MSc Communications Engineering


This degree has been accredited by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) under licence from the UK regulator, the Engineering Council.




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What our students say:

"The well-designed structure and academic resources encourage students to get quickly engaged." Bibigul Muratkhan

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Communications is one of the most exciting and rapidly-expanding subjects in all of engineering, with the Internet and mobile phones revolutionising life for many people over the last few decades. Increasingly, the Internet and mobile telephone networks are converging, and an understanding of both systems and the increasingly diverse information they carry is required to fully appreciate the issues in modern digital communications. Our MSc in Communications Engineering, taught by internationally leading experts from our well-established Communication Technologies Research Group, includes a wide range of modules to enable you to fully appreciate these complex systems. It is fully accredited by the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology).

The programme covers the latest techniques and issues in modern communications systems, along with a thorough grounding in the required technical and mathematical background, with an emphasis on wireless communications, signal processing, and cutting-edge technologies. You will be provided with a balanced picture of modern communications technology and networks to obtain a sound theoretical and practical knowledge of radio communication techniques, signal processing and network protocols. You will be able to design and optimise communication networks and be aware of new techniques and technologies as they are developed. Experience in designing and building industry-standard tools, managing projects and teams, and conducting innovative research working at the cutting edge of communications, will help make you an attractive candidate for employers throughout the field of modern communications.

Professional Development Framework

All our MScs programmes follow the principles of a carefully designed Professional Development Framework, developed in consultation with our Departmental Advisory Board, with key contributors from Industry, Research and Academia. This ensures that all students gain awareness of the essential skills that employers need and opportunities to develop their personal and team-based effectiveness. This begins with an Induction Week including an introduction to masters-level learning, and student team activities. Throughout the Autumn and Spring Terms students develop their personal effectiveness in a series of workshops (covering such issues as literature, research, referencing, teamwork, leadership, reflective learning, ethics, and business skills). These lead on to Interdisciplinary Masterclasses which cover key research and development cross-curricular topics in emerging technology.

All students are timetabled to be able to attend these sessions. Some programmes incorporate these Workshop and Masterclass elements as an assessed part of credit-weighted modules, but every one of our MSc students is encouraged to attend all sessions in order to develop their skills and to learn from people in different, but related, disciplines. In the Summer Term students are prepared for research methodology and digital literacy, and undertake regular developmental training in project management. This all leads to a major project (60 credit units) which is designed to give research and industry-relevant experience to individuals and teams as a key component of each programme.


Course Content

The course aims to provide a broad-based introduction to modern communications and to provide a solid grounding in the theory and techniques suitable for students wishing to pursue a career in electronic communications.

The table below shows at what stage of the programme the various modules are taught.

Autumn termSpring termSummer termJuly to September
Introduction to Signal Processing for MSc Signal Processing for Communications

Research Methods Theory



MSc Project
Information Theory and Error Control Coding Internet & LAN Protocols Emerging Technologies
Wired, Wireless & Optical Transmission Advanced Wireless Transmission for MSc MSc Project
Introduction to Communications Mobile Communication Systems
Introduction to MATLAB

The MSc is of 12-months duration, starting at the beginning of the Autumn term (late September) until the following September. For term dates, please visit the University term dates page.

Click on the links below to find out more about each module.  Please note that the detailed module contents and timetabling are subject to change.

Autumn term

Introduction to Signal Processing for MSc

Information Theory and Error Control Coding

Wired, Wireless & Optical Transmission

Introduction to Communications

Introduction to MATLAB

Spring term

Signal Processing for Communications

Internet & LAN Protocols

Advanced Wireless Transmission for MSc

Mobile Communication Systems

Summer term

Research Methods Theory

Emerging Technologies

MSc Project

Entry Requirements

Entry Requirements

Applicants are normally expected to hold (or expected to gain) the equivalent of a 2:1 honours degree or above from a university recognised by the University of York. This degree should be either in electronics, or other engineering or computing courses with a significant mathematics and signal processing content. We are willing to consider applications from students with lower qualifications, particularly when the student has high marks in relevant modules and/or appropriate industrial experience.

As a minimum, students are expected to be familiar with concepts such as complex numbers, calculus, Fourier analysis, decibels, statistics, and to have used the Internet. Students without sufficient background knowledge of electronic communication systems will be provided with some preparatory reading before starting the programme: details of this reading will be provided to all successful applicants. It is a requirement of entry that this reading is done before starting the programme.

For applicants whose native language is not English, the minimum University English language requirements of IELTS 6.0 (with at least 5.5 in each of the four language components) or the equivalent are required.

Pre-sessional language courses

The Centre for English language Teaching (CELT) runs a specific subject 8 week pre-sessional language course for Electronic Engineering:

Who the course is for: applicants who have accepted an offer to study a taught MSc programme in the Department of Electronic Engineering, subject to obtaining IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent).

For more information, including entry requirements, fees and how to apply: Electronic Engineering: 8-week pre-sessional, Centre for English Language Teaching

Teaching Materials/Prelim Reading

Teaching Materials

Computerised Lecture Demo

York prides itself on the quality of the teaching. This is one of many visualisation tools used in lectures. This one demonstrates the ISO and TCP/IP protocol layers in action. It shows how packets traverse through a protocol hierarchy, adding and removing headers and footers at the different levels.

This demo can be downloaded PG Layers Demo zip (zip  , 38kb)

Example Lecture Notes

Almost all of the modules taught on this programme provide the student with a set of lecture notes. This allows the student to concentrate on understanding the material covered in lectures, and provides time for discussion and questions of the information.

Take a look at a sample set of notes: PG Error Control pdf (PDF  , 450kb)

Preliminary Reading

These documents are intended to give a detailed summary of the knowledge we will expect you to have before you come to York, as well as providing an introduction to some of the subjects that you'll be studying here. Some background reading before you arrive will enable you to make the best use of your time at York.

The documents here are divided into two categories: "What You Should Know About..." and "Getting Started With...".

The "What You Should Know About..." chapters cover material that you will need to know when you start the programme.

The "Getting Started With..." chapters are short introductions to some of the concepts that we'll be covering in the first few weeks of the programme. In most cases, we'll be covering these subjects quickly, since we will assume that most people will have come across the ideas before.

These chapters have some sample problems at the end - if you can do these problems, you'll be fine.

Here are the first 14 chapters which can be downloaded as PDF files.

1 What You Should Know About... Basic Maths
PG Reading 01_basicMaths pdf (PDF  , 126kb)
PG Reading 01_basicMaths_solutions pdf (PDF  , 103kb)
2 What You Should Know About... Trigonometry
PG Reading 02_trigonometry_solutions pdf (PDF  , 126kb)
3 What You Should Know About... Complex Numbers
PG Reading 03_complexNumbers pdf (PDF  , 201kb)
PG Reading 03_complexNumbers_solutions pdf (PDF  , 94kb)
4 What You Should Know About... Calculus
PG Reading 04_calculus pdf (PDF  , 114kb)
PG Reading 04_calculus_solutions pdf (PDF  , 114kb)
5 What You Should Know About... Series
PG Reading 05_series pdf (PDF  , 179kb)
PG Reading 05_series_solutions pdf (PDF  , 141kb)
6 Getting Started With... Vectors
PG Reading 06_vectors_solutions pdf (PDF  , 133kb)
7 Getting Started With... Matrices
PG Reading 07_matrices pdf (PDF  , 218kb)
8 Getting Started With... Statistics
PG Reading 08_statistics pdf (PDF  , 217kb)
PG Reading 08_statistics_solutions pdf (PDF  , 162kb)
9 Getting Started With... Random Variables
PG Reading 09_randomVariables pdf (PDF  , 193kb)
PG Reading 09_randomVariables_solutions pdf (PDF  , 140kb)
10 Getting Started With... Statistical Distributions
PG Reading 10_statisticalDistributions pdf (PDF  , 428kb)
PG Reading 10_statisticalDistributions_solutions pdf (PDF  , 186kb)
11 Getting Started With... Signals
PG Reading 11_signals pdf (PDF  , 243kb)
PG Reading 11_signals_solutions pdf (PDF  , 28kb)
12 Getting Started With... Fourier Analysis
PG Reading 12_fourierAnalysis pdf (PDF  , 114kb)
PG Reading 12_fourierAnalysis_solutions pdf (PDF  , 44kb)

Getting Started With... Systems
PG Reading 13_systems pdf (PDF  , 95kb)

PG Reading 13_systems_solutions pdf (PDF  , 41kb)
14 What You Should Know About... Decibels
PG Reading 14_decibels pdf (PDF  , 69kb)
PG Reading 14_decibels_solutions pdf (PDF  , 43kb)


Teaching Staff

The department prides itself on the quality of its teaching. Lecturers on the Communications Engineering MSc include the following academics. Click on the links below to find out more about the staff, their backgrounds, and research and teaching interests.



All postgraduate students have access to high performance computer workstations with full network connectivity within the department, as well as to the large number of other computing rooms available around the campus. Dependent on their project, students might also use some of the department's other facilities, including NAMAS-accredited EMC measurement facilities, well-equipped music and media technology suites, electric measurement facilities up to 40 GHz, anechoic chambers, and specialised software for FPGA design, and DSP workstations.

Students on the MSc Communications Engineering also have use of the MSc Project room which provides computing equipment, project facilities and study space.

You can find out more about the wide range of facilities in the Department by looking through the Facilities pages.


Careers and Graduate Destinations

The MSc courses at York don't just give you academic qualifications. They are also designed to enhance your employability and to prepare you for entering the world of work or research after graduation.

Some of the ways we do this are:
"The course equipped me with the necessary technical and professional skills such as planning, management, problem solving and research...."

Patricia Maluti (MSc Communications Engineering)

  • Group projects which simulate project work within a company - working and problem solving in a team
  • Work with industry standard tools to make you attractive candidates for prospective employers throughout the field of modern communications.
  • Visits and careers talks from our industrial contacts
  • Lifetime support from the University Careers Service
  • Training in research methods and project management.
  • Opportunities to develop presentation skills and report writing.
  • Research led teaching - providing exposure to cutting edge methods from acknowledged experts.
  • Fully accredited by the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology). Some employers recruit preferentially from accredited degrees, and an accredited degree is likely to be recognised by other countries that are signatories to international accords.
  • York Alumni Association provides support and opportunities to network with other former York students after you graduate.


QR code to link to Chinese Alumni WeChat pages.‌For example there are currently around 500 active alumni attending social events and career talks in Beijing and Shanghai. Our networks are facilitated through WeChat with daily conversations occurring between alumni in China. To see our latest events in China please follow Yorkers_China . During the events in China you will find out how to join our WeChat groups.


What do MSc Communications Engineering students do after graduating?

MSc Communications Engineering graduates are not only ideally suited to working in the Information and Communications sector but have also found employment in a diverse range of sectors. Graduates from this MSc are also trained in conducting original research and are therefore well prepared to undertake further study.

Pie Chart showing destinations of students from the MSc Communications Engineering up until 2015

Where do MSc Communications Engineering students work after graduating?

Former students have jobs in big name companies from the UK and across the world such as:

Apple, Aircom International LDT, Asia Investment Nigeria, Beijing Starpoint Technology Company, Capgemini, China Mobile, CMCC, Densitron technologies PLC, HM Revenue & Customs, HP, KPMG, LETV, Nokia Siemens Networks, Samsung, Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority, Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority.

Graduate Profiles

Have a look at our Taught MSc Student profiles to find out more about the career paths of some of our recent Communications Engineering graduates and how this programme prepared them for their future careers.

Any questions?

Admissions Enquiries
Helen Smith

Postgraduate Admissions Tutor
Prof. Stephen Smith

(+44) 01904 324485

Discover postgraduate study at York: Sciences Postgraduate Virtual Open Day. 5 June, 3-5pm. Ask us questions and chat with other students. Register now.