Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module ENGI40720: Communications Systems (MSc)

Department: Engineering

ENGI40720: Communications Systems (MSc)

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap
Tied to H1K709


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module is for students intending to fulfil the requirements of the MSc in Communications.
  • The module will provide students with advanced knowledge and understanding of communication networks, mobile radio channels and digital communications.
  • The module provides a firm foundation for a broad range of careers in Digital Communications and Communications Networks.
  • 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.


  • Layered architectures.
  • Physical and data link layers of the most significant communications technologies.
  • Routing, Internet protocols, quality of service.
  • Radio propagation effects and models.
  • Channel parameters and measurement systems.
  • Noise.
  • Spread spectrum modulation.
  • Cellular radio concepts.
  • Mobile radio systems.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An appreciation and understanding of the operation of current widely used communications technologies at the physical and data link layer.
  • An appreciation of the nature of the routing problem in communications networks, and an understanding of the operation of current routing protocols.
  • An understanding of the operation of the most commonly used internet protocols.
  • An understanding of quality of service issues and approached to solving these problems.
  • An understanding of basic propagation and multipath effects in radio channels.
  • An understanding of the principles of digital modulation and demodulation and the effect of noise.
  • A familiarity with the design and operation of current radio communication technologies.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An awareness of current technology, analysis methods and industrial practices along with the ability to apply those methods in novel situations.
  • An in-depth knowledge and understanding of specialised and advanced technical and professional skills, an ability to perform critical assessment and review and an ability to communicate the results of their own work effectively.
Key Skills:
  • Capacity for independent self-learning within the bounds of professional practice.
  • Highly specialised numerical skills appropriate to an engineer.
  • Highly specialised use of information technology (IT) relevant to the engineering profession.
  • Mathematics relevant to the application of advanced engineering concepts.

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

  • The course in Communication Networks is covered by lectures. These are reinforced by problem sheets and staff tutorial hours.
  • The course in Radio and Digital Communications is covered by lectures. These are reinforced by problem sheets and staff tutorial hours.
  • Students are able to make use of staff 'Tutorial Hours' to discuss any aspect of the module with teaching staff on a one-to-one basis. These are sign up sessions available for up to one hour per week per lecture course.
  • Written timed examinations are appropriate for both courses because of the wide range of analytic, in-depth material covered in this module and to demonstrate the ability to solve advanced problems independently.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 42 1 per week 1 Hour 42
Radio and Digital Communications Labs 2 Up to 3 Hour 6
Tutorial Hours as required Weekly sign-up sessions up to 1 hour 8
Preparation and Reading 144
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Coursework 6 hrs 100% No
Component: Written Examination Component Weighting: 90%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination 2 hours 50% no
Written Examination 2 hours 50% no

Formative Assessment:


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