Accessibility statement

Introduction to Communications - ELE00113M

« Back to module search

  • Department: Electronic Engineering
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Alister Burr
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

The modern world relies on efficient and successful transmission of signals through wires, cables and over wire-free technology . This module introduces you to fundamental engineering concepts of signals & noise. You will explore the radio spectrum, propagation and modulation fundamentals and be introduced to multiple access schemes and system design trade-offs. All of the technical concepts encountered will be illustrated through the example of satellite communications and you will investigate practical development of transmission link design and analysis.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

Subject content aims:

  • To introduce and develop fundamental engineering concepts in wireless data communications, including basic trade-offs in practical contexts.

  • To provide understanding of basic link engineering and link budgets.

  • To examine an example application area, in this case satellite communications

  • To explore parameters, performance, design issues and trade-offs for such systems.

  • To present and explore principles of multiple access.

Graduate skills aims:

  • To comfortably deal with core concepts in transmission

  • To have an ‘engineering’ feel for parameters

  • To have confidence in approaching the scoping and design of communication systems.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content learning outcomes

After successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Understand and deal with bandwidth and power of signals

  • Understand how to achieve optimum (matched) filtering for a signalling pulse

  • Quantify the effects of noise in communications systems

  • Understand basic modulation schemes & their performance.

  • Understand Nyquist filtering for minimising intersymbol interference

  • Analyse line-of-sight radio links and calculate simple link budgets

  • Understand the principles and applications of satellite communication

  • Understand multiple access principles, techniques and their characteristics


Graduate skills learning outcomes

After successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Apply theoretical knowledge to practical engineering design problems.

  • Comfortably manipulate design parameters in communication links and systems

  • Critically examine and assess communication systems design and trade-offs.

Module content

  • Signals, power, decibel representation. Baseband signalling pulses and their spectra. Noise, noise sources and parameters, noise temperature. Matched filtering, signal detection and error rates in white Gaussian noise. Intersymbol interference, Nyquist signalling, excess bandwidth and raised cosine filtering.

  • The radio spectrum, extent, characteristics, applications. Radiowave propagation introduction. Fundamental digital modulation techniques.

  • Antenna basics, development of link budgets for LOS wireless links, EIRP, FSPL, G/T, link requirements & capability.

  • Satellite systems; rationale, application areas, typical parameters and characteristics.

  • Cascaded link analysis; margins; terminal design; antenna considerations; operational issues.

  • Multiple access schemes (with illustration from satellite context): FDMA, TDMA. Spread spectrum techniques; CDMA.

  • Contention schemes, ALOHA. ARQ – principles, performance and basic enhancements. DAMA and advanced schemes.

  • Further exemplar systems (e.g. HAPs), tradeoffs and challenges.


Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam
Introduction to Communications
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam
Introduction to Communications
N/A 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

Glover, I.A. & Grant, P.M., ‘Digital Communications’. 3rd Edition Pearson Education, August 2009, ISBN 978-0-273-71830-7 (or earlier edition)

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.