Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Computer Science


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • COMP 1071


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • As specified in the Programme Regulations


  • This module is designed solely for students studying School of Engineering and Computing Sciences degree programmes.
  • To introduce and/or develop the principles of digital electronics and provide a practical understanding of the use of VHDL in programmable logic design.
  • To provide knowledge and understanding of computer architecture.
  • To provide understanding of the relationship between hardware and software when computers are used as components in engineering systems, and the design, implementation and verification of hardware and software in these situations.


  • Computer Architecture including current processor characteristics and designs; memory systems; instruction set design; modelling, design and verification of real-time hardware and software.
  • Digital Electronics including programmable logic systems; digital systems design using VHDL; fast arithmetic techniques.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The relationship between Computer Instruction Sets and High Level Programming Languages;
  • Complex performance issues of current computers, and the selection of processors for specific applications;
  • Real-time modelling techniques for hardware and software;
  • Real-time verification techniques for hardware and software;
  • In-depth knowledge and understanding of fundamental engineering concepts, principles, theories and mathematics relevant to digital electronics.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Practical verification techniques for real-time systems;
  • To critically analyse, evaluate and interpret engineering data;
  • To apply engineering principles to the solution of a specific, complex problem;
  • An awareness of current technology, design analysis, and commercial practice and the ability to bring these together to provide innovative solutions for digital systems.
Key Skills:
  • Capacity for self-learning in familiar and unfamiliar situations;
  • General problem solving skills;
  • Design skills appropriate to digital and real-time systems engineers;
  • Numerical skills appropriate to an engineer;
  • Proficient use of information technology relevant to the engineering profession.

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

  • Courses in Computer Architecture and Digital Electronics are taught by lectures, tutorials and laboratory exercises.
  • Students are able to make use of staff Office Hours to discuss any aspect of the module with teaching staff on a one to one basis. These are sign-up sessions available for up to one hour per week.
  • Assessment through written examination enables each student to demonstrate their knowledge and ability to analyse and solve new problems.
  • Summative continuous assessment for laboratory exercises in VHDL and Model Checking of Real Time Systems is appropriate considering the practical nature of the subject matter.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Computer Architecture lectures 19 1 per week 1 hour 19
Digital electronics lectures 19 1 per week 1 hour 19
Model checking of real time systems project sessions 3 1 per week 2 hours 6
VHDL project sessions 3 1 per week 2 hours 6
Revision seminars 2 term 3 1 hour 2
Office Hours as required weekly sign-up sessions up to 1 hour 8
Preparation and reading and self study 140
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 80%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Advanced Computer Systems 3 2 hours 100% No
Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
VHDL project assessment 50%
Model checking of real time systems project assessment 50% No

Formative Assessment:

Problem Sheets for lecture courses.

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