Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)


Department: Engineering


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap None.
Tied to H1K709


  • As specified in Programme regulations


  • As specified in Programme regulations

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • As specified in Programme regulations


  • This module is solely for students studying the MSc in Communications Engineering
  • The module will provide graduates with advanced knowledge and understanding of Digital Electronics (VHDL) and Digital Signal Processing.
  • This module is complemented by the 90 credit MSc Research and Development project module where the MSc student has the opportunity to apply the material taught in this module in a large scale project.


  • Analysis and synthesis of Discrete-Time Systems
  • Digital Filter Design
  • Discrete and Fast Fourier Transform and applications
  • Hilbert and Walsh Transforms
  • Quantisation Effects in Digital Signals
  • State Variable representation of digital systems
  • Hardware implementation of Digital signal processing systems
  • The writing of VHDL code to design, test and implement digital systems
  • Schematic VHDL entry and timing analysis

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Methods of circuit testing.
  • Understanding FIR and IIR filters.
  • The mathematics of spectral extraction algorithms.
  • Use of 2 and 3D transforms.
  • Understanding how to write VHDL code to represent logic entities
  • Testing and implementing digital systems on an FPGA board and/or using VHDL
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An awareness of current technology, design analysis, and commercial practice and the ability to bring these together to provide innovative solutions.
  • The use of advanced circuit analysis methods to design complex digital circuits to meet a variety of applications.
  • The design of advanced Digital Filters.
  • The application of appropriate windowing in FFTs applications.
  • The optimum selection of digital resolution to meet specifications.
  • The hardware implementation of DSP applications.
  • An in-depth knowledge and understanding of specialist and advanced technical and professional skills, an ability to perform critical assessment and review and an ability to communicate the results of their work effectively.
Key Skills:
  • Capacity for independent self-learning within the bounds of professional practice.
  • Specialised design skills appropriate to digital systems engineers.
  • Advanced skills to design large scale digital hardware.
  • Specialised skills to analyse and design DSP systems.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Digital Electronics course.
  • This consists of lectures and laboratory sessions.
  • Formative assessments are given to help the students prepare for the summative assessment.
  • Continuous assessment is appropriate due to the practical design-led nature of the uses of VHDL.
  • Digital Signal Processing course.
  • This consists of lectures and reinforced with problem sheets.
  • Written timed examinations are appropriate because of the wide range. of in-depth technical material covered in this course and to demonstrate. the ability to solve advanced problems independently.
  • Students are able to make use of staff ‘Office Hours’ to discuss any aspect of the module with teaching staff on a one-to-one basis. These are sign up sessions where course lecturers are available for up to one hour per week per course.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Digital Electronics Lectures 3 During one term 1 Hour 3
Digital Electronics Laboratories 5 During one term 3 Hours 15
Digital Signal Processing Lectures 20 1 per week 1 Hour 20
Tutorial Hours as required Weekly sign up session up to 1 Hour 8
Reading and work on set problem Self-learning Not timetabled 154
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Digital Electronics 100% no
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Digital Signal Processing 2 Hours 100% no

Formative Assessment:

Tutorial laboratories.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University