pchapin's Database Systems Syllabus, Spring 2020


Peter C. Chapin. Office: BLP-415 on the Williston campus. Office hours are by appointment. Phone: 802-879-2367 (voice mail active). Email: pchapin@vtc.edu. I will usually respond to email within 24 hours, not including weekends or holidays. Email is the best way to contact me. I am also sometimes on the VSC's Skype for Business, or on the FreeNode IRC network under the nickname pcc.

Course Description

The official course outline lists high level course objectives and content.

This is a course about using database management systems, with a focus on relational databases. We will cover SQL in some detail, along with database design methods (diagramming, normalization, etc.). There is some coverage of database administration, but that is not the primary focus of the course. The database management system that we use is Microsoft's SQL Server.


I assume that you have some familiarity with basic Windows system administration concepts. You don't need to be an expert in these areas; we will review some of them.


The text is Principles of Database Management by Lemahieu, Vanden Broucke, and Baesens. This book provides important foundational material. I will supplement it with other documents and references to material online to support the more practical aspects of database systems that we will cover.

I have created an email distribution list for the class. I will use this list to distribute announcements and other supplementary materials. Be sure to check your mail regularly (daily) or you might miss something important. If you send a question in email directly to me, I may reply to my distribution list if I think that others would benefit from my answer. If you would rather I did not reply to the list you should say so in your message.

My home page contains various documents of general interest.


Course Outcomes

After completing this course, students should be able to do the following:

Grading Policy

I grade on a point system. Each assignment is worth a certain number of points. At the end of the semester I total all the points you earned and compare that to the total number of possible points. In this course there are two components to your grade.

  1. Homework/Labs. 20 pts/each (approximately). There will be about 10 labs assignments during the semester for a total of about 200 points. You will have one to two weeks for each lab assignment, depending on the complexity of the lab. Some labs will require multiple weeks but will be graded in stages, and thus will cover multiple numbered assignments. There is no separate "homework" for this course. The expectation is that the labs will require time outside of lab to complete, and thus also serve as homework. The labs drive the course.

  2. Exam. 50 pts. There will be one exam. It will be held during the final exam period. It will be comprehensive. A practice exam will be provided ahead of the exam.

The exam will be a take home exam. When doing the exam you can use any resources available to you except that you can not consult with other students about exam questions nor post questions directly related to the exam on Internet forums or mailing lists (it is okay to read existing posts, however). If you have questions about the exam, please contact me.

For lab assignments you can discuss the material with other students and post questions related to the assignments in on-line forums. However, you should still do your own work (lab assignments are done individually and not, for example, in pairs). See the section on "Copying Policy" below for more information.

I will not formally take attendance, but I will notice people who seem "disengaged" in the class. Although attendance is not specifically part of my grading policy it will, like other intangible items such as "professionalism," play a role in how likely I am to round up borderline grades.

Late Policy

Roughly, late submissions are not accepted. If something comes up that prevents you from handing in an assignment on time, contact me, before the deadline if possible, to discuss your issue. As a practical matter I can accept a late submission if I have neither distributed a solution nor graded the assignment. Since either of those things can happen at any time after the due date, you should plan on submitting all materials on time. My intention is to grade submitted materials in one to two days after the due date.

Copying Policy

I encourage you to share ideas with your fellow students so I won't be shocked to learn that you've been talking with someone about an assignment. In fact, if you worked closely with someone else you should make a note on your submission that mentions the names of your associates.

However, I do ask you to do your own work in your final submissions. If two submissions exhibit what I feel to be "excessive similarity" I will grade the submissions based on merit and then divide the grade by two, assigning half the grade to each submission. If I receive more than two excessively similar submissions I will divide the grade by the number of such submissions and distribute the result accordingly.

Since "excessive similarity" is a bit subjective, I may only give you a warning if the similarity is not too excessive—especially for a first offense. However, I will be much less inclined to be forgiving the second time. If you are concerned about the possibility of submitting something that might be too similar to another student's work, don't hesitate to speak with me first.

If you find material on the Internet or in a book that seems to answer questions I ask in an assignment, you may include such material in your submission provided you properly reference it. If I discover that you have included unreferenced material from such sources, I may not give you any credit for the question(s) answered by such material. You do not need to provide a reference to our text book or to materials I specifically provide in class.

Other Matters

Students with disabilities may request accommodation as provided within federal law. All such requests should be made by first contacting Robin Goodall, Learning Specialist, in the Center for Academic Success on the Randolph campus. She can be reached by phone at (802) 728-1278 or by email at rgoodall@vtc.edu.

Last Revised: 2020-01-16
© Copyright 2020 by Peter C. Chapin <pchapin@vtc.edu>