Undergraduate Course

BEng Communications Engineering

BEng Communications Engineering

Overview

The details
Communications Engineering
H641
October 2018
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

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; we can now easily make international calls, Skype our friends, and even communicate with satellites orbiting the planet. How could you influence what happens next?

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

Our School is a community of scholars leading the way in technological research and development. Today’s communications engineers are creative people who are focused and committed, yet restless and experimental. We are home to many of the world’s top engineers, and our work is driven by creativity and imagination as well as technical excellence.

You also cover traditional topics in electronics, including signal processing, circuit design, processors and software.

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 placing us in the top 25% nationally (NSS 2017). We are also top 20 in the UK for Electronic Engineering (TGUG 2018).

You graduate prepared to move into relevant roles across almost every industry.

Professional accreditation

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).

Why we're great.
  • You gain professional IET and BCS accreditation - the basis for chartered engineer status.
  • We are home to many of the world's top scientists and engineers in their field.
  • We are top 20 in the UK for Electronic Engineering (TGUG 2018)

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university

Placement year

Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement with an external organisation, as part of one of our placement year degrees. The learning outcomes associated with this programme focus on using the specialist technical skills acquired in the first two years of the course and developing communications skills with customers.

Students are provided with support to secure a placement. Recent placements undertaken by our students have been with ARM, Microsoft, Intel, Nestlé, British Aerospace, and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, as well a range of SME software and hardware companies.

If you complete a placement year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.

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.

Specialist 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
  • Students have access to CAD tools and simulators for chip design (Xilinx) and computer networks (OMNet++)
  • Software includes Java, Prolog, C++, Perl, Mysql, Matlab, DB2, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, and Project
  • All computers are dual boot Windows 10 and Linux. Apple Mac Computers are dual boot MacOS and Windows 10
  • 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.

Your future

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. And an incredible 91% of our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering graduates secure a graduate job or go on to further study within six months of finishing their degree (DLHE 2016). 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
  • IBM
  • Visa
  • Google

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.

“As an international student, I found it very easy to adjust to the new lifestyle as everyone is very friendly and helpful. My Masters degree has provided me with a very strong platform for career development, opening new research horizons and pathways that will help me achieve my goals.”

Naveed Syed, MSc Telecommunications and Information Systems

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB, including Mathematics
Please note we are unable to accept A-level Use of Mathematics in place of A-level Mathematics
GCSE: Science C/4

IB: 30 points, including Higher Level Mathematics grade 5 and Standard Level Science or IB Middle Years Science grade 4. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level.

Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM, including Merit in Further Mathematics for Engineering Technicians

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.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and 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 listed above. 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.

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.

Structure

Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. Below is just one example structure from the current academic year of a combination of modules you could take. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Professional Development

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.

View Professional Development on our Module Directory

Mathematics for Electronics and Telecommunications

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.

View Mathematics for Electronics and Telecommunications on our Module Directory

Introduction to Programming

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.

View Introduction to Programming on our Module Directory

Network Fundamentals

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.

View Network Fundamentals on our Module Directory

Fundamentals of Digital Systems

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.

View Fundamentals of Digital Systems on our Module Directory

Digital Electronic Systems

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

View Digital Electronic Systems on our Module Directory

Foundations of Electronics I

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.

View Foundations of Electronics I on our Module Directory

Foundations of Electronics II

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.

View Foundations of Electronics II on our Module Directory

Group Project and Industrial Practice

This course covers the principles of project management, team working, communication, legal issues, finance, and company organisation. Working in small teams, students will go through the full project life-cycle of design, development and implementation, for a bespoke software requirement. In this course, students gain vital experience to enable them to enter the computer science/Electrical engineering workforce, with a degree backed by the British Computer Society, and by the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

View Group Project and Industrial Practice on our Module Directory

Engineering Mathematics

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.

View Engineering Mathematics on our Module Directory

Analogue Circuit Design

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.

View Analogue Circuit Design on our Module Directory

Digital Systems Design

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.

View Digital Systems Design on our Module Directory

Telecommunication Principles

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.

View Telecommunication Principles on our Module Directory

Engineering Electromagnetics

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.

View Engineering Electromagnetics on our Module Directory

Computer and Data Networks

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.

View Computer and Data Networks on our Module Directory

C Programming and Embedded Systems

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.

View C Programming and Embedded Systems on our Module Directory

Individual Project

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.

View Individual Project on our Module Directory

Network Engineering

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.

View Network Engineering on our Module Directory

Signal Processing

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.

View Signal Processing on our Module Directory

Telecommunication Networks and Systems

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.

View Telecommunication Networks and Systems on our Module Directory

Digital Signal Processing

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.

View Digital Signal Processing on our Module Directory

High Level Digital Design (optional)

Digital systems are in virtually all devices we interact with: from consumer electronics, to biomedical applications and automotive industry. Digital technology is evolving so rapidly that engineers need rapid-prototyping software and hardware tools that allow them to explore and test an implementation before moving to the production. In this module, learners will gain fundamental circuit design and verification skills by using an industry-standard hardware description language (VHDL) to program field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). The learning process is experience-oriented so that hands-on practice in designing embedded systems as well as theoretical background is acquired during the course.

View High Level Digital Design (optional) on our Module Directory

Placement

On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Teaching

  • 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

Assessment

  • You are assessed through a combination of written examinations and coursework
  • All our modules include a significant coursework element
  • You receive regular feedback on your progress through in-term tests

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£9,250

International fee

£14,020

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home and EU fee information

International fee information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our 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 book a campus tour here.

Applying

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 visit@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

We want you to throw yourself in at the deep end, soak up life and make the most of those special Essex moments.

Home to over 13,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

 

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

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.

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder 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 a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or 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 prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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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