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Unit information: Principles of Communication Systems in 2021/22

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Principles of Communication Systems
Unit code EENGM0033
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Professor. Beach
Open unit status Not open

Entry to MSc Programmes (MS61 to MS64)



School/department Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides a review of the underpinning material to support the understanding of both Analogue and Digital Communication Techniques taught in subsequent units with our MSc programmes (Communication Networks and Signal Processing, Image and Video Communication and Signal Processing, Optical Communications and Signal Processing and Wireless Communications and Signal Processing).


Overview of modern communication systems;

Fundamentals of baseband transmission: system capacity, bandwidth noise and distortion, PAM binary and multi-level signalling, intersymbol interference and pulse shaping, eye diagrams, sources of channel degradation and correction techniques, line coding;

Bandpass Digital Modulation: generation, detection spectra and performance, amplitude shift keying, phase shift keying, frequency shift keying, minimum shift keying (MSK, CPM), multi-level signalling, M-ary systems (QAM), orthogonal signalling (MFSK);

Amplitude modulation, frequency modulation, linear modulation and spectra;

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the fundamental limitations on the performance of communication systems.
  2. Evaluate the performance of communications systems both qualitatively and quantitatively.
  3. Calculate the theoretical capacity of a channel as a function of bandwidth and SNR.
  4. Apply engineering trade-offs in using different modulation techniques and select appropriate techniques for different applications.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including lectures, practical activities supported by drop-in sessions, problem sheets and self-directed exercises.

Example sheets and solutions for each topic are provided as well as example end of unit examination. Practical illustations of both Analogue and Digital Communication Systems is given (where possible) using NI Labview and USRPs.

Assessment Information

The assessment of this material (all ILOs) is via a single timed assessment.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EENGM0033).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.