The task in this project is to design a normalized database that could be used to collect and store information for a video rental outlet. The database should be structured to support tasks such as:

tracking rentals by title and by customer;

producing reports, such as rentals due on a certain date;

categorizing rentals by media type (e.g., Blu-Ray, DVD, Game).

The assignment does not require you to produce examples of the reports listed, but only that the database be correctly structured to allow the query and reporting features of a DBMS, such as Access, to work properly.

You will need to collect information about several titles in each category, which can be done online, at your local video store, or from your personal media collection. You will be given an initial, un-normalized field list of data items to be tracked, which you will normalize into the appropriate separate tables.

The database students will prepare in this project is somewhat simplified in comparison to a real-world application. For example, only brief customer address information is included, to reduce the amount of data input required for the project. We have also simplified the example in terms of structure; ignoring, for example, the complexities of a real-world video outlet, such as varying rental periods for different products.

The initial field list does not include all of the appropriate key fields for the tables that will be created, so suitable key fields should be added to the tables as required.

This project is most easily completed using MS-Access; for a detailed discussion of the other options for completing the Project, please see “Alternatives to MS Access” below.

Project Details

The following is a list of essential data items to be recorded. As noted above, additional fields may be required as keys for the tables you will create from these fields.

date of rental

due date

media item title

media item category

category description

category code

customer ID#

customer lastname

customer firstname

customer address

If only a single table were made from all the fields listed above, the result would be a system in which every rental would have to include duplicate customer and media item details. In addition to wasting input time duplicating data, such a system would also be highly prone to error, because any change to customer data (a change of address, for example) would also result in different records showing different content for the same fields, unless every historical record for that customer was updated.

The relational database model was designed to solve those problems by identifying key data entities, separating them into their own tables, and relating the tables using foreign keys. (The foreign key is usually the primary key from one table, placed in one or more other tables to create linkages.)

This allows for customer details, for example, to be recorded once, in a table reserved for that purpose, and referenced in other tables by a unique identifier (key), such as Customer ID#.

The required tables are Customers, Media, Categories, and Rentals; each of which should be properly provided with a primary key, and each of which should be related to other tables as required.

All four database tables should be populated with records as follows:

Customers—at least 10

Categories—three records, one describing each of the media types: DVD, Blu-Ray, or Game

Media—at least 30 records, representing a selection of DVD movies, Blu-Ray movies, and Games.

Rentals—at least 20 records.

Marking Criteria

This project represents 15% of your final grade, and will be graded according to the following criteria:


There should be four tables, with the correct fields.

For each missing or incorrectly placed field, 10 marks will be deducted.

KEY FIELDS (40 marks)

Key fields have been correctly assigned to each table.

For each missing or incorrect key field, 10 marks will be deducted.


Use of a Query, Use of Input Form, OR Report, OR use of Field Attributes (i.e., Input Mask, Caption, or Default Value, for projects completed using MS-Access), OR provision of annotated SQL statements (as described below under ALTERNATIVES TO USING MS-ACCESS).

Using MS-Access

You now have the option to download and install MS-Access (free to SCIS students).

For help with the basics of MS-Access, refer to the tutorials and step-by-step directions for basic operations and functions that are included in the Help features of your MS Access software. Search “getting started” in the help utility, and look at the sections on Access basics, creating tables, and producing queries. This approach will provide help that is specific to your particular version of the software. If you have one available, you may also want to refer to a general MS Office desk reference, and review the sections pertaining to basic Access operations.

Alternatives to MS-Access

To complete the project without using MS-Access or another DBMS, you will need to create the correctly normalized tables in some other application (e.g., Excel or Word), including the required fields, and with the appropriate key fields clearly identified. The tables should be populated with data, as required and described elsewhere in the project instructions.

In place of applying the extra DBMS functions (forms, queries, or field attributes) listed as part of the project requirements, students pursuing this approach will submit three SQL statements; each documented or annotated to describe the expected query results. The most basic approach to this requirement would be to produce three variations of the SELECT statement, each designed to produce a different list of rentals according to specified criteria. The criteria could relate to a customer, a specific media category, a title (for example, all rentals for a certain date, title, or customer), or some other aspect of the data.

A general description of SQL may be found by checking the index listings for SQL in your textbook, and reviewing the pages listed.

The project is to be submitted in such a manner as to be functional under MS ACCESS

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