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Optical Communications and Signal Processing MSc

Course Description

This programme provides students with a challenging range of advanced topics drawn from optical communications systems and devices, and optics-related signal processing, including associated enabling technologies. It provides an excellent opportunity to acquire the skills needed for a career in the most dynamic fields in optical communications.

This programme builds on the internationally-recognised research strengths of the Photonics and High Performance Networks research groups within the Smart Internet Lab. Optical fibre communications form the backbone of all land-based communications and is the only viable means to support today's global information systems. Research at Bristol is contributing to the ever-increasing requirement for bandwidth and flexibility through research into optical switching technology, wavelength conversion, high-speed modulation, data regeneration and novel semiconductor lasers.

There are two taught units related to optical communications: Optical Networks and Data Centre Networks. Optical Networks focuses on Wavelength Division Multiplexed (WDM) networks, Time Division Multiplexed (TDM) networks including SDH/SONET and OTN, optical frequency division multiplexed networks, and optical sub-wavelength switched networks. Data Centre Networks focuses on networks for cloud computing, cloud-based networking, grid computing and e-science.

The group at Bristol is a world leader in the new field of quantum photonics, with key successes in developing photonic crystal fibre light sources, quantum secured optical communications and novel quantum gate technologies.

The programme is accredited by Institute of Engineering and Technology until 2018, one of only a handful of accredited programmes in the UK.

Programme structure

Your programme will cover the following core subjects:

Semester one (50 credits)
-Communication systems
-Digital filters and spectral analysis
-Mobile communications
-Networking protocol principles
-Optoelectronic devices and systems

Semester two (70 credits)
-Advanced optoelectronic devices
-Data centre networking
-Advanced networks
-Engineering research skills
-Optical communications systems and data networks
-Optical networks

Research project (60 credits)
A substantial research project is initiated during the second teaching block and completed during the summer. This may be based at the University or with industrial partners.


This one-year MSc programme gives you a world-class education in all aspects of current and future optical communication systems, along with associated signal processing technologies. It will prepare you for a diverse range of exciting careers - not only in the communications field, but also in other areas such as management consultancy, project management, finance and government agencies.

Our graduates have gone on to have rewarding careers in some of the leading multinational communications companies, such as Huawei, China Telecom, Toshiba, China Mobile and Intel. Some graduates follow a more research-oriented career path with a number of students going on to study for PhDs at leading universities.

Visit the Optical Communications and Signal Processing MSc page on the University of Bristol website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Mubarak Ahmed

340.jpg I think the facilities in the department are some of the best in the country. There are always lab assistants to help, particularly if you don't know how to use the modern facilities available.

The programme provides an excellent basis for engineers wishing to update their knowledge, students who wish to do research in the future, or for first degree holders wishing to divert from any numerate science to telecommunications engineering.

I can now say with confidence that graduating from this course, I will be well prepared to face the challenges in the communication industry.


Entry Requirements

An upper second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) in a numerate physical science or engineering discipline. Candidates with a lower class of degree, equivalent qualifications or relevant work experience may be admitted if they can demonstrate their potential for higher degree work.

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