Module code: PHYM075

Module Overview

This module comprises two independent halves, on Quantum Communications (QComm) plus Quantum Simulation (QSim).

  • Quantum communications. This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the principles, protocols, and applications of quantum communications. Students will explore the fundamental concepts of quantum information transmission, quantum cryptography, and quantum communication protocols. They will also examine the challenges, advancements, and real-world applications of quantum communications including both theory and practical aspects.

  • Quantum Simulation. The quantum simulation part of this module introduces students to the use of quantum computers in the simulation of physical systems using mapping of Hamiltonians from standard quantum mechanics to a representation suitable for application on quantum computers, along with a study of wavefunction ansatz design, algorithms, and error mitigation and correction.

Module provider

Mathematics & Physics

Module Leader

FLORESCU Marian (Maths & Phys)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 2

Independent Learning Hours: 64

Lecture Hours: 15

Seminar Hours: 5

Tutorial Hours: 5

Laboratory Hours: 8

Guided Learning: 36

Captured Content: 15

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content for the Quantum Communications part:

  • Classical cryptography and introduction to quantum communications. Introduce and analyse classical encryption strategies, like RSA (which is the standard used in most secure communications) and discuss how these strategies might be attacked. The idea of a one-time-pad as an encryption key makes communication totally secure, but the keys must first be generated totally randomly (which can be performed with quantum dice), and then transmitted totally securely. The BB84 protocol for quantum key distribution is the simplest to explain and makes a neat introduction to quantum cryptography.

  • Entanglement as a resource for communications. The quantum nature of light gives an advantage for the transmission of information, which allows much more information to be transmitted than 1 bit per photon sent (superdense coding). This advantage relies on having prepared a resource called an entangled pair (of photons or spins etc.), where one of the pair is held by each of the two people wanting to communicate (who are usually referred to as Alice and Bob). Entangled resource can also be used to teleport quantum information from Alice to Bob in an extremely efficient way: Bob can get an exact copy of Alice's qubit if she only tells him two classical bits (an otherwise impossible feat since Alice's qubit encodes two arbitrary complex numbers)!

  • Entanglement and quantum cryptography. For long distance quantum key distribution, repeater stages are needed, just like the amplifier stages in classical optical fibre networks. Strategies for secure quantum communication via repeaters rely on entangled photon pairs, and here we will investigate modern cryptography systems, including via fibres and satellites.

  • Hardware. Although the module is primarily about the algorithms for quantum communications, hardware is always the limiting factor in quantum technology, so we will investigate the state of development and future prospects.

  • Latest research. The latest research will be used to inform content in both the communications protocols and hardware.

Indicative content for the Quantum Simulation part:

  • Quantum systems for simulation. Suitable example quantum many-body systems are discussed, drawing from examples in chemistry (e.g. molecular systems), condensed matter (e.g. spin systems), and nuclear physics. Representation of the Hamiltonian is described in second quantization notation.

  • Hamiltonian Encoding. Methods of encoding Hamiltonians on quantum computers are presented, mapping from the second quantized notation to qubit spins via the Jordan-Wigner and other mapping methods, discussing and exploring the relative merits of different methods, dependent on the problem at hand and the quantum hardware available.

  • State encoding. Methods of preparing entangled ansatz states representing many-body quantum wave functions for use in quantum simulation or optimization algorithms.

  • Simulation algorithms. Methods of extracting physical information from the combination of wave function and Hamiltonian: Time-evolution and Trotterization; variational methods including the Variational Quantum Eigensolver.

  • Error Mitigation. Sources of error in quantum simulation and methods for assessing and reducing error on current quantum hardware. o Latest research. The latest research will be used to update content to take account of hardware capabilities and algorithms.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Project (Group/Individual/Dissertation) Q Comms Project (Group part) 25
Project (Group/Individual/Dissertation) Q Comms Project (Individual part) 25
Oral exam or presentation Quantum Simulation Project 50

Alternative Assessment

In situations where the Q Comms Project (Group part) requires an alternative or reassessment it will be replaced with an individual literature review.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate:

  • both individual knowledge skill, and problem-solving abilities (Q Comms and Q Sim)

  • adaptability, collaboration skills resulting in team contributions to group outcomes (Q Comms).

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • The Q Comms Project assessment (Learning Objectives 1-3) will take the form of a team activity for the production of the combination of a literature review, computation/modelling assessment of the likely reliability of communication systems built with the technology reviewed, presentation and peer assessment. There will be an element of choice over the combination of activities/roles undertaken (e.g. in order to take account of your English language fluency and neurodiversity needs). Within this Project there are Group and Individual components.

    • Group deliverables are in the form of: a joint literature review report and a joint presentation, and a peer assessment of other teams'  presentations, with different members of the team contributing more or less to each of these according to the Plan. This Group Part will be evaluated on the clarity of the report/presentation/reflection, including the group's ability to communicate their project objectives, methodology, results, and conclusions effectively.

    • Individual deliverables are in the form of: a self-assessment of your own individual contributions to the project (outlining your specific responsibilities and tasks, highlighting your key learning outcomes, challenges encountered, lessons learned, and areas for improvement), an evaluation of your team-mates' contributions (considering factors such as effort, creativity, problem-solving skills, and collaboration), and your evaluation of the deliverables of other teams (considering conveying of understanding, and credibility). [Marks for peer assessment in both Group and Individual components will count towards the assessor student/team, not the assessed student/team].

  • The Quantum Simulation project assessed by oral means, in which students will demonstrate synthesis and application of the module content covering LO 4-7) (Q Sim).

Formative assessment

  • Formative Feedback and Coaching will be provided that is timely and constructive throughout the project duration to guide Q Comms project groups in their implementation. (Q Comms)

  • A team project Proposal and Plan, will be submitted early in the Q Comms project for formative assessment, outlining the objectives for each individual (i.e. with different tasks for each member of the team), a scope, methodology, and timeline. [Assessed on the clarity, feasibility, and appropriateness of the methodology, techniques and tools.] (Q Comms)

  • On-line class quizzes will precede the oral assessment to give students formative feedback on progress (Q Sim).


  • Verbal feedback will be given in tutorials. (Q Comms)

  • Students will receive immediate verbal feedback during computational laboratory hours where they will be working on problems, with help from staff. Some of these sessions will be dedicated to working on the project assignment. (Q Sim)

  • One-to-one advice in open office hours (Q Comms and Q Sim)

Module aims

  • Explain the fundamental principles of quantum communications and analyze various quantum cryptography protocols, such as quantum key distribution (QKD) schemes (Q Comm)
  • Explore the practical challenges and advancements in quantum channel modeling, noise analysis, and error/eavesdropper detection (Q Comm)
  • Critically evaluate and discuss the ethical and societal implications of quantum communications and quantum technology more widely (Q Comm)
  • To give students a comprehensive introduction to the ideas of quantum simulation (Q Sim)
  • To ensure students can use the second quantization notation of quantum mechanics, and translate Hamiltonians to Pauli form for implementation on quantum computers (Q Sim)
  • To embed strategies and techniques for making suitable wave function ansatzes (Q Sim)
  • To impart a range of standard algorithms and ensure students can use them in unseen cases (Q Sim)

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Evaluate the security aspects of a particular quantum communications system and identify potential vulnerabilities (Q Comms) CK
002 Utilize experimental or simulation tools to demonstrate quantum communication protocols (Q Comms) CP
003 Collaborate effectively in team projects involving the design and implementation of quantum communication systems (Q Comms) CKPT
004 To understand, to be able to explain, and to use, the second quantization formalism in quantum mechanics (Q Sim) CK
005 To be able to map general Hamiltonians into qubit / Pauli matrix form (Q Sim) CK
006 To be able to make suitable wave function ansatzes, with physical insight from a problem at hand (Q Sim) CK
007 To understand quantum simulation algorithms and to be able to implement them with an understanding of errors and actual quantum advantage associated with real quantum computers (Q Sim) CKPT

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:

  • Enable students to gain knowledge of the topic of quantum communications in an interactive way, encouraging them to solve problems rather than learn by rote (Q Comms)

  • Enhance students' group collaboration and presentation skills (Q Comms).

  • Give students experience of working in a trusted environment where they can develop their own strategies for learning and self-improvement. (Q Comms)

  • Give students the skills to take a physical problem and map it onto the formalism of quantum computation (Q Sim).

Thus, the learning and teaching methods include:

  • A combination of traditional lectures backed up with guided study to stimulate uptake of subject knowledge (Q Comms and Q Sim)

  • hands-on sessions in a computer laboratory to work through examples of quantum simulation. During some of the computer lab sessions, the students will have an opportunity to have supervised time working on the assessment associated with this part of the module (Q Sim).

  • tutorial demonstration of solutions to key problems, with practice for students both before and after having attempted them for formative feedback (Q Comms)

  • peer learning and teaching with structured Surrey-Learn hosted discussion boards focussed on the above (Q Comms)

  • Workshops for group activities (Q Comms)

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: PHYM075

Other information

The School of Mathematics and Physics is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:

Sustainability. This will be discussed in terms of quantum simulation scaling with problem size much better than classical algorithms, hence that the hardware and resource implications for quantum simulation are, in principle, much less than with classical computing resources (Q Sim).

Digital Capabilities: In this module we study a revolution in digital capabilities: the quantum computer, and the corresponding advantages for communications (Q Comms). The module covers advanced (quantum) computational/simulation methods, which are wholly a subset of digital capabilities (Q Sim).

Global and Cultural Capabilities: Quantum computing and communications raises ethical questions to which the answers must come from a diverse set of cultures. For example, if quantum computing can be used for drug discovery, then bad actors could use it for bio-chemical weapons discovery. Quantum communications could allow information security for the wealthy but not ordinary citizens. We will encourage students to critically analyse how quantum computing and communications can impact individual rights, privacy, fairness, and accountability from a global perspective. Understanding and appreciating diverse ethical viewpoints can enhance students' cultural sensitivity and help them navigate the complex and very new ethical landscape produced by quantum computing in a global context. (Q Comms)

Resourcefulness and Resilience: By participating in group activities, students have the opportunity to demonstrate resourcefulness and resilience through problem-solving, time management, collaboration, conflict resolution, adaptability, seeking feedback, and reflective practices. These skills are invaluable in navigating challenges, both within group settings and in real-world situations, fostering their personal growth and success (Q Comms).

Employability. The group project will enhance students' employability by providing them with practical experience in collaboration, communication, problem-solving, adaptability, accountability to others, time management, leadership, professionalism, and networking. These skills are transferable to various professional settings and contribute to their readiness for the workforce. (Q Comms)

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Applied Quantum Computing MSc 2 Compulsory 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 2025/6 academic year.