Systems architecture in A Level computer science CP505

During this course you'll explore the structure of the internal components of a computer system. In addition you'll explore the von Neumann architecture and fetch-execute cycle.


Unlock the inner workings of computer systems during this course. Delve into the purpose and function of key system components, gaining insight into how they impact overall performance and functionality. Master the fundamentals of Von Neumann architecture and the fetch-decode-execute cycle. You’ll evaluate the factors influencing CPU performance through the use of a real-world scenario.

Discover the intriguing distinctions between Von Neumann and Harvard processor architectures, and explore the pivotal role of GPUs as co-processors. Investigate the applications of both RISC and CISC processor designs, and examine their key differences. Through the exploration of a variety of online resources, engagement in professional discussions with educators alongside practical experience of exam questions, emerge from this course best equipped to support student success within the topic of systems architecture.

Who is it for?

This course is aimed at teachers delivering A Level computer science. It is advised you have some basic knowledge of systems architecture from GCSE computer science specifications.

During this course you’ll access the Isaac Computer Science platform, it is advised you sign up for a free, teachers account ahead of the course.

What topics are covered?

Key system components – during this session, you will discover the vital system components that power your computer's performance. You will explore models of the Von Neumann architecture and investigate the fetch-decode-execute cycle. You’ll analyse and evaluate the factors affecting CPU performance using a real-world scenario.

Processor architectures – during this session, you will explore a variety of processor architectures. You will uncover the distinctions between Von Neumann and Harvard designs, unveiling the core of computing innovation. You will dive into the fascinating world of GPUs and their pivotal role as co-processors, before investigating the differences between RISC and CISC architectures.

How will you learn?

Scheduled live, interactive online sessions led by an experienced practitioner. Flexible Professional Development Leader-supported, participant-led tasks, involving deep exploration of the subject content.

How long is this course?

This course will last approximately 2.5 hours, these sessions maybe split across multiple days.


By the end of this intensive CPD pathway you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of computer system components and their impact on performance and functionality
  • Explore Von Neumann architecture and evaluate the factors affecting CPU performance
  • Effectively differentiate between processor architectures, including Von Neumann vs. Harvard and RISC vs. CISC