Engineering Institute of Technology


Unit Name

Embedded System Design

Unit Code

BIA 303S


Unit Duration



Bachelor of Science (Industrial Automation Engineering)


Duration 3 years

Year Level


Unit Creator/Reviewer






BSC102C, BSC201C

Credit Points



Total Program Credit Points 81 (27 x 3)

Mode of Delivery

Online or On-campus

Unit Workload

(Total student workload including “contact hours” = 10 hours per week)

Pre-recordings / Lecture – 1.5 hours Tutorial – 1.5 hours

Guided labs / Group work / Assessments – 2 hours

Personal Study recommended - 5 hours

Unit Description and General Aims

The objective in presenting this unit is to give students an overview of embedded systems – small, low power, low cost solutions typically based on microcontrollers. The subject matter covered in this unit will include the principles of: embedded systems, including embedded system architecture – internal and on-board; operating systems, particularly real time systems; and, Integrated Development Environments, and their practical implementation.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this Unit, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Evaluate the principles of embedded systems.

  2. Describe embedded system architecture (internal, on-board).

  3. Examine the principles of operating systems.

  4. Classify real time operating systems based on selection criteria.

  5. Assess product development life cycle.

  6. Report on Integrated Development Environments and their application.

Professional Development

Completing this unit may add to students professional development/competencies by:

  1. Fostering personal and professional skills and attributes in order to:

    1. Conduct work in a professionally diligent, accountable and ethical manner.

    2. Effectively use oral and written communication in personal and professional domains.

    3. Foster applicable creative thinking, critical thinking and problem solving skills.

    4. Develop initiative and engagement in lifelong learning and professional development.

    5. Enhance collaboration outcomes and performance in dynamic team roles.

    6. Effectively plan, organise, self-manage and manage others.

    7. Professionally utilise and manage information.

    8. Enhance technologist literacy and apply contextualised technologist skills.

  2. Enhance investigatory and research capabilities in order to:

    1. Develop an understanding of systematic, fundamental scientific, mathematic principles, numerical analysis techniques and statistics applicable to technologists.

    2. Access, evaluate and analyse information on technologist processes, procedures, investigations and the discernment of technologist knowledge development.

    3. Foster an in-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge, computer science, engineering design practice and contextual factors applicable to technologists.

    4. Solve basic and open-ended engineering technologist problems.

    5. Understand the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds associated with sustainable engineering practice.

  3. Develop engineering application abilities in order to:

    1. Apply established engineering methods to broadly-defined technologist problem solving.

    2. Apply engineering technologist techniques, tool and resources.

    3. Apply systematic technologist synthesis and design processes.

    4. Systematically conduct and manage technologist projects, work assignments, testing and experimentation.

Engineers Australia

The Australian Engineering Stage 1 Competency Standards for Engineering Technologists, approved as of 2013. This table is referenced in the mapping of graduate attributes to learning outcomes and via the learning outcomes to student assessment.


Stage 1 Competencies and Elements of Competency


Knowledge and Skill Base


Systematic, theory based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the technology domain.


Conceptual understanding of the, mathematics, numerical analysis, statistics, and computer and information sciences which underpin the technology domain.


In-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the technology domain.


Discernment of knowledge development within the technology domain.


Knowledge of engineering design practice and contextual factors impacting the technology domain.


Understanding of the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of sustainable engineering practice in the technology domain.


Engineering Application Ability


Application of established engineering methods to broadly-defined problem solving within the technology domain.


Application of engineering techniques, tools and resources within the technology domain.


Application of systematic synthesis and design processes within the technology domain.


Application of systematic approaches to the conduct and management of projects within the technology domain.


Professional and Personal Attributes


Ethical conduct and professional accountability.


Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains.


Creative, innovative and pro-active demeanour.


Professional use and management of information.


Orderly management of self and professional conduct.


Effective team membership and team leadership.

Graduate Attributes

Successfully completing this Unit will contribute to the recognition of attainment of the following graduate attributes aligned to the AQF Level 7 criteria, Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competency Standards for Engineering Technologists and the Sydney Accord:


Graduate Attributes

(Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Professional and Personal Development)

EA Stage 1 Competencies

Learning Outcomes

A. Knowledge of Science and Engineering Fundamentals

A1. Breadth of knowledge of engineering and systematic, theory-based understanding of underlying principles, and depth of knowledge across one or more engineering sub- disciplines


1.1, 1.3


1, 2, 6

A2. Knowledge of mathematical, statistical and computer sciences appropriate for engineering technology




2, 5

A3. Discernment of knowledge development within the technology domain


4. 6

A4. Knowledge of engineering design practice and contextual factors impacting the technology domain




4, 5, 6

B. Problem Solving, Critical Analysis and Judgement

B1. Ability to research, synthesise, evaluate and innovatively apply theoretical concepts, knowledge and approaches across diverse engineering technology contexts to effectively solve engineering problems


1.4, 2.1, 2.3


5, 6

B2. Technical and project management skills to design complex systems and solutions in line with developments in engineering technology professional practice


2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.2


C. Effective Communication

C1. Cognitive and technical skills to investigate, analyse and organise information and ideas and to communicate those ideas clearly and fluently, in both written and spoken forms appropriate to the audience





C2. Ability to engage effectively and appropriately across a diverse range of cultures



D. Design and Project Management

D1. Apply systematic synthesis and design processes within the technology domain

2.1, 2.2, 2.3


D2. Apply systematic approaches to the conduct and management of projects within the technology domain




E. Accountability, Professional and Ethical Conduct

E1. Innovation in applying engineering technology, having regard to ethics and impacts including economic; social; environmental and sustainability


1.6, 3.1, 3.4


2, 6

E2. Professional conduct, understanding and accountability in professional practice across diverse circumstances including team work, leadership and independent work


3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6



Unit Competency and Learning Outcome Map

This table details the mapping of the unit graduate attributes to the unit learning outcomes and the Australian Engineering Stage 1 Competency Standards for the Engineering Technologist.




Graduate Attributes














Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competency Standards for Engineering Technologist

























































































































































































Unit Learning Outcomes































































Student assessment

Assessment Type

When assessed

Weighting (% of total unit marks)

Learning Outcomes Assessed


Assessment 1

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Practical / Remote Lab / Simulation

Example Topic: Embedded system characteristics.

Students may complete a quiz with MCQ type answers and solve some simple equations to demonstrate a good understanding of the fundamental concepts


Week 3






Assessment 2

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Practical / Remote Lab / Simulation

Example Topic: Embedded processor systems architecture (internal and on-board).

Students may provide solutions to simple problems on the listed topics


Week 6






Assessment 3

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Practical / Remote Lab / Simulation / Project

/ Report

Example Topic: Operating systems (principles of operation and real time system characteristics).

OR Integrated Development Environment to produce a simple embedded application

Students may complete a quiz with MCQ type answers or solve some simple problems or using software to complete a practical.


Week 9




3, 4


Assessment 4

Type: Examination Example Topic: All topics

An examination with a mix of detailed report type questions and/or simple numerical problems to be completed in 3 hours


Final Week




1 to 6


Attendance / Tutorial Participation

Example: Presentation, discussion, group work, exercises, self-assessment/reflection, case study analysis, application.






1 to 6

Prescribed and Recommended Readings



Noergaard, T 2013, Embedded Systems Architecture - A Comprehensive Guide for Engineers and Programmers, Elsevier, ISBN 978-0-12-382197-3. Online version available at: architecture/embedded-systems-architecture




Virtanen, S 2012, Innovations in Embedded and Real-Time Systems Engineering for Communication, IGI Global, ISBN 978-1-62198-950-9.. Online version available at: embedded

Wescott, T 2006, Applied Control Theory for Embedded Systems, Elsevier, ISBN 978-0-08- 047589-9. Online version available at: theory



Journal, website



Notes and Reference texts

Knovel library: Other material advised during the lectures


Unit Content

One topic is delivered per contact week, with the exception of part-time 24-week units, where one topic is delivered every two weeks.


Topics 1 and 2


Introduction to embedded systems

  1. Embedded systems (attributes, embedded system architecture and model)

  2. Embedded system design

  3. Embedded controls (examples, processor architectures e.g. ARM)

  4. System power

  5. Programming languages (general purpose and market specific standards)

  6. Java (language characteristics, Java Virtual Machine)

  7. Universal Modelling Language (UML)


Topics 3 and 4


Embedded processor architecture

  1. Instruction Set Architecture (operations, operands, addressing modes, and etc.)

  2. Operations (math, data manipulation, input/output, and etc.)

  3. Storage (linear, segmented, restricted)

  4. Addressing modes and interrupt handling

  5. System performance and benchmarking

  6. Complex Instruction Set Computing (CISC) and Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC)


Topics 5 and 6

On-board architecture

  1. Read Only Memory (ROM) architecture and operation

  2. ROM types (Mask, Electrically Erasable, Programmable, Flash)

  3. Random Access Memory (RAM) architecture and operation

  4. Input/output (characteristics, operation, timing diagrams)

  5. Buses (characteristics, operation, timing diagrams, PCI)


Topics 7 and 8

Embedded Operating Systems

  1. Operating Systems (architecture, kernel, functions)

  2. Real Time Operating Systems (VxWorks, MicroC/OS-II)

  3. Processes (multitasking, tasks, threads, finite state machine, POSIX)

  4. Process scheduling (algorithms, preemption, and prioritization)


Topics 9, 10 and 11

System design, implementation, and testing

  1. Embedded Product Development Life Cycle (objectives, phases)

  2. Controllers selection

  3. Operating systems selection (characteristics, tools, portability, processor, and etc.)

  4. Integrated Development Environments

  5. Debugging tools


Topic 12

Unit Review

In the final week students will have an opportunity to review the contents covered so far. Opportunity will be provided for a review of student work and to clarify any outstanding issues. Instructors/facilitators may choose to cover a specialized topic if applicable to that cohort.

Are you a Future Student of EIT?Apply Now