ACS232 Signals, Systems and Communication

Module Description (subject to change)

Modern communication systems provide the backbone of the technological development that is driving the information age. The increase of data analytics, machine learning, and networked solutions pushes the trend towards an increasing use of digital communication systems as means of enabling reliable and efficient information exchange. The aim of the unit is to provide the fundamentals of signals, systems and communication systems. The mathematical principles of signal theory and systems theory will be applied within a communication theory context. The unit will provide the students with the tools to analyse and solve complex open-ended communication problems and to evaluate the technological constraints of the proposed solutions.

Credits: 20 (Academic Year)

Pre-requisites: ACS131 or equivalent

Module Leader

Dr Inaki Esnaola
Amy Johnson Building

If you have any questions about the module please talk to me during the lectures or the labs in the first instance. It is likely that other students will learn from any questions you ask as well, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Outside of lectures please contact me via email, or drop in to see me.

Other Teaching Staff

Dr Roselina Arelhi
Amy Johnson Building

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will:

  • Explain the role of signals, systems, and communication processes in modern engineered systems and their performance and implementation constraints as particular technological solutions. [SM1i, SM4m]
  • Describe within a mathematical framework the fundamental representations of signals, systems, and communication processes and the methods used to solve problems involving signals and systems that arise in a broad array of applications. [SM2i, D3i, D3p]
  • Apply analytical concepts and methods to devise creative solutions to signals, systems, and communication problems. [SMR2p, EA1fl]
  • Demonstrate critical thinking in evaluating solutions to analog and digital communication systems and to provide innovative solutions to complex, unfamiliar, open-ended signals, systems, and communication problems subject to a variety of technological constraints. [SM2fl, EA1p, EA2i]

Module satisfies the AHEP3 (Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes, Third Edition) Learning Outcomes that are listed in brackets after each learning outcome above. For further details on AHEP3 Learning Outcomes, see the downloads section of our accreditation webpage.



Autumn Semester

Part I Deterministic Signals
1.Signals & Systems Basics I
2.Signals & Systems Basics II
4.Properties of linear, time-invariant (LTI) systems
5.Differential & difference equations
6.Continuous-time Fourier series
7.Continuous-time Fourier transform
8.Discrete-time Fourier series
9.Discrete-time Fourier transform
◦discrete Fourier transform
10.The Laplace transform
11.The z-transform
12.Sampling & interpolation
13.Introduction to continuous-time filter design
14.Discrete-time processing of continuous-time signals
◦Discrete-time sampling

Part II Stochastic Signals
1.Review of probability & random variables
2.Temporal properties of random processes
3.Spectral properties of random processes
4.Temporal response of LTI systems to random processes
5.Spectral response of LTI systems to random processes
6.Band-pass, Band-limited & Narrow-band processes
7.Estimation of correlation and spectral density functions
8.Introduction to systems identification

Spring Semester

1.Introduction to communication systems; OSI model.

Part III Physical Layer
1.Mathematical model for communication systems; random waveforms.
2.Analog communication; amplitude modulation (AM).
3.Angle modulation; frequency modulation (AM) and phase modulation (PM).
4.Implementation of analog modulators and demodulators.
5.Effect of noise on analog modulation.
6.Transmission losses in analog communication.
7.Digital communications; vector and waveform channels.
8.Optimum receiver for binary modulation with AWGN noise.
9.M-ary modulation; M-PAM; PSK; QAM.
10.Carrier estimation and synchronization.
11.Bandlimited channels.
12.Wireless communications; cellular systems.
13.Multicarrier modulation.
14.Multiantenna systems.
15.Link budget analysis of wireless channels.

Part IV Data Networks
1.Layered network architecture; messages; packets; sessions.
2.ARQ retransmission strategies
3.Network layer; Internet Protocol (IP).
4.Transport layer; Transmission control protocol (TCP).
5.Delay and queueing models.

Teaching Methods

Learning and Teaching Methods

NOTE: This summary of teaching methods is representative of a normal Semester. Owing to the ongoing disruption from Covid-19, the exact method of delivery will be different in 2020/21.

Lectures - 50 hours

Independent Study - 123 hours

Teaching Materials

Learning and Teaching Materials




A 2 hour exam worth 40%, 5 lab reports worth 40% in total, 4 computer-based quizzes worth 5% each and lasting for 1 hour each



Feedback is given to students during the module via the following:

Feedback channels:
•Tutorial sessions provide an opportunity to get individual feedback on the exercises and questions about the material.
•Lab sessions will be led by lab assistants who will be able to respond to queries related to the lab coursework.
•The result of the computer-based quizzes will be available to students immediately after completing it and will highlight the topics in which revision is required.

Student Evaluation

Student Evaluation

Students are encouraged to provide feedback during the module direct to the lecturer. Students will also have the opportunity to provide formal feedback via the Faculty of Engineering Student Evaluation Survey at the end of the module.

You can view the latest Department response to the survey feedback here.

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

Semester I
The first part of the module will be based on
Schaum’s Outline of Signals & Systems (Third Edition) by Hwei Hsu, McGraw-Hill Education, 2013

It will be available as an ebook via the University library but it is cheap to buy and easier to use in paper copy. It contains concise derivations of all key results and most of the tutorial examples and worked examples.

Also recommended for deeper insight (but not to buy) is:
any edition of Signals & Systems by AV Oppenheim & AS Willsky

Semester II
The second part of the module will be based on:
•J. G. Proakis and M. Salehi. Fundamentals of communication systems. Second Edition, Pearson Education, 2007.
•A. S. Tanenbaum and D. J. Wetherall. Computer Networks. Fifth Edition, Pearson Education, 2014.
•D. P. Bertsekas and R. Gallager, Data Networks, Prentice-Hall, 1987.