Postgraduate Research Course

MPhil Electronic Systems Engineering

MPhil Electronic Systems Engineering


The details
Electronic Systems Engineering
October 2024
2 - 3 years
Colchester Campus

Our research activity and supervision for MPhil Electronic Systems Engineering is concentrated in the following principal research areas: audio and video networking, multimedia architectures and applications, data communications and networking, RF engineering, radio, radar and electromagnetics, propagation, video, image processing and computer vision. Our cross-disciplinary projects draw on the expertise of our electronic engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, physicists and psychologists.

We are one of the largest and best resourced schools in the UK. Our work is supported by extensive networked computer facilities and software aids, together with a wide range of test and instrumentation equipment. Our research covers a range of topics, from semiconductor device physics, the theory of computation and the philosophy of computer science, computational intelligence and computer games, to artificial intelligence and robotics, with most of our research groups based around laboratories offering world-class facilities. Our impressive external research funding stands at multi-million pounds per year and we participate in a number of EU initiatives and undertake projects under contract to many outside bodies, including government and industrial organisations.

Why we're great.
  • Our research covers a range of topics, from materials science and semiconductor device physics, to the theory of computation and the philosophy of computer science, with most of our research groups based around laboratories offering world-class facilities.
  • We are one of the largest and best resourced schools in the UK. Our work is supported by extensive networked computer facilities and software aids, together with a wide range of test and instrumentation equipment.
  • We provide an active and stimulating environment to carry out your research.

Our expert staff

Studying for your MPhil involves person-to-person interaction with your supervisor, who will guide you in developing your chosen research topic, refine your research skills, and advise you in capitalising on the technical knowledge you already have from your taught degree. Supervisors often keep in touch with their MPhil graduates throughout their careers, and may work on scientific collaborations with them after they finish their doctorate.

Specialist facilities

Our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering provides six laboratories exclusively for computer science and electronic engineering students. Three of our software labs are open for 24 hours a day including weekends and you have free access to the labs except when there is a scheduled practical class in progress. Our labs are managed by an experienced and dedicated team of technical support staff who can assist you with most practical aspects of the curriculum - for example, advising on how to overcome programming problems.

Our BCI Lab comprises 70m² within our School. It is divided in four experimental areas, one of them being shielded against EM interference, and is one of the best equipped facilities for non-invasive BCI research in Europe. Our equipment includes: five EEG systems (two Biosemi ActiveTwo systems, 64 and 128 channels, respectively; two 32-channel gTec systems, and a 24-channel Mindset system), a 24-channel near infra-red system, a 16-channel Nexus EMG system (plus 8-channels for other physiological signals), a Jazz eye tracker, a MagStim BitStim transcranial magnetic stimulation system, many Biometrics Ltd electrogoniometers and accelerometers, two Edubot robotic manipulators, three Lego NXT robots, three virtual reality systems, and four Bionics electrically-controlled medical chairs, aside from the necessary computer equipment to interface with the above devices. We also have a 182-processor Viglen/Rocks cluster dedicated to our research.

Our Brooker Robotics Lab (a PC environment with 30 dual boot PCs) is equipped with about 25 mobile robots (of three different types) and ten miniature 'intelligent' rooms, and is used for intelligent embedded systems and robotics work. A range of specialist software is used, most notably a cross-development system called Tornado (the latest version of VxWorks: the software used in the recent Pathfinder project for the Mars Explorer vehicle) for developing embedded systems.

Our Robot Arena is a 100m² laboratory with a six metre ceiling height for flying robots. It has one of the world largest powered lab floors for long duration experiments of mobile robots. Our Robot Arena features a range of dedicated robotic equipment including a state-of-the-art 3D motion tracking system.

Our Embedded Systems Laboratory provides software and hardware facilities for the design, construction and prototyping of a variety of embedded system solutions. The primary focus is to provide an environment where ARM based embedded systems can be prototyped and tested as part of a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Sixteen dedicated, dual screen, workstations are provided together with a range of state of the art test equipment to support the development process. In addition a number of soldering stations are provided to enable the construction of custom designed hardware. Such hardware will be designed by you as part of the courses you undertake. Our video studio has facilities for both live television production and video recording. It is equipped with three SONY High Definition cameras (with another two available for location shoots), an 8-channel Panasonic video mixer, an 8-channel DigiDesign digital audio mixer with ProTools software, a talkback system and a 12-channel lighting rig with a Tempo 12 controller. Blue screen facilities are available to support chroma-keying in either live broadcasts or post-production. Post-production facilities include PCs supporting the Adobe video suite (Audition, After Effects, Premiere Pro and Encore) as well as five professional AVID Composer editing workstations. Our electronics laboratory is equipped with a standard set of modern bench equipment. The oscilloscopes are linked to networked PCs so that our students can capture waveforms from circuits under test and save the captured waveforms to their own personal networked disk space, from where they can later retrieve the saved waveforms for use in technical reports. The networked PC can also be used to access online lecture notes, and manufacturer's data sheets and catalogues on the Internet (and of course any other handy information on the Internet, such as tutorials, encyclopaedia articles, online library resources, that may be useful while working on a laboratory assignment or project work). Of course, there are also soldering irons and other wiring equipment, plus a stock of electronic components.

Our teaching in networking requires you to configure and experiment with networks, which is, of course, not allowed in normal teaching laboratories. Therefore we have a specialised laboratory designed so that you can reconfigure the networking. This lab has 32 workstations, which are PCs with demountable hard disks. Once you have been issued with a disk, you are able to act as administrator/super user and install and configure not only the operating system (usually Windows XP or Redhat Fedora Linux), but also server software, networking software or anything else. The physical configuration of the network in the lab can also be modified by our students.

Your future

Studying within our School provides both the recent graduate and the practising engineer with an opportunity to gain new skills or enhance existing ones. Our graduates have progressed to a variety of senior positions in industry and academia. Some of the companies and organisations where our former graduates are now employed include: Electronic Data Systems, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Bank of Mexico, Visa International, Hyperknowledge (Cambridge), Hellenic Air Force, ICSS (Beijing), United Microelectronic Corporation (Taiwan), Alcatel Submarine, BT Group, QinetiQ, Dolby Laboratories, Fujitsu, Royal Air Forces, and within our University and Imperial College, London.

Read more about computer science and electronic engineering career destinations here.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

You will need a good honours degree and a Masters degree, or equivalent, in a related subject. A well-developed research proposal is also essential.

You will normally be required to attend an interview/Skype interview for acceptance, and acceptance is subject to research expertise in the department.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please contact our Graduate Admissions team at to request the entry requirements for this country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, then we will require you to have IELTS 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component


Course structure

A research degree doesn't have a taught structure, giving you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. A research degree allows you to develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. It can open doors to many careers.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


Computing and Electronic Systems - Research

This module is for PhD students who are completing the research portions of their theses.

View Computing and Electronic Systems - Research on our Module Directory


Our MPhil programme is usually two years full time, or four years part time study.

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£4,786 per year

International fee

£18,750 per year

What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, graduate employability, student support and more
  • talk to our Fees and Funding team about scholarship opportunities
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day


You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we'll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.

We aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply' information.

A sunny day with banners flying on Colchester Campus Square 4.

Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

View from Square 2 outside the Rab Butler Building looking towards Square 3

Virtual tours

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.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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