Brain-Computer Interfaces and Peripheral-Neural Interfaces

The details
Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
12 June 2024


Requisites for this module
CE151 and CE171



Key module for

BENGH169 Neural Engineering with Psychology,
BENGH170 Neural Engineering with Psychology (including Placement Year),
BENGH171 Neural Engineering with Psychology (including Year Abroad),
BENGH172 Neural Engineering with Psychology (Including Foundation Year),
BSC H167 Neural Technology with Psychology,
BSC H168 Neural Technology with Psychology (including Year Abroad),
BSC H176 Neural Technology with Psychology (including Placement Year)

Module description

This module provides an introduction to interfaces between the nervous system and computers as well as some of their applications.

Neural interfaces take two forms:

1. brain computer interfaces (BCIs), which allow direct communication between the brain and a computer and other devices,
2. peripheral neural interfaces (PNIs), which provide a direct communication channel between the nerves that control muscles or that are responsible for sensing (e.g., touch) and other systems.

The types of interfaces covered are non-invasive (they do not require the introduction of any external probes inside the body) and include:

1. BCIs based on electroencephalogram (EEG) signals, in particular relying on rhythmic brain activity and evoked activity,
2. BCIs based on near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS),
3. PNIs based on electromyography (EMG, neural signals from the brain to the muscles recorded from muscles).

The types of applications introduced will include, for example, spellers, pointer control, games, VR, prosthetic control, robotic control.

Students will be exposed to the basic analysis and classification of neural data required to operate BCIs/PNIs and will gain hands-on experience with building a basic BCI.

Module aims

In the Brain-computer Interfaces (BCIs) and Peripheral Neural Interfaces (PNIs) module you will:

1. be introduced to the different types of BCIs and PNIs, including their advantages and limitations, and some of their applications
2. become familiar with techniques for analysing and classifying neural signals for the operation of a BCI/PNI,
3. gain basic experience with building a BCI.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of the module you will:

1. understand the working principles of the main classes of BCIs and PNIs,
2. know the advantages and limitations of different BCI/PNI approaches in relation to different applications,
3. be able to do basic analyses of neural signals acquired in a BCI/PNI and to classify them,
4. understand the main issues associated with building a BCI.

Module information

1. Basic principles and building blocks of Neural Interfaces
2. Brain computer interfaces (BCIs) based on electroencephalogram (EEG) signals relying on rhythmic brain activity,
3. EEG-based BCIs relying on evoked activity,
4. BCIs based on functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)
5. Peripheral neural interfaces (PNIs) based on electromyography (EMG).
6. Offline (simulated) vs online (real-time) interfaces
7. Invasive neural interfaces
8. Applications of neural interfaces in (including, for example, spellers, pointer control, games, VR, prosthetic control, robotic control)
9. User base and human factors
10. Evaluation of the performance of offline BCIs
11. Frequent issues associated with building BCIs and corresponding solutions

Learning and teaching methods

The module comprises 2 hours of lectures and 2 hours of practical laboratories each week.


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   Progress Test (In person, MCQ Moodle Test, Closed Book)    20% 
Coursework   Assignment 2 Brain-Computer Interfaces    40% 
Coursework   Assignment 1 - Peripheral Interfaces    40% 
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
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Rab Nawaz, email: rab.nawaz@essex.ac.uk.
Prof Francisco Sepulveda, email: f.sepulveda@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Rab Nawaz, Dr Francisco Sepulveda
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
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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