Computer Systems Engineering

Computer Systems Engineering including a Foundation Year - BEng (Hons)

UCAS code H614


The range of uses for computers is increasing all the time – from smart phones and games consoles to aircraft flight control systems, super computers and global telecommunications.


This programme develops the skills and expertise needed to design computer systems, covering up-to-date detailed knowledge of computer hardware and software including electronics, communications systems and interface technologies.

We base our courses on leading-edge research, which is vital in a field that advances at such a fast pace. Our courses are designed with strong industrial input and therefore students graduate with excellent career prospects.

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts has always scored well in the National Student Survey, coming top three times in the last six years. We recently celebrated over 30 years’ continuous accreditation by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Student profiles

We are sure you will find your time at Kent enjoyable and rewarding.

See what our students have to say.

Independent rankings

Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Kent was ranked 1st for course satisfaction in The Guardian University Guide 2017 and 2nd for student satisfaction in The Complete University Guide 2017. In the National Student Survey 2016, 90% of students in Electronic and Electrical Engineering were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.

For graduate prospects, Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Kent was ranked 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2017.

Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Foundation year

This programme is for students who do not have the qualifications needed for direct entry to Stage 1 of our degree programmes. It covers electronics, computing, physics and mathematics.

If you successfully complete the foundation year, you can go on to take either the Computer Systems Engineering programmes mentioned above or Electronics and Communications Engineering.

Possible modules may include Credits

Lecture Syllabus


Graphical interpretation of a derivative and its numerical estimation

Differentiation of y = x squared from first principles

Differentiation of x to the power of n and polynomials by inference

Stationary values (turning points, Max and Min)

Differentiation of trigonometric functions

Differentiation of exponential functions

Differentiation of logarithmic functions

Differentiation of sums, products, quotients and functions of a function

Maclaurens series for sin x, cos x, e to the power of x, ln (1+x), (1+x) to the power of n


Comprehension and use of the integral notation symbol

Integration as the inverse operation of differentiation Constant of integration

Integration of polynomials, trigonometric functions and exponential functions

Integration of products and fractions

Integration by substitution (change of variables)

Integration by parts

Use of partial fractions

Integration of compound trigonometric functions

Calculation of the constant of integration

Integration as the process of summation

Definite integrals – calculations of areas

Simple first order differential equations – solution by the method of separation of variables.


Examples Class

Differentiation - 3 hours

Integration - 5 hours


Calculus x 4

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Lecture Syllabus


Introduction – Charge

Capacitance as a charge storage element

Capacitors in series and parallel

Charging capacitors using a current source

Charging capacitors using a resistor and voltage source

Discharging capacitors Energy stored in capacitors Coulombs Law

Electric field

Electric field between parallel plates Breakdown field of insulators Equipotentials

Electric flux density

Capacitance of a parallel plate capacitor



Magnetic field around permanent magnets and current carrying conductors

Rules for working out direction of magnetic field

Quantifying a magnetic field – flux and flux density

Force on a current carrying conductor – simple applications – Loudspeaker Magnetic field intensity. Fields for toroids, solenoids and long wires Permeability of free space. Magnetic materials, relative permeability.

Faraday's Law of Induction. Simple applications: Dynamic microphone, AC generator.

Mutual Inductance, Self Inductance. The transformer.


Laboratory Classes

There will be 3 x 3 hour laboratory classes. The titles of the laboratory experiments are: Magnetic field around a long wire

Charging capacitors

Parallel plate capacitor

Example Classes

Electrostatics - 5 hours

Magnetism - 4 hours

There will be 9 hours of examples classes. This work will be assessed by a 1 hour test in conjunction with EL026 and EL027.

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Lecture Syllabus


Forms of reports

Structure of a report


DC CIRCUITS Introduction

– S.I. units Charge flow and current Electrical power and energy

Circuit elements: voltage sources, resistance

Ohm's Law

Kirchhoff's Laws

Simple electrical circuits involving resistors Circuits involving series and parallel elements Potential divider and current divider

Real voltage sources and current sources

Thevenin's theorem

Superposition Theorem


General Measurement Theory:

Notion that a measurement is of no value without an estimation of its error

Notion of Random errors and Systematic errors

Estimation of random errors

Calculation of mean and standard deviation

Improvement by repeated measurements. Standard error of the mean. Combining errors: Linearly related quantities. Quantities related by products. Electronic Measurement Techniques:

Accuracy and Resolution of an Instrument with examples of difference

Moving coil meter. Ammeters and shunts Voltmeters and multipliers, Ohm meters Bridges

AC instruments: RMS, rectification. Notion of frequency response of instrument. Oscilloscope Structure/Operation

Use of Oscilloscope to measure amplitude and period Conversion of time difference to phase difference and back Introduction to other electronic instruments



There will be 5 x 3 hour laboratory classes. The titles of the laboratory experiments are:

Use of Multimeter (assessed by report)

Resistance and Resistivity (assessed by proforma)

Further Resistive Networks (assessed by report)

Moving Coil Meters (assessed by report)

The Oscilloscope (assessed by proforma)


DC Circuits - 5 hours

Measurements - 3 hours

Assessed by 1 two-hour test in conjunction with modules EL026 and EL027.


DC Circuits x 1

Measurements x 1

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Lecture Syllabus


Brief summary of circuit laws – applications to general circuits

Engineering aspects of resistors – preferred values, tolerance, power rating

Signals – time varying DC, AC, square, sine, ramp – characterisation

Diodes – functionality, terminal characteristics, simple circuits, Light Emitting diode

Capacitors: charge storage device, AC performance

Filters, low pass, high pass, simple circuits using resistors and capacitors

Transistors – terminal characteristics – gain

Simple transistor amplifier

Transistor as a switch – simple applications

Operational amplifiers – characteristics. Inverting and non-inverting circuits. The operational amplifier as a comparator – simple applications

Power supplies: transformer, rectifier, smoothing capacitor

The inductor – AC operation


Harmonic signals: frequency, phase and amplitude Energy and power for resistive loads, R.M.S. Values Capacitors in A.C. Circuits

Inductance, inductors in A.C. Circuits

Analysis of circuits with more than one element



There will be 6 x 3 hours of laboratory classes. The titles of the laboratory experiments are: Filters

Inductors and capacitors in AC circuits

Operational amplifier circuits

The Radio Project (triple session)


Introduction to Electronic Circuits and Systems - 5 hours

AC Circuits - 3 hours

This work will be assessed by two 1-hour tests held in conjunction with modules EL025, EL024 andEL027.


Electronic Circuits and Systems x 2

AC Circuits x 1

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Lecture Syllabus


Basic structure of atoms – notion of electronic energy levels in atoms

Formation of energy bands in solids

Notion of division of materials into insulators, metals and semiconductors. Resistivity

Formation of charged carriers in semiconductors. Doping. P-N junction operation

I-V characteristic curve

Zener diodes

Operation of bipolar transistor and field effect transistors

Simple FET circuits


Binary decisions (yes/no) (on/off)

Binary decisions dependant on other binary decisions

Truth tables

Logic gates in electronics Networks of logic gates Simple Boolian algebra Real life applications Simple Memory elements Digital numbers



There will be 4 x 3 hour laboratory classes. The titles of the laboratory experiments are: Logic gate experiment

Transistor switch

P-N junctions

Bipolar transistor amplifier


There will be 7 hours of examples classes. This work will be assessed by a 2 1-hour tests in conjunction with EL024, EL025 and EL026.


Digital Electronics x 1

Semiconductor Electronics x 1

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Lecture Syllabus


An introduction to the use of computers and the process of programming them

Introduction to the MATLAB programming environment

MATLAB basics: Variables and Arrays, Displaying Output Data, Data Files, Operations

Built-in MATLAB Functions

Branching statements and Loops

An introduction to problem solving techniques and the Program development cycle

Program design tools: Flowcharts and Pseudocode

User-defined functions

Introduction to Plotting: Two-Dimensional, Three-Dimensional, Multiple Plots and Animation

Additional data types: Cell arrays, Structures and Graphics handles.


22 hours terminal based exercises integrated with the lectures. This will take the form of 11, 2-hour exercises during the year of which 6 will be assessed.

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This module will focus on the topics which are fundamental across mathematics and the sciences. We will learn about the properties of many functions such as straight lines, quadratics, circles, exponentials, logarithms and the trigonometric functions. The focus of this module is on applied problem solving in many real-life situations, as well as some coverage of the rigorous theory behind many of these ideas. The material is delivered through lectures and examples classes, so that students have many different ways to learn. Many harder, extra-curricular examples are provided for keen students.

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  • Arithmetic


    Significant figures

    Standard form


    Simplification of fractions

    Percentages and fractional changes


    Logarithmic and exponential functions

  • Algebra

    Basic rules (operations and indices).

    Solving equations (substitution and order of operation).

    Changing subject of a formula

    Inverse operations

    Rules of indices

    Long division

    Expansion and Factorisation

    Quadratic equations

    Solving linear and simultaneous equations

    Partial fractions

    Binomial Theorem

  • Read more

    Teaching and assessment

    Teaching includes lectures, coursework and laboratory assignments, examples classes where you develop your problem-solving skills and regular staff ‘surgeries’. Practical work is carried out in air-conditioned laboratories, with state-of-the-art equipment and outstanding IT infrastructure.

    Stage 1 modules are assessed by coursework and examination at the end of the year. Stage 2 and 3 modules, with the exception of the final-year project, are assessed by a combination of coursework and examination. All years include project work to replicate industrial practice and develop skills to maximise employability.

    Programme aims

    The programme aims to:

    • educate students to become engineers, well-equipped for professional careers in development, research and production in industry and universities, and capable of meeting the challenges of a rapidly changing subject
    • produce computer systems engineers with specialist skills in hardware and software engineering, prepared for the complexities of modern computer system design
    • enable students to satisfy the professional requirements of the IET
    • provide academic guidance and welfare support for all students
    • create an atmosphere of co-operation and partnership between staff and students, and offer students an environment where they can develop their potential.

    Learning outcomes

    Knowledge and understanding

    You gain knowledge and understanding of:

    • mathematical principles relevant to computer systems engineering
    • scientific principles and methodology relevant to computer systems engineering
    • advanced concepts of embedded systems, signals and image processing, control, computer communications and operating systems
    • the value of intellectual property and contractual issues
    • business and management techniques which may be used to achieve engineering objectives
    • the need for a high level of professional and ethical conduct in computer systems engineering
    • current manufacturing practice with particular emphasis on product safety and EMC standards and directives
    • characteristics of materials, equipment, processes and products
    • appropriate codes of practice, industry standards and quality issues
    • contexts in which engineering knowledge can be applied.

    Intellectual skills

    You develop the following intellectual abilities:

    • the ability to analyse and offer solutions to hardware and software engineering problems using appropriate mathematical methods
    • the ability to apply and integrate knowledge and understanding of other engineering disciplines to support study of computer systems engineering
    • use of engineering principles to analyse key computer systems engineering processes
    • the ability to identify, classify and describe the performance of systems and components through the use of analytical methods and modelling techniques
    • the ability to apply and understand a systems approach to computer systems engineering problems
    • the ability to investigate and define a problem and identify constraints including cost drivers, economic, environmental, health and safety and risk assessment issues
    • the ability to use creativity to establish innovative, aesthetic solutions while understanding customer and user needs, ensuring you address all aspects of the problem including production, operation, maintenance and disposal
    • the ability to demonstrate the economic and environmental context of the engineering solution.

    Subject-specific skills

    You develop subject-specific skills including:

    • the use of mathematical techniques to analyse and solve hardware and software problems
    • the ability to work in an engineering laboratory environment and to use electronic and workshop equipment, and CAD tools to create electronic circuits
    • the ability to work with technical uncertainty
    • the ability to apply quantitative methods and computer software relevant to computer systems engineering in order to solve engineering problems
    • the ability to implement software solutions using a range of structural and object- oriented languages
    • the ability to design hardware or software systems to fulfil a product specification and devise tests to appraise performance
    • awareness of the nature of intellectual property and contractual issues and an understanding of appropriate codes of practice and industry standards
    • the ability to use technical literature and other information sources and apply it to a design
    • the ability to apply management techniques to the planning, resource allocation and execution of a design project and evaluate outcomes
    • the ability to prepare technical reports and presentations

    Transferable skills

    You gain transferable skills including:

    • the ability to generate, analyse, present and interpret data
    • the use of information and communications technology
    • personal and interpersonal skills and working as a member of a team
    • effective communication (in writing, verbally and through drawings)
    • effective learning for the purpose of continuing professional development
    • critical thinking, reasoning and reflection
    • how to manage time and resources within an individual project and a group project.


    Recently, our graduates have gone into the design of electronic and computer systems, software engineering, real-time industrial control systems and computer communications networks, in companies including BAE Systems, RAF, CISCO and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (MOD). Others have opted for further postgraduate study; for example, the MSc in Information Security and Biometrics or Embedded Systems and Instrumentation.

    Entry requirements

    Home/EU students

    The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

    It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

    Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
    A level



    C in Mathematics and Science

    Access to HE Diploma

    The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

    If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

    BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

    The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.

    International Baccalaureate

    34 points overall or 12 at HL

    International students

    The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.

    If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

    Meet our staff in your country

    For more advise about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

    English Language Requirements

    Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

    Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

    General entry requirements

    Please also see our general entry requirements.


    The 2018/19 entry tuition fees have not yet been set. As a guide only, the 2017/18 tuition fees for this programme are:

    UK/EU Overseas
    Full-time £9250 £16480

    For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

    Your fee status

    The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

    General additional costs

    Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.


    University funding

    Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

    Government funding

    You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.


    General scholarships

    Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

    The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

    At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

    For 2018/19 entry, the scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

    The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either Mathematics or a Modern Foreign Language. Please review the eligibility criteria.

    The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. 

    Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

    If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact