Module code: EEEM046

Module Overview

Expected prior/parallel learning: BEng-level understanding of telecommunications systems.

Module purpose: This module provides the student with a good understanding of modern satellite communications and an ability to design such systems.

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: 110

Lecture Hours: 30

Tutorial Hours: 10

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

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-transparent 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.


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. Examples of link budget planning for desired QoS/availability


Regulation of the Spectrum

Frequency assignments and limitations – work of ITU committees in fixed mobile and broadcast areas.


Regulating interference—satellite networks and earth station coordination. Operation of the regulatory regime.


Modulation, channel coding and advanced air interfaces

Review of the standard modulation formats (PSK, QAM) and introduction to variations used in satellite systems, such as OQPSK, MPSK, APSK. Introduction to Turbo Codes and Low Density Parity Check Codes (LDPC). Adaptive Coding and Modulation (ACM) in satellite systems. OFDM principles and practical applications in satellite communications systems.


Payload Engineering

Design of payloads, noise and linearity, digital processing and on board processing architectures. Examples of payloads and components, packaging and operation.


Digital Broadcasting

Review of MPEG and source coding for video. DVB- S2 –RCS2 channel coding and modulation.


ACM and enhanced performance. Operation of video systems via satellite. Satellite radio systems SDR and SDAB. DMB and SDMB—architecture with gap fillers S-UMTS. DVB-SH and new developments in satellite DVB for mobiles.


Multiple access schemes

Review of FDMA, TDMA and CDMA in a fixed satellite network and MF-TDMA. Random access schemes ALOHA and CSMA. CDMA operation in mobile satellite systems-improved random access systems for VSAT’s.


Earth station engineering

Antennas, ground station equipment and layout, types of earth station measurement – radio star, etc, managing interference, examples of equipment and operations.


VSAT &BB access systems

Review of VSAT – pros and cons. Structure of VSAT networks - star/mesh Traffic types and description. Choice and comparison of multiple access system - design for efficiency. Capacity, throughput analysis protocols and network interfaces. VSAT system design drivers. Regulatory and licensing aspects. DVB-RCS operation with VSAT’s.


Networking and IP over satellite

Review of satellite networking. Satellite services, network services, network protocols and reference models, network architecture, network performance and QoS issues of networking over satellites, ITU-R hypothetical reference digital path (HRDP) and performance objectives, internetworking with terrestrial networks and concept of switch on board satellite.


Review of Internet Protocol (IP) over satellite. IP packet encapsulation, satellite IP networking, TCP slow start and congestion avoidance schemes, TCP enhancement for satellite networks, IP multicast over satellite. IP QoS and performance over satellite based on DiffServ and IntServ architectures.


Digital Broadcasting by satellite

Review of MPEG and source coding for video. DVB- S2 –RCS2 channel coding and modulation.


ACM and enhanced performance. Operation of video systems via satellite. Satellite radio systems SDR and SDAB. DMB and SDMB—architecture with gap fillers S-UMTS. DVB-SH and new developments in satellite DVB for mobiles.


Mobile satellite systems

Review of principles of mobile satellite systems-Inmarsat, Thuraya, ACES. Constellations- Iridium. Globalstar and orbits. Standards ITU, ESTI, GMR, DVB-SH, SDR, etc. Markets and operations.


Military satellite systems

Review of the requirements of military satellite systems and frequency bands, modulation, coding and multiple access. Security and anti-jamming, nulling techniques. Examples from current practice.


High throughput satellite (HTS)

Use of Ka band and above with multibeam satellites and frequency reuse. Payload and antenna designs, interference managemnt. Ground system gateways with diversity. Beam hopping and resource management. Exaples at Q/V/W bands and optical.


Small satellite systems:

Review of micro, mini and nano satellites. Constellations and uses. Manufacture of small satellites and launches. Applications in communications and earth resources.


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 COURSEWORK 40

Alternative Assessment


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.

  • A 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.

Any deadline given here is indicative. For confirmation of exact dates and times, please rely on information provided to you at the time of issue of 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

  • Feedback on exercises set in the lectures

  • Follow up tutorial sessions

  • Via the marking of written assignment

Module aims

  • The aim of this module is to provide the student with a broad background across the whole of satellite communications including technology, markets and planning with detailed skills in the planning process.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Students completing this module will have a good understanding across the field of satellite communications, its technology, techniques, markets and business. They will be able to plan satellite communications systems for prescribed quality of service and understand the business planning relevant to modern satellite systems.  (C,K,P) KCP

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 delivered by means of student attendance at a one-week short course involving both intensive lectures and project work, supplemented by subsequent private study.


Learning and teaching methods include the following.

  • Lectures to provide the fundamental knowledge

  • Class discussion to encourage interaction and participation

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: EEEM046

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Electronic Engineering (by short course) MSc 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.