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Module ICE-4312:
Advanced Control Systems

Module Facts

Run by School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Zengbo Wang

Overall aims and purpose

This course considers how modern control systems are designed and implemented in practice, with a particular emphasis on computer based digital techniques. The module will give students introduction to the engineering design of digital control systems (e.g PIC temperature and robot control) and their applications, including system modelling, dynamics, sensing methods and control strategies.

Course content

Indicative content includes:

  • Introduction - generic digital control systems; advantages/drawbacks of digital control; Digital control theory – signal reconstruction, effect of sampling; time variance; quantisation. Revision of classical control theory.
  • Sampled data systems - modelling the ideal sampler; spectrum of a sampled signal; aliasing; linear recurrence (difference) equations; the Z transform; the mapping z = exp(sT); discrete transfer functions; block diagram representation; ‘unit delay’ property in z-domain; the Zero-Order Hold; design by emulation of continuous transfer functions.
  • Digitising methods - continuous to discrete approximations; forward and backward difference; bilinear transform; matched pole zero method; pole and zero locations in the Z plane; frequency response of discrete time systems; hold equivalent model for a Plant; parameters of a 2nd order system in the z plane; closed loop discrete time system.
  • Implementation issues – direct, cascade and parallel realisations; coding; numerical round-off and quantisation; choice of sample interval; effect of computational delay; integrator offset.
  • Brief historical background of industrial computer control systems. Types of computer control - DDC, supervisory, hierarchical. Hierarchical organization of industrial controllers.
  • temperature and robot control system, modelling, dynamics and control

Assessment Criteria


Equivalent to the range 70%+. Assemble critically evaluated, relevent areas of knowledge and theory to constuct professional-level solutions to tasks and questions presented. Is able to cross-link themes and aspects to draw considered conclusions. Presents outputs in a cohesive, accurate, and efficient manner.


Equivalent to the range 60%-69%. Is able to analyse a task or problem to decide which aspects of theory and knowledge to apply. Solutions are of a workable quality, demonstrating understanding of underlying principles. Major themes can be linked appropriately but may not be able to extend this to individual aspects. Outputs are readily understood, with an appropriate structure but may lack sophistication.


Equivalent to 50%. Uses key areas of theory or knowledge to meet the Learning Outcomes of the module. Is able to formulate an appropriate solution to accurately solve tasks and questions. Can identify individual aspects, but lacks an awareness of links between them and the wider contexts. Outputs can be understood, but lack structure and/or coherence.

Learning outcomes

  1. Implement a Digital Control System by applying appropriate digitisation methods.

  2. Describe Digital Control Systems in formal terms using the under-pinning mathematical foundations.

  3. Relate Digital Control techniques to temperature and/or robotic systems.

  4. Employ Digital Control Systems for temperature and/or Robotics.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
EXAM Examination

1.5 hours, 50 marks, answer all 6 questions.

COURSEWORK Design assignment

4 assignment, each for 5%, totalling 20% of the whole unit.

REPORT Report for the termpature or robotics lab 20

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Design program to control industrial robots to complete given tasks


36 hours of lectures in 1-hour blocks


Problem classes and tutorials (12 x 1 hour)

Private study 144

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Apply underpinning concepts and ideas of engineering;
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of the specialist cognate area of computer systems for controlling complex systems;
  • Assess and choose optimal methods and approaches for the specification, design, implementation and evaluation of engineering solutions, especially ones that include embedded microprocessors
  • Solve problems logically and systematically;
  • Analyse and display data using appropriate methods and mathematical techniques;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with relevant subject specific and general computer software packages.
  • Knowledge and understanding of facts, concepts, principles & theories
  • Use of such knowledge in modelling and design
  • Problem solving strategies
  • Analyse if/how a system meets current and future requirements
  • Deploy theory in design, implementation and evaluation of systems
  • Knowledge and/or understanding of appropriate scientific and engineering principles
  • Specify, design or construct computer-based systems
  • Knowledge of systems architecture
  • System Design
  • Knowledge and understanding of mathematical principles

Courses including this module