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ELEC5711: Foundations of Computer Systems (2014 - Semester 2)

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Unit: ELEC5711: Foundations of Computer Systems (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Postgraduate
Faculty/School: Faculty of Engineering
Unit Coordinator/s: Pardo, Abelardo
Session options: Semester 2
Versions for this Unit:
Site(s) for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: None.
Brief Handbook Description: This unit of study introduces the fundamental digital concepts upon which the design and operation of modern digital computers are based. A prime aim of the unit is to develop a professional view of, and a capacity for inquiry into, the field of computing.

Topics covered include: data representation, basic computer organisation, the CPU, elementary gates and logic, sequential systems, machine language, assembly language, programming concepts, program translation.
Assumed Knowledge: HSC Mathematics extension 1 or 2
Lecturer/s: Pardo, Abelardo
Timetable: ELEC5711 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 2.00 2 13
2 Laboratory 3.00 1 12
3 Tutorial 2.00 1 12
4 Independent Study 3.00
T&L Activities: Lecture: Requires previous preparation and active participation

Tutorial: Solve exercises extending the activities in the lecture. Requires participation.

Laboratory: Hands on lab work on computer systems and design build and test a team project.

Independent Study: Preparation for lectures, tutorial and labs.

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
Design software in a team project environment Design (Level 1)
Detailed study of computer system fundamentals Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 2)
Writing of assignments and reports. Oral presentation of project outcomes. Communication (Level 2)
Team based laboratories with individual and group assessment components including oral examinations. Professional Conduct (Level 1)
The team project assignment introduces students to teamwork and project management in an engineering context Project and Team Skills (Level 2)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table.

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

Design (Level 1)
1. Ability to apply concept, principles and techniques to configure a basic system.
2. Ability to scope, build and test an engineering artefact.
3. Proficiency in applying computer engineering knowledge in the design, construction and testing of commensurate solutions for specific engineering problems.
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 2)
4. Ability to demonstrate understanding of the concepts and principles of computer architecture, digital logic design and microprocessor assembly language.
5. Ability to demonstrate understanding of the concepts, principles and relationship for computers, the internet and clients and servers.
6. Ability to demonstrate fundamental knowledge of computer engineering issues.
Communication (Level 2)
7. Ability to write reports to present design specific information and results concisely and accurately.
Professional Conduct (Level 1)
8. An appreciation of the professional practice, standards and responsibilities in working with hardware and software to the limit afforded by lab sessions and exercises.
Project and Team Skills (Level 2)
9. Ability to engage in team-based design, drawing on the knowledge, skills and creative talent of all members to deliver a solution to a particular engineering problem.
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Lecture Preparation and Participation No 10.00 Multiple Weeks 3, 4, 5, 6,
2 Midterm Exam No 20.00 Week 6 4, 5, 6,
3 Tutorial Preparation and Participation No 10.00 Multiple Weeks 4, 5,
4 Laboratory Report No 5.00 Multiple Weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 7,
5 Project Report Yes 8.00 Week 13 6, 7,
6 Project Demonstration Yes 4.00 Week 13 5, 9,
7 Project Presentation Yes 3.00 Week 13 5, 9,
8 Final Exam No 40.00 Exam Period 4, 5, 6,
Assessment Description: Lecture Preparation and Participation: Answer questions before attending the session to participate in the activities in class.

Midterm Exam: Multiple choice question about the material covered up to that point.

Tutorial Preparation and Participation: Solve problems before attending the session and then participate in the discussions in during the session.

Laboratory Report: Write a report about on of the initial laboratories in the semester.

Project report: Report describing how the project was implemented.

Project demonstration: Live demonstration of the final project to the rest of the class.

Project presentation: Oral presentation on how the project was executed.

Final Exam: End of semester exam
Assessment Feedback: Assessment feedback will be provided through the following mechanisms:
- Questions with answers in the course material
- Questions with answers in the activities to prepare the lectures and tutorials
- Face to face interaction with tutors in tutorials
- Face to face interaction with tutors in laboratories
- Scores in the Learning management system for assignments submitted onlin
Grade Type Description
Standards Based Assessment Final grades in this unit are awarded at levels of HD for High Distinction, DI (previously D) for Distinction, CR for Credit, PS (previously P) for Pass and FA (previously F) for Fail as defined by University of Sydney Assessment Policy. Details of the Assessment Policy are available on the Policies website at . Standards for grades in individual assessment tasks and the summative method for obtaining a final mark in the unit will be set out in a marking guide supplied by the unit coordinator.
Policies & Procedures: See the policies page of the faculty website at for information regarding university policies and local provisions and procedures within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.
Prescribed Text/s: Note: Students are expected to have a personal copy of all books listed.
  • Course notes for ELEC1601
Online Course Content: Links to the course notes and additional resources will be published in the Learning Management System (Blackboard or similar)

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar

Week Description
Week 1 Course organization and computer system overview
Week 2 Information Encoding
Week 3 Computer Memory
Week 4 Boolean algebra and combinational logic
Week 5 Sequential circuit design
Week 6
Assessment Due: Midterm Exam
Week 7 AVR Architecture
Week 8 Instruction Set Architecture
Week 9 Assembly Programs
Week 10 Addressing Modes
Week 11 High Level Constructs 1
Week 12 High Level Constructs 2
Week 13 Exam Simulation
Assessment Due: Project Report
Assessment Due: Project Demonstration
Assessment Due: Project Presentation
Exam Period Final exam
Assessment Due: Final Exam

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Master of Professional Engineering (Electrical) 2013, 2014
Master of Professional Engineering (Power) 2013, 2014
Master of Professional Engineering (Software) 2013, 2014
Master of Professional Engineering (Telecommunications) 2013, 2014

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Design (Level 1) Yes 3.5%
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 2) No 0%
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 2) Yes 87%
Information Seeking (Level 2) No 0%
Communication (Level 2) Yes 6%
Professional Conduct (Level 1) Yes 0%
Project and Team Skills (Level 2) Yes 3.5%

These goals are selected from Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.