Digital Systems and Microprocessor Design (H7068)

15 credits, Level 5

Autumn teaching

This module introduces you to the world of digital logic and to the design of microprocessors.

Thanks to the current explosion of connected devices, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, wearable and mobile devices and Artificial Intelligence, there is a growing industrial push to include advanced functionalities in hardware to achieve ultra-high performance or ultra-low power. Understanding the design of digital logic or custom processors will enable you to apply for exciting jobs in these areas and others.

In this module you will learn how to design digital logic, starting from simple combinational circuits and then designing and analysing ever more complex sequential circuits. This will conclude with the University of Sussex Processor – a processor which you will learn to programl, before extending its architecture to give it improved hardware functionalities.

This module gives you a solid foundation of computer engineering and will allow you to progress to study embedded systems and advanced hardware architectures in the following years.

Topics include:

  • digital basics and combinational logic design
  • Boolean algebra
  • design of combinational circuits
  • standard combinational components
  • implementation technologies
  • introduction to VHDL
  • basic language elements
  • combinational & sequential coding
  • levels of abstraction
  • simulation
  • design flow to target device
  • sequential logic
  • bistable
  • latches & flip-flops
  • Finite State Machines (FSM) models, State diagrams
  • analysis and synthesis of sequential circuits
  • standard sequential components
  • Register Transfer-Level design
  • datapaths
  • control units
  • microprocessor systems
  • computer arithmetic
  • central processing unit, ALU, memory, I/O
  • architecture, busses
  • instruction set
  • assembly language programming.


60%: Lecture
40%: Practical (Laboratory)


40%: Coursework (Project, Test)
60%: Examination (Computer-based examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 55 hours of contact time and about 95 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: