l Cambridge IGCSE Computer Science 0478 - 1.3 Hardware and Software | TeachComputing.net

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Revision notes, activities, lesson plans, teaching ideas, and other resources for GCSE, A-Level, and IB Computer Science teachers and students.

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1.3 Hardware and Software

Lesson resources

Introduction to hardware lesson
Computer hardware lesson pack
Computer hardware keyword bingo game
Computer hardware keyword bingo game
Hardware and software revision activity
Hardware & Software revision
Hardware banned words game
Hardware revision game
Software Banned Words game
Software revision game
Boolean logic activity
Boolean logic worksheet pack
Programming languages activity
Programming languages starter
Little Man Computer (LMC) activities
Little Man Computer (LMC) activities
Programming langauges homework
Programming languages homework
Programming languages theory notes
Programming languages theory notes
Computer Science wordsearch pack
Computer Science word search pack
Computer Science crosswords pack
Computer Science crosswords pack
Recommended IGCSE Computer Science textbooks
IGCSE Computer Science textbooks

In this section students study the basic hardware of every computer system: inputs, processing, output, and storage, plus system software.

Note: CIE have many a couple of minor changes to the Computer Science syllabus for the 2016 examinations. In this section, topics 1.3.3 and 1.3.4 have been expanded to cover a wider range of input devices (including a range of sensors such as pH, temperature, and so on), plus a set of output devices. Primary storage has also been added to section 1.3.5. Click here for recommended Cambridge IGCSE Computer Science textbooks.

1.3.1 Logic gates

Logic lab

Logic Lab

Logic Lab is a free online logic circuit simulator featuring many input and output devices, and even a propeller!

Updated: 2015-04-06
AND, OR, NOT gates

Logic gates: AND, OR, NOT

A revision video from Computerphile which covers the three basic logic gates: AND, OR, and NOT. The video includes truth tables, logic gate symbols, and the different notations that are used to denote 'AND' and 'OR'.

Updated: 2015-04-19
Boolean logic lesson resources

Boolean logic worksheets

These sheets from cse4k12 are excellent activities to help students understand Boolean logic and Boolean conditions. The sheets present students with a series of 2D shapes with different properties. Students must identify and use different Boolean conditions (e.g. isTriangle, isShaded) to select particular groups of shapes.

PDF and SVG versions of the documents are supplied, and they are licenced under CC-SA, so you can make alterations if you wish (e.g. adding colour)

The site also has several related worksheets, such as Boolean logic to Venn diagram handouts and truth tables for logic gates.

Updated: 2017-10-17
Logic gates handout and test

Logic gates handout and test

These two handouts provide a summary of logic gates and truth tables, and a simple test sheet on the same topic which is useful as a lesson starter.

The sheets were created by Gary Kacmarcik at cse4k12 site and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Updated: 2017-10-17
Truth table worksheets

Boolean logic worksheet pack

These three Boolean logic worksheets have exam style questions on logic statements and truth tables. There are 22 questions in total, covering AND, OR, and NOT gates. Answer sheets included.
Updated: 2018-05-17

1.3.2 Computer architecture and the fetch-execute cycle

Little Man Computer simulator

Little Man Computer (LMC)

The Little Man Computer (LMC) is a software simulator of a simple computer with a CPU, memory, and a basic instruction set. Students can enter programs in either assembly language or machine code and follow their execution by watching the change state of the program counter, accumulator, and memory. More advanced versions show animated representations of the address and data lines too. The LMC is a great tool for helping students visualise how code and data are represented in memory and how the fetch-execute cycle works.

There are now many versions of the LMC available. Some of the best include:

Most of these versions of the LMC include instructions but probably the clearest explanation of the instruction set is from Durham University.
Updated: 2019-03-19
Von Neumann

The CPU and Von Neumann Architecture

This video covers the components of the CPU such as the Control Unit (CU) and the Arithmetic and Logic Unit (ALU). It also explains the fetch-decode-execute model of the Von Neumann architecture.

Updated: 2017-11-12

1.3.3 Input devices and 1.3.4 Output devices

Input and output

BBC Bitesize

BBC Bitesize covers a wide range of input and output devices. Key concepts are clearly explained. The great thing about the BiteSize site is that it links to a series of related resources, including student activities, news article links, and online dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Updated: 2015-04-07


IGCSE ICT has notes on many topics (including input and output devices) that are useful for a range of ICT and Computing courses. The notes are very comprehensive, clearly divided into sections, well illustrated, and easily understandable for students. This is a good starting point for a lot of topics - not just for the IGCSE course.

Updated: 2015-04-07


TeachICT: detailed notes covering printers, screens, speakers, and more. Teach-ICT does have a range of activities for most topics, though they tend to be a bit gamey and only really appealing to younger students.

Updated: 2015-04-07

EAN Barcodes

Barcode activity with teacher's notes, student worksheets, lesson plan, and presentation slides from the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching. The lesson takes students through how barcodes work, including the calculation of the check digit. There are also plenty of activities and examples.

Updated: 2015-04-16
Computer systems lesson plan

Lesson resources - Computer Systems

Lesson 1 - Computer Systems guides students through basic computing hardware. There are tasks to identify and describe input and output devices as well as label the internal components of the computer.

This lesson is one of the many excellent resources provided under CC-NC-SA by Mr Colley. I've added a PDF version of the original .pub documents included in the zip for those who don't have Microsoft Publisher.

Updated: 2017-10-15
Input output crossword

Input output crossword

A simple crossword testing students' understanding of input and output devices.

Updated: 2017-10-24
Input output activity

Input - output starter / plenary

A short task that gets students to consider the input and output devices used in less common situations: in an aircraft cockpit and on an artist's design workstation.

Updated: 2017-10-24
Spot the mistakes classroom activity

Spot the mistakes exercises

The slides in this presentation present basic 'facts' about computing fundamentals: input, output, binary, hexadecimal, and data representation. Each slide contains a number of basic mistakes (highlighted on the following slide). Students simply need to read through the text, spot the mistakes - and correct them. These activities work well as quick lesson starters or plenaries to check understanding.

Updated: 2017-10-24

1.3.5 Memory, storage devices and media


BBC Bitesize: Data Storage

Covers all aspects of primary and secondary storage devices, including interactive lesson activities, notes, and a revision quiz. Well illustrated, this page also details the relative advantages and disadvantages of each storage medium.

Updated: 2015-04-25

IGCSE ICT: Storage

Although targetted at the IGCSE ICT syllabus, this site still has a lot of useful information for other courses. Their section on storage covers different types of storage media and storage devices, including optical, magnetic, and solid state systems. They also have a section on backing up data.

Updated: 2015-04-25

TeachICT: Storage

Teach-ICT is a popular site which covers the basic topics of computer science - in this case, with notes on secondary storage devices and comparisons in terms of capacity, speed, portability, durability, and reliability. It also has a small section on online storage (cloud computing)

Updated: 2015-04-25
Computer storage devices

Storage Devices

Computer Hope has a good overview of storage devices. The page divides storage hardware into optical, magnetic, and solid state devices, and there are links to sub-pages with much more information. The content is clearly presented and easy to read, making it very accessible for students.
Updated: 2015-09-16
Storage devices lesson plan

Lesson resources - Storage devices

This download contains PowerPoint presentations, worksheets, and Internet resources for the topic storage devices. It includes a comparison of the types of devices and their properties.

This lesson is one of the many excellent resources provided under CC-NC-SA by Mr Colley.

Updated: 2017-10-15
Main memory

Main Memory

This video examines the three main types of of main memory and explains the purpose of each. It also highlights common confusion surrounding between RAM, ROM, cache, and registers. Each memory type is compared in terms of speed, capacity, cost, and volatility.

Updated: 2017-11-12

1.3.6 Operating systems

Operating systems video

Video: Operating Systems: Crash Course Computer Science

A thorough overview of operating systems, the reason we need them, and the types of tasks they perform. Some of the technical language is dropped in without explanation and will probably go over the heads of GCSE students at first, but it is worth sticking with because the level of detail is good.

Updated: 2018-01-11
Operating systems notes

Operating Systems Theory

This page contains notes on operating systems, memory management, hardware management, and user interfaces. The level of detail is perfect for GCSE courses, but also useful as an introduction to operating systems for A-Level and IB courses.

Updated: 2018-01-11
BBC Bitesize operating systems

BBC Bitesize: Operating Systems

This is the better of the two BBC pages on operating systems, covering the functions of an OS in much more detail and with much clearer explanations. There are clear notes and diagrams covering CPU management, memory management, and peripheral management.

Updated: 2018-01-11
BBC Bitesize operating systems

Operating system functions

This page provides a brief over of general operating system functions. The second page then goes into more detail about the different types of process management, including multi-programming, batch processing, and multi-user access.

Updated: 2018-01-11

1.3.7 High- and low-level languages and their translators

High Level Languages

Edexcel GCSE Computer Science: Programming Languages

Covers high level programming languages and low level programming languages, plus the difference between compilers and interpreters, for Edexcel topic 4.5 but also useful for other exam boards.

Updated: 2016-10-17
Programming languages

Machine, Assembly & High-Level Programming Languages

A clear explanation of the differences between the many programming languages available. Near the beginning of the video is an excellent diagram that shows machine code, low level languages, high level languages, and human languages on the same continuum, to help you understand how they differ. It then goes into more detail about the benefits and drawbacks of each language type.

A good follow up to this video is Translators (Assembler, Compiler & Interpreter), created by the same person.

Updated: 2018-02-17
Programming languages

Programming languages - from Scratch to machine code

The CS Field Guide has a very comprehensive guide to different types of programming languages. These range from very high level graphical languages such as Scratch, down to assembly language and machine code. The differences between each language type are clearly explained. There are also lots of interactive elements to try, including a MIPS assembler and simulator to allow students to try assembly language without risk of damage to their machine.

Updated: 2019-03-19