Computer Systems Engineering BEng
Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering
You are viewing this course for 2021-22 entry. 2022-23 entry is also available.
This three-year BEng course will develop your engineering skills in computer software and hardware. The key difference between this and a computer science degree is the focus on engineering systems: electromechanical design, robotics and computer programming for embedded systems.
Modules are informed by our world-leading research and designed with input from our industry partners, so you'll have the best start for your career. You'll use industry-standard equipment and learn about state-of-the-art applications in infrastructure, medicine and aviation.
Our courses share a common first year. You'll study subjects that are fundamental to computer systems such as mathematics, computing, control, electronics, software and embedded systems.
In the first year, you'll learn how to control robotic systems and you will work as part of a team to design, analyse and test robots, autonomous vehicles and other complex electro-mechanical systems.
In your second year, core modules cover subjects such as programming (including C++, Python and Java), mathematics and data modelling, signals, systems and communications.
You'll apply your skills to a practical project, where you'll design a system using 3D CAD tools. You'll then build the system in our iForge makerspace. This innovative facility gives you access to 3D printers, laser cutters and more.
In your final year, specialist modules cover topics ranging from intelligent systems and digital signal processing to system design and security. You can tailor your degree to suit your interests with optional modules.
The highlight of your final year is an individual project where you'll develop your expertise in a range of engineering techniques and other skills that maximise your employability such as project management and communication.
Other options for you:
- You can choose to study a year abroad.
- You can also switch onto the Year in Industry version of this degree.
This course is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Institute of Measurement and Control.
The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.
Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:
UCAS code: H130
- Introduction to Electric and Electronic Circuits
This module introduces the concepts and analytical tools for predicting the behaviour of combinations of passive circuit elements, resistance, capacitance and inductance driven by ideal voltage and/or current sources which may be ac or dc sources. The ideas involved are important not only from the point of view of modelling real electronic circuits but also because many complicated processes in biology, medicine and mechanical engineering are themselves modelled by electric circuits. The passive ideas are extended to active electronic components; diodes, transistors and operational amplifiers and the circuits in which these devices are used. Transformers, magnetics and dc motors are also covered.20 credits
- Introduction to Systems Engineering & Software
Engineering applications are typically complex, so students also need to acquire proficiency in analytical problem solving and the ability to apply a systems engineering approach, as a systematic methodology to design and implementation. A group project will develop an understanding of the type of problem solving and systems engineering needed for the design and build of a computer-controlled system. Students will improve skills in communication, team working and reflective practices as a result of the group project. Engineering applications in manufacturing, aerospace, robotics, energy, finance, healthcare and a host of other areas are predominately computer based or computer controlled. In order to be able to create computer based and computer controlled applications, students need to acquire proficiency in relevant software and programming languages. In this module, labs and several individual assignments will build proficiency in creating C programs as solutions to engineering problems.20 credits
- Modelling, Analysis and Control
This module will introduce principles of modelling of simple continuous dynamical systems. This module also introduces analysis of linear models. It includes a detailed analysis of the dynamical behaviour of 1st and 2nd order systems linking behaviour to physical parameters, e.g. Rise time, settling time, overshoot, steady-state. Damping and damping ratio and resonance. Frequency response is also discussed. We will introduce control and feedback as a topic by providing examples of open-loop and closedloop control, and undertake detailed analysis of linear models with a focus on 1st and 2nd order systems. Students are introduced to simple practical feedback mechanisms, including PID controllers and performance criteria such as offset, stability, poles and zeros. You will learn about the principles of how to use Laplace Transforms to solve linear differential equations, and for system representation, using transfer functions and block diagram algebra. You will also develop an appreciation of frequency-domain implications of system analysis through the use of Fourier series. MATLAB is used to reinforce the simulation and analysis of all module contents and coursework assignments.20 credits
- Physical Systems
This module will introduce students to the modelling and analysis of dynamic systems. Students will learn about the different types of physical systems based on real-world case-studies. This 20-credit year-long module is to be delivered over two semesters. In the autumn semester mechanical and electrical-mechanical systems will be introduced. In the second semester the mechanical theme will continue with rotational systems, and then introduce thermodynamic systems as well as flow systems. Students will gain an appreciation of the physics laws governing a variety of physical systems, the impact and interaction of various system components, as well as systematic methods for modelling and analysing such systems.20 credits
- Systems Engineering Mathematics I
This module contains the core mathematical competencies required by students for a systems engineering programme. This covers basic algebra and functions, elementary calculus (differentiation and integration), solution of low order differential equations, Taylor series and iterative methods, matrix algebra and simultaneous equations, vectors and complex numbers. The content is delivered within a systems engineering context. Student learning is encouraged by regular formative assessment and supportive resources.20 credits
- Digital and Embedded Systems
This module is intended to equip students with the core knowledge of ‘how hardware works’ in digital systems and introduce the concept of embedded systems using examples/case studies. The module covers introduction to embedded systems, number systems, boolean algebra, logic gates, logic expressions, combinational logic, A/D and D/A converters, computer systems and architectures. The content is delivered as a combination of lectures, tutorials and laboratory sessions that provide students with a fundamental understanding of embedded systems and their applications.10 credits
- Group Control Project and Professional Skills
This module is intended to bring together core content from various Y1 modules in a substantial group design project. The group project involves controlling a mobile robot to navigate to a destination safely and smoothly. This robot is provided as a take-home kit for students to work on this project in their own time. This module also covers important skills needed in the workplace, such as project management and teamwork, as well as other crucial employability skills.10 credits
- Global Engineering Challenge Week
The Faculty-wide Global Engineering Challenge Week is a compulsory part of the first-year programme, and the project has been designed to develop student academic, transferable and employability skills as well as widen their horizons as global citizens. Working in multi-disciplinary groups of six, for a full week, all students in the Faculty choose from a number of projects arranged under a range of themes including Water, ICT, Waste Management and Energy with scenarios set in a developing country. Some projects are based on the Engineers Without Borders Challenge* and other projects have been suggested by an academic at the University of Makerere in Uganda (who is involved in developing solutions using IT systems for health, agriculture and resource problems in developing countries). Students are assessed on a number of aspects of being a professional engineer both by Faculty alumni and a number of local industrial engineers. *The EWB Challenge is a design program coordinated internationally by Engineers Without Borders Australia and delivered in Australian, New Zealand, British and Irish universities. It provides students with the opportunity to learn about design, teamwork and communication through real, inspiring, sustainable and cross-cultural development projects. By participating in the EWB Challenge students are presented with a fantastic opportunity to design creative solutions to problems identified by real EWB projects. Each year, the EWB Challenge design brief is
- Computer Problem Solving and Object Oriented Design
The first part of this module introduces basic concepts of computer programming, through an introduction to problem solving and the development of simple algorithms using the programming language Python. The module will stress the importance of good programming style and good code design and will introduce how an object-oriented approach can help to achieve these aims. The second part of this module introduces some of the fundamental principles of object oriented programming and software engineering using the Java Programming Language. In particular it covers the principles that underlie the structuring of software and introduces models of real-world systems. Techniques for developing sound programming techniques are introduced and applied.20 credits
- Control Systems Design and Analysis
This module gives a solid theoretical foundation for understanding feedback control system analysis, design and application and is suitable for general engineering students. This is supported by hardware laboratories, PC laboratory activities and coursework. Content covers standard analysis tools such as root-loci, Bode diagrams, Nyquist diagrams and z-transforms. The latter part of the course focuses on the design of common feedback strategies using these analysis tools and students will undertake indicative designs and reinforce learning through application to laboratory and hardware systems.20 credits
This unit covers methods to represent, analyse and design mechanical, electrical and computational systems and their integration into mechatronics systems. This module will enable students to design, analyse, develop and integrate mechatronic systems. The unit includes lectures on the principles of mechatronic systems, 2D/3D CAD design, sensors and instrumentation, actuation, digital data acquisition, signal pre-processing, hardware interfaces, microcontroller programming and peripherals; practicals on analysing mechatronic components; and project work on designing, developing and testing a mechatronic system.20 credits
- Signals, Systems, and Communications
Modern communication systems provide the backbone of the technological development that is driving the information age. The increase of data analytics, machine learning, and networked solutions pushes the trend towards an increasing use of digital communication systems as means of enabling reliable and efficient information exchange. The aim of the unit is to provide the fundamentals of signals, systems and communication systems. The mathematical principles of signal theory and systems theory will be applied within a communication theory context. The unit will provide the students with the tools to analyse and solve complex open-ended communication problems and to evaluate the technological constraints of the proposed solutions.20 credits
- Systems Engineering Mathematics II
This module provides an introduction to the use of analytical mathematical techniques and numerical methods and algorithms for subsequent higher level module studies and for solving a wide range of engineering problems as well. Students will develop their skills in the theory and application of core mathematics tools required for systems engineering and the application of these in system simulation and data based modelling. A brief summary of topics covered includes: complex variables and Fourier transforms, analysis of matrices and systems represented by matrices, optimisation of functions of many variables, probability, numerical integration techniques and data modelling and analysis. The module is embedded throughout with engineering examples using the mathematical techniques.20 credits
- Systems Engineering and Object Oriented Programming
Engineering applications in manufacturing, aerospace, robotics, energy, finance, healthcare and a host of other areas are predominantly computer based or computer controlled. In order to be able to create computer based and computer controlled applications, students need to acquire understanding of and proficiency in working across the systems engineering lifecycle. This module builds on the first year undergraduate learning objectives relevant to systems Engineering, to develop further students¿ skills in the design and development of computer based and software dominated systems. There will be an emphasis on the systems engineering lifecycle (requirements capture, architecture definition, sub-system design and testing, integration, implementation and validation) and project management. Students will use UML/SysML to model systems. C++ will be introduced for algorithmic problem solving. Quality, risk and reliability associated with engineering systems will be explored.20 credits
- Engineering - You're Hired
The Faculty-wide Engineering - You're Hired Week is a compulsory part of the second year programme, and the week has been designed to develop student academic, transferable and employability skills. Working in multi-disciplinary groups of about six, students will work in interdisciplinary teams on a real world problem over an intensive week-long project.The projects are based on problems provided by industrial partners, and students will come up with ideas to solve them and proposals for a project to develop these ideas further.
- Individual Project
This module provides the opportunity for students to undertake a major piece of project work on an individual basis. The project will enhance knowledge and skills in the following areas: critical evaluation of technical literature, project planning and management, deepening knowledge in one or more technical areas and developing the ability to convey technical information both orally and in written form.30 credits
- Systems Design and Security
This module provides a grounding in software systems design, highlighting security issues. Topics include: choice of software lifecycle, customer-developer interaction, requirements capture, information management, database design, functional design, design patterns, software architectures, user interfaces, data validation, software verification and testing. Security topics include: threats, countermeasures, policies and technologies. The lectures are complemented by an integrating team-project. This 20-credit unit prepares students to participate in the Software Hut (COM3420) in the Spring.20 credits
- Digital Signal Processing
The aim is to introduce students to digital processing techniques, including sampling and analysis of digital signals, design of digital filers, and the introduction of digital image processing. Discrete signals and systems are studied, with an emphasis on the frequency-domain theory necessary for the analysis of discrete signals and design of digital filters. The concepts associated with digital images and some basic digital image processing operations are also covered.10 credits
- Finance and Law for Engineers
The module is designed to introduce engineering students to some of the key financial and legal issues that engineers are likely to encounter in their working environment. The module will draw directly on practical issues of budgeting, raising finance, assessing financial risks and making financial decisions in the context of engineering projects and/or product development. At the same time the module will develop students¿ understanding of the legal aspects of entering into contracts for the development and delivery of engineering projects and products and an awareness of environmental regulation, data protection and intellectual property rights. Through a series of parallel running lectures in the two disciplines, the module will provide a working knowledge of the two areas and how they impinge on engineering practice. There will be a heavy emphasis on group working, report writing and presentation as part of the assessment supplemented by online exercises and an individual portfolio.10 credits
- Intelligent Systems
This module will introduce students to the theme of intelligent systems with special applications to modelling, control, and pattern recognition. Although this technological area can be perceived as being broad, the focus will mainly be on Fuzzy Systems and on interesting synergies such as those between Fuzzy Systems and Artificial Neural Networks (ANN), including the Neuro-Fuzzy architecture. This module should appeal to all students from engineering as well as from science backgrounds who wish to learn more about Artificial Intelligence and Machine-Learning related paradigms, and mostly, how may the related architectures be applied effectively to solve real-world problems, i.e. non-linear, noisy, and the ones that are characterised by uncertainties. This unit is also timely indeed, since knowledge transfer from human to machine and from machine to human and knowledge extraction from data (Big Data) are seen particularly, as vital components for a successful economy, healthy well-being, and clean environment. Finally, the module strikes the too-often difficult balance between theoretical foundations and examples of applications via weekly interactive lectures, laboratory experiments, video demonstrations, and problem solving.10 credits
- State-Space Control Design
The aims of this modules are: to introduce state-space methods for the analysis and design of controllers for multivariable systems; to teach the use of analytical tools and methods for state-space control design; to demonstrate similarities between continuous and sampled data systems; and to extend the analysis to non-linear systems. Material to be covered includes: Structural properties (modal decomposition, controllability, observability, stability); design (pole assignment, observer design, separation principle, internal model principle, optimal control, LQG, reference tracking, integral control) of continuous systems and equivalents for sampled-data systems.10 credits
- Adaptive Intelligence
This course will examine the theme of bio-inspired Machine Learning and in particular of Unsupervised and Reinforcement Learning in Neural Networks. The first half of the course covers Unsupervised algorithms (Clustering, Principal Component Analysis) that could potentially have biological counterparts in the human or animal brain. The second half of the course introduces the theory of Reinforcement Learning in a simple and intuitive way, and more specifically Temporal Difference learning and the SARSA algorithm. It also discusses state-of-the-art methods (Deep Reinforcement Learning).10 credits
- Aircraft Dynamics and Control
Aerospace engineering is a fascinating area where knowledge from different disciplines is needed. The aim of this module is to provide the student with such a fundamental knowledge and understanding of the principles of aircraft performance, flight dynamics and the problems of controlling an aircraft¿s motion. Various aspects of aircraft performance including straight, level flight and manoeuvres are covered. The module introduces the equations of motion for a rigid body aircraft and the aerodynamic forces and moments are then determined. Static and dynamic stability and response characteristics are defined. Flying and handling qualities of an aircraft, and disturbances affecting its motion, are analysed.10 credits
There are a wide range of important healthcare challenges in the 21st Century, such as the aging population, stroke, paralysis and the loss of limbs, which can be treated using biomechatronic devices such as exoskeletons, active prosthetic limbs and brain computer interfaces. 'Biomechatronics' describes the integration of the human body with engineered devices composed of electronic, mechanical and control components (mechatronics) for the purposes of (i) emulating and replacing natural human function lost through disease or accident and/or (ii) augmenting natural human function to generate superhuman abilities. The biomechatronics module will cover the subject of biomechatronics in theory and practical application, and span the main core topics of: neural control, biomedical signals, sensors and actuators.10 credits
- Computer Security and Forensics
This module provides, in general, an introduction into computer security and forensics. In particular, this module focuses on approaches and techniques for building secure systems and for the secure operation of systems. The module complements the mathematics module MAS345 and requires a solid understanding of mathematical concepts (e.g., modulo-arithmetic, complex numbers, group theory) and logic (set theory, predicate logic, natural deduction) as, e.g., taught in the modules COM365, COM1001, and COM2003). Moreover, the module requires a solid understanding of a programming language (e.g., Java, Ruby, or C), basic software engineering knowledge and an understanding of database and Web systems, as, e.g., taught in the modules COM1003, COM1008, COM1009, COM2001, COM6471, and COM6102). Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.10 credits
- Hardware-in-the-Loop & Rapid Control Prototyping
This course represents an opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience of designing and implementing advanced controllers upon a challenging, real-world control problem. Uniquely, each student will be issued with their own, portable control hardware for the duration of the course. Students will learn how to interface such a system to industry standard software using a data acquisition device, before developing their own simulation models of the hardware. These models will be used to synthesise a feedback controller, and verified in simulation before being implemented upon the hardware. The resultant controller will then be refined in a cycle of rapid control prototyping.10 credits
- Machine Learning
Machine learning is a component of artificial intelligence that enables a computer to learn how to perform a task from data or simulations rather than being explicitly programmed for every possible scenario. Machine learning is currently being applied in a number of fields including finance, robotics and autonomous systems and bioinformatics and has experienced a huge growth in industry in recent years. This module introduces the key foundational elements of machine learning, including: regression, classification and reinforcement learning. The module is taught by a combination of lectures and labs, where there is an emphasis on practical implementation of different methods.10 credits
The module aims to explore robotic systems, both historically and as an area of rapid contemporary development. Students will be introduced to the different types and applications of robotic systems. An emphasis is placed on modelling and simulation. Sensing and actuation is also covered, with a focus on control of robot manipulators. Students will be exposed to a wide range of practical applications of robotic systems, and encouraged to discuss and reflect on the implications of using robots (e.g. ethical considerations, safety, social and economic impacts).10 credits
- Space Systems Engineering
The module aims to introduce different mission types including communications, earth observation, weather, navigation, astronomy, scientific, interplanetary missions and space stations. Concepts of orbital motion such as Kepler Laws, Elliptic, Parabolic and Hyperbolic orbits are introduced. Atmospheric drag, luni-solar perturbations are explained. Hohmann orbit transfer, ground station visibility, launch windows are explained. The module provides an understanding of spacecraft sub-systems and control including attitude control and thermal control, as well as providing knowledge of propulsion systems for example chemical rockets, electric propulsion, nuclear rockets, and solar sails. Various concepts related to space environment are explored including, sun, solar wind, solar cycles, heliosphere, ionosphere, magnetosphere, magnetic storms, substorms and geomagnetic indices. The module explains space weather phenomena and concepts including the effects of ionising radiation, cosmic rays, and solar energetic particle events on spacecraft systems and astronauts. Geomagnetic storms and sub-storms are also discussed. The module considers ground induced current and its effect on the pipelines, power grid and transformers. The effects of space weather on communications and forecasting of space weather are discussed.10 credits
- System Identification
Modelling dynamical systems from first principles via Newton's, Kirchoff's or other known physical laws is often challenging and costly, requiring substantial expertise. An alternative is offered through 'system identification' that takes observations of inputs and outputs from physical systems and infers or estimates a dynamical model directly. This module introduces two main ways of thinking about the identification problem, the theoretical framework that underpins them and the algorithms that compute the model estimates. It uses synthetic and real problems to illustrate the process and shows how models can be validated for future use.10 credits
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.
Learning and assessment
You'll learn through a combination of lectures, practical labs and tutorials and independent study. By the end of your first year you'll have learnt the full range of core foundations for control and systems engineering, as well as broader engineering skills. Our teaching is based on a systematic and structured approach to support your learning.
Laboratory and professional skills are strongly integrated within the taught modules, and you'll undertake your laboratory work in our award-winning Diamond building, using the latest equipment and technologies.
Our academic and research staff are world leaders in the study of robotics, signal processing and intelligent systems. The teaching you will receive is based on the latest thinking and we regularly introduce new modules in response to current developments in research and demands in the careers market.
You will be assessed by a combination of exams and tests, coursework and practical work. The proportions for each will vary depending on the modules you choose.
This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.
With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
including Maths and a science subject
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
including Maths and a science subject
A Levels + additional qualifications | ABB, including Maths and a science + B in a relevant EPQ; ABB, including Maths and a science + B in AS or A Level Further Maths ABB, including Maths and a Science subject + B in a relevant EPQ
International Baccalaureate | 34, 6, 5 in Higher Level Maths and a science subject 33, with 5 in Higher Level Maths and a science
BTEC | DD in Engineering or Applied Science + A in A Level Maths DD in Engineering or Applied Science + B in A Level Maths
Scottish Highers + 2 Advanced Highers | AAABB + AB, including Maths and a science subject in both AABBB + AB, including Maths and a science subject in both
Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels | B + AA in Maths and a science subject B + AB in Maths and a science subject
Access to HE Diploma | 60 credits overall in a relevant subject, incluiding 45 at Level 3, with 36 credits at Distinction to include Mathematics, and 9 credits at Merit. Applicants are considered individually. 60 credits overall in a relevant subject, incluiding 45 at Level 3, with 30 credits at Distinction to include Mathematics, and 15 credits at Merit. Applicants are considered individually.
Mature students - explore other routes for mature students
You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification
Physics is preferred as the science subject, but we also accept a range of science related subjects, including Computer Science, Chemistry, Biology, Human Biology, Electronics, Engineering, Technology and Further Maths
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering
We are the only department in the UK dedicated to Control and Systems Engineering.
We are home to the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre and have research contracts with major institutions like the European Space Agency, as well as our many academic and industrial partners. These connections mean our teaching is based on the latest thinking.
Our facilities include a robotics, real-time systems, and control and power systems laboratory, as well as a state-of-the-art electronics and control lab in the Diamond.
Why choose Sheffield?
The University of Sheffield
A Top 100 university 2021
QS World University Rankings
Top 10% of all UK universities
Research Excellence Framework 2014
No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019, 2018, 2017
Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering
Research Excellence Framework 2014
The National Student Survey 2019
Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering
Our courses prepare you for a career where you'll apply your creative problem-solving skills and your understanding of engineering principles to the real world, while working in multidisciplinary teams. These transferable skills can be applied in many sectors across the breadth of engineering and beyond.
During your degree you'll have plenty of opportunities to enhance your employability. You can choose to go on a placement in industry, either during the summer or as a year in industry. Or you could consider studying abroad, either for a full year, or as part of a summer school.
We also have extracurricular projects where you can work with other engineering and science students to design and build rockets, submersible robots, autonomous payloads for satellites, rovers and more. You could also take part in a scheme for undergraduates where you work on research projects with academics over the summer period.
Graduates from all of our courses are highly employable and work all over the world for companies such as Arup, Rolls-Royce, Boeing, Jaguar Land Rover, Thales and IBM. They go on to become professional engineers in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, power generation and sustainable energy.
You can expect an above-average starting salary of £27,900 per annum (DLHE, 2017).
Fees and funding
The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.
Funding your study
Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.
Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.
University open days
There are four open days every year, usually in June, July, September and October. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.
At various times in the year we run online taster sessions to help Year 12 students experience what it is like to study at the University of Sheffield.
If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our applicant days, which take place between November and April. These applicant days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.
Campus tours run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Apply for this course
Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.
The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.
Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.