Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)

Module ENGI42415: Computer Architecture

Department: Engineering

ENGI42415: Computer Architecture

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap None.
Tied to H1K709


  • Communications Fundamentals (ENGI30215) or equivalent


  • Radio and Design Communications (ENGI41915); Communications Networks (ENGI42015); Engineering Design (ENGI41030); Research and Development Project (ENGI41060)

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide an understanding of the design and operation of current computer hardware at a level necessary for the hardware design and programming of embedded and real-time systems.
  • To provide an understanding of the design of current PC and workstation processors to allow the development of time-critical and/or real-time applications using them.


  • Elements of embedded computer systems and workstations.
  • Review of the currently available processor packages.
  • Memory Systems, including memory management, virtual memory and caches.
  • Processor characteristics, including RISC and CISC architectures, low and high performance, instruction set design and context switching.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Detailed design of embedded computer systems using standard chips and programmable logic.
  • Design of hardware interfaces to existing computers.
  • Understanding the operation and performance issues of current workstation processors.
  • Providing the necessary understanding of hardware for system programming tasks.
Subject-specific Skills:
Key Skills:

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Teaching by lectures and tutorials which are supported by summative and formative coursework programme.
  • Written examinations are appropriate because of the wide range of in-depth, analytical material that is covered.
  • Theoretical and laboratory-based coursework contribute a formative element to the module and aid the acquisition of subject-specific and key skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 1 or 2 per week 1 hour 20
Tutorials 20 1 per week 1 hour 20
Preparation and Reading 110
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 80%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination (May/June 2 hours) 2 hours 100%
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Coursework 100%

Formative Assessment:

One piece of coursework which will be assessed but not included in the final average.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University