• Class Number 4175
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Shoaib Akram
    • Shoaib Akram
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
SELT Survey Results

This is the course where you learn how your computer actually works: you’ll learn how a CPU is constructed, how the parts of your computer work together, and how the high-level programming languages that you have learned in other courses can be translated into assembly language and CPU instructions.

The course is focussed on the connection between software and hardware; you will create programs in assembly language and link the program running on a CPU to its input/output interactions with the real world. You will learn how high-level programming constructs such as control structures, functions, variables, and data structures are represented at the assembly language level. You will explore topics that form a foundation of computer systems knowledge: CPU architectures, networks, operating systems, and concurrency.

This course will challenge your understanding of how computers work, and what happens in our computer when we run a program. At the end of this course, you will be able to navigate between layers of abstraction in a computer system from individual digital circuits to high-level software and understand how low-level structures enable and enhance the abilities of computer systems.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Describe the foundational concepts of computer systems.
  2. Explain the relationship between high-level languages and assembly languages, including function calls and basic control structures.
  3. Design, construct and analyse programs in assembly language.
  4. Evaluate computer systems at abstraction levels from software to individual digital circuits and account for the implications of machine-level choices.

Required Resources

Digital Design and Computer Architecture: ARM Edition by David Harris and Sarah L. Harris, Morgan Kaufmann, ISBN-13: 978-0-12-800056-4 (free at https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.5555/2815529).

Whether you are on campus or studying remotely, there are a variety of online platforms you will use to participate in your study program. These could include videos for lectures and other instruction, two-way video conferencing for interactive learning, email and other messaging tools for communication, interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities, print and/or photo/scan for handwritten work and drawings, and home-based assessment.

ANU outlines recommended student system requirements to ensure you are able to participate fully in your learning. Other information is also available about the various Learning Platforms you may use.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Other Information

This course introduces fundamental concepts that could potentially be addressed by certain Generative AI tools (e.g., ChatGPT). Hence, the use of any Generative AI tools is not permitted in graded assessments within this course.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Digital abstraction, Numbering systems, Representing numbers, boolean logic
2 Combinational logic and circuits Checkpoint 1 is released
3 Sequential logic and memory elements Quiz 1 is released
4 Instruction set architecture (ISA), MIPS ISA, ARM assembly Checkpoint 1 is due
5 ARM microarchitecture, CPU design fundamentals Processor design assignment (1) is released
6 Advanced CPU design Quiz 2 is released
7 ARM assembly 1: ALU and memory operations Processor design assignment (1) is due
8 ARM assembly 1: Loops Microbit assignment (2) is released, Quiz 3 is released
9 ARM assembly 1: Functions and recursion
10 I/O and memory systems Quiz 4 is released
11 CPU Pipelining Microbit assignment is due
12 Advanced topics

Tutorial Registration

Tutorial registration will be via an online system (e.g., FAIS/Streams).

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Learning Outcomes
CPU Design 20 % 1,2,3,4
Assembly Programming Assignment 20 % 1,2,3,4
Checkpoint 5 % 1,2,3,4
Quiz 10 % 1,2,3,4
Final Exam 45 % 1,2,3,4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines , which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Integrity Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Skills website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


The assessments in this course demand hands-on training. Without attending tutorials and submitting and testing the laboratory exercises every week, the students will find it extremely hard to finish the assignments. Therefore, we expect high participation in the tutorials. Each lecture will offer an in-class quiz which will prepare students for the final exam. Therefore, attending the lectures and participating in the discussions and solving the quiz questions is extremely important.


There will be a final exam worth 40%. The exam will cover the course content covered in lectures in the first eleven weeks.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

CPU Design

The first assignment in this course requires designing and building a working processor in a logic simulator. The students will be provided hands-on training with the use of the required tools. The students will be provided with a specification of the instruction set architecture.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Assembly Programming Assignment

The second assignment in this course requires students to solve a real-world problem in the ARM assembly language.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 5 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4


There will be an early checkpoint to provide students feedback on digital design.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4


There will be four Wattle quizes during this course. The quiz questions will mostly consist of multiple choice questions.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 45 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Final Exam

There is only one examination in this course. The final exam will be held during the exam period.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

Online Submission

The assignment submission will be through the teaching Gitlab. You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records.

Hardcopy Submission

The two assignment submissions in this course will be soft copy submissions. We are aiming for in person (paper) exams. We will adjust the policy as per circumstances.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.

Referencing Requirements

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Shoaib Akram

Research Interests

Computer Systems. Memory and storage systems.

Shoaib Akram

Shoaib Akram

Research Interests

Computer Systems. Memory and storage systems.

Shoaib Akram


Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions