Syllabus Detail

  • Types of keys; primary, composite and foreign, in a relational database. 12 ATAR



  • The primary and foreign key concepts are fundamental to RDMBS
  • The primary keys within a database are used to define the relationships among the tables (records)
  • RDBM Systems rely on primary, foreign and composite keys to function


Primary Keys

  • A primary key is a column containing a unique field in each row
  • This unique value can be used to identify any record in the table
  • A primary keycannot be NULL, and should utilise an appropriate data type
  • A common example of a PK is a database with a table called Students
    • Each row in this table contains a StudentID field
    • This value is an integer, starting at 20200 and incrementing by one every entry
    • The 50th entry in the Students table would have a unique identifier (the corresponding StudentID) of 20250


Foreign Keys

  • A foreign key is a column (or multiple) containing the values of primary keys from other tables
  • Foreign keys are barely ever unique and unlike a primary key, may be set to NULL
  • Foreign keys are used to relate tables, as they establish a link between records
  • An example related to above would place the StudentID value from our Students table in to a foreign key field called StudentID in our Submissions table
    • For every submission entered in to the database, a value for StudentID is required
    • This value depicts which Student has submitted the work
    • The value corresponds directly to the StudentID in the Student table
    • The tables are now related to the primary and foreign keys, StudentID


Composite Keys

  • A composite key is a combination of two or more columns in a table
  • Whilst each field on its own may not be unique, when combined the value of the columns is unique
  • For example, if a database contained a table called Customers
    • A column for DOB exists
    • A column for FirstName exists
    • A column for LastName exists
  • A customer named Mary may not be unique, where as 01011970 Mary Smith can be seen as unique
  • A table's primary key can be made up of composite keys


Further Research

  • Read more about Primary and Foreign keys from Microsoft here
  • Read more about Composite Primary keys from SQLTeam here


Worksheet and Practice (yet to be added)

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