Rajkumar Buyya and Kotagiri Ramamohanarao have written a great article on the Master's Program in Distributed computing offered at The University of Melbourne. 

"Distributed computing systems and applications are not only changing the face of computing, they’re also continually changing the way we live, work, and interact as a society. The World Wide Web put the world at our fingertips, but distributed computing’s history is as old as computer networks, and the primary motivation for building such systems is to share geographically distributed computing resources..."

The full article can be found here http://dsonline.computer.org/portal/pages/dsonline/2007/01/o1002edu.html