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The University of Southampton

COMP1203 Computer Systems I

Module Overview

This module aims to give students an understanding of the fundamentals of computer hardware and of the principles of operation of computers and peripheral devices. In addition, the module aims to give an overview of the main families of microprocessors and their differences. Some digital electronics is also covered - with hands-on experience in the lab with with a Raspberry Pi in order to better understand computer fundamentals.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the main components of a computer and understand their function
  • Understand differences between the main architectural families and modules
  • Understand the basic features and functions of microcontrollers
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Write simple programs in a low-level programming language (assembly)


- Computer architecture evolution - Introduction to Digital Electronics - Computer arithmetic - Assembly programming - CPU structure - RISC, Superscalar Architectures - Buses and Interconnection - Memory Systems and cache - Input and Output. Interrupts - Storage systems and RAID - Advanced architectures - Introduction to Operating Systems - Introduction to networks - Hands-on with ARM Linux-based single board computer

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Combination of lectures, labs and self-driven reading and learning.

Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Supervised time in studio/workshop9
Follow-up work18
Completion of assessment task14
Wider reading or practice48
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

William Stallings (2012). Computer Organisation and Architecture. 

Tanenbaum AS (2012). Structured Computer Organisation. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 40%
Final Assessment  60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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