BSc Computer Science with Industrial Experience

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:

Course unit fact file
Unit code COMP22712
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The module is a strong practical reinforcement of the software/hardware interface. It provides experience in hardware/software codesign as well as dealing with interfacing techniques, from 'bit fiddling' to interrupt routines. There is also an underpinning of operating systems and their implications in machine architecture. The module uses custom designed hardware and software tools developed locally for this specific purpose.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Fundamentals of Computer Architecture COMP15111 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


This course aims to familiarise students with the use of microprocessors/microcontrollers for simple control and interfacing applications. The course aims to develop the understanding of the programming and operation of the ARM processor introduced in COMP15111 to include modular program construction, separation of user and operating system tasks and interfacing techniques at the hardware and software levels.

This course builds upon the understanding of processor operation and assembler programming introduced in COMP15111 and upon the logic design in introduced in COMP12111 to show how hardware and software interact in the solution of interfacing problems.

This module currently runs as a first year CSE course or a second year CS course. There is some variation towards the end of the module to accommodate different backgrounds.

Learning outcomes

  • interface, from the software side input and output devices with an embedded controller

  • customise simple digital I/O hardware

  • properly understand the von Neumann memory architecture (I can't think of a circumlocution which expresses this any better even if it does use a naughty word!)

  • write reasonably sizeable assembly language routines with all the familiarity with processor architecture that entails

  • write I/O software for parallel interfaces, including time-division multiplexing and timers

  • write interrupt-driven code

  • structure, lay-out and document code to a maintainable standard


  • Basic Interfacing [1]
  • Parallel I/O [2]
  • Procedure calls, Nesting & Stacking [2]
  • System calls, Privilege levels, Initialisation [2]
  • Timers [3]
  • Interrupts [2]
  • Real-time operation, User interaction [2]
  • Introduction to Verilog [3]/System design [3]
  • System design [3]/Project [3]

Teaching and learning methods


No formal lectures


44 hours in total, 22 2-hour sessions

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Problem solving

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Practical skills assessment 100%

Feedback methods

Direct verbal feedback and advice in scheduled laboratory sessions.

'Automatic' feedback from tools seeing exercises work/fail.

Written feedback by annotating listings from submitted exercises.

Recommended reading

COMP22712 reading list can be found on the Department of Computer Science website for current students.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 24
Independent study hours
Independent study 76

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
James Garside Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Course unit materials

Links to course unit teaching materials can be found on the School of Computer Science website for current students.

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