Telecommunication Principles

The details
Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
17 June 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BSC H60E Electronic System Engineering,
BSC H60ECO Electronic System Engineering,
BENGH641 Communications Engineering,
BENGHP41 Communications Engineering (Including Foundation Year),
BENGHPK1 Communications Engineering (Including Placement Year),
BENGHQ41 Communications Engineering (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

This module aims 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.

Module aims

This module is one of the most important modules for students who want to stay in the area of electronics engineering & computer science. It will teach the basic principles of telecommunication systems covering a wide range of topics such as signal basics (e.g., classification of signals, Fourier transform), baseband digital transmission (e.g., design guidelines & fundamental limits in sampling and then converting analogue signals to digital signals), data transmission (e.g., with and without channel coding in view of noise and interference), modulation & demodulation (e.g., QAM versus PSK constellations), protocol basics (e.g., ARQ for retransmission). To enlighten the students, some practical problems as well as future trends (e.g., what is 5G and how 6G will evolve?) of communication systems will also be introduced.

Module learning outcomes

This module will enable the students to gain a systematic understanding on a series of fundamental principles of telecommunication systems, qualitatively and quantitatively. The students will be able to learn how to apply these principles to calculate, design, and analyse a number of basic parameters (e.g., sampling rate, transmission rate, minimum bandwidth, minimum signal-to-noise ratio, bit error rate) associated to typical telecommunication systems. Besides the theoretical aspects of telecommunication systems, the students will also gain a good understanding on practical design challenges, evolution, and future trends of modern communication networks. By completing the two major assignments and with the aid of MATLAB for demonstration of key concepts, this module aims to develop the students’ interests, helping them pave a solid foundation to pursue a career in electronics engineering and/or computer science.

Specifically, the students will gain different essential abilities to carry out the following tasks:

1. Demonstrate a full understanding of the main blocks in a telecommunication system.
2. Give comparative descriptions of the main properties of transmission media with emphasis on the wireless propagation channels.
3. Show a full understanding of the principles of data encoding and error correction.
4. Show a full understanding of link-layer error correction and flow control techniques.
5. Describe how analogue transmission can be achieved over digital links.
6. Describe how digital transmission can be achieved over analogue links.
8. Show an understanding of how multiuser communication can be enabled through time, frequency, and code multiplexing.

Module information

Outline Syllabus

1. Introduction:
* Telecommunications history;
* Shannon and fundamentals of information theory;
* Communication system structure and categories (e.g., cellular communication and satellite communication);
* Future trends of modern communication networks.

2. Signal Basics:
* Classification of signals;
* Time/frequency representation of signals and pulses;
* Bandwidth;
* Bit rate and symbol rate;
* Spectral efficiency.

3. EM Spectrum & Radio Propagation

* Radio spectrum;
* Wired communication channels (e.g., twisted pairs, coaxial cable, optical fibres);
* Non-line-of-sight (NLOS) wireless propagation;
* Path loss, shadowing and fading;
* Doppler-effect and time-varying wireless channels;
* Multipath propagation and intersymbol interference;
* Use dB units to design systems and investigate power levels.

4. Baseband Digital Transmission:
* Transmission model (noise, interference, sampling, decision);
* Sampling theorem & aliasing;
* Inter-symbol interference & minimum transmission bandwidth;
* Raised-cosine pulse shaping for practical communication system design.

5. Pulse Coded Modulation (PCM):
* Sampling, quantizing, and encoding;
* Linear PCM with uniform quantization;
* Nonlinear PCM (e.g., A-law and mu-law);
* Quantization noise power.

6. Data Transmission:

* Bit serial;

* Communication mode:
* Synchronous and asynchronous transmission;
* Packetisation;
* Character bit and frame synchronisation;
* Error detection;
* Flow control;

7. Modulation:
* Why modulation?
* Converting bits to symbols for modulation;
* Amplitude shift keying;
* Phase shift keying;
* Frequency shift keying;
* M-ary signaling.

8. Demodulation
* Coherent vs Noncoherent demodulation;
* Understanding the bandpass noise;
* Demodulation of BPSK;
* Demodulation of BFSK;
* Demodulaiton of BASK;
* Q function and demodulation bit error rate.

9: Multiple Access Techniques
* Overview of multiple access;
* Time-division multiple access (TDMA);
* Frequency-division multiple access (FDMA);
* Code-division multiple access (CDMA) and sequences;

10. Protocol Basics:
* Layered structure and protocol;
* OSI 7-layer reference model;
* Automatic Repeat ReQuest (ARQ);
* Stop & Wait;
* Go back N;
* Selective Repeat.

Learning and teaching methods

No information available.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Assignment 1  04/12/2023  50% 
Coursework   Assignment 2  22/01/2024  50% 
Exam  Main exam: In-Person, Open Book (Restricted), 120 minutes during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: In-Person, Open Book (Restricted), 120 minutes during September (Reassessment Period) 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
30% 70%


Coursework Exam
30% 70%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Zilong Liu, email: zilong.liu@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Zilong Liu
School Office, email: csee-schooloffice (non-Essex users should add @essex.ac.uk to create full e-mail address), Telephone 01206 872770



External examiner

Prof Sandra Dudley
London South Bank University
Professor of Communication Systems
Available via Moodle
Of 44 hours, 42 (95.5%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information

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