Undergraduate Teaching

Engineering Tripos Part IIA, 3F4: Data Transmission, 2015-16

Engineering Tripos Part IIA, 3F4: Data Transmission, 2015-16

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Professor N Kingsbury


Professor N Kingsbury, Dr I Wassell

Lab Leader

Dr R Venkataramanan

Timing and Structure

Lent term. 16 lectures: Baseband Transmission (5L, Dr I J Wassell), Channel Coding (3L, Dr R Venkataramanan), Digital Modulation (8L, Prof N G Kingsbury).


Knowledge of 3F1 assumed.


The aims of the course are to:

  • Cover a range of topics which are important in modern communication systems.
  • Extend the basic material covered in the Engineering Part IB Communications course to deal with data transmission over baseband (low frequency) channels, and data transmission over bandpass (higher frequency) channels.
  • Analyse the effects of noise in some detail.
  • To understand coding techniques for protecting information transmitted over noisy channels.


As specific objectives, by the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Be familiar with the basic elements of a baseband communication system (i.e. one which does not employ carrier waves) and appreciate the likely characteristics and imperfections of such systems.
  • Know how inter-symbol interference degrades performance and how eye diagrams may be used to analyse these effects.
  • Know how noise causes bit errors and be able to calculate the probability of error as a function of signal-to-noise-ratio.
  • Appreciate that pulses may be shaped to control the bandwidth of a signal and reduce inter-symbol interference, and be aware of the limits on transmission rate if ISI is to be avoided.
  • Appreciate the need for line coding, be aware of commonly used line codes, their applications and transmitted spectra.
  • Design the filters in the transmitter and receiver so as to obtain optimum performance.
  • Appreciate how equalisation can correct for undesirable channel characteristics and be able to design simple equalisers.
  • Understand the need for coding, i.e., adding redundancy to control the effects of transmission errors.
  • Be able to encode and decode information using simple linear block codes, and analyse the probability of decoding error given the channel bit error probability
  • Be able to design a Viterbi decoder for convolutional codes.
  • Use phasors to represent both the amplitude and phase of modulated signals.
  • Represent bandlimited noise by phasors and be aware of the properties of such noise phasors
  • Understand and describe the principles of operation of binary modulation by FSK and PSK and multi-level modulation techniques.
  • Understand and describe the demodulation of digital bandpass modulated signals in noise.
  • Calculate the probability of error as a function of signal-to-noise-ratio.
  • Understand the operation of a broadcast digital audio and TV system.


Baseband Transmission (5L)

  • The communications system model and system characteristics
  • Inter-symbol interference and eye diagrams. The effects of noise and methods of calculating bit error probabilities
  • The use of pulse shaping for bandwidth control and reduction of inter-symbol interference
  • Techniques of line coding for control of the spectrum of the transmitted signal
  • Design of transmit and receive filters for optimum performance
  • Equalisation techniques to correct for undesirable channel characteristics 

Channel Coding (3L)

  • Linear Block Codes
  • Convolutional codes and the Viterbi decoding algorithm

Digital Modulation (8L)

  • The use of phasors for dealing with digitally modulated bandpass signals and bandpass noise. Generalise use of phasors to represent analogue modulated signals and noise
  • Spectral characteristics (bandwidth requirements) and bit error rate performance of digitally modulated signals; Binary Phase Shift Keying (BPSK), Binary Frequency Shift Keying (FSK), and Multi-level modulation techniques
  • OFDM for combating multipath effects
  • Digital audio (DAB) and digital TV (DVB) broadcast application


Digital transmission systems


Please see the Booklist for Part IIA Courses for references for this module.


Please refer to Form & conduct of the examinations.


The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) describes the requirements that have to be met in order to become a Chartered Engineer, and gives examples of ways of doing this.

UK-SPEC is published by the Engineering Council on behalf of the UK engineering profession. The standard has been developed, and is regularly updated, by panels representing professional engineering institutions, employers and engineering educators. Of particular relevance here is the 'Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes' (AHEP) document which sets out the standard for degree accreditation.

The Output Standards Matrices indicate where each of the Output Criteria as specified in the AHEP 3rd edition document is addressed within the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering Triposes.

Last modified: 24/06/2015 16:33