module specification

CT5003 - Microprocessors & Embedded Systems (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Microprocessors & Embedded Systems
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Workshops and MCT
Coursework 20%   Case Study (1500 words)
Unseen Examination 50%   2-Hours Unseen Examination
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Friday Morning

Module summary

This module introduces students to the basic concepts of microprocessors and the role that hardware and software play in the functional behaviour of microprocessor systems. Students are then introduced to some of the more common microcontrollers. Interfacing external memories as well as various input/output devices and sensors are also covered. The module enables students to analyse the requirements of a given task, make decisions in selecting an appropriate controller, design and implement prototype hardware/software for a typical embedded systems product. Practical workshops are designed to introduce microprocessor software development, testing and debugging.  Workshops provide students with an opportunity to use both ‘C’ and assembly language. 

Module aims

The aims of this module are:
• To introduce the microprocessor as a programmable digital system;
• To provide an understanding of a microprocessor-based system as a combination of hardware and software subsystems and their interaction;
• To illustrate basic concepts of microprocessors through the use of assembly and high-level language programming;
• To outline the principles and to be able to design both the hardware and software elements of a microcontroller-based system using typical industrial development tools;


Fixed systems vs. programmable systems, examples of typical microprocessors, block diagram of the internal architecture of a simple microprocessor, Von-Neumann vs. Harvard architecture, definition of program and data memory and other devices such as input / output peripherals.

The main features some of the typical microcontrollers and their architecture, register banks, bit and byte addressable locations and special function registers, on-board timer/counters, their modes and operation, the serial port, RS232 protocol, interrupt architecture, interrupt vectors and service routines.

External memory interfacing (data and program memory), interfacing switches & keypads, seven-segment displays, LEDs & LCDs, motors and actuators, Analogue to Digital Converters (ADC), Digital to Analogue Converters (DAC) and interfacing various sensors (temperature, humidity, flow etc).

Relationship between hardware and software in a given system and the role each play in functionality of the system. Processor instruction set, format of instructions, writing assembly language programs, internal and external memory data transfer, Boolean instructions, bit testing and program branching. Processor addressing modes and use of look up tables. Introduction to C programming for embedded systems, low-level vs high level languages, C-code for various examples, variable types, Libraries, functions, parameters and arguments; memory addressing, arrays, pointers, interrupts and interrupt service routines.

Embedded system product development, development systems and tools, phases of product development from initial concept to hardware/software integration management, safety and ethical issues concerning embedded systems product design & issues of international standards.

Learning and teaching

The majority of teaching and learning activities will be based on formal lectures / seminars and practical workshops. The workshops cover both the hardware and software aspects of microprocessors / microcontrollers.   The module is supported by a comprehensive web site providing students with the necessary lecture material, workshops, study guides and self-assessment test.  The module normally consists of 1-hour formal lecture followed by 2-hours of workshops, tutorials and group work.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
LO1. Use a programmers’ model to describe the basic operation of a microprocessor and to
design, test, debug and document using a typical microprocessor development system;
LO2. Design hardware and software (using ‘C’ and embedded Assembly language codes) to develop a typical microcontroller-based unit from a given customer’s specification;
LO3. Explain the need for and describe the operation of the additional hardware and software components, such as input/output devices and memory, in designing microcomputer systems;
LO4. To introduce students to the range of applications of microcontrollers, social, economic and environmental impact, ethical issues and the professional responsibility;
LO5. Work effectively in a small team to complete the design of a given product to its marketable form;
LO6. To understand the design phases of microcontroller-based products and to appreciate various tools that may be applied in each stage of the design including safety issues;

Assessment strategy

A two-hour unseen, closed book examination (LO2 & LO3) is the main assessment component with a weighting of 50%. The remaining 50% CWK mark is composed of two assessment elements: A multiple choice test in week 13 provides an opportunity to test students understanding and progress on the work carried out during practical workshops (LO1 & LO6), with an assessment weighting of 30%.  The second element of coursework assessment is the case study report (LO4 & LO5) consists of individual logbooks as well as the formal group report and submitted in week 26. 


1. Huang H. (2008), “Embedded System Design with C8051”, CL-Engineering, ISBN 978-0495471745
2. MacKenzie I.S., Phan R.C. (2006), “The 8051 Microcontroller”,  4rd  Edition , Prentice Hall,  ISBN 978-013019563
3. Yui J. (2010), “The Definitive Guide to the ARM Cortex-M3”, Elsevier Inc., ISBN 978- 1856179638
4. Qian K., Haring D., Li C. (2009) “Embedded Software Development with C”, Springer Science + Business Media LLC, ISBN 978-1441906069
5. Gupta G.S., Mukhopadhyay S.C. (2010), “Embedded Microcontroller Interfacing”, Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-3642136368
6. Intel microprocessor and peripherals data books
7. Specially prepared web-site is available for the complete set of lecture notes, study guides, workshops and discussions.