Unit 2: Networking

Unit code H/615/1619
Unit type Core
Unit level 4
Credit value 15


Computer networks are the driving force behind the evolution of computer systems and allow users to access data, hardware and services regardless of their location. Being knowledgeable about the underlying principles of networking is of vital importance to all IT professionals. Networking is an environment that is increasingly complex and under continuous development.

Complex computer networking has connected the world by groups of small networks through internet links to support global communications. It supports access to digital information anytime, anywhere using many applications like e-mail, audio and video transmission, including the World Wide Web, and this has opened the floodgates to the availability of information.

The aim of this unit is to provide students with wider background knowledge of computer networking essentials, how they operate, protocols, standards, security considerations and the prototypes associated with a range of networking technologies

Students will explore a range of hardware, with related software, and will configure and install these to gain knowledge of networking systems. A range of networking technologies will be explored to deliver a fundamental knowledge of Local Area Networking (LAN), Wide Area Networking (WAN) and their evolution to form largescale networks and the protocol methodologies related to IP data networks will be explored.

On successful completion of this unit students will gain knowledge and skills to successfully install, operate and troubleshoot a small network; and the operation of IP data networks, router, switching technologies, IP routing technologies, IP services and basic troubleshooting. Supporting a range of units in the Higher National suite, this unit underpins the principles of networks for all and enables students to work towards their studies in vendor units, if applicable.

Students will develop skills such as communication literacy, critical thinking, analysis, reasoning and interpretation, which are crucial for gaining employment and developing academic competence.

Essential Content

LO1: Examine networking principles and their protocols

  • Role of networks:
  • Purpose, benefits, resource implications, communications, working practice, commercial opportunity, information sharing, collaboration.
  • System types:
  • Peer-based, client-server, cloud, cluster, centralised, virtualised.
  • Networking standards:
  • Conceptual models e.g. OSI model, TCP/IP model; standards: e.g. IEEE 802.x.
  • Topology:
  • Logical e.g. Ethernet, Token Ring; physical e.g. star, ring, bus, mesh, tree, ring.
  • Protocols:
  • Purpose of protocols; routed protocols e.g. IPv4, IPv6, IPv6 addressing, Global unicast, Multicast, Link local, Unique local, EUI 64, Auto configuration, FTP, HTTP, SMTP, POP3, SSL; management of protocols for addressing.

LO2: Explain networking devices and operations

  • Networking devices:
  • Servers; hub, routers; switches; multilayer switch, firewall, HIDS, repeaters; bridges; wireless devices; access point (wireless/wired), content filter, Load balancer, Modem, Packet shaper, VPN concentrator.
  • Networking software:
  • Client software, server software, client operating system, server operating system, Firewall.
  • Server type:
  • Web, file, database, combination, virtualisation, terminal services server.
  • Server selection:
  • Cost, purpose, operating system requirement.
  • Workstation:
  • Hardware e.g. network card, cabling; permissions; system bus; local-system architecture e.g. memory, processor, I/O devices.

LO3: Design efficient networked systems

  • Bandwidth:
  • Expected average load; anticipated peak load; local internet availability; cost constraints, throughput.
  • Users:
  • Quality expectations, concept of system growth.
  • Networking services and applications:
  • DHCP; static vs dynamic IP addressing, reservations, scopes, leases, options (DNS servers, Suffixes), IP helper, DHCP relay, DNS records, Dynamic DNS.
  • Communications:
  • Suited to devices, suited to users, supportive of lifestyle desires, supportive of commercial requirements, security requirements, quality of service needs.
  • Scalable:
  • Able to support device growth, able to support addition of communication devices, able to cope with bandwidth use and trend changes, protocol utilisation, addressing.
  • Selection of components:
  • Supporting infrastructure needs; supporting connectivity requirements.

LO4: Implement and diagnose networked systems

  • Devices:
  • Installation of communication devices, allocation of addresses, local client configuration, server configuration, server installation, security considerations.
  • Verification of configuration and connectivity:
  • Installation of internet work communication medium, ping, extended ping, traceroute, telnet, SSH.
  • System monitoring:
  • Utilisation, bandwidth needs, monitoring user productivity and security of the system.
  • Maintenance schedule:
  • Backups, upgrades, security, auditing. Diagnose and resolve layer 1 problems: Framing, CRC, Runts, Giants, Dropped packets, late collisions, Input/Output errors.
  • Diagnose and resolve layer 1 problems:
  • Framing, CRC, Runts, Giants, Dropped packets, late collisions, Input/Output errors.
  • Policy review:
  • Bandwidth, resource availability.