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    Data Communications

    Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

    Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering

    You'll be taught about all aspects of data communication systems, from transmission methods and hardware to information coding, with a focus on the latest advances in technology.
    EEE student

    Course description

    Study the dynamic field of efficient information transfer around the globe. We teach this course jointly with the Department of Computer Science so you get up-to-date knowledge and understanding.


    Accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) on behalf of the Engineering Council as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer. You must hold a CEng accredited BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree to comply with full CEng registration requirements.


    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Opportunities exist for dissertation studies to be carried out in collaboration with other university research centres or with industrial organisations. Examples of previous projects include:

    • The vision system of soccer robots.
    • Design, construction, testing and evaluation of a set of transmission line loudspeakers for a home cinema application.
    • Design and analysis of nano-laser structures.
    • Remote monitoring for patients with Cystic Fibrosis.
    • Use of Gabor filter for generic object recognition in images.

    Research project - one from:

    Industrial Research Project

    The aim of this module is to provide a structured individual project to enable you to carry out practical and/or theoretical work that underpins your academic studies and allows for the acquisition and demonstration of a wide range of research skills.

    60 credits
    Dissertation Project

    For your individual project, you can choose from a wide range of possibilities in many different environments both within and outside the University. The project is completed during the summer, and you will have a personal academic supervisor to guide you during this period. The individual project is examined by both a dissertation based on the project work and by an oral examination. 

    60 credits

    Core modules:

    Network and Internetwork Architectures

    This module introduces the principles of computer networks and internetworks, together with relevant background material on computer architecture. The emphasis of the module is on the concepts and design issues related to layered communication protocol architectures, local area networks and internetworking (especially the internet protocol suite), with a particular focus on the issues of network security, capacity and reliability, and the mathematical models underlying these.

    15 credits
    Network Performance Analysis

    This module considers the performance of computer networks from a statistical aspect, using queuing theory. It is shown that the performance of a computer network depends heavily on the traffic flow in the network, and different models of traffic and queues are used. These include single-server queues, multiple server queues, and the concept of blocking is discussed. Although the analysis is entirely statistical, all the relevant background is provided in the lectures, such that the course is entirely self-contained. Problem sheets are provided in order to assist you with the course material. You should be aware that there are limited places available on this module.

    15 credits
    Data Coding Techniques for Communication and Storage

    Processing techniques to enable transmission and storage of data, in a reliable and secure fashion, are a key element in nearly all modern communication systems. This module deals with data-coding techniques required for reliable and secure data transmission and storage. It covers various aspects of digital communication combining elementary communication theory with practical solutions to problems encountered.

    15 credits
    Principles of Communications

    This course considers the mathematical foundations and the derived theories and techniques used by a wide range of communication systems, particularly the more recent digital systems. The aim is to provide the very mathematical foundation for understanding modern communication systems, present the structure of modern communication systems and the basic issues at each stage in the system, and create a theoretical background that applies to all communication systems and is not affected by any particular technology.

    15 credits
    Mobile Networks and Physical Layer Protocols

    This module aims to provide an overview of how mobile communications networks operate and descriptions of the radio technology used over the air interface and the physical layer protocols used in GSM, 3G, 4G and 5G mobile networks. More specifically, the syllabus will cover: the description and demonstration of current UK cellular mobile networks with a historical perspective; antenna design for the radio-frequency interface, including handset, vehicle and base station antennas; multiple antenna arrays; health related issues of mobile handsets; radio propagation issues, diversity gain, Rake reception; link budgets; cellular network design and deployment strategies; modulation schemes; and GSM/3G/4G/5G physical layer protocols.

    15 credits
    Engineering Research and Design Project

    The aim of this module is to equip students with skills, knowledge and experience needed to carry out research independently and as a team for solving engineering problems set in a range of globally applicable contexts.  As members of a team, students will develop and demonstrate a range of skills that will enhance their ability to tackle research projects and add value to their employability.  Specifically, students will develop skills in the areas of critical literature review, engineering design, project management, team working, and communication.

    15 credits

    Optional modules - one from:

    Foundations of Object Oriented Programming

    This module introduces the foundations of object-oriented programming using the language Java. The emphasis of the module is on software engineering principles, and concepts underpinning object-oriented design and development are introduced from the outset. By the end of the module, you will be able to design, implement and test moderately complex Java programs.

    15 credits
    Object Oriented Programming and Software Design

    This module presents the object-oriented approach to building large software systems from components in the Java Programming Language. It assumes prior knowledge of imperative programming. Large scale program design and implementation issues are covered, using the Java Application Programmer's Interface, including the AWT, Swing and the Java Collections Framework. Topics include: data and procedural abstraction, collection interfaces and implementations, the event-driven model of computation, user interface components, streams and files, documentation styles with the Unified Modelling Language (UML).

    15 credits

    Optional modules - one from:

    Computer Security and Forensics

    This module provides an introduction into computer security and forensics focussing on approaches and techniques for building secure systems and for the secure operation of systems. It aims to develop knowledge and understanding of fundamental principles of information security, develop familiarity with compromise of computer systems and what countermeasures can be adopted and provide practical experience of implementing secure systems. The module requires a solid understanding of mathematical concepts (e.g., modulo-arithmetic, complex numbers, group theory) and logic (set theory, predicate logic, natural deduction) a solid understanding of a programming language (e.g., Java, Ruby, or C), basic software engineering knowledge and an understanding of database and Web systems. Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.

    15 credits
    3D Computer Graphics

    This module is an introduction to the techniques used in modern 3D computer graphics. It deals with fundamental techniques that are the basis of work in a range of industries, e.g. entertainment and computer-aided design. Both basic and advanced topics concerned with the production of images of abstract 3D objects are covered, including: 3D representations and manipulations in graphics, light reflection models, realism techniques such as shadows and textures, ray tracing and 3D animation. Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.

    10 credits
    Software development for mobile devices

    This module aims to provide a thorough grounding in the principles of software development for mobile devices. The Android platform will be used as an example, although the modules emphasises general principles that are common across all mobile platforms. An important aim of the module is to demonstrate the real-world application of object-oriented programming principles and design patterns in software for mobile devices. You will undertake a substantial software implementation project, working in pairs. The module will be taught primarily using Java and Swift languages. You should be aware that there are limited places available on this module.

    15 credits
    Advanced Signal Processing

    This module focuses on introducing advanced signal processing methods and technologies and their applications. Topics include multi-rate filtering and filter banks; signal transforms; random signals; adaptive filtering and array signal processing.

    15 credits
    Antennas, Propagation and Satellite Systems

    Review and application of electromagnetic theory for antenna analysis. Radiation pattern, gain, input impedance. Half wave, full wave dipole antennas, monopole antennas. Image theory. Antenna arrays. Polarization: linear, elliptical, axial ratio. Aperture theory: Fourier analysis, Huygens-Kirchhoff formula, rectangular and circular aperture, effective aperture. Microstrip antennas. Propagation in a plasma: critical frequency, refractive index. Ionospheric/tropospheric propagation of HF/VHF radio waves: MUF, ionosonde. Satellite communications systems. Earth stations - types and performance. Satellite transponders - amplifiers, redundancy, transmitters, frequency translation. Multiple access systems. 

    15 credits
    Optical Communication Devices and Systems

    The course examines the behaviour of the components in a communications system and the way in which their design and individual performance is determined by that of the system requirements.

    15 credits
    Broadband Wireless Techniques

    This module will give an understanding of the most up-to-date communication techniques used in the design and operation of broadband wireless systems based on OFDM technology such as WiFi, WiMAX and LTE. The module will explore the physical (PHY) layer, medium access control (MAC) and radio resource management functionalities of broadband wireless systems. It will also include an introduction to broadband wireless systems; the principles of OFDM, OFDMA and TDD/FDD multiple access; bit interleaved convolutional and turbo channel coding/decoding for OFDM systems; adaptive coding and modulation; frequency selective fading, channel estimation and equalisation; MIMO techniques; and network architectures.

    15 credits
    Wireless Packet Data Networks and Protocols

    The aim of this module is to give an understanding of the functionality of packet switching protocols at different layers of a wireless system and to appreciate how these protocols achieve reliable data delivery in wireless communication systems. The module also includes an introduction to packet switching in wireless networks; radio link protocols, CRC, ARQ and hybrid-ARQ; MAC protocols; packet scheduling and differentiated quality of service; routing, IP protocol, mobile IP, wireless TCP and end-to-end quality of service; radio resource management, network planning and optimisation; network examples - WiFi, HSPA or LTE.

    15 credits
    System Design

    This module is concerned with the management of complexity in system design. To learn the basics of structured approach to design of complex systems, you will undertake a design project that requires the application of state of the art design tools that help to achieve appropriate error free design structures.

    15 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses. You'll find out what makes us special.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


    1 year full-time


    We deliver research-led teaching with support for your research project and dissertation.


    Assessment is by examinations, coursework, and a project dissertation with oral presentation.


    Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering

    Image of student in clean room working on project

    We've been at the forefront of research and teaching within the field of electrical engineering for over a century, and in electronics since its advent in the mid 20th century. The use of electronics has become mainstream in a very short period of time, as we find innovative solutions to meet our everyday needs and new challenges.

    Our MSc postgraduate taught degrees provide you with an opportunity to further your knowledge of electronic and electrical engineering, while potentially specialising in a specific field of the subject, enabling you to pursue a particular direction in either your chosen career or further study.

    Whether you’re interested in the latest communication systems, cutting-edge semiconductor research, or developing your understanding of electrical machines and drives for the vehicles of the future, studying with us will help you grow as a student and researcher. 

    The department offers postgraduate students a choice of four one-year, full-time masters courses, which combine taught study on a wide range of modules and an exciting individual research project. You’ll learn from our academic experts, the majority of whom have strong links with partners in industry. 

    Our state-of-the-art teaching laboratories allow you to gain exposure to the world-leading research environment of the department whilst undertaking your project, and get hands on with equipment used in industry as preparation for your career. All of our courses are also accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

    Entry requirements

    Minimum 2:1 honours degree in electronic and electrical engineering, physics, maths and other branches of engineering involving significant mathematical competence and relevant technical modules.

    You should have a strong background in maths modules and in technical modules that will prepare you for the multidisciplinary nature of this course. You can explore examples of the programme's core and optional modules.

    We will need evidence of relevant work/practical experience or strong performance in a major individual project during your degree.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.


    You can apply now using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now


    +44 114 222 5182

    +44 114 222 1800

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

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    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.