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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ELEC1401 Introduction to Communication Systems

20 creditsClass Size: 160

Module manager: Dr. Ahmed Lawey

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Module replaces

ELEC1405 and ELEC1420

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module introduces students to the fundamentals of communication systems. They will learn about the different building blocks and protocols that are used to implement both wired and wireless communication links.


This module gives students an introduction to various layers in modern communications networks and how the Internet works. It provides the student with skills to apply programming tools (MATLAB) to model communication signals and systems. It also introduces familiarity with the technical concepts of both wired and wireless communication networks.

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

1. Explain of the principles behind the organisation and operation of communications networks.
2. Describe the layered structure of communications networks and discuss the role of each layer.
3. Analyse and solve well-defined problems involving basic communications signals.
4. Use programming tools to model some of the basic signals, components and applications of communications systems.
5. Use simulations to identify the technical challenges in both the design and implementation of modern communications networks.
6. Describe the operating principles of basic communication systems and networks, including communication channels (wired and wireless), analogue and digital signals, the radio spectrum, basic modulation and coding techniques.
7. Identify the basic modules of a typical communications system and classify the performance of various communications systems.
8. Apply mathematical and computational methods to analyse basic communications signals and functions, including analogue-to-digital conversion, modulation and error-correction.
9. Discuss the key features of a representative range of communications systems.


Topics may include, but are not limited to:

Data communications; sending bits around
Data communication networks; Internet
The use of layering, protocols, and interfaces
TCP/IP structure
Packet switched networks
Transmit control protocol
Network layer and Internet protocol
Data link layer and Physical layer
Application layer, e.g, email communications
Introduction to communications signals; Sine waves, frequency, phase, amplitude
Introduction to MATLAB programming; how variables are defined and manipulated
Representing important communication signals with MATLAB; sine waves, frequency, phase and amplitude; sum of harmonics
Basics of programming; if statements; for loops, with simple applications in communication networks
Modelling certain communication tasks, e.g., analogue to digital conversion by MATLAB
Modular programming; how to write and call functions and its application to communications protocols
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

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Examples Class41.004.00
Private study hours160.00
Total Contact hours40.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Going through lecture material, completing example sheets, completing laboratory exercises, test and exam revision.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will get feedback during the examples classes, laboratory sessions and surgery sessions.

Methods of assessment

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment1 hr 00 mins15.00
Online Time-Limited assessment1 hr 00 mins25.00
Online Time-Limited assessment1 hr 00 mins25.00
Online Time-Limited assessment2 hr 00 mins35.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)100.00

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

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 03/05/2022 14:36:20


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