An introduction to databases

Learning Intentions

  • Define the term database

  • Describe a database using the terms File, Record and Field

  • Discuss the advantages of electronic databases over manual systems

Success Criteria

  • I can explain the term database
  • I can identify a file, record and/or field in a database
  • I can discuss the advantages of electronic databases

Information systems

  • Information systems (IS) are formal, sociotechnical, organizational systems designed to collect, process, store, and distribute information.

    Data are individual units of information.

What is a database?

  • A structured collection of similar information which can be searched and sorted.

    A database is an organized collection of data, generally stored and accessed electronically from a computer system.

  • For example, an address book you may have is a type of database. It contains:
    1. Names
    2. Telephone numbers
    3. Addresses

Data storage. Computerised or Traditional Paper?

  • Computerised data has many benefits:
    1. Requires less storage space
    2. Ease of backup
    3. Ease of editing
    4. Can be searched very efficiently
    5. Can sort database very efficiently
    6. Can perform calculations

Examples of databases

  • Databases are everywhere, but some big examples include:

Potential careers?

  • There are many different areas of database engineering that offer many jobs.


  1. How could databases be used in these places?



    Police Stations


File, record and field

  • FILE: A collection of structured data on a particular topic.  A file is made up of 1 or more records.

  • RECORD: A collection of structured data on a particular person or object.  A record is made up of 1 or more fields. A "record" is the technical name for a database table row and contains the actual data in a table. Each record in a table contains the same fields but (usually) has different data in those fields.

File, record and field

  • FIELD: An area of a record that contains an individual piece of data. A “field” is the technical name for a database table column and is used to denote a specific type of data. The “Sex” field (column) contains text data denoting customer gender: Each field on a table holds only one type of data (for example, text data describing gender)

File, record and field

  • A field is a single piece of information;

  • a record is one complete set of fields;

  • and a file is a collection of records.

  • For example, a telephone book is analogous to a file. It contains a list of records, each of which consists of three fields: name, address, and telephone number.

Field data types

  • When you create a database, one of the first things you have to do is choose ‘types’ for the Fields.

  • There are several types to choose from

  • Numeric 
  • Text 
  • Boolean
  • Date/Time
  • Currency
  • Calculated
  • Hyperlink

Organising Data

  • Your first step in organising data is to identify the individual fields

  • The specific value, or content, of a field, is called the field value

  • Next, you group related fields together into tables

Launching the Access App

  • Microsoft Access is typically launched by clicking the Microsoft Access item on the Windows Start menu, to open the “Start” screen.

  • Here you see a range of ready-made templates and a list of recently-opened Access files that you can click to reopen:

  • Click on the Blank database template icon to begin creating a brand-new Access database.

  • You can edit the dialog Box (Default name, Default location) to provide your preferred name and location on your computer.

Launching the Access App

  • Datasheet View is the default data entry view for Microsoft Access 2016. Using the Datasheet View to build and manage your tables couldn’t be simpler:

  1. Click the Create tab on the Ribbon
  2. Click the Table Icon located in the “Tables” group

Working in datasheet view

  1. Press the Save Icon on the Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. Enter the name of your new Table into the “Save As” dialog
  3. Click the OK button to create a Table

Before you can save a table it must first contain at least one field.

Working in datasheet view

  • Microsoft Access automatically creates a field called “ID”, which can be renamed or deleted to suit your requirements and provides a “Click to Add” heading that is prompting you to add fields.

Working in datasheet view

  • You can add fields in the table view:
    1. Click the Click to Add field heading
    2. Select a data type for that field from the drop-down list that appears. For example, choose the Number data type.
    3. Type a field heading title to replace the default heading

Working in datasheet view

Create New Database called My classmates

Create a new table in Datasheet View called Classmates

Insert the following fields into the table

  1. ID data type Number
  2. First Name data type Short Text
  3. Last Name data type Short Text
  4. Age data type Number
  5. Hobbies data type Short Text
  6. Favourite food data type Short Text

Enter the data and save your database


4 Databases : 1.1 An Introduction to databases
© J Balfour