Catalogue of Modules, University of Nottingham

G51CSA Computer Systems Architecture
(Last Updated:03 May 2017)

Year  09/10

Total Credits: 10

Level: Level 1

Target Students:  First year undergraduate students in the School of Computer Science.  Available to JYA/Erasmus students.
  This Module has been identified as being particularly suitable for first year students, including those from other Schools.

Taught Semesters:

Autumn Assessed by end of Autumn Semester 

Prerequisites: None.


G51PRG Programming 

Summary of Content:  The course begins by introducing the basic von Neumann architecture for stored-program digital computers and binary representations of basic data types, such as integers and floating point numbers, and operations on them. The course uses the MIPS32 processor as a prototypical example of a modern processor and introduces assembly programming using a simulator for the MIPS architecture. It discusses the implementation of high level concepts such as arrays and procedures on the machine/assembly level. It also covers the lower level implementation of IO using polling and interrupts, and the use of exceptions. Finally, we survey means of increasing performance such as caching and pipelining.
Module Web Links:
  • Reading List
  • Method and Frequency of Class:

    ActivityNumber Of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
    Tutorial 11 weeks1 per week1 hour
    Lecture 11 weeks2 per week1 hour
    Computing 11 weeks1 per week2 hours

    Activities may take place every teaching week of the Semester or only in specified weeks. It is usually specified above if an activity only takes place in some weeks of a Semester

    Further Activity Details:
    Two one-hour lectures plus one tutorial and one practical lab per week. Activities include assembler programming and "build a computer" laboratory.

    Method of Assessment: 

    Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
    Exam 1 50 1 hr written examination 
    Coursework 1 50 Programming exercise 

    Dr J Bacardit

    Education Aims:  To give a broad understanding of the internal operation and structure of a modern PC or workstation. To show how a computer is built up from a relatively simple digital circuit by successive elaboration to form a number of logical layers of functionality; to show that hardware are software are often equivalent in this context. To allow the student to appreciate the typical facilities and mechanisms which underly the operation of various high-level programming operations and facilities. To allow the student to appreciate the key conceptual steps which underly the evolution or realisation of a conventional stored-program digital computer

    Learning Outcomes:  Knowledge and Understanding: To be able to write simple assembly language programs. To understand the major components (especially hardware) which make up a computer system. Professional Skills To be able to program in assembly language.

    Offering School:  Computer Science

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