Foundation in Electronics, Signals & Circuits - COM00009C

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  • Department: Computer Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Christopher Crispin-Bailey
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2015-16

Module occurrences

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2015-16 to Summer Term 2015-16

Module aims

This module contains two strands

  • Electronic System Design (ESD)
  • Computer Architectures (CAR)

ESD: The aim of this strands is to examine the electronic subsystems that are used in the construction of electronic computers. The material covered is broken down into four main sections
Fundamental Electronics:

  • Voltage, Current, Power
  • Components: Resistors, capacitors, inductors
  • Basic analysis of analogue electronic circuits

Analogue Electronic Circuits:

  • Components: diodes, transistors, operational amplifiers
  • Standard op-amp circuits
  • Power electronics, power supplies.
  • Power dissipation, thermal management of electronic components

Digital Electronic Circuits:

  • Boolean logic, KMAP minimization
  • Flip-flops, synchronous logic design
  • State-machines

Interfacing analogue and digital systems:

  • Signals and noise
  • Digital-to-analogue and Analogue-to-digital converters, quantisation, aliasing, Nyquist sampling theory

CAR: The architecture strand forms an introduction to the structure of computers at the machine instruction and higher architectural levels. The delivery, based around the evolution of an hypothetical processor, considers quantitative and qualitative design evidence, and emphasises engineering choices and the reasoning behind them. The linkage between low-level machine code, and higher level languages is explored, and examples of interpretative and compiled coding styles are considered. A consistent thread in the material is the issue of design trade-offs, such as hardware versus software, complexity versus speed, orthogonality, and so-on.

Module learning outcomes

On completion of the ESD strand of the module, students will be able to:

  • Analyse the behaviour of simple analogue electronic circuits.
  • Assess the power requirements of electronic systems and design a power supply to meet these needs i.e. voltage, current and thermal management of electronic components.
  • Design and implement operational amplifier circuits to pre-process analogue sensor data. Then select the appropriate analogue-to-digital converter to meet a system's input frequency and signal to noise requirements.
  • Design and implement digital electronic circuits to both control the acquisition and processing of sensor data. Then select the appropriate digital-to-analogue converter, or output driver circuit to control a system's output actuators.

On completion of the CAR strand of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with low-level computer architectures and be able to compare and contrast their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Design simple processors using digital electronic circuits, assess their limitations and appreciate various design trade-offs in the machine's design.
  • Understand the concept and function of interrupts, I/O programming and how these may be implemented within a computer.
  • Write competently in machine code and assembly language at a basic level


Task Length % of module mark
Lab assessment: Tech report
N/A 20
University - closed examination
Foundation in Electronics, Signals & Circuits (FESC)
3 hours 80

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
University - closed examination
Foundation in Electronics, Signals & Circuits - Reassessment Exam
3 hours 100

Module feedback

The lecture material will be heavily supported by relevant laboratory activity which inherently provides formative feedback e.g. designing, implementing and testing circuits to a given specification.

Electronic System Design (ESD) : Students will be given model answers to laboratory exercises each week, these forming the building blocks for the open assessment.

Computer Architectures (CAR) : Students will be given model answers to laboratory exercises each week.

Written group and individual feedback within 4 weeks of closed assessment.

Key texts

Information currently unavailable

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.