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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ELEC1420 Communications Systems

10 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Des McLernon

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The teaching and assessment methods shown below will be kept under review during 2020-21. In particular, if conditions allow for alternative formats of delivery, we may amend the timetable and schedule appropriate classes in addition to (or in place of) the Online Learning Workshops. For Semester 2 (from January 2021), we anticipate that this will be most likely, in which case online teaching will be substituted for traditional face-to-face teaching methods, including lectures and practical classes. ‘Independent online learning’ will involve watching pre-recorded lecture material or screen-casts, engaging in learning activities such as online worked examples or remote/virtual laboratory work, etc. Students will be expected to fully engage with all of these activities. The time commitment for independent online learning, and also the frequency and duration of Online Learning Workshops, are approximate and intended as a guide only. Further details will be confirmed when the module commences.


This module gives students an introduction to the basic building blocks of modern communications systems. It introduces familiarity with the technical concepts of both wired and wireless communication networks and prepares them for more advanced studies in the coming years.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Describe the basic building blocks of a digital communication system.
2. Understand the principles of the operation and application of a representative range of communications and broadcasting systems.
3. Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of communication principles, including analogue and digital signals, the radio spectrum, modulation and coding techniques.
4. Apply a systems approach to the analysis and design of communication systems.
5. Show confidence with the use of measurement equipment such as signal generators and oscilloscopes.


Topics may include, but are not limited to:

Review of communications signals
RC Low-pass filters; concepts of low-pass, high-pass, and band-pass filters
Concept of bandwidth/spectrum
Analogue versus digital signals
Sampling theorem (non-mathematical)
A-to-D & D-to-A converters; quantisation
Overview of the basic building blocks of communications systems
Concepts of bits and symbols
The concept of modulation, e.g., line codes and RF modulation
Introduction to digital modulation, e.g., BPSK and QPSK
Introduction to data compression (e.g., in HDTV, Cellular mobile)
Introduction to error correction and detection (e.g., repetition codes, parity bits)
Communication case studies taken from satellite communications, cellular mobile, and digital TV
Concepts of basic digital signal processing (DSP)

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning42.008.00
Independent online learning hours32.00
Private study hours60.00
Total Contact hours8.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Students are expected to use private study time to consolidate the material covered in lectures, to undertake preparatory work for examples classes/laboratory classes and to prepare for summative assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored at tutorials and in laboratory classes.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Online AssessmentOnline Assessment/Test 115.00
Online AssessmentOnline Assessment/Test 225.00
Online AssessmentOnline Assessment/Test 325.00
Online AssessmentOnline Assessment/Test 435.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Resits for ELEC and XJEL modules are subject to the School's Resit Policy and the Code of Practice on Assessment (CoPA), which are available on Minerva. Students should be aware that, for some modules, a resit may only be conducted on an internal basis (with tuition) in the next academic session.

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 10/08/2020 08:35:35


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