COMPSCI 210 : Computer Organisation


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The low level representation of data and algorithms in the computer. An introduction to computer organisation. The instruction execution model. Assembly and disassembly of instructions. Assembly language programming. How a high-level language is implemented at the machine level. The memory subsystem. Hardware support necessary to implement a secure multi-user operating system.

Course Overview

This course aims to give students an understanding of how computer systems work, at the lowest level seen by the programmer, namely the interface between the computer hardware and software. Topics include: data representation, the development of computer architectures and Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) , assembly language, assembly language programming, an introduction to elementary C syntax, the mapping of C programming language to an ISA and the mechanism of memory organization.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: COMPSCI 110, and 15 points from COMPSCI 105, 107, 130

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the data representation. (Capability 1 and 3)
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) (Capability 1 and 2)
  3. Understand and describe the execution of basic instructions at the instruction set architecture level (Capability 1 and 2)
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the mechanism of sub-routine, I/Os (including interrupts) and stacks at the assembly level. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  5. Design and write simple assembly programs (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  6. Design and write simple C programs (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  7. Identify, describe and analyse the mapping between C programming language and an ISA. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  8. Explain the concept of a pointer and distinguish between the value of a pointer and the entity pointed to (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  9. Explain the abstractions built into high-level languages and operating systems that simplify the programming of complex computer systems (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  10. Describe how to use cache memory to bridge the speed gap between CPU and memory (Capability 1, 2 and 3)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Tutorials 6% Individual Coursework
Quizzes 8% Individual Coursework
Assignments 12% Individual Coursework
Laboratories 4% Individual Coursework
Test 20% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Final Exam

Learning Resources

Introduction to Computing Systems: From Bits and Gates to C and Beyond, 3/e
Yale N. Patt, the University of Texas at Austin
Sanjay J. Patel, the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign

Special Requirements

In order to pass the paper, you must:
  • Pass test and exam combined - the pass mark is 50% 
  • Get an overall pass of 50%

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-points course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15-points course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 3 hours of lectures, a 1-hour tutorial, 3 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 3 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 18/12/2019 11:39 p.m.