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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ELEC3430 Digital Communications

10 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Professor Mohsen Razavi

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The teaching and assessment methods shown below will be kept under review during 2021-22. 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) any online activities/sessions. Where learning activities are scheduled to take place on campus, it may be possible and/or necessary for some students to join these sessions remotely. Some of the listed contact hours may also be optional surgeries. Students will be provided with full information about the arrangements for all of these activities by the module staff at the beginning of the teaching semester.‘Independent online learning’ may involve watching pre-recorded lecture material or screen-casts, engaging in learning activities such as online worked examples or mini-projects, 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 sessions are approximate and intended as a guide only. Further details will be confirmed when the module commences.Where assessments are shown as Online Time-Limited Assessments, the durations shown are indicative only. The actual time permitted for individual assessments will be confirmed prior to the assessments taking place.


This module introduces the key principles of advanced digital communications systems, including pulse shaping, channel characteristics and multiple-access techniques in cellular mobile and optical communications systems.

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

1. Discuss the engineering principles behind the physical layer in modern communications networks.
2. Explain the principles and detailed characteristics of digital modulation schemes such as BPSK, QPSK and QAM.
3. Explain the nature of communication channels and the methods used to combat signal impairments.
4. Use analytical techniques to predict the performance of digital communications systems.
5. Implement the design procedure, and subsequent analysis, for a representative communications system case study.
6. Use mathematical and simulation tools to model the performance of a typical communications subsystem.


Topics may include, but are not limited to:

Modern Digital Communication Systems

Review of signals; Vector representation of signals; energy vs power signals
Generic binary communication links
Optimal receivers for binary communications systems, e.g., matched-filter and correlation receivers
Performance analysis of binary communication systems
Carrier modulation techniques, e.g., binary phase shift keying (BPSK), quadrature phase shift keying (QPSK), and quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM)
Pulse shaping; inter-symbol interference
Introduction to radio propagation, channel characteristics and countermeasures; fading channels
Multiple-access techniques

Optical Communications
Optical fibres, their characteristics (e.g. attenuation, single-mode versus multimode)
Receiver characteristics: quantum limit on receiver sensitivity
Sources and detectors. Optical amplification and regeneration
Coherent and incoherent optical communications
BER analysis of an optical OOK link
Wavelength division multiplexing and future directions in optical networking

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning181.0018.00
Independent online learning hours22.00
Private study hours60.00
Total Contact hours18.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Students are expected to use private study time to consolidate their understanding of course materials, to undertake preparatory work for seminars, workshops, tutorials, examples classes and practical classes, and also to prepare for in-course and summative assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students studying ELEC modules will receive formative feedback in a variety of ways, including the use of self-test quizzes on Minerva, practice questions/worked examples and (where appropriate) through verbal interaction with teaching staff and/or post-graduate demonstrators.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ProjectProject 130.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

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. .

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment2 hr 00 mins30.00
Online Time-Limited assessment2 hr 00 mins40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 29/06/2021 16:47:29


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