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The University of Southampton

COMP3211 Advanced Databases

Module Overview

This module builds on the first year Data Management module to give students a deeper and broader view of the issues involved in database management systems, some of the most complex software in common use.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This module aims to examine the construction of database management systems, and the data structures and algorithms used to represent and manipulate data effectively.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The internals of a database management system
  • The issues involved in developing database management software
  • The variety of available DBMS types and the circumstances in which they are appropriate
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Choose appropriate approaches for data storage and access
  • Demonstrate how a DBMS processes, optimises and executes a query
  • Identify issues arising from concurrent or distributed processing and select appropriate approaches to mitigate those isues
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Select an appropriate DBMS for an application
  • Implement components of a DBMS


DBMS Internals Relational Algebra Data - Types of data, including spatial and temporal Data Storage - The memory hierarchy - Fields, records and blocks - The Five Minute Rule - Row stores vs. column stores Access Structures - Indexes - B-Trees - Hash tables - Multidimensional Access Structures: grid file, partitioned hash, kd-tree, quad-tree, Rtree, UB-tree, bitmap indexes Query Processing - Physical plan operators: one-pass algorithms, nested-loop joins, two-pass algorithms - Query optimisation: algebraic laws, cost estimation, cost- based plan selection Transaction Processing - Chained transactions, nested transactions - Savepoints - Compensating transactions - Concurrency Parallel Databases - Partitioning techniques - Types of parallelism: intraquery, interquery, intraoperation, interoperation Distributed Databases Message Queues Stream Processing Retrieval Data Warehouses and OLAP Non-Relational Databases - Hierarchical, network, object-oriented, object-relational, XML NoSQL

Learning and Teaching

Wider reading or practice52
Follow-up work18
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Completion of assessment task16
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Garcia-Molina, H., Ullman, J.D. and Widom J. (2009). Database Systems: The Complete Book. 

Elmasri, R. and Navathe, S.B., (2004). Fundamentals of Database Systems. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 75%
Exercise 25%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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