as it only teaches you very…
  • This is a great introductory computer science course. It covers at a high level: abstraction, state machines, debugging, networks, security and more. Highly recommended!
  • It's a pretty good course. I took it with a Coursera Plus subscription. However, I wouldn't pay for it individually. This course is good about abstraction and the basic components of a computer. But don't expect anything in-depth. It's pretty superficial about the structure of a computer. Nevertheless, this course will help you learn how to think abstractly and work with complex machines in a simpler way. So, I generally recommend taking this course, but only if you have a Coursera Plus subscription. By the way, I completed the course quickly, in just 4 days.

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