ACS6127 Real-Time Embedded Systems

Module Description

Many systems, for example; a control system, fault detection system or health monitoring system are required to work in real-time. Such systems can be developed and implemented using a CPU and external devices in an embedded system application/device to perform the desired tasks in the “real” world. This module covers the hardware associated with building an embedded system and how the desired functionality and thus real-time operation of an embedded system can be realised through software/hardware.

Credits: 15 (Autumn semester)

Previous experience of C programming is strongly recommended, or students should be confident that they will be able to programme in C. Some previous knowledge of embedded and digital systems is also required

Module Leader

Dr Simon Pope
Amy Johnson Building

If you have any questions about the module please talk to me during the lectures or the labs in the first instance. It is likely that other students will learn from any questions you ask as well, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Outside of lectures please contact me via email, or drop in to see me.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  1. Describe and illustrate the concept of embedded systems, including their architecture and review important aspects related to digital systems. [SM3m]
  2. Describe CPU architecture, instructions and parallel processing and illustrate their effects on CPU performance. [SM3m]
  3. Describe, appraise, devise and implement methods for how an embedded CPU gets, manages and stores data. [EA1fl, EA2m, EP2m, EP4m]
  4. Describe and evaluate the software and hardware functionality required by an embedded system to achieve real-time operation and subsequently implement real-time operation through the use of a real-time operating system. [EA1m, EA2p, EA4m, D3m]
  5. Discuss, appraise and implement efficient software design for embedded systems. [EA1m, EA2p]
  6. Devise and evaluate different embedded systems designs for a particular application.

This module satisfies the AHEP3 (Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes, Third Edition) Learning Outcomes that are listed in brackets after each learning outcome above. For further details on AHEP3 Learning Outcomes, see the downloads section of our accreditation webpage.



  • Introduction
  • The Digital World and its interface to the "Real" World
  • The CPU
  • Acquiring, managing and storing information
  • Controlling and managing an embedded system
Teaching Methods

Learning and Teaching Methods

NOTE: This summary of teaching methods is representative of a normal Semester. Owing to the ongoing disruption from Covid-19, the exact method of delivery will be different in 2020/21.

  • Lectures: 12 hours
  • Tutorials: 8 hours
  • Laboratories: 20 hours
  • Independent Study: 110 hours

The module is built around individual take home kit that each student will collect and use in both the scheduled labs and in their own time for the duration of the module.

Each two hour lecture will comprise of a one hour lecture to cover the theory and important concepts and will be followed by a one hour live demonstration which will cover how the concepts are implemented on the lab kit. There will also be additional reading sheets cover additional topics that are important for the labs.

There will be a mixture of assessed and non-assessed labs. In the non-assessed labs the lab sheets will enhance the teaching of theory and concepts in the lectures by providing appropriate context. Students will gain practical hands on experience both implementing appropriate techniques commonly used in embedded systems design and in creating solutions to meet given systems specifications using the methods learnt. In addition students will be expected to conduct independent learning using the provided resources.

Problem solving and tutorial classes will also be used to provide feedback to the full class on the labs and to cover solutions to some of the provided tasks and exercises.

Teaching Materials

Learning and Teaching Materials

All teaching materials will be available via Blackboard (MOLE).

The resources available on Blackboard (MOLE) and shared drives include lecture slides and additional notes, everything required for the laboratories, including lab sheets, programming guides, component data sheets, and video guides



  • Lab 25%
  • In-class test 25%
  • Assignment 50%

Resit assignments are not available for this module



Students will receive feedback during the module via a variety of mechanisms:

  • Questions answered during and after the lectures and webinars.
  • Questions answered on the Blackboard (MOLE) discussion board
  • Verbal and general written feedback on the board during in class tasks.
  • Verbal and general written feedback during the lab support sessions
  • Verbal feedback on solutions during the assessed labs – it is the students responsibility to take notes of any verbal feedback provided.
  • Written feedback on Blackboard (MOLE) for the assignment
  • General feedback to the whole class on module performance.

Student Evaluation

Student Evaluation

Students are encouraged to provide feedback during the module direct to the lecturer. Students will also have the opportunity to provide formal feedback via the Faculty of Engineering Student Evaluation Survey at the end of the module.

You can view the latest Department response to the survey feedback here.

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

  • Wolf, W.H, 2008, Computers as Components: Principles of Embedded Computing System Design, Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco, [available in Information Commons, 004.21(W)]
  • Furber, S.B, 2000, ARM: system-on-chip architecture, 2nd Edition, Addison-Wesley, London,
  • Valvano, J.W., 2000, Embedded Microcomputer Systems: Real-Time Interfacing, Brookes/Cole, Pacific Grove,
  • Hayes, J. P., 1998, Computer Architecture and Organization, 3rd Edition, McGraw-Hill, [available in Information Commons, 004.22(H)]