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ZUG3027 – Embedded Systems

Undergraduate – Module

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this module is offered.


Business, Engineering and Technology


South Africa
On-campus block of classes

  • Semester 2, 2020 (Mainstream Programme)
  • Semester 2, 2021 (Extended Programme)

12 credits, NQF Level 7


This module is about designing and developing embedded systems. The aim of this course is to provide the principles of doing embedded system development effectively in order to produce professional, highly maintainable and robust systems.


On completion of the module, students will be expected to be able to:

1Know the definition of what en embedded system is as well as general systems theory
2Critically discuss hardware and software tools use in developing an embedded system in relation to general embedded system platforms
3Describe the issues of coming up with new product concepts. The concept presentation. Best practices.
4Explain the concepts/ structure of RISC architecture. Programming an ARM-based microprocessors. Addressing modes, using memory maps, etc. Writing a simple ARM assembly language program. Types of instructions, their mnemonics. Using GCC-ELF-AS, macros, labels, etc.
5Explain and implement the concept of using memory mapped peripherals. In-line assembly. Bitwise operations and their C operators and ARM instructions. Volatile variables in C. Speed and code density. Use of interrupts vs. polling. Implementing interrupt service routines.
6Identify and describe the general embedded system development, from the product specification phase, to maintenance, upgrade, and finally retirement.
7Explain and implement the important real-time requirements and design issues within a dynamic environment.
8Understand and implement On-chip Debugging Standards (JTAG) and In-Circuit Emulation (ICE).
9Implement the above-mentioned techniques by means of computer programs and development boards


Continuous assessment: 40%
Final project assessment: 60%

Workload requirements

The module contributes to the realisation of the outcomes by giving an insight into an embedded system that has software embedded into hardware. This makes the system dedicated for an application or part of a larger system. There will be a combination of lectures that include interactive elements, practical assignments to include application aspects of embedded systems using a development board, tutorials in which students will do individual work (self-assessments; reflecting on learning aspects), group work (PowerPoint presentations on aspects of the module, role-play and group discussions), Moodle, for sharing learning aids, to help students test their own knowledge through informal quizzes, and to administer short formal tests and Flipped Classroom approach for aspects of the course. All outcomes will be assessed by means of tutorial work, quizzes, laboratory, class tests and a final examination.

Chief examiner(s)





Digital Systems