Computer Systems Engineering

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

UCAS code H614

CLEARING 2018

Planning to start this September? The Clearing vacancies list will be available from 06.00 on Thursday 16 August.
2019

Advances in electronics, computing and communications have made a huge impact on every aspect of modern life. This programme teaches you the skills and expertise needed to design the computer systems that shape the way we live.

Overview

The range of uses for computers is increasing all the time – from smartphones and tablets to aircraft flight control systems and global telecommunications. Our degree gives you up-to-date knowledge of computer hardware and software, and a background knowledge of electronics, communications systems and control theory.

The programme is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), on behalf of the Engineering Council. This allows graduates to follow an approved process to gain Chartered Engineer status.

Our degree programme

This programme is for students who do not have the grades they need for direct entry on to our BEng programmes. In your foundation year, you study electronics, computing, physics and mathematics. On successful completion of your foundation year, you can go to the Computer Systems Engineering degree or Electronic and Communications Engineering - BEng (Hons).

Computer technology, telecommunications and consumer electronics are rapidly evolving, so experts in these fields are in great demand. Our Computer Systems Engineering degree is based on leading-edge research and has been designed with strong industrial input.

In your first and second years of the BSc programme, you are introduced to a wide range of computing and engineering modules. You can study the theoretical background of digital technologies, communications principles and object-oriented programming, and take modules in robotics, computer interfacing and engineering mathematics.

Your final year allows you to specialise in a particular topic of interest. This could include computer networks and communication, computer security and cryptography, digital signal processing, digital control, digital systems design and embedded computer systems.

All years include project work that replicates industrial practice to maximise the employability of our graduates.

Year in industry

You can take a work placement between the second and third years of the degree. This provides valuable workplace experience and can increase your professional contacts. For more details, see Computer Systems Engineering with a Year in Industry.

Study resources

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts offers cutting-edge equipment and facilities, including:

  • four air-conditioned computer suites with 150 high-end computers
  • 120-seat engineering laboratory
  • extensive professional CAD development software
  • PCB and surface-mount facilities
  • mechanical workshop
  • Matlab for system modelling
  • 3dMD 3D imaging scanner for general purpose capture and biometric research
  • VICON Infrared Motion Capture System
  • anechoic chamber for EMC (pre-compliance testing) and antenna characterisation.

Extra activities

Kent Union has a range of student-run clubs and societies. You can join the Kent Computing Society and the Digital Media Society to network, develop your skills and socialise with students from across the University.

Professional network

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts has a long history of collaboration with industry. We have a strong reputation for our placement year, matching dedicated students with a variety of organisations in the UK and overseas.

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).

Independent rankings

Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Kent was ranked 11th for course satisfaction in The Guardian University Guide 2018.

For graduate prospects, Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Kent was ranked 13th in The Guardian University Guide 2018.

Of Electronic and Electrical Engineering students who graduated from Kent in 2016, over 95% were in work or further study within six months (DLHE).

Teaching Excellence Framework

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

TEF Gold logo

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.

Modules may include Credits

This module introduces students to the mathematics of calculus and its applications in engineering. Examples classes are provided to support the student learning.

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15

This module introduces students to the basic principles of electro-magnetism and electrostatics that are necessary in order to understand modern electronic and communications systems. Practical work and examples classes are included to assist the student learning.

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15

DC CIRCUITS

Electrical quantities, circuit theory, circuit calculations and theorems.

MEASUREMENTS

General measurement theory

Use of electronic instruments

REPORT WRITING

Structure of reports, treatment of errors, conclusions

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15

This module introduces students to electronic components, circuits and systems. By the end of this module students should be able to understand the operation of some important electronic circuits. Practical work is included in this module which includes a short constructional project. Examples classes also support the student learning.

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15

This module consists of a series of coherent lectures, laboratory sessions and practical classes. Technical topics covered in the module include logic gates and networks, Boolean algebra, and their applications. It also introduces semiconductor material and devices in theory and their practical applications.

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15

This module introduces MATLAB as a technical programming language. As programming skills are essential for modern scientific and engineering work, and MATLAB is becoming an important tool for technical computations, this module enables students to cover both these requirements simultaneously. It provides students with an effective understanding of programming concepts and techniques as well as the basic software engineering process required to develop solutions to given problems using the MATLAB environment. Reflecting the need to appreciate both the functionality of programming structures and the issues involved in programming implementations the course is organised in a series of alternating theoretical lectures and practical, problem driven, terminal sessions.

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15

This module introduces fundamental methods needed for the study of mathematical subjects at degree level.

a) Functions and graphs: plotting, roots, intercepts, turning points, area (graphical methods), co-ordinate geometry of straight lines, parallel and perpendicular lines, applications to plots of experimental data, quadratics, introduction to the trigonometric functions

b) Trigonometry: radians, properties of sine and cosine functions, other trigonometric functions, compound angle formulae and subsequent results, solving trigonometric equations

c) Geometry: circles and ellipses, right-angled triangles, SOHCAHTOA, trigonometric functions, inverse trigonometric functions, sine and cosine rule, opposite and alternate angle theorems, applications to geometry problems

d) Vectors: notion of a vector, representation of vectors, addition, subtraction and scaling, magnitude, scalar product, basis vectors in 2 and 3 dimensions

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15

  • Arithmetic

    Calculations

    Significant figures

    Standard form

    Fractions

    Simplification of fractions

    Percentages and fractional changes

    Indices

    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

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  • 15

    Stage 1

    Modules may include Credits

    • An introduction to databases and SQL, focusing on their use as a source for content for websites

    • Creating static content for websites using HTML(5) and controlling their appearance using CSS

    • Using PHP to integrate static and dynamic content for web sites

    • Securing dynamic websites

    • Using Javascript to improve interactivity and maintainability in web content

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    15

    This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the fundamental behaviour and components (hardware and software) of a typical computer system, and how they collaborate to manage resources and provide services in scales from small embedded devices up to the global internet. The module has two strands: 'Computer Architecture' and 'Operating Systems and Networks,' which form around 35% and 65% of the material respectively. Both strands contain material which is of general interest to computer users; quite apart from their academic value, they will be useful to anyone using any modern computer system:

    [a] Computer Architecture

    - Data representation: Bits, bytes and words. Numeric and non-numeric data. Number representation.

    - Computer architecture: Fundamental building blocks (e.g. registers). The fetch/execute cycle. Instruction sets and types.

    - Data storage: Memory hierarchies and associated technologies. Physical and virtual memory.

    - Sustainability. Energy consumption of computer systems: ways that this can be reduced and methods to estimate use.

    [b] Operating Systems and Networks

    - Operating systems principles. Abstraction. Processes and resources. Security. UNIX-style operating system fundamentals.

    - Device interfaces: Handshaking, buffering, programmed and interrupt-driven i/o. Direct Memory Access.

    - File Systems: Physical structure. File and directory organisation, structure and contents. Naming hierarchies and access. Backup.

    - Fundamentals of networking and the Internet.

    - Networks and protocols: LANs and WANs, layered protocol design. The TCP/IP protocol stack; theory and practice. Connection-oriented and connectionless communication. Unicast, multicast and broadcast. Naming and addressing. Application protocols; worked examples (e.g. SMTP, HTTP).

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    15

    This module introduces students to main electric components (i.e. resistors, capacitors, inductors, and voltage and current sources) and to operational amplifiers, which are the basic building blocks of many circuits; how do they work and what properties do they have; what are their main usages in circuits and systems; and how to practically perform simple measurements and tests. Also, fundamentals of analysis of electric circuits and the main circuit laws are taught. The teaching of this module makes an extensive use of a computer-aided electronic circuit design and simulation tools to assist in and to amplify traditional lecture-based learning, in addition to worked example and practical sessions. It also includes a mini-project in which students gain practical laboratory experience, including design, physical construction and testing of an example operational amplifier circuit. The module requires some elementary mathematical skills.

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    15

    This module is designed to provide experience in the practical and management aspects of project work. It is supported by a lecture course and weekly supervised laboratory sessions. After an initial hands-on introduction to use of bench equipment and the Computer Aided Design (CAD) and fabrication of a Printed Circuit Board (PCB), the project consists of constructing a robot that incorporates an additional PCB of your own construction and the development of software of your own design to enable your robot to address a specific set of tasks.

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    15

    This module provides an introduction to contemporary digital systems design. Starting with the fundamental building blocks of digital systems the module outlines both theoretical and practical issues for implementation. Practical work includes the use of digital simulation and analysis software for implementing real-world problems.

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    15

    Mathematics is the fundamental language of engineering, allowing complex ideas to be formulated and developed. This course provides the sound basis of mathematical techniques and methods required by almost all other modules in the department's engineering courses. Topics covered include functions, set theory, complex numbers, calculus, linear algebra, statistics and probability. The lectures are supported by assessed examples classes, taken in small groups.

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    15

    This module expands the introductory mathematics covered in EL318 and provides students with the appropriate mathematical tools necessary for the further study of electronic, mechanical and computer systems. The main emphasis of the course is in applied calculus, which isused to solve real-world engineering problems.. The lectures are supported by assessed examples classes, taken in small groups.

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    15

    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.

    Careers

    Graduate destinations

    The School of Engineering and Digital Arts has an excellent record of student employability. Previous graduates have gone on to careers in:

    • design of electronic and computer systems
    • software engineering
    • real-time industrial control systems
    • computer communications networks.

    Other graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

    • BAE Systems
    • RAF
    • CISCO
    • Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (MOD).

    Help finding a job

    The School of Engineering and Digital Arts holds an annual Employability and Careers Day where you can meet local and national employers and discuss career opportunities. Ongoing support is provided by the School's dedicated Employability Officer.

    The University also has a friendly Careers and Employability Service which can give you advice on how to:

    • apply for jobs
    • write a good CV
    • perform well in interviews.

    Career-enhancing skills

    Alongside specialist skills, you also develop the transferable skills graduate employers look for, including the ability to:

    • think critically 
    • communicate your ideas and opinions 
    • work independently and as part of a team.

    You can gain extra skills by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.

    Professional recognition

    Our programme is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), which enables fast-track career progression as a professional engineer.

    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.

    New GCSE grades

    If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

    Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
    A level

    DDD

    GCSE

    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 advice 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.

    Fees

    The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

    UK/EU Overseas
    Full-time £9250 £18400

    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.

    Funding

    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.

    Scholarships

    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. 

    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 information@kent.ac.uk.