About the course
Our BEng Communications Engineering (including foundation year) is open to Home, EU and international students. It will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the three-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your English language and academic skills.
This four-year course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study. During your Year Zero, you study four academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory English language and academic skills module.
You are an Essex student from day one, a member of our global community based at the most internationally diverse campus university in the UK.
After successful completion of Year Zero in our Essex Pathways Department, you progress to complete your course with the Department of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering. It’s hard to imagine a world without mobile networks, the internet, radio, or audio-visual appliances. Bringing together knowledge from both electrical engineering and computer science, communications engineers drive these communications systems which are so fundamental to the modern world.
You study a wide range of topics in communications, including:
- Radio frequency circuits and systems
- The transmission of digital signals over analogue links
- The transfer of audio-visual information
You also cover traditional topics in electronics, including signal processing, circuit design, processors and software.
We were ranked 8th in the UK in the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities, with more than two-thirds of our research rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014). And our students enjoy learning from our expert researchers – we achieved 92% student satisfaction (NSS 2016).
You graduate prepared to move into relevant roles across almost every industry.
This degree is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).This accreditation is increasingly sought by employers, and provides the first stage towards eventual professional registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng).
Our expert staff
We have been one of the leading electronics departments in the country throughout our history, and in recent years, our prolific research staff have contributed to some major breakthroughs.
We invented the world's first telephone based system for deaf people to communicate with each other in 1981, with cameras and display devices that were able to work within the limited telephone bandwidth. Our academics have also invented a streamlined protocol system for worldwide high speed optical communications.
By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our Academy to support you:
- We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
- Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
- Our social space is stocked with hot magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends
Our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering also offers excellent on-campus facilities:
- We have six laboratories that are exclusively for computer science and electronic engineering students. Three are open 24/7, and you have free access to the labs except when there is a scheduled practical class in progress
- All computers are dual boot Windows 10 and Linux. Apple Mac Computers are dual boot MacOS and Windows 10
- Software includes Java, Prolog, C++, Perl, Mysql, Matlab, DB2, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, and Project
- Students have access to CAD tools and simulators for chip design (Xilinx) and computer networks (OMNet++)
- We also have specialist facilities for research into areas including non-invasive brain-computer interfaces, intelligent environments, robotics, optoelectronics, video, RF and MW, printed circuit milling, and semiconductors.
Demand for electronics and communications engineers is high; the IT and engineering sectors are growing at a rate that outstrips the supply of fresh talent.
The profession offers a range of careers from design and development to marketing, management, production engineering and applications engineering. Graduates also find employment in other disciplines because of the highly numerate nature of the subject.
Our department has a large pool of external contacts, ranging from companies providing robots for the media industry, through vehicle diagnostics, to electronic system design and circuit design and manufacture, who work with us and our students to provide advice, placements and eventually graduate opportunities.
Many of our graduates have gone on to work with BT, whose research centre is located just 30 minutes from the Colchester campus. Other recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:
- National Instruments
- Circad Design Ltd
- The McClaren Formula One Team
- B&W Group
We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.
For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.
Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.
Want to use a modern Unix/Linux based operating system? To build and text digital logic circuits and electronic circuits with a computer-based electronics simulator? Gain fundamental knowledge in computer science and electronic engineering. Understand computer architectures and components, and operating systems. Examine the principles of electronics and simple electronic circuits.
How do you test and evaluate the operation of simple computer programs? Or develop a program using tools in the Python programming language? Study the principles of procedural computing programming. Examine basic programming concepts, structures and methodologies. Understand good program design, learn to correct coding and practice debugging techniques.
Want to know the basic mathematical techniques of algebra? To understand calculus? To apply methods of differentiation and integration to a range of functions? Build the basic, then more advanced, mathematical skills needed for future study. Learn to solve relevant problems, choosing the most suitable method for solution.
Academic Skills covers the key areas that you will experience during your degree, preparing you for aspects of academic study at undergraduate level. The module enables you to develop and enhance your existing abilities by focusing on the core skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking in an academic context. It does this with both generic texts and also, crucially, those related to your subject area. Academic Skills provides strategies for successful communication and interaction through independent and collaborative learning offering opportunity to further enhance your research skills. The content is designed to ensure that you acquire a range of transferable employability and life skills.
This module introduces students to three key aspects of professional development. These are product development, team work, and project management. In teams of six you work throughout the year to develop a performance for a Nao robot, with a Python module at the core of the product. Apart from the core skills you also learn about contextual issues such as intellectual Property (IP), sustainability, ethical issues, and health & safety. The module is a great opportunity to build a product in a team of fellow students and have that wonderful feeling of having created something original.
The aim of this module is to provide students with an understanding of the role of artificial neural networks (ANNs) in computer science and artificial intelligence.
The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to the fundamental concepts of computer programming. After completing this module, students will be expected to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles and concepts that underlie the procedural programming model, explain and make use of high-level programming language features that support control, data and procedural abstraction. Also, they will be able to analyse and explain the behaviour of simple programs that incorporate standard control structures, parameterised functions, arrays, structures and I/O.
This module introduces the fundamentals of networking including wiring and configuration of switches and routers and associated subnetting. Laboratory sessions give practical hands on experience in our purpose built networking lab. The module uses the Cisco CCNA exploration Network Fundamentals course which is the first of four Cisco courses that can be used to obtain a Cisco CCNA qualification and participants will gain the CCNA1 qualification whilst on this course.
Computers, embedded systems, and digital systems in general have become an essential part of most people's lives, whether directly or indirectly. The aim of this module is to introduce the software and hardware underpinnings of such systems at an introductory yet challenging level suitable for future computer scientists and engineers. Topics covered in the module include both top-view as well as bottom-view approaches to understanding digital computers. They range from the more theoretical (e.g., state machines, logic circuits, and von Neumann's architecture) to the more practical (e.g., how transistors produce binary signals, operating system functions, memory management, and common hardware devices). The module also includes problem solving classes in which a guided discussion of weekly exercises is aimed at giving the student an opportunity to consolidate his/her understanding of the topics involved. Upon completion of this module, students should have a good conceptual and practical understanding of the nature and architecture of digital computer systems and their components.
This module develops the fundamental concepts introduced in the Digital Systems Architecture. We examine how data are represented within digital systems, including floating point, 'text' and 'data' files, and how the conversions between internal and human-readable forms are performed. The design and applications of higher-level logic elements such as counters, registers and multiplexers are discussed, as well as the more general concept of the finite state machine and its design. Transmission of digital data between systems is introduced by examination of the RS232 protocol. Further, fundamental decisions on how such sources should be represented in digital format include sample rates and quantization accuracy are discussed. In the case of audio and video especially, the possibilities for signal processing and data compression are investigated
This module is one of two concerned with scientific and engineering foundations on which electronics is based. All electronics components are based on physical principles that relate voltage, current flow and the storage or loss of energy. All the theory we need to learn about how circuits behave is based on the fact that electric charge cannot be created or destroyed, and that the energy of each electron just depends on where it is, and how fast it is moving. How charges move in materials depends on their crystal structures. From basic ideas, the main principles of electronics are built up so that they can be used in the wider study of electronics to solve problems.
This module comprises the second half of our 1st year series on fundamentals of electronics. The module focuses on reactive circuits (i.e., circuits with capacitors and/or inductors), basic semiconductors (i.e., diodes and bipolar junction transistors), electromotive devices, and operational amplifiers. The overview of these devices includes more theoretical concepts (such as Faraday's and Lenz’s laws) as well as more practical topics such as their transient and steady state responses to step and sinusoidal inputs, using phasors for circuit analysis, applications in analogue filters, amplification with feedback, power supply units, and DC motors and generators. The module includes weekly problem solving classes in which calculation exercises are discussed and four weekly lab sessions in which more theoretical concepts are applied to implementation and testing of a DC power supply unit.
Modern electronic systems depend both on hardware and software. This module provides the students with the skills to work in a team to develop a product starting with the development of the specification. This is followed by a design phase, implementatino and testing, and eventual demonstration of the product. The product is a sensor payload for a remote control car which is them demonstrated in one of our robot arenas at the end of the year. Students are introduced to unit testing and then system building and system testing.
Need to build on your mathematical knowledge? Want to apply mathematical skills to engineering? Study the fundamental mathematics for engineering, covering topics like integral transform theory, probability theory, and numerical integration. Gain experience of using Matlab software to understand and solve problems.
This module aims to develop an in-depth understanding of analogue systems and circuit techniques from the perspective of the design process. The module incorporates two major themes: The first is the circuit orientated theme aiming to engender both an intuitive understanding of simple circuit design and functionality.The second theme focuses on the more formal analysis and computer simulation techniques using equivalent circuit transistor models where key skills in numeracy and circuit simulation are developed and then used in the design, simulation and construction of oscillator circuits. The module is supported by laboratory-based assignments that investigate small signal amplifiers, and voltage-controlled oscillator design and applications.
Digital systems are an important part of most electronic devices and systems. In this module students learn to design a small system using an industry-standard prototyping board based around a Xilinx FPGA. The module is laboratory based using Xilinx Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software and it builds on knowledge of digital circuits that students learn in CE161. Students learn how to design, and more importantly, how to debug and test a design, using laboratory test equipment, to convert an idea into working hardware.
This main aim of this module is to provide a detailed description of the data link layer of telecommunications systems and its interface with the physical layer of these systems. It starts by using the OSI model to place these layers in the context of the entire telecommunication system. It then describes the principal methods for the quantitative description of link signals, which then enables the fundamental link layer transmission media to be described as well as of baseband transmission. A discussion of link layer flow control and error correction naturally leads to description of link layer protocols. Finally, the transmission of digital signals over analogue links and analogue signals over digital lines are discussed. A coursework assignment will be set on the detailed planning of satellite up and down links. There will also be a progress test.
Many modern electronic devices are high speed and are widely used in computers, communications, radars and various other electronic systems. This module deals with those aspects of electromagnetic necessary for fine engineering of high speed circuits, devices, antennas and systems and for interference mitigation.
Want to configure Internet routing protocols for interconnecting networks? Or configure Ethernet switches and associated protocols? Build on your understanding of Internet routing protocols, Ethernet and other IP networking. Gain practical experience of configuration. Design addressing structures and interconnecting strategies for campus scale networks.
The overall goal of this module is to provide you with an understanding of how programs are written in C (a computer programming language) to solve engineering problems. Learn how to program an embedded microprocessor in C and how to design embedded mircroprocessor systems as solutions to various problems. Explore the design input and output modules for an embedded system.
The highlight of our undergraduate degree courses is the individual capstone project. This project module provides students with the opportunity to bring together all the skills they have gained during their degree and demonstrate that they can develop a product from the starting point of a single 1/2 page description, provided either by an academic member of staff or an external company. In all the student spends 450 hours throughout the academic year, reporting to their academic tutor, and in the case of company projects, to a company mentor. All projects are demonstrated to external companies on our Project Open Day.
How do you configure Internet routing protocols for interconnecting WAN and LAN technologies? How suitable are WAN protocols within a modern communications infrastructure? Study the theories behind simulating and analysing network performance. Understand the fundamental principles behind contemporary network architecture and protocols, and evaluate why new protocols are created.
Operation of many electronic systems like radio, TV and phones is based on signals and signal shaping. This module provides basic understanding of linear systems and filter design techniques for analogue signal processing. Of practical importance are the concepts of stability, sensitivity, and design centring for production and quality control of systems and circuits, which are also emphasized in the module.
This module describes the fundamental principles of telecommunication systems and networks covering both radio-frequency/microwave (RF/MW) and optical fibre communications by a unified approach. In brief - the module content reflects at depth the full complexity of modern telecommunication field and what you as a future telecommunication professional need to know to succeed in your career choice. The module gives a comprehensive overview of modern and future telecommunication networks and an introduction to basic principles of information and its processing in communications, the main transmission and demodulation techniques of the information-carrying analogue and digital signals are considered in depth for RF/MW and optical systems. This provides an integral understanding of how modern communication systems operate at all levels from top to bottom, including transmission system engineering, analysis of the effect of various impairments on the system performance, system development and optimisation. The module's focus on fundamental principles means that you as a future telecommunication or electronic engineer working in the communication area will be well-prepared to follow the changes which are taking place in this rapidly evolving field. In order to provide both good theoretical knowledge and strong applied skills, in addition to the lectures the module is supported by the problem solving classes.
This module aims at introducing students to digital processing techniques, including sampling and analysis of digital signals, signal conditioning, the design of digital filters, and digital signal processing applications. Discrete signals and systems are studied, with an emphasis on the Fourier and Z-transforms that are necessary for the analysis of discrete signals and design of digital filters.
How do you secure networked computers and systems? What are the methods you can apply to detect, mitigate and stop attacks? Examine common network security vulnerabilities and design computer network architectures that reduce risk. Study suitable security techniques and key management skills required for encrypted communication/authentication.
- A typical timetable includes around eight to fourteen one-hour lectures per week with associated classes or laboratories
- Any language classes involve language laboratory sessions
- Courses are taught by a combination of lectures, laboratory work, assignments, and individual and group project activities
- Group work
- A significant amount of practical lab work will need to be undertaken for written assignments and as part of your learning
- Your assessed coursework will generally consist of essays, reports, in-class tests, individual or group oral presentations, and small scale research projects
- All credit-bearing modules will involve a final exam, which will be either essay-based or in the form of a test
UK entry requirements
A-levels: DDD, or equivalent in UCAS tariff points, to include 2 full A-levels
GCSE: Mathematics and Science C
International and EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries.
for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the
high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
English language requirements
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 5.5 overall. Specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.
Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.
Applicant Days and interviews
Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our applicant days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.
Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your applicant day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.
If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email email@example.com so we can help you plan a visit to the University.
Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:
- tour our campus and accommodation
- find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
- meet our students and staff
Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.