Module code: EEEM031

Module Overview

Expected prior/parallel learning:   BEng-level understanding of digital telecommunications systems. MEng students might have partly acquired this through study of EEE3006 – Digital Communications (6-dcm).

Module purpose: Satellite communications are an important component of modern telecommunication systems. This course provides the student with an overall understanding of satellite communication systems, technologies and techniques and equips him/her with the design tools to enter employment in the sector.


Module provider

Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Module Leader

EVANS Barry (Elec Elec En)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 120

Lecture Hours: 33

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes the following.

Introduction to Satellite Systems

Radio Regulations, ITU-R/T, IFRB. Frequencies, interference management, space and ground segment components, earth stations, bus and payloads, antennas and coverage, transparent and non-transp,arent transponders. FSS, MSS, BSS applications areas and examples with state-of-the-art systems. GEO, HEO, LEO and hybrid orbits dynamics, echoes control and effect on services: speech, vision, data, and multimedia. Satellite Networking: SCPC, MCPC, and multiple access review. FDMA, TDMA, CDMA, RA, and where used. Traffic routing in single and multi beam satellites. Satellites versus other medium and where applicable. Control and operation of satellite systems, earth station planning, siting and maintenance.

Satellite Organisations and state-of-the-art Review

IGOS - INTELSAT, INMARSAT, EUTELSAT etc. ESA, NASA, NASDA role, regional and domestic systems, private organisation and consortia - the move to privatisation. Launcher organisations, manufacturers, operators and service providers - enterprise models. Review of FSS, BSS, MSS systems, state-of-the-art and current developments

Satellite Systems Planning

Basic transmission theory, FSL, antenna theory, gain, radiation patter, eirp, satellite look angles and ranges. Noise sources, noise temp, noise figure, sky noise G/T ratio and calculation C/N for up-path and down-path. Intermodulation, back-off, interference and C/I calculation. Effects of rain for FSS and multipath shadowing for MSS systems - calculation of margins. Link budget with overall C/N and availability. Meaning of QoS. Differences between GEO and non-GEO link budgets. Digital modulation PSK types and choice. Eb/No, BER coherent differential etc. modems, filtering and bandwidth calculation. FEC coding, code rates, code types. Error coding in trading off power and bandwidth - power and bandwidth limits. Relationship Eb/No with C/No and system QoS requirements. mPSK, QAM.A-PSK, OQPSK etc. Effects of non linear amps on waveform. Interference sources and C/N+I, Examples of link budget planning for desired QoS/availability.

Multiple Access in Satellite systems

Fixed and demand assignment, traffic matrices mapping, FDMA operation, intermodulation and capacity limits, TDMA operation and burst plans, synchronisation-closed and open loop,frame efficiency and throughput, MF TDMA operation. CDMA operation-direct sequence and frequency hopping, capacity limits. Random access schemes-Aloha, S-Aloha, SR-Aloha, RA –TDMA. Comparisons of useage.

Regulation of the Spectrum

Frequency assignments and limitations – work of ITU in fixed mobile and broadcast areas. Co-ordination procedures for GEO and for non-GEO systems and the management of interference. Orbit assignments and procedures. Latest WRC developments.

Satellite Systems Business

Who’s Who in the business and who makes money. Financial planning - NPV and IRR techniques, project planning and scheduling. Building a business case and raising money for projects - the role of equity, debt and the banks. Risk analysis and management.

Satellite system futures

A state-of-the art update on current innovations and new systems proposals, standards issues and technology developments that shape satellite communications for the next 10 years.


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ASSIGNMENT 40
Examination EXAMINATION - 2 HOURS 60

Alternative Assessment

Not applicable: students failing a unit of assessment resit the assessment in its original format.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy

 The assessment strategy for this module is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate the learning outcomes. The written examination will assess the knowledge and assimilation of terminology, concepts and theory in satellite communications system design and business processes, as well as the ability to analyse problems and apply mathematical models  to solve and predict problems. The assignment is designed to test the real life solution of design of a satellite system given both technical and business parameters. It represents what the satellite engineer will face in industry.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

•           2 hour closed book written examination

•           Satellite systems design exercise with a 20-30 page report including results of calculations. The assignment is given in week 4 and handed in in week 11 of the course. Students are encouraged to discuss with visiting industrialists current issues pertaining to the assignment.


Formative assessment and feedback

For the module ,students will receive formative assessment /feedback in the following ways;

·         During lectures by question and answer sessions.

·         During lectures/classes by working through the design exercises throughout the course.

·         During Seminars by questions and answers with industrial lecturers.

·         Via feedback on the assignment



Module aims

  • This module aims to provide the student with a broad background across the whole of satellite communications including technology, markets and  technical and business planning with detailed skills in the design and  planning processes.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Explain the structure, techniques, technology and key organisations involved in satellite communication systems K
2 Design and plan satellite communication links for a prescribed QoS. CPT
3 Explain modulation, coding and multiple access as applied to different satellite communication systems. KC
4 Apply financial/business processes to determine the viability of satellite communication systems. PT
5 Describe the processes used to regulate spectrum and control interference intra/inter satellite communication systems. K
6 Apply knowledge of existing satellite systems and state of the art technology to the design of future systems KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • provide the students with knowledge of design of satellite communications and then to allow them to practice the application of this knowledge on a real system design

  • provide the student with a wide knowledge of the state of the art in the subject and allow them to apply this to current engineering problems and to the design of future systems.

Learning and teaching methods include the following:

  • A series of lectures on satellite communications including a structured series of design exercises which the students complete as they progress through the course.(8x3hrs)

  • A system design assignment involving the planning and design of a real satellite communications system  and business evaluation which tests the understanding of the above.(30hrs)

  • A series of 4 industrial seminars which gives the students a feeling for the state of the art and of the practical problems and issues facing industry in this area.(4x 1.5hrs )




Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: EEEM031

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
RF and Microwave Engineering MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Satellite Communications Engineering MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Space Engineering MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Electronic Engineering with Space Systems MEng 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Electronic Engineering MEng 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Electronic Engineering MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Mobile and Satellite Communications MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Communication Systems MEng 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Electronic Engineering (EuroMasters) MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Electronic Engineering with Communications MEng 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.