MSc Optical Communications and Signal Processing

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Faculty Faculty of Engineering
Awards available MSc
Programme length One year full-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available No, full-time only
Open to international students Yes
Number of places Not fixed
Start date September 2017

Programme overview

This programme provides students with a challenging range of advanced topics drawn from optical communications systems and devices, and optics-related signal processing, including associated enabling technologies. It provides an excellent opportunity to acquire the skills needed for a career in the most dynamic fields in optical communications.

This programme builds on the internationally-recognised research strengths of the Photonics and High Performance Networks research groups within the Smart Internet Lab. Optical fibre communications form the backbone of all land-based communications and is the only viable means to support today's global information systems. Research at Bristol is contributing to the ever-increasing requirement for bandwidth and flexibility through research into optical switching technology, wavelength conversion, high-speed modulation, data regeneration and novel semiconductor lasers.

There are two taught units related to optical communications: Optical Networks and Data Centre Networks. Optical Networks focuses on Wavelength Division Multiplexed (WDM) networks, Time Division Multiplexed (TDM) networks including SDH/SONET and OTN, optical frequency division multiplexed networks, and optical sub-wavelength switched networks. Data Centre Networks focuses on networks for cloud computing, cloud-based networking, grid computing and e-science.

The group at Bristol is a world leader in the new field of quantum photonics, with key successes in developing photonic crystal fibre light sources, quantum secured optical communications and novel quantum gate technologies.

The programme is accredited by the Institute of Engineering and Technology until 2018, one of only a handful of accredited programmes in the UK.

Fees for 2017/18

Full-time fees


Fees quoted are per annum and subject to annual increase.

Funding for 2017/18

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Programme structure

Your programme will cover the following core subjects:

Semester one (50 credits)

  • Communication systems
  • Digital filters and spectral analysis
  • Mobile communications
  • Networking protocol principles
  • Optoelectronic devices and systems

Semester two (70 credits)

  • Advanced optoelectronic devices
  • Data centre networking
  • Advanced networks
  • Engineering research skills
  • Optical communications systems and data networks
  • Optical networks

Research project (60 credits)

A substantial research project is initiated during the second teaching block and completed during the summer. This may be based at the University or with industrial partners.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) in a numerate physical science or engineering discipline. Candidates with a lower class of degree, equivalent qualifications or relevant work experience may be admitted if they can demonstrate their potential for higher degree work.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile E
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.


This one-year MSc programme gives you a world-class education in all aspects of current and future optical communication systems, along with associated signal processing technologies. It will prepare you for a diverse range of exciting careers - not only in the communications field, but also in other areas such as management consultancy, project management, finance and government agencies.

Our graduates have gone on to have rewarding careers in some of the leading multinational communications companies, such as Huawei, China Telecom, Toshiba, China Mobile and Intel. Some graduates follow a more research-oriented career path with a number of students going on to study for PhDs at leading universities.

How to apply
Application deadline:

18 August 2017. Early application recommended; places may fill before our deadline.

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

Categories 11 and 15 apply. Please see full REF 2014 results for the University of Bristol.

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

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