Module Identifier CS15410  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Mark B Ratcliffe  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Dr Adrian D Shaw  
Course delivery Lecture   22 lectures  
  Practical   Up to 4 x 2 hr.  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours Multiple choice Online examination  100%
Supplementary Exam Will take the same form, under the terms of the Department's policy   
Further details  

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, a student should be able to:

Brief description

This module examines what a computer is and how it works, down to a level just above electronics. It considers how a program, written in a high-level language, is ultimately executed by a computer.

Informal feedback on progress is provided in the form of question and answer and example examination questions sessions run in class.


This module provides students who intend to study software development with an appropriate initial understanding of the hardware on which programs run and how programs are executed.


1. What is a computer? - 4 Lectures
Block diagram overview; CPU, memory, I/O, Bus. Memory, Digital Logic; pigeon-hole model, address and contents, bits bytes and words.

2. Buses - 2 Lectures
Address, data and control buses. Basic data transfer.

3. Inside the CPU - 3 Lectures
Simple examples of instructions. The fetch-execute cycle and the program counter. Registers. ALU. Control unit. Implementing a machine code in hardware. Digital logic.

4. A real CPU example: Motorola 68000 and 68HC11 - 4 Lectures
Some machine codes and mnemonics. Addressing modes. Assembly code.

5. Executing high-level software - 4 Lectures
Machine-code equivalents of high-level constructs. Function calls. Stack frames and local variables.

6. I/O - 5 Lectures
Reading and writing data. Interrupts. Transfering large amounts of data; DMA, block I/O.

7. Exercises - 4 Practicals
Use a CPU simulator to watch instruction execution. Assembly language comprehension (probably, but not necessarily, by writing a program).

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Ronald J. Tocci and Frank J. Ambrosio (2000) Microprocessors and Microcomputers 5th. Prentice Hall


This module is at CQFW Level 4