Computer Systems Engineering

Computer Systems Engineering - MEng

UCAS code H613

2018

Advances in electronics, computing and communications have made a huge impact on every aspect of modern life. The MEng programme brings you up to an advanced level of expertise in designing the computer systems that shape the way we live.

2018

Overview

The range of uses for computers is increasing all the time – from smartphones and tablets to aircraft flight control systems and global telecommunications. Our degree gives you up-to-date knowledge of computer hardware and software, and a background knowledge of electronics, communications systems and control theory.

The programme is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), on behalf of the Engineering Council. The MEng programme fully satisfies the educational requirements for becoming a Chartered Engineer.

Our degree programme

Computer technology, telecommunications and consumer electronics are rapidly evolving, so experts in these fields are in great demand. This degree is based on leading-edge research and has been designed with strong industrial input.

In your first and second years, you are introduced to a wide range of computing and engineering modules. You can study the theoretical background of digital technologies, communications principles and object-oriented programming, and take modules in robotics, computer interfacing and engineering mathematics.

The third year allows you to specialise in a particular topic of interest. This could include computer networks and communication, computer security and cryptography, digital signal processing, digital control, digital systems design and embedded computer systems.

The final year of the MEng programme brings your engineering skills up to an advanced level, providing a broad knowledge of business perspectives and extra opportunities for group project work.

All years include project work that replicates industrial practice to maximise the employability of our graduates.

Year in industry

You can take a work placement between the second and third years of your degree. This provides valuable workplace experience and can increase your professional contacts. For more details, see Computer Systems Engineering with a Year in Industry (MEng).

Study resources

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts offers cutting-edge equipment and facilities, including:

  • four air-conditioned computer suites with 150 high-end computers
  • 120-seat engineering laboratory
  • extensive professional CAD development software
  • PCB and surface-mount facilities
  • mechanical workshop
  • Matlab for system modelling
  • 3dMD 3D imaging scanner for general purpose capture and biometric research
  • VICON Infrared Motion Capture System
  • anechoic chamber for EMC (pre-compliance testing) and antenna characterisation.

Extra activities

Kent Union has a range of student-run clubs and societies. You can join the Kent Computing Society and the Digital Media Society to network, develop your skills and socialise with students from across the University.

Professional network

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts has a long history of collaboration with industry. We have a strong reputation for our placement year, matching dedicated students with a variety of organisations in the UK and overseas.

Independent rankings

Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Kent was ranked 11th for course satisfaction in The Guardian University Guide 2018.

For graduate prospects, Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Kent was ranked 13th in The Guardian University Guide 2018.

Teaching Excellence Framework

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

TEF Gold logo

Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Stage 1

Modules may include Credits

Lecture Syllabus

INTRODUCTION TO ELECTRIC CIRCUITS

Resistors, voltage, current, power, Ohm's law. Ideal and non-ideal voltage and current sources. Maximum power transfer in DC circuits and load matching. Kirchoff's voltage and current laws, series and parallel connection, voltage divider. Node voltage analysis of DC circuits. Mesh analysis. Superposition, Thevenin's and Norton's theorems. Transfer functions, attenuation, gain, decibel. Equivalent circuits for subsystems.

Capacitors, inductors, and RC circuits. Harmonic signals, magnitude and phase, voltage and current vectors, voltage-current relationships. Impedance and admittance.

Simple filter circuits. Series and parallel resonant circuits.

PRACTICAL OPERATIONAL AMPLIFIER CIRCUITS

Non-inverting amplifier, inverting amplifier, voltage follower and summing amplifier (including DC off-set circuit). Differential amplifier and instrumentation amplifier. Active filter, differentiator and integrator. Comparator (zero-crossing/threshold detector) and Schmitt trigger. Ideal op-amp (the golden rules) and practical op-amp. Static and dynamic op-amp parameters. Frequency response of op-amp circuits. Open-loop and closed-loop. Negative feedback and positive feedback. Op-amp circuit simulation. Trouble-shooting and testing.

Coursework

There are 6 assessed and 4 non-assessed laboratories.

There will be an assessed Operational amplifier mini project together with 2 non-assessed tutorials associated with the mini-project.

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Lecture Syllabus

LABORATORY PRACTICE

Introduction to the project and use of log-books. PCB manufacture. Resistor and capacitor components. Robot mechanics.

INSTITUTE OF ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY TALK

USE OF INSTRUMENTS AND INTRODUCTION TO FAULT-FINDING

INTRODUCTION TO CAD OF PCBS AND ROBOT CIRCUITRY

CAD tools. Dos/don'ts on CAD package. Robot sensors and circuits.

ROBOTS AND C/C++ PROGRAMMING

Introduction to Robots. Introduction to C/C++ Programming.. Programming of self-built robots using C/C++ Programming and the Arduino Duemillenova Board.

PANEL Q&A

Coursework

LABORATORIES

LAB PRACTICE IN THE PROJECT LAB AND PCB CONSTRUCTION

This is designed to provide experience in the practical and management aspects of project work and is supported by lectures and weekly small group tutorials. There is a total of 42 laboratory hours over the Autumn and Spring terms. The main components are: use of the Mechanical Workshop, basic mechanical work, soldering, assembly and testing of a printed circuit board.

CAD TOOLS

A series of weekly exercises (Weeks 14 to 16) aimed at familiarising the students with the Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools needed to develop the PCB circuit which will later be integrated into the robot. This practical work will be supported by three lectures given at the beginning of term.

ROBOTS

A series of weekly individual exercises, of which two are assessed. The exercises are designed to provide experience with the robot kit, and programming the robots using C/C++ language. During the second Project Week of the term, the developed PCB will be integrated into the robot and the complete design will be assessed by demonstration at the end of the term. This practical work will be supported by five lectures given towards the beginning of term. There will be a competition for the best robot, with the award of a prize.

Assignments

ASSIGNMENT 1 - THE USE OF INSTRUMENTS

A laboratory exercise using the Project Laboratory facilities.

Assessment is by completing an answer booklet.

ASSIGNMENT 2 - MECHANICAL DESIGN OF THE ROBOT BASEPLATE

Assessment of students' design and built quality of the robot baseplate.

ASSIGNMENT 3 - PCB LAYOUT

Assessment of students' PCB design.

ASSIGNMENT 4 - ROBOT PROGRAMMING EXERCISE 1

Weekly exercises of programming of robots.

ASSIGNMENT 5 - ROBOT PROGRAMMING EXERCISE 2

Weekly exercises of programming of robots.

ASSIGNMENT 6 - PCB FABRICATION

Assessment of students' hardware construction of the PCB.

ASSIGNMENT 7 - DEMONSTRATION OF ROBOT

An assessed demonstration of the robot constructed in the project.

ASSIGNMENT 8 - LOG BOOK

An assessed record of PCB design and construction.

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Lecture Syllabus

COMBINATORIAL LOGIC

The analogue world, the digital world. Digital systems design: hardware and software. An overview of digital technologies. Examples of digital systems. Combinatorial logic. AND, OR and NOT gates. Introduction to Boolean algebra. Karnaugh maps and minimisation techniques. Functional building blocks: adder, comparator, encoders and decoders. Implementation issues, programmable devices.

SEQUENTIAL LOGIC

The NAND latch, D-type FF, shift register, counters. Delays, clocks. Hierarchical design. Overview of Computer Systems. Architectural and operational properties of sequential machines, comparison with combinational circuits. Finite State Machines. Realisation of synchronous machines: design technique, approaches, examples. Algorithmic State Machines. Basic computer operation. The stored program concept.

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Lecture Syllabus

INTRODUCTION TO MATLAB (4 lectures)

Introduction to MATLAB, syntax, graphs, functions, loops, logical operators, arrays and matrices.

SIMPLE FUNCTIONS AND GRAPHS (4 lectures)

Revision of fundamental mathematics. Linear, polynomial, exp, log, circular functions. Odd and

even functions.

COMPLEX NUMBERS (4 lectures)

Complex Numbers: Addition, multiplication, division. Argand diagram, modulus argument

representation. De Moivre's theorem.

DIFFERENTIATION and SERIES (6 lectures)

Differentiation of simple functions, sums, products, reciprocals, inverses, function of a function.

Higher order derivatives. Maclaurin and Taylor series.

TRIGONOMETRY, VECTORS AND MATRICES (6 lectures)

Definition of a vector. Basic properties of vectors. Vector addition and subtraction. The scalar

product. Cross product. Definition of a matrix. Addition, subtraction and product. Determinant and

inverse of square matrices. Solution of simultaneous equations using matrices.

INTEGRATION (4 lectures)

Revision. Indefinite integrals. Definite integrals and interpretation as an area. Evaluation using

substitution and integration by parts.

SETS, PROBABILITY AND STATISTICS (6 lectures)

Sets and elements. Basic set operations. Probability and probability distributions. Mean, standard

deviation and variance. The Normal distribution.

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SYSTEMS ANALYSIS (6 lectures + 3 examples classes)

Introduction to differential equations.

First order DE and methods of solution.

Initial conditions and solutions of RC and RL circuits.

Homogeneous second order differential equations. General solution.

Initial conditions, particular solution and examples of RLC circuits.

Non homogeneous 2nd order differential equations.

SIGNAL ANALYSIS (6 lectures + 3 examples classes)

Odd, even and periodic functions

Integration of Trig. Functions.

The Fourier Series.

Examples of the Fourier series for simple functions

The concept of discrete spectrum and Paserval's Theorem

The complex Fourier series and examples.

ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELD ANALYSIS (12 lectures + 4 examples classes)

Partial differentiation

Multidimensional integrals

Introduction to partial differential equations

Laplace, Poisson and Wave equations. Boundary conditions and initial conditions

Introduction to electromagnetism and fields

Electrostatic examples. Fields around common transmission lines. Capacitance.

Amperes law and magneto-statics field examples. Inductance.

The wave equation for transmission lines. Time harmonic solutions

Reflections and wave propagation

Introduction to Maxwell's equations and EM wave propagation

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This module provides an introduction to object-oriented software development. Software pervades many aspects of most professional fields and sciences, and an understanding of the development of software applications is useful as a basis for many disciplines. This module covers the development of simple software systems. Students will gain an understanding of the software development process, and learn to design and implement applications in a popular object-oriented programming language. Fundamentals of classes and objects are introduced, and key features of class descriptions: constructors, methods and fields. Method implementation through assignment, selection control structures, iterative control structures and other statements is introduced. Collection objects are also covered and the availability of library classes as building blocks. Throughout the course, the quality of class design and the need for a professional approach to software development is emphasized

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• An introduction to databases and SQL, focussing on their use as a source for content for websites.

• Creating static content for websites using HTML(5) and controlling their appearance using CSS.

• Using PHP to integrate static and dynamic content for web sites.

• Securing dynamic websites.

• Using Javascript to improve interactivity and maintainability in web content.

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14. A synopsis of the curriculum

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the fundamental behaviour and components (hardware and software) of a typical computer system, and how they collaborate to manage resources and provide services. The module has two strands: ‘Hardware Architecture’ and ‘Operating Systems and Networks,’ which form around 35% and 65% of the material respectively. Both strands contain material which is of general interest to computer users; quite apart from their academic value, they will be useful to anyone using any modern computer system.

Hardware Architecture

Data representation: Bits, bytes and words. Numeric and non-numeric data. Number representation.

Computer architecture: Fundamental building blocks (logic gates, flip-flops, counters, registers). The fetch/execute cycle. Instruction sets and types.

Data storage: Memory hierarchies and associated technologies. Physical and virtual memory.

Operating Systems and Networks

Operating systems principles. Abstractions. Processes and resources. Security. Application Program Interfaces.

Device interfaces: Handshaking, buffering, programmed and interrupt-driven i/o. Direct Memory Access.

File Systems: Physical structure. File and directory organisation, structure and contents. Naming hierarchies and access. Backup.

Background and history of networking and the Internet.

Networks and protocols: LANs and WANs, layered protocol design. The TCP/IP protocol stack; theory and practice. Connection-oriented and connectionless communication. Unicast, multicast and broadcast. Naming and addressing. Application protocols; worked examples: SMTP, HTTP).

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Stage 2

Modules may include Credits

This module builds on the foundation of object-oriented design and implementation found in module CO320 Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming to provide a deeper understanding of and facility with object-oriented program design and implementation. More advanced features of object-orientation, such as inheritance, abstract classes, nested classes, graphical-user interfaces (GUIs), exceptions, input-output are covered. These allow an application-level view of design and implementation to be explored. Throughout the module the quality of application design and the need for a professional approach to software development is emphasized.

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Lecture Syllabus

C PROGRAMMING

variables, operators and control structures.

Good programming practice: layout, naming, software documentation. Scope.

Pointers and Arrays.

Data structures. Memory handling.

MICROCOMPUTER ENGINEERING

The structure of a typical micro computer. The PIC: an overview. The programmer's model, instruction set and addressing mode. The control unit, stack and stack pointers and program counter. The operation of a microcomputer: fetch and execute activities. Translating C into assembler. How to run a C program on the PIC. The efficiency of C programs: memory requirements and operational speed. An introduction to input/output. Accessing interface registers in C. Simple input/output using the switches and lights. Bit testing and bit manipulation. Generating waveforms. Time delays using program loops and timers. Controlling peripherals. Determining peripheral status. Serial ports. The interaction of hardware and software during polled input/output. The principles of input/output using interrupts. Interrupt service routines: how they are instigated and typical activities. The implementation of interrupts in C. Handling several interrupt sources. A Keyboard interface. Polling vs Interrupts. Flow of data and control in a memory reference instruction. The structure of memory

- conceptual, addressing, decoding

- memory components

- multiple memory chips

- chip enable, implementation strategies

SOFTWARE ENGINEERING

Software Engineering Process: lifecycle models. Software requirements engineering: basic concepts and principles, requirements engineering process, requirements elicitation, requirements analysis, requirements validation, requirements management. Software design: basic concepts and principles, software architecture, design notations, design strategies and methods (object-oriented, function-oriented, real-time systems). Software testing: basic concepts and principles, testing process, test planning, testing strategies and techniques.

Coursework

WORKSHOPS

4 two-hour assessed workshops support the C Programming language component.

Workshop 1: Control structures and program flow.

Workshop 2: Pointers and arrays.

Workshop 3: Use of structures for data representation.

Workshop 4: Mini project involving the development of a software solution for a problem according to given specifications.

ASSIGNMENT - INTRODUCTION TO MICROCOMPUTERS

One assessed and five non-assessed lectures.

LABORATORY - MICROCOMPUTER ENGINEERING

This one-day laboratory uses the PCs with PIC microcomputers. Assessed.

EXAMPLES CLASS - SOFTWARE ENGINEERING

One assessed examples class.

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Lecture Syllabus

IMAGES AND IMAGE PROCESSING

Introduction to the module. Scope, philosophy and range of relevant applications. Vision as a physiological, psychological and computational process. Image representation, spatial and amplitude digitisation, resolution, colour in images, and computational implications. Array tessellation, connectivity, object representation, binarisation and thresholding. Image histograms and properties, image quality. Image enhancement processing and filtering. Histogram modification techniques and contrast enhancement. Image subtraction, simple motion detection, skeletonisation. Image segmentation, edge-based and region-based methods, multi-attribute segmentation, the Hough transform and its generalisation. Shape descriptors and feature measurement. Morphological operators for image processing. Principles of simple image coding and implications. Case studies.

ANALYSING IMAGES

Principles of image analysis and understanding. Representation of objects and scenes. The concept of formalised pattern recognition. Pattern descriptors and pattern classes, preprocessing and normalisation. Feature extraction and imager characterisation. Texture analysis as an example of object description – texture descriptors, analysis using co-occurrence matrices. Basic decision theory and the Bayesian classifier. Cost and risk, minimum risk and minimum error-rate classification, rejection margins and error-rate trade-off, canonical descriptions of classifier structure. Implementation considerations and approaches to estimation of class-conditional feature distributions. Minimum distance classifiers. Alternative classification strategies. Case studies.

SECURITY AND BIOMETRICS

Introduction to security issues. Alternative approaches to personal identification, access control and data security, and applications in industrial, media, commercial and other related scenarios. Fundamentals of biometrics, biometric modalities, user requirements and user acceptability, template construction. Physiological and behavioural features, static and dynamic analyses, error sources and performance measures. False acceptance and false rejection measures, equal error rate, ROC descriptions. Variability and stability of biometric data, template ageing and related issues in enrolment and deployment. Characterisation of typical common modalities: face recognition, fingerprint processing, iris recognition, and automatic signature verification, and their underlying technologies. Usability issues, the human interface, system integration. Testing and evaluation of biometric systems. Revocable biometrics. Applications of biometric systems. Case studies.

NEURAL NETWORK PROCESSING

The concept of neural networks as architectures for image analysis. Exploration of techniques for automated learning and generalisation with artificial neural networks. Fundamentals of neural network design, basic design philosophy and application of neural networks to practical problems. Example: perceptrons and the perceptron learning algorithm.

Coursework

EXAMPLES CLASSES

There will be 4 assessed examples classes, one for each lecture series.

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Lecture Syllabus

INTRODUCTION TO LABVIEW

Support in the use of LabView for interfacing LabView between a PC and external hardware.

LABVIEW DAQ DEMONSTRATION

Demonstration a DAQ device in the Project Lab.

LABVIEW DAQ INTERFACE BOARD

Introduction a DAQ interface device and its use for A/D and D/A conversion and digital I/O.

INTERFACING

Support in the use of the project PC-based hardware and software, including sensors, transducers, analogue I/O, digital I/O, event handling, data manipulation, data visualisation and the design of user interfaces.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Project planning, project proposal, information search, risk assessment, documentation, use of logbooks, group management.

REPORT WRITING

Writing project reports for the second and third year projects.

PRESENTATION TECHNIQUES

Presentation skills for the second and third year projects.

Coursework

GROUP PROJECT

This is a group project with a large element of practical work including both hardware and software. It is based around an engineering application of a PC. It has the following features:-

(1) Each group is supervised by a member of academic staff who provides a brief description of the engineering application.

(2) The group responds to the original brief by producing a written specification for the work required.

(3) Project support is provided by weekly meetings with the supervisor and by the lectures.

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Lecture Syllabus

GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF MEASUREMENT AND INSTRUMENTATION

Purpose, structure and classification of measurement systems. Systematic characteristics (range and span, errors and accuracy, linearity, sensitivity and hysteresis). Statistical characteristics (repeatability and reproducibility). Calibration, traceability and standards.

SENSING DEVICES

Introduction of a range of sensors and transducers. Resistive sensors. Capacitive sensors. Ultrasonic sensors. Electromagnetic sensors. Optical sensors. Radiological sensors. Semiconductor sensing elements. Measurement of temperature, pressure, displacement, force and flow. Thermocouples and thermistors. Strain gauges.

SIGNAL CONDITIONING AND DATA PRESENTATION

Design of bridges, amplifiers and filters. Panel meters, LED and LCD displays, moving coil meters, chart recorders and printers. Data acquisition with microcomputers. Smart sensors and intelligent instrumentation systems.

POWER SUPPLIES

Physical construction and functional uses of power supplies. Linear regulators. Switched-mode power supplies. DC-DC converters. Batteries.

NOISE

Sources of noise in electronic circuits. Thermal, shot and l/f noise. The Friis equation and low noise amplifiers. Noise reduction techniques.

Coursework

EXAMPLES CLASS - GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF MEASUREMENT AND INSTRUMENTATION

EXAMPLES CLASSES - SENSORS, SIGNAL CONDITIONING AND DATA PRESENTATION

EXAMPLES CLASS - NOISE

LABORATORY - TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT SYSTEM

Students will design, construct and test a temperature measurement system using a precision integrated-circuit temperature sensor.

LABORATORY - FORCE MEASUREMENT SYSTEM

Students will design, construct and test a force measurement system using load cells.

LABORATORY - LIGHT MEASUREMENT SYSTEM

Students will study, evaluate and test an optical sensor based light intensity measurement system.

LABORATORY – POWER SUPPLIES

Students will design, construct and test a linear regulator circuit and compare its performance with a switching regulator.

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Lecture Syllabus

AN INTRODUCTION TO VHDL

This course introduces the hardware description language, VHDL. A subset of the VHDL language is introduced, which enables moderately complex behavioural and structural models of digital components to be developed. Practical work associated with this course is performed using a Windows-based VHDL compiler and simulator. The Workshops complement the lecture material and provide students with the necessary skills to enable them to use VHDL in their third year projects.

DIGITAL SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION

Real Logic Gates: voltage and current characteristics, noise immunity and fanout. The MOS

Transistor - detailed operation. Introduction to Stick diagrams.

CMOS Logic Gates. Clocked Logic. Registers, Shift registers.

MEMORY INTERFACING

Structure of Read/Write and Read Only memory cells. Storage mechanisms in Read Only Memories,

Static and Dynamic RAMs. DRAM Cell Design - 3 transistor and 1 transistor, row & column decoders. Memory Read and Write Cycles. Memory Addressing. Multiplexed Addressing. Address decoding, Memory system implementation, Processor-Memory Interfacing. Structure and operation of a small memory system based on RAM devices.

Coursework

EXPERIMENT

(CAD1 Introduction to VHDL Design). 2 days. Assessed.

WORKSHOPS: INTRODUCTION TO VHDL

Six, 2-hour workshops on VHDL/Xilinx, Two of these workshops are assessed.

EXAMPLES CLASS: DIGITAL SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION

A one-hour examples class. Assessed.

EXAMPLES CLASS: MEMORY INTERFACING

A one-hour examples class. Assessed.

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Lecture Syllabus

INTRODUCTION TO SIGNALS AND SYSTEMS

Introduction to MATLAB functions for signals and systems. Introduction to signals and systems. Time-domain models. Frequency-domain models. Periodic signals and the Fourier Series. Non-Periodic Signals and the Fourier Transform.

Simple Continuous Time systems. Convolution. Impulse Response. Filtering of Continuous Time Signals. Sampling and Discrete-Time signals. The Sampling Theorem. Aliasing.

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE LAPLACE TRANSFORM

The Laplace Transform and its application to signals and systems.

INTRODUCTION TO CONTROL SYSTEMS

Why control? Feedback. Review and revision of the Laplace Transform. The Transfer Function. Introducing Feedback into a system. Root Locus analysis. Proportional control systems, Integral control systems Derivative control systems. Introduction to the PID controller.

Coursework

EXAMPLES CLASS - INTRODUCTION TO SIGNALS AND SYSTEMS

One assessed Examples Class.

WORKSHOPS - MATLAB FOR SIGNALS AND SYSTEMS

Directed study, including one marked assignment.

EXAMPLES CLASS - INTRODUCTION TO CONTROL SYSTEMS

One assessed Examples Class.

WORKSHOPS - MATLAB FOR CONTROL

Directed study examples, including one marked assignment.

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Lecture Syllabus

COMMUNICATION SYSTEM PRINCIPLES

Signals and spectra: the Fourier transform. Modulation/demodulation; AM. SSB/DSB. Angle modulation; narrow- and wide-band FM. Baseband signalling. Sampling and pulse modulation. PCM, PAM, PPM. Synchronous and asynchronous transmission. Line codes. Bit and word synchronisation. Band-limited channels, pulse shaping and ISI. Noisy channels and matched filters. Dispersive channels and equalisation. ASK, FSK, PSK and QPSK. Bandwidth and noise immunity of modulation formats. Spread spectrum communications. Pseudo random sequences. Direct sequence and frequency hopped systems.

COMMUNICATION NETWORKS PRINCIPLES

Network architecture, protocol stacks. Network topologies. Link layer and local area network protocols. Internet protocols.

Coursework

EXPERIMENT – COMMUNICATION NETWORKS PRINCIPLES

Assessed.

EXPERIMENT – COMMUNICATION SYSTEM PRINCIPLES

Assessed.

EXAMPLES CLASSES – COMMUNICATION SYSTEM PRINCIPLES

Assessed.

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Stage 3

Modules may include Credits

Lecture Syllabus

INTRODUCTION TO THE 3RD YEAR PROJECT

RESEARCH TECHNIQUES

POSTER DESIGN

REPORT WRITING

Coursework

LITERATURE REVIEW

ORAL PRESENTATION

INTERIM REPORT

POSTER DESIGN AND PRESENTATION

LABORATORIES

Students are expected to work two full days a week designing, building and testing their hardware and/or software.

SUPERVISIONS

Weekly meetings are held with the project supervisor throughout the year.

LITERATURE REVIEW

A literature review report is submitted in the beginning of the Autumn Term giving an introduction to the chosen project and the definition of the state-of-the-art in the field.

ORAL PRESENTATION

An oral presentation is required in the middle of the Autumn Term outlining the project and how it will be implemented (i.e., project plan- Gantt Chart).

INTERIM REPORT

The interim report is submitted at the end of the Autumn Term reporting the progress against the Gantt Chart of the project during the term.

POSTER DESIGN AND PRESENTATION

The poster is required at the end of the Lent Term giving an outline of the project. The poster presentation is required in the beginning of the Summer Term.

FINAL PROJECT REPORT, VIVA AND DEMONSTRATION

The final project report is submitted at the end of the Lent Term and is subject to a viva voce examination and demonstration. The final report is a formal documentary description of the project, including the introduction in the field, definition, aim and objectives of the project, detailed technical approaches, design, implementation and experimental results of the work completed.

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Lecture Syllabus

INTRODUCTION TO MBED

Introduction to the mbed microcontroller system. Structure of the mbed, data input/output, serial communications, interrupts and timers. Compiling and downloading code to the mbed.

EMBEDDED AND REAL TIME SYSTEMS

An introduction to operating systems. Real time operating system features. Concurrent processes and priority. Synchronising processes. Hardware and operating system constraints. Deadlines and real time scheduling. Inter-task communication, message passing and threads. Multi-processor systems and redundancy. Hardware for real time. Safety critical systems. Case studies.

MICROCOMPUTER ARCHITECTURE APPLICATIONS AND PERFORMANCE

A series of case studies illustrating design and performance issues for real-time embedded systems leading to an introduction for the assignment to control a petrol engine.

Coursework

ASSIGNMENT - RTOS DEMONSTRATOR

This laboratory uses a hardware platform to develop an RTOS application and to monitor its performance.

ASSIGNMENT - MICROCOMPUTER ARCHITECTURE APPLICATIONS AND PEFORMANCE

This laboratory assignment is concerned with the control of the ignition timing of a simulated petrol engine. A microcomputer is programmed in 'C' to generate the spark at the appropriate time.

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Lecture Syllabus

PRODUCT DESIGN and PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY

Eight hours of lectures covering specification and design considerations for electronic products including the use of design and manufacturing standards, product safety considerations, sustainable manufacture and product qualification. PCB design, fabrication and assembly techniques are discussed, including electrostatic damage in the field and the production environment, assembly techniques (surface mount and conventional) and inspection, test and reworking during the manufacturing procedure, plus design verification.

ELECTROMAGNETIC COMPATIBILITY

Eight hours of lectures introducing techniques for managing electromagnetic compatibility of products in design, manufacture and use. This includes electromagnetic interference (EMI) in the near and far field-regions, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and EMC testing, conducted EMI and filtering, signal conductors and grounding schemes. Students are introduced to the European EMC directive.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT and SYSTEMS ENGINEERING

Four hours of lectures providing an introduction to the principles of good project management and systems engineering, including project planning and review, governance, risk management and product safety management. The lectures will also introduce the use of management Standards such as ISO 9000, commercial and contractual considerations, ethical considerations, and managing intellectual property.

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

Four hours of lectures will aim to introduce the importance of financial management for engineering covering the principles and importance of corporate finance and financial management within the business and project. The lectures will also provide an introduction to accountancy and financial statements; discuss entrepreneurship and introduce the financial liabilities of companies and directors; the treatment of assets and the evaluation of net present value will also be considered.

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Lecture Syllabus

DIGITAL SYSTEM REALISATION

These lectures will: Develop techniques for reliable system design using strictly synchronous design methods. Introduce synthesis tools which map VHDL architecture to FPGAs and consider how to get the best performance from these tools. Review alternative technologies available for implementing digital systems. A practical lab-based assignment will be carried out to gain experience of VHDL design and hardware implementation.

DATA PATH DESIGN

CMOS VLSI revision,

Data Path Component building blocks, e.g. Function Blocks, Manchester Carry Chain, ALU, Register Files, Shifters, Structure of Programmable Logic Arrays and their use in the control of the Data Path.

FORMAL TESTABILITY

Testing chips, boards and systems. Single stuck fault models, fault dictionary, test pattern generation.

Testability.

Formal approaches to testability improvement. Scan path techniques.

Boundary scan approach to chip/board testing. IEEE1149.1 Boundary scan - Structure and operation.

Worked Examples.

Coursework

ASSIGNMENT - DIGITAL SYSTEM REALISATION

EXAMPLES CLASS - DATA PATH DESIGN

EXAMPLES CLASS - FORMAL TESTABILITY

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Lecture Syllabus

AN INTRODUCTION TO DIGITAL SIGNALS AND SYSTEMS

ADC and DAC, The sampling Theorem, The Discrete Fourier Transform, The Fast Fourier Transform, The z-Transform, pole-zero diagrams, Transfer Functions, Stability

DIGITAL FILTERS AND DIGITAL FILTER DESIGN

An introduction to digital filters. FIR Filters: design, implementation and applications, Windowing Functions, IIR Filters: design implementation and applications. Matlab Tools for Filter Design and implementation. Applications of DSP. Hardware architectures for DSP

FEEDBACK CONTROL

Implications of digital implementation of feedback control systems. Analogue design using Root Locus analysis and Bode Plots. Controller Emulation Methods. Direct digital design of feedback control systems.

APPLICATIONS OF FEEDBACK CONTROL

Case Studies: Motor Speed Control; Position Control; Aircraft Pitch Control; Robot Control - for example

Coursework

EXAMPLES CLASS

Digital Control Design

WORKSHOP

Two assessed directed study MATLAB DSP examples.

WORKSHOP

Directed study MATLAB CONTROL examples.

LABORATORY

DSP Experiment.

LABORATORY

Control Experiment using MATLAB.

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This modules contains two main components. It starts with a comprehensive and detailed study of current computer networks and communications technologies. You learn how the various hardware and software components are organised and how they actually work . A selection of key topics are then looked at in even greater depth to reveal the state-of-the-art and issues (problems) that remain to be solved.

Network Architectures and Protocols: This component provides a comprehensive study of network architecture and individual protocol layers, including details of the technologies, algorithms and protocols currently used.

The Advanced Topics component takes an in-depth look at a number of advanced topics in the area of computer communications, including details of the current practice and outstanding issues in a number of state-of-the-art areas.

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15

Security has always been an important aspect of computing systems but its importance has increased greatly in recent years. In this module you learn about areas where security is of major importance and the techniques used to secure them. The areas you look at include computer operating systems (and increasingly, distributed operating systems), distributed applications (such as electronic commerce over the Internet) and embedded systems (ranging from smart cards and pay-TV to large industrial plant and telecommunications systems).

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15

Stage 4

Modules may include Credits

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.

HARDWARE/SOFTWARE CO-DESIGN

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.

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15

Lecture Syllabus

PROJECT PLANNING AND THE PROPOSAL

An introduction to the use of tools such as MS Project. An introduction to group working and managing group projects. An explanation of the requirements for the project proposal.

FINAL REPORT WRITING AND PRESENTATION

An explanation of the requirements for the final report, presentation and demonstration, and poster.

Coursework

MENG PROJECT

This is a significant group project. Team members have their own individual contributions as well as shared c ontributions. For the individual contributions it is essential that good management and control practices are followed to ensure the interfacing of the contributions. The project has the following features:-

(1) Each group is supervised by a team of academic staff who provide a brief description of what is required for the project. These initial project descriptions are moderated by the module team to ensure the engineering challenge is sufficient and that module learning outcomes can be attained.

(2) The group responds to the brief by producing a written proposal for the work required, which is also presented. The proposal will clearly indicate the component parts of the system required in the project and attribute responsibilities to the group members.

(3) Project support is provided by weekly meetings with academic members of staff (the staff members present depending on t he progress of the work); interaction with external industrial/professional advisers will also occur on a regular timetabled basis.

(4) Project assessment includes the following components:

- a written proposal for the project combining an explanation of technical approach with that of project management (Term 1)

- a group presentation of the above (Term 1)

- an interim presentation of the project progress (Term 1/Term 2)

- a final report on the project (end of Term 2)

- a poster on the project results, made in the style of the School (Term 2)

- a presentation and demonstration of the project results (Term 3)

- logbooks and performance in supervisions are assessed by the project supervisor when assessing the project final report

- personal development planning: individual self-assessment (end of Term 2)

- peer assessment: students are asked to meet, agree and report on the performance of each term member.

SUPERVISIONS

Type: 25 weekly project group supervisions in Terms 1, 2 and 3 with academic supervisors.

There will also be ad-hoc supervisions with visiting staff acting as advisors, also in Terms 1 and 2.

The supervisions with academic supervisors will provide the main technical direction for the work. The supervisions with visiting staff will provide guidance on the project organisation and management, and the interfacing between the component parts of the project; technical guidance on particular aspects of the project work may also be provided in consultation with the academic supervisor.

WORKSHOPS

Three workshops with Visiting Staff on Systems Project Management:

1. Introduction to Systems Engineering: Engineering Systems in the Real (Messy) World.

2. Project Management and "Level 2" Systems Engineering.

3. User Centred Design and "Level 3" Systems Engineering.

One 2-hour laboratory session introducing and practising the use of MS project.

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60

Lecture Syllabus

Fundamentals of Biometric Systems:

Biometrics and biometrics systems; Biometric modalities; Components of a biometric system;Biometrics sample acquisition, transformation, & normalisation; Introduction to characteristics of some specific key modalities including face recognition, iris recognition, handwritten signature verification, fingerprint processing; Errors, error sources, and error handling in identification systems; Concept of multimodal systems: accuracy, flexibility, usability, inclusion and exception handling. Characterising human behaviour in biometrics-based systems. Relationships with image and signal processing and pattern recognition techniques. Social issues, privacy, and trust.

Biometric Technologies:

Implementation of biometric systems. Examples of systems using the major modalities. Analysis of modality specific features and feature extraction, selection and classification strategies. State of the art in sensor technologies; Spoofing and counter-measures.

Coursework

Workshops

Four six-hour assessed practical workshops.

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15

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.

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15

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.

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15

Teaching and assessment

Teaching includes lectures, coursework and laboratory assignments, examples classes where you develop your problem-solving skills and regular staff ‘surgeries’. Practical work is carried out in air-conditioned laboratories, with state-of-the-art equipment and outstanding IT infrastructure.

Stage 1 modules are assessed by coursework and examination at the end of the year. Stage 2, 3 and 4 modules, with the exception of the projects, are assessed by a combination of coursework and examination. All years include project work to replicate industrial practice and develop skills to maximise employability.

Please note that progression thresholds apply.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • educate students to become engineers, well-equipped for professional careers in development, research and production in industry and universities, and capable of meeting the challenges of a rapidly changing subject
  • produce computer systems engineers with specialist skills in hardware and software engineering, prepared for the complexities of modern computer system design
  • enable students to satisfy the professional requirements of the IET
  • provide academic guidance and welfare support for all students
  • create an atmosphere of co-operation and partnership between staff and students, and offer students an environment where they can develop their potential
  • produce high-calibre, professional engineers with advanced knowledge of modern embedded electronic systems
  • enable students to fully satisfy all of the educational requirements for Membership of the IET and Chartered Engineer status.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • mathematical principles relevant to computer systems engineering
  • scientific principles and methodology relevant to computer systems engineering
  • advanced concepts of embedded systems, signals and image processing, control, computer communications and operating systems
  • the value of intellectual property and contractual issues
  • business and management techniques which may be used to achieve engineering objectives
  • the need for a high level of professional and ethical conduct in computer systems engineering
  • current manufacturing practice with particular emphasis on product safety and EMC standards and directives
  • characteristics of materials, equipment, processes and products
  • appropriate codes of practice, industry standards and quality issues
  • contexts in which engineering knowledge can be applied
  • embedded electronic systems and developing technologies in this field
  • mathematical and computer models for analysis of embedded systems
  • business, management and professional practice concepts, their limitations, and how they may be applied
  • design processes relevant to embedded electronic systems
  • characteristics of materials, equipment, processes and products.

Intellectual skills

You develop the following intellectual abilities:

  • analysis and solution of hardware and software engineering problems using appropriate mathematical methods
  • the ability to apply and integrate knowledge and understanding of other engineering disciplines to support study of computer systems engineering
  • the use of engineering principles and how to apply them to analyse key computer systems engineering processes
  • the ability to identify, classify and describe the performance of systems and components through the use of analytical methods and modelling techniques
  • the ability to apply and understand a systems approach to computer systems engineering problems
  • the ability to investigate and define a problem and identify constraints including cost drivers, economic, environmental, health and safety and risk assessment issues
  • the ability to use creativity to establish innovative, aesthetic solutions while understanding customer and user needs, and ensuring fitness for purpose of all aspects of the problem including production, operation, maintenance and disposal
  • the ability to demonstrate the economic and environmental context of the engineering solution
  • 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 the relevant data pertinent to an unfamiliar problem and apply it in the solution
  • the ability to evaluate commercial risks
  • the ability to apply engineering techniques taking account of commercial and industrial constraints.

Subject-specific skills

You develop subject-specific skills including:

  • the use of mathematical techniques to analyse and solve hardware and software problems
  • the ability to work in an engineering laboratory environment and to use electronic and workshop equipment, and CAD tools to create electronic circuits
  • the ability to work with technical uncertainty
  • the ability to apply quantitative methods and computer software relevant to computer systems engineering in order to solve engineering problems
  • the ability to implement software solutions using a range of structural and object- oriented languages
  • the ability to design hardware or software systems to fulfil a product specification and devise tests to appraise performance
  • awareness of the nature of intellectual property and contractual issues and an understanding of appropriate codes of practice and industry standards
  • the ability to use technical literature and other information sources and apply it to a design
  • the ability to apply management techniques to the planning, resource allocation and execution of a design project and evaluate outcomes
  • the ability to prepare technical reports and presentations
  • the ability to apply business, management and professional issues to engineering projects
  • the ability to apply knowledge of design processes in unfamiliar situations and to generate innovative designs to fulfil new needs.

 

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills including:

  • the ability to generate, analyse, present and interpret data
  • the use of information and communications technology
  • personal and interpersonal skills and working as a member of a team
  • effective communication (in writing, verbally and through drawings)
  • effective learning for the purpose of continuing professional development
  • critical thinking, reasoning and reflection
  • how to manage time and resources within an individual project and a group project.

Careers

Graduate destinations

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts has an excellent record of student employability. Previous graduates have gone on to careers in:

  • design of electronic and computer systems
  • software engineering
  • real-time industrial control systems
  • computer communications networks.

Other graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

  • BAE Systems
  • RAF
  • CISCO
  • Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (MOD).

Help finding a job

The School of Engineering and Digital Arts holds an annual Employability and Careers Day where you can meet local and national employers and discuss career opportunities. Ongoing support is provided by the School's dedicated Employability Officer.

The University also has a friendly Careers and Employability Service which can give you advice on how to:

  • apply for jobs
  • write a good CV
  • perform well in interviews.

Career-enhancing skills

Alongside a range of advanced specialist skills, you also develop the transferable skills graduate employers look for, including the ability to:

  • think critically 
  • communicate your ideas and opinions 
  • work independently and as part of a team.

You can gain extra skills by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.

Professional recognition

Our programme is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), which enables fast-track career progression as a professional engineer.

Independent rankings

Of Electronic and Electrical Engineering students who graduated from Kent in 2016, over 95% were in work or further study within six months (DLHE).

For graduate prospects, Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Kent was ranked 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2017.

According to Which? University (2017), the average starting salary for graduates of this degree is £25,000.

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level

ABB including B or above in Mathematics and a science/technology subject (Physics, Computing or Electronics)

Access to HE Diploma

The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

Engineering: Distinction, Distinction, Merit including Further Mathematics for Technicians module

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 16 at HL including Mathematics (not Mathematics Studies) and a science subject 5 at HL or 6 at SL

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

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 Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

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. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £18400

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.* 

Your fee status

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.

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

For 2018/19 entry, the scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either Mathematics or a Modern Foreign Language. Please review the eligibility criteria.

The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. 

Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact information@kent.ac.uk.