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Information theory, wireless and optical transmission - ELE00160M

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  • Department: Electronic Engineering
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Alister Burr
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

Information theory: At the heart of communications is the concept of Information theory. This module gives you an understanding of information theory and the error-control and coding schemes used in modern, mainly wireless, communication systems. It will help you to quantify information and compute entropy, calculate mutual information and channel capacity, and understand the limits of source coding and reliable communication.

Wireless Communications: Wireless communication including Wifi and 5G mobile has become fundamental to all our lives, but the radio communication channel is challenging for high speed communication. This part of the module will describe the problems of multipath fading, derive mathematical models of the channel, and use them to analyse its performance and show how the limitations it imposes are overcome in current wireless communication standards.

Optical Communications: optical communications offer much higher capacity than wired or wireless, and have a lot of distinctive features. This part of the course will concentrate on the physical level of optical comms, introduce the physical principles, the components and system technology, discuss the relation of optical comms to other types of communications, the particular way the general principles of communications and info theory are applied to optical communications, and modern trends in optical communication development.

Professional requirements

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Additional information



Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

Information Theory: This module aims to give an understanding of information theory and the error-control and coding schemes used in modern, mainly wireless communication systems. It will also develop critical skills in the selection, adaptation and application of appropriate numeric and algebraic techniques.

Wireless Communications: The module introduces fundamental modulation techniques used in radio communications, then describes and derives the characteristics of the radio channel, especially the issue of multipath propagation and how it affects performance. As well as showing students how these issues can be overcome in wireless communications, it uses the radio channel as an example to show students how communication techniques can be adapted to a specific channel.

Optical Communications: the module also aims to give the students and understanding of the components, system architectures, modulation and multiplexing methods, and development trends in modern optical communications, as well as recent tendencies in their development

Module learning outcomes

Information Theory: After successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Be able to quantify information and compute entropy

  • Understand and know how to calculate compute mutual information and channel capacity

  • Describe the limits of source coding and reliable communication

  • Be able to encode and decode linear block codes using generator matrices and polynomials

  • Be able to encode and decode convolutional codes using linear algebra and the Viterbi algorithm

  • Be able to calculate decoded BER for FEC codes

  • Be able to express advanced technical concepts concisely and accurately and comment on their applications, limitations and implications

  • Be able to select, adapt and apply a range of mathematical techniques to solve advanced problems and explain the implications of the answer

Wireless Communications: Students will also be able to:

  • Design transmit and receive filters for wireless communications

  • Design modulation schemes and calculate their BER

  • Calculate noise power in a radio receiver

  • Understand and calculate antenna gain, and calculate a link budget for a wireless communication link

  • Understand multipath propagation, calculate the delay spread and coherence bandwidth of a multipath channel, and appreciate their significance for the system performance;

  • Calculate average BER and outage probability on a fading multipath channel, and understand and evaluate the concept of diversity and its effect on BER performance

  • Understand the principles of OFDM, and select OFDM parameters for specific channels

Optical Communications: After successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Be able to quantify the performance of the optical communication system, appreciate the main constraints in optical communications related to capacity, sensitivity, and implementation. Appreciate the advantages and limitations of optical communications compared to wireless, their respective prime applicability areas and interaction between optical and wireless in modern communication systems

  • Describe the operating principle, main characteristics and parameters of the main active and passive components of an optical communication system

  • Distinguish between different methods of multiplexing used in optical communications, in particular dense and coarse Wavelength Division multiplexing, space and polarisation division multiplexing; appreciate their respective advantages and limitations.

  • Appreciate the principles, advantages and limitations of the main incoherent and coherent modulation formats in optical communications, quantify their performance. Identify the areas of applicability of different multiplexing and modulation methods.

  • Distinguish between amplified and unamplified optical links, evaluate their power budgets.

  • Be able to apply the general principles of communications and information theory to optical communication systems, with due account for specific features of optical communications.

Module content


Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Closed exam : Information theory, wireless and optical transmission
2 hours 50
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Information theory, wireless and optical transmission Open book exam
3 hours 50

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Closed-book exam - worth 50% of the module mark. This exam will assess the information theory part of the module. There will be three questions and the students should answer two questions.

Open-book exam - worth 50% of the module mark. This will assess the wireless and optical communications parts of the module. There will be four questions, two from each part, of which the students will need to answer three.


Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Closed exam : Information theory, wireless and optical transmission
2 hours 50
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Information theory, wireless and optical transmission Open book exam
3 hours 50

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.

The School of PET 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. The School will endeavour to return all exam feedback within the timescale set out in the University's Policy on Assessment Feedback Turnaround Time. The School would normally expect to adhere to the times given, however, it is possible that exceptional circumstances may delay feedback. The School 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.

Statement of Feedback

Formative Feedback

  • Regular problem sheets will be provided and worked through in tutorial workshops, and you will have the opportunity to discuss your progress with the lecturers.

  • Worked solutions to question sheets will be provided with a delay sufficient to give you a good opportunity to work through the sheets on your own

  • Questions can be asked at any time, and will be answered immediately, or at least as soon as possible.

Indicative reading

  • T. M. Cover and J. A. Thomas, Elements of Information Theory, 2nd ed. Wiley-Interscience, 2006.

  • J. C. Moreira and P. G. Farrell, Essentials of Error Control Coding, Wiley, 2006.

  • A. G. Burr, Modulation and Coding for Wireless Communications, Prentice-Hall, 2000.

  • S. Lin & D. J. Costello, Error Control Coding, 2nd Edition, Prentice-Hall, 2004.

  • T. D. Moon, Error Correction Coding: Mathematical Methods and Algorithms, Wiley, 2005.

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.