The Wireless Communications and Signal Processing MSc is one of Kent’s newest programmes. It targets the needs of researchers and industry in a fast-paced and technical communications sector which continues to bring many of the advances that make ultra-fast wireless communications possible.
The programme reflects the latest developments in wireless communications, with particular emphasis on digital signal processing using embedded systems. It has been designed to produce high-calibre engineers that can specialise in and understand the complex system designs used in the wireless communications field.
The School of Engineering and Digital Arts at Kent provides true research-led teaching, with access to superior expertise and facilities for projects. You can also benefit from advice on project placements using our industry and research establishment contacts.
About the School of Engineering and Digital Arts
The School of Engineering and Digital Arts successfully combines modern engineering and technology with the exciting new field of digital media.
Established over 40 years ago, the School has developed a top-quality teaching and research base, receiving excellent ratings in both research and teaching assessments.
The School undertakes high-quality research that has had significant national and international impact, and our spread of expertise allows us to respond rapidly to new developments. Our 30 academic staff and over 130 postgraduate students and research staff provide an ideal focus to effectively support a high level of research activity. There is a thriving student population studying for postgraduate degrees in a friendly and supportive teaching and research environment.
We have research funding from the Research Councils UK, European research programmes, a number of industrial and commercial companies and government agencies including the Ministry of Defence. Our Electronic Systems Design Centre and Digital Media Hub provide training and consultancy for a wide range of companies. Many of our research projects are collaborative, and we have well-developed links with institutions worldwide.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Engineering and Digital Arts was ranked 21st in the UK for research intensity.
An impressive 98% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international excellence.
The programme is delivered by internationally leading researchers in our Broadband & Wireless Communications and Instrumentation, Control & Embedded Systems groups. They provide first-hand experience of cutting-edge research into next-generation wireless communications, converged access networks and embedded systems.
The excellent research track record of the members of the Broadband and Wireless Communications research group enables us to provide true research-led teaching, and superior expertise and facilities for projects. Our research teams also have many contacts in industry and research establishments and can provide project placement opportunities and advice.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.
|Possible modules may include||Credits||ECTS Credits|
|EL827 - Signal & Communication Theory II||15||7.5|
Optimal receivers design and their performance of QPSK, MSK and QAM. Signal design for bandlimited channels. Multichannel and multicarrier communications. Spread spectrum signals for digital communications. Multiuser communications.
Information Theory and Coding
Channel capacity and coding. Block codes, convolutional codes and Turbo codes.
Digital Signals and Communication
Six examples classes.
Information Theory and Coding
Five examples classes.
Two 4-hour laboratory sessions introducing Simulink and its application to digital communications. An assessed assignment on a digital communications link.
|EL829 - Embedded Real-Time Operating Systems||15||7.5|
EMBEDDED REAL TIME OPERATING SYSTEMS (RTOS)
Operating Systems (OS) and Real-Time Operating Systems (RTOS). Embedded RTOS. Software development methods and tools: Run-time libraries. Writing a library. Porting kernels. Concurrent Programming and Concurrent Programming Constructs. Task Scheduling and Task Interaction. Basic Scheduling methods, scheduling algorithms. Tasks, threads and processes. Context switching. Multitasking. Communication, Synchronisation. Semaphores and critical sections. Example RTOS systems. (e.g. Embedded Linux, Windows CE, Micrium, VxWorks etc). Programming and debugging Embedded Systems. Practical examples and case studies.
Embedded Processors; Hard and Soft Processor Macros (e.g. Altera Nios and Xilinx Microblaze, ARM). A brief overview of peripherals. Architectural Models. HW/SW Partitioning and partitioning algorithms. Distributed systems. Memory architectures, architectures for control-dominated systems. Architectures for data-dominated systems. Compilation techniques for embedded processor architectures. Modern embedded architectures. Architecture examples in multimedia, wireless and telecommunications. Examples of emerging architectures. Multiprocessor and multicore systems.
|EL849 - Research Methods & Project Design||30||15|
Introduction to Matlab
Introduces the basics of the Matlab and Simulink programme environment and prepares the students for the Introduction to Matlab workshops.
Introductiion to the MSc Projects
Overall timetable and plan for the individual and group projects
Writing Better Technical English
As scientists and engineers, an ability to communicate information clearly through the written word is central to our professional activities. Whether we are publishing our research in an academic journal, writing a report for our employers or just summarising a piece of work for our records, the way in which we write will directly influence the quality and value of what we do.
In these lectures we will look at what determines the quality of formal writing, and how we can maximise the impact and clarity of what we write. Whether English is our native language or a second language, it is important critically to examine how we write if we are to express what we have to say in the best possible way. We will begin by examining the benefits of making more effort in our writing, and we will survey some of the common errors which often occur, showing how these can have an effect not just on the ease with which our work can be understood and absorbed but also on the precise meaning of what we say. We will explore some strategies for improving writing quality, and will consider some guidelines for the development of longer-term writing skills. We will explore a number of examples of "good" and "bad" writing, and everyone will have an
opportunity to take part in some simple exercises.
Literature Review: Techniques and Tools
Surveys using networked electronic information sources, on-line databases, inter-library loan facilities, private communications, etc. Identification of a technical area worthy of research, definition of the state- of -the-art in a given field, definition of the research project, and research proposals. Patent search.
Research Project Management
Time management. Resources management. Project management software (MS Project). Use of logbooks. Data management. Data security. Team working skills.
Structure, content and procedures. Project reports and theses. Journal and conference papers. Technical presentations. Use of references. Writing up of abstract, introduction and conclusions. Submission, refereeing and amendments. Effective use of figures, drawings and tables. MS WORD, ENDNOTE and LATEX.
Presentations and Research Results
Objectives and structure. Audience analysis. Rehearsal and delivery. Design of visual aids. Use of computerized projection facilities. Multi-media approach. Poster design and poster presentation. Handling questions.
Interllectual Property Rights
Patents, patent rights and know-how. Copyright and copying. Design rights and registered designs. Research contracts and agreements. Confidentiality agreement.
Ethics in engineering research. Research supervision. Modelling and simulation versus real experimental work. Processing and presentation of experimental data. Obfuscation in writing up research papers.
Understanding systems definitions, the context of projects and levels of systems engineering. System boundaries. Capturing requirements. System design methods. Validation and verification.
Project management phases, Tucker's team building model. People, psychological types. Influencing others and managing people. Leadership styles
|EL871 - Digital Signal Processing (DSP)||15||7.5|
Introduction to signals and signal analysis. Frequency and time domain representations of signals. A review of the Fourier Series, Fourier Transform and Laplace Transforms. Noise: definitions and sources of noise in signal analysis.
DIGITAL SIGNAL PROCESSING
The sampling theorem, Aliasing, Anti-Aliasing and Anti-Imaging Filters, ADCs and DACs. The Fourier Transform (FT). The Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) and The Fast Fourier Transform (FFT).The Z-transform. Pole-Zero placement methods for signal analysis. Transfer functions in S and Z domains. Theory, design and performance of Finite Impulse-Response (FIR) and Infinite-Impulse-Response (IIR) Filters. Multirate DSP. Architectures and devices for digital signal processing. Effects of Finite Precision.
APPLICATIONS OF DSP
Processing and filtering of signals for Instrumentation and measurement, Processing and filtering of images: DSP in modern communication systems.
The six workshop assignments use MATLAB and SIMULINK to develop and explore concepts that have been introduced in the lectures.
|EL872 - Wireless/Mobile Communications||15||7.5|
Overview of wireless communications; path loss, shadowing, and fading models; capacity of wireless channels; cellular concept; handoff; adjacent cell interference; adaptive modulation; diversity; MIMO systems, wireless multiple access techniques; resource allocation; cross layer optimization; Ad-hoc networks; wireless sensor networks; ultra-wideband (UWB) communications; third generation (3G) and super 3G mobile communications.
Eight examples classes - not assessed.
The final class will be for assessed student group presentations on case studies.
COLLOQUIA - ADVANCED MOBILE COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS
One/two colloquia. An assessed short report (<1000 words) on the subject of one of the colloquia will be required.
ASSIGNMENT CASE STUDY
A case study group presentation, on a "hot-topic".
|EL893 - Reconfigurable Architectures||15||7.5|
An Introduction to reconfigurable systems. PLDs, PLAs, FPGAs. Fine grain architectures, Coarse grain architectures, Heterogeneous device Architectures. Case studies. Configuration of FPGA's. Run-time configuration, partial configuration, dynamic reconfiguration. Partitioning systems onto a reconfigurable fabric. Synthesis tools. Timing issues. Verification and Test strategies.
An introduction to Hardware Description Languages. VHDL will be used to illustrate a typical HDL (but this may change to or include Verilog in future). The lectures will define the architectural aspects of a VHDL : entity, architecture, process, package, types, operators, libraries, hierarchy, test benches and synthesisable VHDL. Workshops and laboratories will be used to illustrate how VHDL code is synthesised on to physical hardware devices and a number of challenging practical design examples will be used to illustrate the process
Basic computer arithmetic and its implementation on reconfigurable logic architectures. Fixed-point and Floating point number representations. The IEEE-754 FP standard. Redundant Number Systems. Residue Number Systems. Methods for Addition and Subtraction. Fast adder architectures. Multi-operand addition. Multiplication: Multiplier architectures; Constant coefficient multipliers; Distributed arithmetic; LUT methods. Special methods: division, square root, the CORDIC algorithm. High-throughput arithmetic. Low-power arithmetic.
|EL896 - Computer and Microcontroller Architectures||15||7.5|
This module focuses on the basic principles of modern computer architecture and how they are mapped onto modern (32-bit) microcontrollers. The course uses the ARM processor core as an exemplar of a modern processor architecture that is now ubiquitous in embedded systems. The course will cover classic topics in architecture (CPU and ALU structure, Instruction sets, memory and memory) and performance metrics for evaluating the relative performance of different architectures such as RISC vs CISC and also VLIW, SIMD, MIMD, ASSP and DSP devices.
The NXP 1786 (mbed) microcontroller is used as an example microcontroller development platform and industry standard IDE's from Keil/IAR are used to program, test and debug them. The course includes a comprehensive presentation of typical microcontroller peripherals: ADCs and DACs, Timers and Input Capture, communication using IIC, SPI, UART. Displays. Interrupts and Interrupt Service Routines (ISRs).
The course also provides an introduction to the C and C++ programming languages and their use with microcontroller based systems. This material will include: Variables, data-types and arithmetic expressions. Strings, Loops, Arrays. Functions, Structures, Pointers, bit operators. The pre-processor. I/O operations in C. Debugging Programs. Object-Oriented Programming. The Standard C Library.
Issues such as software testing and testing strategies are discussed. Compiling and downloading code onto the mbed using commercial Integrated Development Environments such as Keil® and IAR®. GNU based toolchains for Microcontroller development.
|EL822 - Communication Networks||15||7.5|
Network architecture and topology. Multiple access strategies; contention and controlled access. LAN standards: Ethernet, WLANs; hubs, bridges, switches, VLANs. High speed LANs and new standards. Wireless PANs: Bluetooth, ZigBee and UWB.
WAN topologies. Circuit- and packet-switching. The Internet and IP; routing protocols. Transport protocols and TCP. Address and name servers. Elements of communication network security (IPSec, firewalls ..).
Network Performance Analysis
Traffic processes. Queuing theory applied to different traffic statistics and service types.
Four examples classes.
Four examples classes.
Network Performance Analysis
Two examples classes.
OPNET Network Simulator
Three 4-hour laboratory classes. An assessed assignment in Weeks 11 and 12.
|EL890 - MSc Project||60||30|
A major practical system will be developed either in an industrial context or within the department. There are no formal lectures - students will undertake the work in their own time under the regular supervision of a member of the academic staff and, where appropriate, industrial collaborators.
Teaching and Assessment
The project module is examined by a presentation and dissertation. The Research Methods and Project Design module is examined by several components of continuous assessment. The other modules are assessed by examinations and smaller components of continuous assessment. MSc students must gain credit from all the modules. For the PDip, you must gain at least 120 credits in total, and pass certain modules to meet the learning outcomes of the PDip programme.
This programme aims to:
- educate graduate engineers and equip them with advanced knowledge of wireless communications and signal processing for careers in research and development in industry or academia.
- produce high-calibre engineers with experience in specialist and complex problem-solving skills and techniques needed for systems level design in the wireless communications field
- provide you with proper academic guidance and welfare support
- create an atmosphere of co-operation and partnership between staff and students, and offer you an environment where you can develop your potential
- strengthen and expand opportunities for industrial collaboration with the School of Engineering and Digital Arts.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- digital communication systems and networks particularly mobile/wireless networks and the signal processing components used in them, and an awareness of developing technologies in this field
- mathematical and computer models for analysis of digital communication systems (particularly wireless systems), networks and embedded processors and operating systems
- wide knowledge and understanding of design processes relevant to communication systems and networks (particularly wireless/mobile networks) and of embedded electronic systems
- extensive knowledge of characteristics of materials, equipment, processes and products, such as digital communication systems and networks processes, equipment and products and microcontrollers, FPGAs, real-time operating systems, image processing architectures and devices
- a thorough appreciation of methodologies of research which are essential to engineers involved in research and development projects. Such methods also form an essential part of the individual project undertaken on the MSc programme, which is itself research-based.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- the ability to use fundamental knowledge to explore new and emerging technologies
- the ability to understand the limitations of mathematical and computer-based problem-solving and assess the impact in particular cases
- the ability to extract data pertinent to an unfamiliar problem and apply it in the solution
- the ability to analyse a problem and develop a system-level specification, based on an understanding of the interaction between the component parts of the system.
- the ability to apply engineering techniques, taking account of commercial and industrial constraints.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- the ability to apply knowledge of design processes in unfamiliar situations and to generate innovative designs to fulfil new needs, particularly in the fields of broadband networks and mobile/wireless communication systems
- the ability to devise tests of a software and/or hardware system through experiment or simulation and to critically appraise the results
- the use of CAD tools including high-level system and network simulators to analyse problems and develop solutions
- the ability to search for technical information and apply it to a design
- the ability to apply management techniques to the planning, resource allocation and execution of a project
- the ability to prepare technical reports and presentations.
You gain the following transferable skills:
- the ability to generate, analyse, present and interpret data
- use of information and communications technology
- personal and interpersonal skills, work as a member of a team
- an ability to communicate effectively, in writing, verbally and through drawings
- the ability for critical thinking, reasoning and reflection
- the ability to manage time and resources within an individual and group project
- the ability to learn effectively for the purpose of continuing professional development.
We have developed the programme with a number of industrial organisations, which means that successful students will be in a strong position to build a long-term career in this important discipline.
The School of Engineering and Digital Arts has an excellent record of student employability. We are committed to enhancing the employability of all our students, to equip you with the skills and knowledge to succeed in a competitive, fast-moving, knowledge-based economy.
Graduates who can show that they have developed transferable skills and valuable experience are better prepared to start their careers and are more attractive to potential employers. Within the School of Engineering and Digital Arts, you can develop the skills and capabilities that employers are looking for. These include problem solving, independent thought, report-writing, time management, leadership skills, team-working and good communication.
Kent has an excellent record for postgraduate employment: over 96% of our postgraduate students who graduated in 2015 found a job or further study opportunity within six months.
Building on Kent’s success as the region’s leading institution for student employability, we offer many opportunities for you to gain worthwhile experience and develop the specific skills and aptitudes that employers value.
The School is well equipped with a wide range of laboratory and computing facilities and software packages for teaching and research support. There is a variety of hardware and software for image acquisition and processing, as well as extensive multimedia computing resources.
The School has facilities for designing embedded systems using programmable logic and ASIC technology, supported by CAD tools and development software from international companies, including Cadence™, Xilinx™, Synopsys™, Altera™, National Instruments® and Mentor Graphics™.
The SMT laboratory can be used for prototyping and small-volume PCB manufacture. A well-equipped instrumentation research laboratory is also available.
Students studying communications have access to commercial and in-house software tools for designing microwave, RF, optoelectronics and antenna systems (such as ADS™, CST™, HFSS™) and subsequent testing with network and spectrum analysers up to 110 GHz, an on-wafer prober, and high-quality anechoic chambers.
Network simulation is undertaken utilising the widely-used package: OPNET. JPI is used for advanced optical communication system simulation.
As a postgraduate student, you are part of a thriving research community and receive support through a wide-ranging programme of individual supervision, specialised research seminars, general skills training programmes, and general departmental colloquia, usually with external speakers. We encourage you to attend and present your work at major conferences, as well as taking part in our internal conference and seminar programmes.
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Recent contributions include: IEEE Transactions; IET Journals; Electronics Letters; Applied Physics; Computers in Human Behaviour.
Global Skills Award
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
A 2.2 or higher honours degree in electronics, computer engineering (not computer science) or a related electronics discipline.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.
Meet our staff in your country
For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.
English language entry requirements
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
The Group’s activities cover system and component technologies from microwave to terahertz frequencies. These include photonics, antennae and wireless components for a broad range of communication systems. The Group has extensive software research tools together with antenna anechoic chambers, network and spectrum analysers to millimetre wave frequencies and optical signal generation, processing and measurement facilities. Current research themes include:
- photonic components
- networks/wireless systems
- microwave and millimetre-wave systems
- antenna systems
- radio-over-fibre systems
- electromagnetic bandgaps and metamaterials
- frequency selective surfaces.
Instrumentation, Control and Embedded Systems
The Instrumentation, Control and Embedded Systems Research Group comprises a mixture of highly experienced, young and vibrant academics working in three complementary research themes – embedded systems, instrumentation and control. The Group has established a major reputation in recent years for solving challenging scientific and technical problems across a range of industrial sectors, and has strong links with many European countries through EU-funded research programmes. The Group also has a history of industrial collaboration in the UK through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.
The Group’s main expertise lies primarily in image processing, signal processing, embedded systems, optical sensors, neural networks, and systems on chip and advanced control. It is currently working in the following areas:
- monitoring and characterisation of combustion flames
- flow measurement of particulate solids
- medical instrumentation
- control of autonomous vehicles
- control of time-delay systems
- high-speed architectures for real-time image processing
- novel signal processing architectures based on logarithmic arithmetic.
Staff research interests
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Professor John Batchelor: Professor of Antenna Technology
Design and modelling of multi-band antennas for personal, on-body and mobile communication systems; passive RFID tagging/sensing and skin mounted transfer tattoo tags; reduced-size frequency selective structures (FSS and EBG) for incorporation into smart buildings for control of radio spectrum.View Profile
Professor Steven Gao: Professor of RF/Microwave Engineering
Space antennas; smart antennas; microwave circuit and systems.View Profile
Professor Nathan Gomes: Professor of Optical Fibre Communications
Optical-microwave interactions, especially fibreradio networks; optoelectronic devices and optical networks.View Profile
Dr Benito Sanz-Izquierdo: Lecturer in Electronic Systems
Antennas and microwaves.View Profile
Dr Peter Lee: Senior Lecturer in Electronic Engineering
Embedded systems; programmable architectures; high-speed signal processing; VLSI/ASIC design; neural networks; optical sensor systems and applications; image processing using VLSI.View Profile
Dr Chao Wang: Lecturer in Electronic Systems
Optical communications; microwave photonics; biophotonics.View Profile
Professor Jiangzhou Wang: Professor of Telecommunications and Head of School
Modulation; coding; MIMO; mobile communications; wireless sensor networks.View Profile
Dr Paul Young: Senior Lecturer in Electronic Engineering
Design and modelling of microwave and millimetrewave devices and antennas, especially substrate integrated waveguides and smart antennas.View Profile
Dr Huiling Zhu: Reader in Communications
Wireless communications and networking especially OFDMA; radio resource allocation; distributed antenna systems; wireless relay networks; user-centric networks; cooperative communications.View Profile
The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
|Wireless Communications and Signal Processing - MSc at Canterbury:|
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.*
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.