Pervasive Computing

Module aims

In this module you will have the opportunity to:

  • explore embedded technologies that make up the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • appreciate the many architectural aspects and trade-offs in the design of a pervasive system
  • design and implement different wireless sensor network topologies
  • implement wireless sensor network infrastructures on embedded devices or simulations thereof
  • study security in the context of wireless sensor networks

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • describe the architectural aspects and trade-offs in the design of a pervasive system
  • explain how energy limitations affect the design of pervasive hardware and software systems
  • evaluate network reliability for a given communication protocol
  • simulate a wireless sensor network using appropriate state-of-the art modelling tools
  • design and implement wireless sensor networks in a practical way
  • evaluate security in the context of wireless sensor networks

Module syllabus

  • Fundamental components of pervasive hardware and software systems
  • Wireless communication
  • MAC protocols
  • Routing Protocols
  • Time Synchronisation
  • Key Decentralised and Bio-inspired systems
  • Security and long-distance communications


The Undergraduate Networking course (COMP50005), Operating Systems courses (COMP50004) etc. An ability to program in C.

Teaching methods

The module combines traditional classroom teaching with supervised laboratory sessions aimed at putting the ideas taught into practice. The sessions are supervised by Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs). The laboratory sessions involve coding real wireless network computers (or their simulations) and aim to give you experience of working with limited-resource systems that exhibit cyber-physical interactions, such as network interference. A key learning objective is to be able to diagnose and solve practical engineering problems as they arise.

The module has a higher coursework weighting (30%) than most modules, which reflects the increased practical component.

The Piazza Q&A web service will  be used as an open online discussion forum for the module.


There are two assessed coursework components. In the first you will design and build a network topology and test it to the specifications provided. In the second you will design and implement a sensor network and evaluate key aspects of its functionality and performance. This will involve first simulating the network using an industry-standard simulator. The coursework contributes 30% of the final module mark with the remaining 70% coming from a written examination which will test both theoretical and practical aspects of the subject.

There will be detailed feedback on the coursework exercises which will include written feedback on your individual submission and in-class and/ or written feedback explaining common pitfalls and suggestions for improvement. As the project courseworks progress, you will get advice and feedback from the module leader and GTAs.

Reading list

Module leaders

Professor Julie McCann