Learning in a research environment

Bristol is one of the leading research universities in the UK. Research is at the heart of our mission: it accounts for the University’s international reputation, it informs our teaching and it is the basis of our economic role in the region and of our collaborations across the world - such as our membership of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN).

In the latest independent assessment of research quality the majority of the department’s research was judged to be internationally excellent. We are committed to building on this success and to maintaining our strong position among the UK leaders.

What does this mean for you?

At Bristol you will learn in an environment of research excellence. In practice this means you will be taught not merely out of textbooks, but by academic staff who are themselves engaged in cutting-edge research and development projects with Industry and Government.

We have, for example, internationally renowned teams working in communications, video-, image- and signal-processing, optics, quantum, electromagnetics and electrical energy management. This broad research base means that we have the staff, know-how and facilities to support students undertaking a wide range of specialised final-year options along with exciting, stimulating and industrially-relevant final-year projects.

The income we derive from our Research activities (approximately £13M) helps us to continually invest in new equipment and facilities. These facilities - which include optics clean rooms, heavy engineering labs., a new electrical drives and machines lab, and an anechoic chamber (used for antenna measurements) - often form a vital part of the final-year projects.

Research excellence

Did you know Bristol lecturing staff were responsible for:

  • Developing a silicon chip using quantum particles.This represents a new route towards a quantum computer.
  • Designing the low-profile antenna system used on the British American Racing Formula One car driven by Jenson Button.
  • Designing parts of the WiFi standard, and later parts of the 802.11n MIMO standard.
  • Designing and commercialising the world’s first in-home HDTV wireless video distribution system.
  • Designing and building Europe’s first Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA) cellular network (in collaboration with Hewlett Packet and AT&T). This technology is used in all 3G mobile phones and basestations.
  • Developing the optical cross-point switch. This helps address the optical network demands for streaming video and films on demand.
  • Initiating ‘smart’ antenna research and applying this technology to GSM and DCS-1800 (in collaboration with Orange and Motorola). This led to enhancements in battery life and data capacity.
  • Developing photonic crystal fibre light sources, quantum secured optical communications and novel quantum gate technologies. Bristol is a world leader in the new field of Quantum Photonics.
  • Designing a novel medical scanner (based on conformal antenna arrays and advanced electromagnetic processing) for the early detection of breast cancer using non-ionising radiation.
  • Designing an analogue speech scrambler (in collaboration with Marconi) that won the Prince of Wales award for innovation. The product was selected by the Home Office after extensive trials for use by all UK Police Forces for securing their mobile networks.
  • Performing research into power efficient radio frequency (RF) transmitters for broadcast and mobile radio applications. This led to a world record in power efficiency (50 per cent), and a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of radio networks. This work in ongoing as part of our “green radio” research theme
  • Designing the electrical motor technologies used in the Airbus A380.
  • Designing the electrical traction drive technologies used in a number of commercial hybrid and electric vehicle designs.
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