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COMP22712 Microcontrollers syllabus 2019-2020

COMP22712 materials

COMP22712 Microcontrollers

Level 2
Credits: 10
Enrolled students: 63

Course leader: Jim Garside

Additional staff: view all staff


  • Pre-Requisite (Compulsory): COMP15111

Additional requirements

  • Students who are not from the School of Computer Science must have permission from both Computer Science and their home School to enrol.

Assessment methods

  • 100% Practical skills assessment
Sem 2 Lab Toot 1 Wed 09:00 - 11:00 F
Sem 2 Lab Toot 1 Thu 11:00 - 13:00 G
Sem 2 Lab Toot 1 Fri 15:00 - 17:00 F
Sem 2 Lab Toot 1 Mon 16:00 - 18:00 G
Themes to which this unit belongs
  • None


The module is a strong practical reinforcement of the software/hardware interface. It provides experience in hardware/software codesign as well as dealing with interfacing techniques, from 'bit fiddling' to interrupt routines. There is also an underpinning of operating systems and their implications in machine architecture. The module uses custom designed hardware and software tools developed locally for this specific purpose.


This course aims to familiarise students with the use of microprocessors/microcontrollers for simple control and interfacing applications. The course aims to develop the understanding of the programming and operation of the ARM processor introduced in COMP15111 to include modular program construction, separation of user and operating system tasks and interfacing techniques at the hardware and software levels.

This course builds upon the understanding of processor operation and assembler programming introduced in COMP15111 and upon the logic design in introduced in COMP12111 to show how hardware and software interact in the solution of interfacing problems.

This module currently runs as a first year CSE course or a second year CS course. There is some variation towards the end of the module to accommodate different backgrounds.


  • Basic Interfacing [1]
  • Parallel I/O [2]
  • Procedure calls, Nesting & Stacking [2]
  • System calls, Privilege levels, Initialisation [2]
  • Timers [3]
  • Interrupts [2]
  • Real-time operation, User interaction [2]
  • Introduction to Verilog [3]/System design [3]
  • System design [3]/Project [3]

Teaching methods


No formal lectures


44 hours in total, 22 2-hour sessions

Feedback methods

Direct verbal feedback and advice in scheduled laboratory sessions.

'Automatic' feedback from tools seeing exercises work/fail.

Written feedback by annotating listings from submitted exercises.

Study hours

  • Practical classes & workshops (24 hours)

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Problem solving
  • Other

Learning outcomes

Programme outcomeUnit learning outcomesAssessment
A3Appreciate the function and need for an operating system.
  • Lab assessment
B2 C5 C6 D5Be competent in assembler programming.
  • Lab assessment
A2 A3Know when and how to use interrupts.
  • Lab assessment
B2 B3 C5 D4Have experienced a wide variety of interfaces and interface techniques.
  • Lab assessment
A3 B3Understand the hardware-software interface and the implementation trade-offs around this boundary.
  • Lab assessment

Reading list

ARM Assembly Language: fundamentals and techniques (2nd edition)Hohl, William and Christopher Hinds9781482229851CRC Press2014
ARM system developer's guide: designing and optimizing system softwareSloss, Andrew and Dominic Symes and Chris Wright9781558608740Elsevier2004
ARM Assembly Language: an introductionGibson, J. R.9781847536969Lulu.com2007

Additional notes

Course unit materials

Links to course unit teaching materials can be found on the School of Computer Science website for current students.