Welcome to CS403: Introduction to Modern Database Systems
Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Student Handbook.
Learn about database architecture and implementation by exploring Structured Query Language (SQL), including topics like file structures and access methods; database modeling, design, and user interface; the components of database management systems; and information storage and retrieval.
Though we may not recognize them in our everyday activities, databases are everywhere. They are hidden behind your online banking profile, airline reservation systems, medical records, and even employment records. This course will provide students with a general overview of databases, introducing you to database history, modern database systems, the different models used to design a database, and Structured Query Language (SQL), which is the standard language used to access and manipulate databases. Many of the principles of database systems carry to other areas in computer science, especially operating systems. Databases are often thought of as one of the core computer science topics since many other areas in the discipline have been derived from this area.
This course includes the following units:
- Unit 1: Introduction to Modern Database Systems
- Unit 2: Database Architecture and Date Languages
- Unit 3: Database History
- Unit 4: The Entity-Relationship Model
- Unit 5: The Relational Database Model
- Unit 6: Relational Algebra
- Unit 7: Introduction to Data Normalization
- Unit 8: Introduction to SQL
- Unit 9: Basic Select Statements
- Unit 10: The Join Statement
Course Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
- draw a system diagram of a database management system showing its structure and functions;
- identify the various people involved in database management systems;
- explain the historical background of database management systems (DBMSes) and relate early DBMS problems and challenges to the current state of DBMS technology;
- demonstrate the functions of a database management system;
- develop an entity-relationship model based on user requirements;
- perform the process of normalization;
- convert an entity-relationship diagram to a set of normalized relations;
- explain referential integrity and give an example of relations where it is not satisfied; and
- use relational algebra to construct queries.
Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.
The primary learning materials for this course are articles, lectures, and videos.
All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.
Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score
Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.
There are also end-of-unit assessments in this course. These are designed to help you study, and do not factor into your final course grade. You can take these as many times as you want until you understand the concepts and material covered. You can see all of these assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course's navigation bar.
Tips for Success
CS403: Introduction to Modern Database Systems is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 42 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.
Learning new material can be challenging, so we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:
- Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context, and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
- As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory, and will make you more likely to retain information over time.
- Although you may work through this course completely independently, you may find it helpful to connect with other Saylor students through the discussion forums. You may access the discussion forums at https://discourse.saylor.org.
In order to take this course, you should:
- have access to a relational database management system such as the open-source MySQL; and
- have completed CS201: Elementary Data Structures.
This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.
- To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.
For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.
This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.