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Postgraduate Courses 2017/18

Wireless Communications and Signal Processing - MSc



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.

National ratings

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.

Course structure

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.

Student profiles

See what our students have to say.


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.

EL827 - Signal & Communication Theory II (15 credits)

Lecture Syllabus

Digital Communication

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.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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EL829 - Embedded Real-Time Operating Systems (15 credits)


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.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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EL849 - Research Methods & Project Design (30 credits)

Lecture Syllabus

Introduction to Matlab

Introduces the basics of the Matlab and Simulink programme environment and prepares the students for the Introduction to Matlab workshops.

An Introduction to Writing Better 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.

Research Publications

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.

Research Ethics

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.



Introduction to Matlab

Assignment - Literature Review (including patent research)

Two literature review reports are required. The first is a report on a common research topic given by the lecturer. The second report is on the student's own MSc project.

Computer Laboratory – Research Project Management

Two 2-hour laboratory sessions introducing and practising the use of MSc Project. The students will undertake a set of given tasks and submit a report.

Full Master Project Proposal

The students will be required to write and submit a full project proposal prior to the start of their individual MSc project. The writing up skills will be tested in this assessed element.

Poster Design and Presentation

The students will be required to produce a poster and make a poster presentation on their individual MSc project proposal.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EL871 - Digital Signal Processing (DSP) (15 credits)

Lecture Syllabus


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.


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.


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.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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EL872 - Wireless/Mobile Communications (15 credits)

Lecture Syllabus

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.


One/two colloquia. An assessed short report (<1000 words) on the subject of one of the colloquia will be required.


A case study group presentation, on a "hot-topic".

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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EL893 - Reconfigurable Architectures (15 credits)

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.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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EL896 - Computer and Microcontroller Architectures (15 credits)

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.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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EL822 - Communication Networks (15 credits)

Lecture Syllabus

Local Networks

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.

IP Networks

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.


Local Networks

Four examples classes.

IP Networks

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.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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EL890 - MSc Project (60 credits)

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.

Credits: 60 credits (30 ECTS credits).

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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.

Programme aims

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.

Learning outcomes

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.

Intellectual skills

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.

Subject-specific skills

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.

Transferable skills

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.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

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.  

Entry requirements

A 2.2 or higher honours degree in electronics, computer engineering (not computer science) or a related electronics discipline.

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

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.

Research areas


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.

Dr John Batchelor: Reader in 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.


Professor Steven Gao: Professor of RF/Microwave Engineering

Space antennas; smart antennas; microwave circuit and systems.


Dr Nathan Gomes: Reader in Broadband Communications

Optical-microwave interactions, especially fibreradio networks; optoelectronic devices and optical networks.


Dr Benito Sanz-Izquierdo: Lecturer in Electronic Systems

Antennas and microwaves.


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.


Professor Ted Parker: Professor Emeritus of Radio Communications

Microwave antennas; frequency selective surfaces for microwave and millimetre wave multiband antennas (dichroics); radomes and frequency dependent screening for secure buildings.


Professor Mohammed Sobhy: Professor Emeritus of Electronics

Analysis and applications of nonlinear electronic systems.


Dr Chao Wang: Lecturer in Electronic Systems

Optical communications; microwave photonics; biophotonics.


Professor Jiangzhou Wang: Professor of Telecommunications; Director of Graduate Studies

Modulation; coding; MIMO; mobile communications; wireless sensor networks. 


Dr Paul Young: Lecturer in Electronic Engineering

Design and modelling of microwave and millimetrewave devices and antennas, especially substrate integrated waveguides and smart antennas.


Dr Huiling Zhu: Lecturer in Communications

Wireless communications and networking especially OFDMA; radio resource allocation; distributed antenna systems; wireless relay networks; user-centric networks; cooperative communications.


Enquire or order a prospectus



Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 827272


Subject enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 827535

F: +44 (0)1227 456084

E: eda-admissions-pg@kent.ac.uk

School website


The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Wireless Communications and Signal Processing - MSc at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7490 £16480
Part-time £3760 £8240

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.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

The University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in its publicity materials is fair and accurate and to provide educational services as described. However, the courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Full details of our terms and conditions can be found at: www.kent.ac.uk/termsandconditions.

*Where fees are regulated (such as by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills or Research Council UK) they will be increased up to the allowable level.

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The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 764000