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Applications of EM - ELE00046H

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  • Department: Electronic Engineering
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Martin Robinson
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

Here we cover both the theoretical basis of electromagnetic waves and a wide range of practical applications, in communications using radio, microwaves and light. Taking Maxwell’s equations as a starting point, students learn about key properties of waves such as polarisation, wavelength and power density, and discover how these affect wave propagation through materials and around obstacles. Applications include design of antennas, waveguide communications, and reflections of radio waves from the ionosphere. In the supporting laboratory work, students design transmission-line circuits and investigate optical propagation using lasers.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

Subject content aims:

  • To introduce students to the main parameters and properties of electric and magnetic fields and to the propagation mechanisms of electromagnetic waves within materials
  • To introduce the notion of waveguiding and the distinction between single-mode and multimode waveguides
  • To introduce students to the properties of antennas that describe their use in radio communications systems
  • To introduce students to the basic physics of the operation of antennas
  • To introduce the most commonly used modes of radio propagation in the Earth's atmosphere
  • To provide an insight into the physics of these modes
  • To illustrate common uses of these modes, and to enable students to estimate the channel losses in each case
  • To understand the physical and mathematical basis of distributed-circuit techniques in RF and microwave engineering, and their practical application in RF and microwave design

Graduate skills aims:

  • To develop skills in the selection and application of appropriate numeric and algebraic techniques

Module learning outcomes

Subject content learning outcomes

After successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Understand the propagation mechanisms of electromagnetic waves within materials
  • Be able to express relations for the electric and magnetic fields within a wave and the power density associated with a wave
  • Know how to classify materials according to the nature of a wave propagating through them
  • Be able to determine the interactions of electromagnetic waves at boundaries between materials
  • Understand the principles of waveguiding, the notion of waveguide modes and the difference in performance of multimode and single-mode waveguide
  • Appreciate the main considerations in design of free-space and guided optical links
  • Be able to describe and calculate the loss and dispersion limits of propagation distance in fibre optical links
  • Understand the importance of antennas in all types of radio communication systems
  • Be able to specify the performance of the system in terms of antenna characteristics
  • Be able to estimate the channel losses for guided, ground, sky and free-space waves, including the effects of diffraction and reflections, and know what applications use these propagation modes
  • Understand the problems of interference and fading, and be familiar with (and able to use to calculate fading probabilities) a two-ray model and Rayleigh model
  • Know how to use the Smith Chart for transmission-line calculations
  • Be able to design single-stub and quarter-wave matching networks
  • Understand how S-parameters are used in amplifier and attenuator design
  • Have a basic understanding of how a network analyser works

Graduate skills learning outcomes

After successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Be able to explain and evaluate advanced technical concepts concisely and accurately
  • Be able to select, adapt and apply a range of mathematical techniques to solve advanced problems
  • Have developed skills in problem solving, critical analysis and applied mathematics


Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Applications of EM Exam
2.5 hours 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Applications of EM Exam
2.5 hours 100

Module feedback

'Feedback’ at a university level can be understood as any part of the learning process which is designed to guide your progress through your degree programme.  We aim to help you reflect on your own learning and help you feel more clear about your progress through clarifying what is expected of you in both formative and summative assessments.

A comprehensive guide to feedback and to forms of feedback is available in the Guide to Assessment Standards, Marking and Feedback.  This can be found at

The Department of Electronic Engineering aims to provide some form of feedback on all formative and summative assessments that are carried out during the degree programme.  In general, feedback on any written work/assignments undertaken will be sufficient so as to indicate the nature of the changes needed in order to improve the work.  Students are provided with their examination results within 20 working days of the end of any given examination period.  The Department will also endeavour to return all coursework feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline.  The Department would normally expect to adhere to the times given, however, it is possible that exceptional circumstances may delay feedback.  The Department will endeavour to keep such delays to a minimum.  Please note that any marks released are subject to ratification by the Board of Examiners and Senate.  Meetings at the start/end of each term provide you with an opportunity to discuss and reflect with your supervisor on your overall performance to date. 

Indicative reading

Ulaby, FT, ‘Fundamentals of applied electromagnetics’, Prentice Hall, 2001. ISBN 0130329312
Edminister, J, ‘Electromagnetics’, McGraw-Hill, 2nd Edition, 1993. ISBN 0-07-018993-5
Fleisch, D, ‘A student’s Guide to Maxwell’s Equations,’ Cambridge University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-521-70147-1
Antennas & Propagation + Griffiths, J, ‘Radio-Wave Propagation and Antennas: An Introduction’, Prentice Hall, 1987. ISBN 0-137-52312-2
Antennas & Propagation + Saunders, SR and Aragon Zavala, A,, 'Antennas and Propagation for Wireless Communications', 2nd Edition, Wiley, 2007. ISBN 9780470848791

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.