KD6027 - Embedded Systems

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn the architecture, and how to program a high performance microcontroller - ARM cortex series. You will learn how to apply the mathematical, natural science and engineering principles and knowledge in electrical and electronic engineering in an integrated approach to solve the problem of embedded systems with link to real world problems, by using the recent embedded hardware and software technologies. You will also learn how to critically analyse the performance of the embedded systems to verify if a given performance requirement and specification is met, with comprehensive consideration of safety environmental and commercial matters. You will learn how to write a technical report on complex engineering matters with critical evaluation of the performance of the embedded system you design.

Specifically this will include:
- A consideration of the relative merits of a number of commercially available microcontrollers
- Embedded software engineering and lifecyle of embedded system development
- Flowchart for embedded software system design
- A detailed investigation of the ARM cortex series of microcontrollers, including architecture, peripherals and capabilities.
- Using ARM IDE development tools to compose, compile and fault find programs written in a high level programming language ('C').
- Features of the ARM microcontroller that will be considered are:
- Clock generation - internal/external
- GPIO - general purpose input/output
- ADC - analogue to digital converter
- USART, SPI, I2C - serial communications
- Timers
- Interrupt capability

How will I learn on this module?

The lectures will provide you with essential module content supported by weekly workshops throughout the semester.

Initially the workshops enable you to become familiar and be able to use the ARM IDE (Integrated Development Environment). You will use the IDE to compose programs e.g. using the on board ADC (Analogue to Digital converter). The programs can then be complied and downloaded to the freescale ARM M0+ board where the code can be tested on the board by single stepping the code and by using other available debugging features within the IDE. Once familiar with the IDE and the ARM microcontroller, you will be able to tackle the assignment which will be to develop an embedded system incorporating the ARM M0+ micrcontroller to meet a given specification. The specification will involve controlling a 'real world application', and will require software development and aspects of hardware and enclosure development.

You will be required to produce an embedded systems report, containing all aspects of design, software development. You will also need to give a practical demonstration of your work.

The use of the ARM processor to develop microcontroller systems allows you to be aware of and use the many variations and adaptions that industry employs.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Module content is provided by lectures. The workshops enable you to become familiar with the IDE and the Freescale ARM M0+ cortex microcontroller. You will be provided with Freescale ARM M0+ boards in the laboratory which will provide the target system for the programs compiled on the IDE.
The workshops also provide a forum for discussion allowing you to ask questions and to receive feedback on your work from staff.

A number of example programs are provided on the e-LP as well as links to appropriate websites.

Successful completion of the assignment will require you to engage in directed and independent learning activities.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Demonstrate the application of knowledge in the design of embedded systems with application to real world problems (AHEP4 C5 )
Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
2. Design an embedded system to meet a given specification in terms of performance, cost and aesthetics as appropriate, with consideration of safety, environmental and commercial matters, and industry standards (AHEP C7, C10, C15, M10, M15)
3. Build and test an embedded system using IDE software tools and practical test equipment, critically analyse the performance of the embedded system (AHEP4 , C12, C13, M12, M13)
4. Document design, development, testing analysis and conclusion in the form of a report (AHEP4 C14,M14,)

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Work effectively as individual and teamwork for design, development, testing analysis and practical demonstration with consideration of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) (AHEP4 C16)

How will I be assessed?

The module assessment is based on the embedded software developed by the group and individual contribution by each member of the group.

Formative assessment is made throughout the scheduled lab time where each student complete all the lab tasks together with the specific tasks required in their group work with the tutor’s assistance, while maintaining a weekly progress log on their labs. The feedback received from the tutor will aid the team to complete both the individual and group tasks through a critical review of their work and time management. All LOs will be assessed through this assessment.

The summative assessment is a Coursework (CW) based on the group project work and is divided into two parts:

1. Project report: A single embedded system project report is required from each student group for the module (70%) This report will contain detailed information about the problem to be addressed, project management details about individual responsibility and contributions to the group project through responsibility matrices. The report will also include photos of the lab experiment demonstration to show the results and performance of the developed solutions. The report must include a section from each team member clearly outlining their contribution to the project – this will count towards 40% of this component. (Assessed LOs: 1, 2, 4, 5). Feedback will be provided in electronic form via the eLP.

2. Lab Demonstration: A group lab demonstration (30%). The teams will provide a 10-minute lab demonstration of their solution. The aim is to assess students on their skills to convey technical information for their embedded system solution (Assessed LOs: 3,5).

Feedback provided at organised lab demonstration session.


KD5065 Programming and Digital Systems (or equivalent)



Module abstract

In this module “Embedded Systems” focus on the embedded software development to an embedded microcontroller with time and memory constraints. You will learn, individually and also as a member of team, how to apply mathematical, natural science and engineering principles and knowledge of electronics to solve embedded system design problems by using the recent technologies of embedded hardware and software. In particular, you will learn the architecture of typical embedded system and high-performance microcontroller (e.g. ARM Cortex series), and how to program an ARM microcontroller in an embedded system. The architecture, capabilities and features of the ARM microcontroller will be studied in depth, including a consideration of the relative merits of a number of commercially available microcontrollers, internal/external clock generation and distribution. General Purpose Input/Output (GPIO), serial communications (UART, I2C), Timers and Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), ADC (Analogue To Digital Converter), Interrupts and concurrency. An integrated approach will be applied to the solution of embedded system design problems. And professional industry standard development tools along with videos and materials provided by the ARM corporation, will be used to learn how to program the microcontroller in embedded C programming languages, in order to implement an embedded system to a given specification in terms of performance, cost and aesthetics as appropriate, involving consideration of safety, environmental and commercial matters, and industry standards. You will build and test an embedded system using Integrated Development Environment (IDE) software tools and practical test equipment to address complex embedded system problems. You will critically analyse the performance of the embedded system you designed and present your design, development, testing analysis and conclusions in the form of a report.

Course info

UCAS Code H601

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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