Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024

Module COMP3637: Compiler Design

Department: Computer Science

COMP3637: Compiler Design

Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • COMP1071 Computer Systems AND COMP2181 Theory of Computation AND COMP2221 Programming Paradigms


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To understand how a compiler for a high-level programming language works.
  • Develop implementation skills for writing practical components of a compiler, including parsing, analysis, code generation, and optimisation.
  • Appreciate how the design of programming languages is affected by compiler considerations.
  • Implement a compiler for a high-level programming language.


  • Compiler frontend: Foundations of compiler theory and techniques for lexical analysis, syntax analysis and semantic analysis.
  • Compiler backend: Intermediate representations (IRs), optimisation on IRs, machine code generation and register allocation.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An understanding of the theory and practice of compiler design.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The ability to work with and reason about abstract theoretical computer science problems and to apply them to practical aspects of compiler design.
  • Recognition and appreciation of appropriate design patterns in the implementation of compiler components.
Key Skills:
  • An ability to communicate technical information in a scientific fashion.
  • An understanding of theoretical concepts of compiler design and their practical use.

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

  • Lectures enable the students to learn new material related to the above content.
  • Formative exercises enable students to apply the material from lectures and enhance their understanding.
  • A summative assignment assesses the application of methods and techniques and the synthesis of the core concepts of the course.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
lectures 20 1 per week 1 hour 20
preparation and reading 80
total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Assignment 100% No

Formative Assessment:

Through example exercises and problem sheets during the course.

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