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Developing Internet Applications

Points: 30
     Code: M360      Level: 3

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UK fee * Register
Feb 2007 Oct 2007 £330 register
Registration closes 15/12/06

*Fee in other areas : residents of Republic of Ireland   Continental Europe  


This course concentrates on the technologies used to develop distributed applications on the internet. They range from applications such as those associated with online retailing to chat rooms, conference systems, online auctions and web administration tools. The course examines underlying internet protocols, looks at internet services and examines several technologies such as mark-up languages (XML). The course has some programming associated with it, and you will need to have a working knowledge of Java, such as would be gained by completing the Java component of M301 or the course M874. Relatively small amounts of code development are used to support the study of distributed applications. You will be expected to use the Web to do some independent research, in order to familiarise yourself with its uses and to examine newer technologies.

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Course content

A distributed system consists of several computers connected by a variety of transmission media. Probably the best-known example is the World Wide Web. There are two kinds of software associated with such systems: system software, which is used to manage and administer the system (software that maintains a distributed file system, for example); and application software, which is written to satisfy commercial needs. The application software draws on facilities provided by the system software: for example, an online retail site will use internet protocol facilities to carry out the process of sending and receiving sales data.

This course concentrates on distributed application development and the technologies used for implementation. It focuses on the internet as a medium for implementation.

Introduction looks at the main features of distributed applications and the characteristics of ecommerce and ebusiness systems. It describes the supporting infrastructure provided by the internet and examines the structure and use of clients and servers. The introduction ends by examining the different development paradigms that can be used for developing distributed systems: message passing, distributed objects, event-based bus technologies and space-based technologies.

Servers looks at the main features of the two most popular kinds of server found in distributed application systems: web servers and database servers.

Technologies looks at many of the technologies that are used for distributed system development. They include the distributed object technologies RMI and CORBA, the extensible mark-up language XML, and servlets (snippets of Java code that can be used to program web servers).

General issues considers such matters as the security of distributed systems, design principles for distributed systems and the design and implementation of concurrency within a distributed system. The course ends with a case study.

The course uses Java as a programming language, but it is not a programming course. Java is used to give a flavour of some of the technologies that are used for distributed system development; the amount of programming required will very rarely exceed thirty lines of Java code for each task. Fifty per cent of the TMA question will be programming based, but the exam will concentrate more on the conceptual side of the technologies and will not expect more than a few lines of Java to be used for the purpose of examples. Typical programming, design and definitional exercises that you might be asked to carry out include:

  • defining a document in XML

  • programming a servlet to process a web form

  • setting up a distributed object on a server and sending messages to it

  • applying a simple cryptography algorithm to some text

  • retrieving data from a database server.

The course has a website from which you will be able to download updates and additional material, such as exercise descriptions and software for programming and design exercises. The topics in the course are moving so quickly that we think this is the only way to keep it up to date.

This course introduces topics such as XML and web servers, it does not go into the detail that would be found in a typical industrial training course. One of the course’s main aims is to look at the spectrum of topics and give you enough knowledge to develop your own learning of the details of specific distributed technologies.

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M360 is a Level 3 course. Level 3 courses build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from previous studies at Levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject. If you have any doubt about the level of study, please seek advice from our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

You should have completed either Java everywhere (M254), Putting Java to work (M257) or Software systems and their development (M301)and have understood the Java programming part of these courses, or have completed the course Software development for networked applications (M874), which is the Java programming course that can be found in the OU Postgraduate computing programme. You will also be qualified for the course if you have at least one year’s industrial programming experience in Java.

If you have not taken either of these courses and have no industrial Java experience, but feel that you are able to learn the language from a book before starting M360, we have suggested a good introductory book below in the section marked 'Preparatory Work'.

Preparatory work

If it has been more than a year since you learned about Java, then it may be worth your while to read some text on Java. One of the following books would give a very comprehensive introduction and would be particularly recommended for students who have not taken M301 or M874, but feel confident that they can learn a new language from a conventional book.

I.Horton (2002) Beginning Java 2 (SDK 1.4 Edition), Wrox.

H. Deitel and P. Deitel (2003) Java: How to Program, Prentice Hall

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Qualifications helper

M360 is a specified course in our

It can also count towards most of our other degrees at bachelors level, where it is equally appropriate to a BA or BSc. We advise you to refer to the relevant award descriptions for information on the circumstances in which the course can count towards these qualifications because from time to time the structure and requirements of a qualification may change.

Excluded combination

If this course is in a similar area to one you have already completed, you can find out if it is an excluded combination.

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If you have additional requirements

Please note that this course makes use of a commercial software package for developing Java applications. If you have a computer with screen-reading and synthetic speech facilities, there may be problems with the course software. The course materials are available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Large print versions of the course material can be provided on request. You will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet. If you are a new student, or new to using a computer, make sure that you have our booklet Meeting Your Needs. You can obtain a copy by contacting our Student Registration & Enquiry Service. We provide a range of support services but some may take several months to arrange. Please contact us for advice if you have concerns about taking this course, or about the support that could be provided.

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Course materials

What’s included

Course texts, an integrated software development environment (JBuilder) that you can use to produce Java code, all the necessary software and a website.

You will need

A computer as described in our Personal Computing for OU Study section.

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Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the course material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the course. Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with the Open University before you register.


There are four tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and an examination. Assessment is an essential part of the teaching, so you are expected to complete it all. But if you unavoidably miss or do badly in an assignment, some courses allow you a ‘substitution score’, calculated as a weighted average of all your scores for the course. In M360 this rule can apply assignments 01, 02 or 03 but not 04 as it has a threshold. You will be given more detailed information when you begin the course.

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Professional recognition

We will be putting this course forward as part of our portfolio of courses which exempt students from the British Computer Society Part 1 examinations. Please ask our Student Registration & Enquiry Service for Recognition leaflet 3.7 Computing.

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Course starting dates

The details given here are for the course that starts in February 2007. We expect this to be the last presentation.

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Related websites

This site provides additional information on the course, including synopses of the course text chapters and a quiz to determine if your Java knowledge is sufficient to take the course.

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Students also studied

Students who studied this course have also studied at some time:

If you are studying towards a qualification please read its description to help you decide which route through our courses and which level of study are most appropriate for you.

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Registration Information

The fees include all the course material, study support and assessment. Any additional items that you will need (for example a personal computer) are listed in the 'You will need' section above. Other costs that you may need to plan for could include stationery, perhaps a dictionary, and travel to attend tutorials or residential schools if relevant to your course.

The fees can be paid by instalments and there are various forms of help available in the UK only, for those who would otherwise find it difficult to pay their fees. See Financial support for more information.

Where this course is available for study

This course is available for study in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and the following European OU study areas:

Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

All teaching is in English and your proficiency in the English language should be adequate for the level of study you wish to take.

Most students outside the UK will have to pay a higher fee because the UK fee includes a government subsidy restricted to UK residents and students with British Forces Post Office addresses.

Find out about other courses available in your country.

How to Register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

More information

For more information and advice about registration go to Help with Registration.

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