CSC1024 : Computer Architecture

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The main aim of this module is to introduce structured computer organisation at a number of levels of abstraction:
1. Digital logic
2. Microarchitecture
3. Instruction Set
4. Assembly language
Theory will be put into context by examining the architecture of a range of real microprocessors.

The secondary aim of this module is to teach assembly language programming using an emulator for a simple computer architecture.

Outline Of Syllabus

- history of computers
- example computer families

Computer Systems
- processors
- primary memory
- secondary memory
- input/output devices

Digital Logic Level
- boolean algebra
- logic gates
- logic circuits
- memory
- CPUs
- Buses

Microarchitecture Level
- Data path
- Microinstructions
- Cache memory
- Pipelining

Instruction Set Level
- Registers
- Memory Models
- Data Types
- Addressing Modes
- Instruction Types
- Flow of Control

Assembly Language Level
- Statements
- Macros
- The Assembly Process

Parallel Computer Architectures
- On-Chip Parallelism
- Co-Processors
- Shared Memory Multiprocessors
- Message Passing Multicompilers
- Grid Computing

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion220:3011:00Revision for end of semester exams
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion331:0033:00Lecture follow-up
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture331:0033:00Lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical112:0022:00Practicals
Guided Independent StudyProject work112:0022:00Coursework
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study791:0079:00Background reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will be used to introduce the learning material and for demonstrating the key concepts by example. Students are expected to follow-up lectures within a few days by re-reading and annotating lecture notes to aid deep learning.

This is a very practical subject, and it is important that the learning materials are supported by hands-on opportunities provided by practical classes. Students are expected to spend time on coursework outside timetabled practical classes.

Students aiming for 1st class marks are expected to widen their knowledge beyond the content of lecture notes through background reading.

Students should set aside sufficient time to revise for the end of semester exam.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination601A50OLAF on Blackboard
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report2M50Assessed practicals (up to 30 hours)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The examination will consist of a number of factual questions corresponding to the lecture notes and a range of challenging questions which require the student to apply theory to real problems.

The assessment in Semester 2 is a practical test of assembly language programming.

Study abroad students considering this module should contact the School to discuss its availability and assessment.

N.B. This module has both “Exam Assessment” and “Other Assessment” (e.g. coursework). If the total mark for either assessment falls below 35%, the maximum mark returned for the module will normally be 35%.

Reading Lists