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ELEC5739: Foundations of Communications (2014 - Semester 1)

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Unit: ELEC5739: Foundations of Communications (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Postgraduate
Faculty/School: School of Electrical & Information Engineering
Unit Coordinator/s: Professor Jamalipour, Abbas
Session options: Semester 1
Versions for this Unit:
Site(s) for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: None.
Brief Handbook Description: This is an intermediate unit of study in telecommunications following on the general concepts studied in earlier units such as Signal and Systems and leading on to more advanced units such as Digital Communication Systems. Student will learn how to critically design and evaluate digital communication systems including the elements of a digital transmission system, understand the limitations of communications channels, different analog and digital modulation schemes and reasons to use digital techniques instead of analog, and the effect of noise and interference in performance of the digital communication systems. On completion of this unit, studentss will have sufficient knowledge of the physical channel of a telecommunications network to approach the study of higher layers of the network stack.

The following topics are covered. Introduction to communications systems, random signals and stochastic process, components, signals and channels, sampling, quantization, pulse amplitude modulation (PAM), pulse code modulation (PCM), quantization noise, time division multiplexing, delta modulation. Digital communications: baseband signals, digital PAM, eye diagram, equalization, correlative coding, error probabilities in baseband digital transmission, bandpass transmission, digital amplitude shift keying (ASK), frequency shift keying (FSK), phase shift keying (PSK) and quadrature shift keying (QPSK), error probabilities in bandpass digital transmission, a case study of digital communication systems. Introduction to information theory: fundamental limits in communications, channel capacity and channel coding, signal compression.
Assumed Knowledge: Confidence in mathematical operation usually needed to handle telecommunications problems such as Fourier transform, fundamental in signals and systems theory, convolution, and similar techniques.
Lecturer/s: Professor Jamalipour, Abbas
Tutor/s: Tutorials: Saber Jafarizadeh

Labs: Ying Bi and Aroba Khan (;
Timetable: ELEC5739 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 2.00 1 13
2 Laboratory 3.00 1 5
3 Tutorial 3.00 1 6
4 Independent Study 4.00 13
T&L Activities: Please see the Unit of Study webpage on Blackboard for details of Labs and Tutorials weekly schedule and reporting information.

Laboratory: Requires Lab Preparation Report (Individual) and Lab Final Report (Group)

Lab 1: System Modeling using TIMS

Lab 2: Amplitude Modulation (AM)

Lab 3: Frequency Modulation (FM)

Lab 4: PCM Encoding and Decoding

Lab 5: Pulse-Amplitude Modulation (PAM) and Time-Division Multiplexing (TDM)

Tutorials: You will have a set of questions for each tutorial session. It is recommended that you try to solve those questions before going to the tutorial session.

A short report for each tutorial session will be collected by the tutor on the day. The content will not be marked but it will be used to check the attendance. It is however suggested that you try to write your answers in that report.

The tutor will go through questions and give you the answers. If you just come to the session without any preparation, it won’t be useful at all. Remember that it is in nature of a Communications course that the theory taught in lectures cannot guarantee solving tutorial problems. So lectures and tutorials are complementing one another, don’t miss either of them.

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
Through assessment and assignments, students will become able to: 1. Exercise critical judgment in designing digital communication systems 2. Develop skills in rigorous, independent and creative thinking 3. Develop problem solving skills and account for their decisions Design (Level 3)
Developing knowledge in the area of digital communication and applying this knowledge to real situations. Understanding the merits and limitations of specific communication systems. Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 3)
Using appropriate technology to address specific needs. Exercising critical judgement in designing digital communication systems. Developing skills in rigorous, independent and creative thinking. Developing problem solving skills and account for their decisions. Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 3)
Through lectures, tutorials, and labs students will become able to obtain the ability to use appropriate technology to develop communication systems addressing specific needs. Professional Conduct (Level 2)
Through labs students will become able to apply this knowledge to real situations and understand the merits and limitations of specific communication systems, by implementing real hardware and testing the results. This task is to be done in a team and requires strict time and progress control as part of their project management skill training. Project and Team Skills (Level 2)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table.

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

Design (Level 3)
1. Ability to design digital communication systems by applying principles and techniques developed in the material presented.
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 3)
2. Ability to demonstrate an understanding of the effect of noise and interference in the performance of digital communication systems.
3. Ability to evaluate digital communication systems including the elements of a digital transmission system using knowledge of concepts, principles and techniques developed throughout the course.
4. Ability to recognise the limitations of communications channels, as well as different analog and digital modulation schemes and explain the reasons to use digital techniques instead of analog.
5. Ability to demonstrate an understanding of the physical channel of telecommunications networks to the extent of the information presented throughout the course.
Professional Conduct (Level 2)
6. Ability to demonstrate an understanding of professional practice by differentiating between theory and real communication systems, identifying economic, social and sustainability standards employed.
Project and Team Skills (Level 2)
7. Ability to work in a team, demonstrating capacity to manage complex roles and responsibilities, drawing on and optimizing the contribution of others towards the timely delivery of specific engineering tasks in a laboratory environment.
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Tutorial assessment reports No 10.00 Multiple Weeks 2,
2 Lab Report-Individual Preparation & Group Final Yes 20.00 Multiple Weeks 3, 6, 7,
3 Mid-Sem Exam No 15.00 Week 9 4,
4 Final Exam No 55.00 Exam Period 1, 5,
Assessment Description: Participation: Individual tutorial attendance report.

Lab Report: Individual Preparation Report & Group Lab Report.

Mid-Sem Exam: One mid-semester exam during lecture hours on Friday 9 May 2014. This exam is for you to study and bring your knowledge up to date and to find out the format and difficulty of the final exam.

Final Exam: An open book 2-hour exam. Basically similar format as used in mid-semester exam.
Grade Type Description
Standards Based Assessment Final grades in this unit are awarded at levels of HD for High Distinction, DI (previously D) for Distinction, CR for Credit, PS (previously P) for Pass and FA (previously F) for Fail as defined by University of Sydney Assessment Policy. Details of the Assessment Policy are available on the Policies website at . Standards for grades in individual assessment tasks and the summative method for obtaining a final mark in the unit will be set out in a marking guide supplied by the unit coordinator.
Policies & Procedures: See the policies page of the faculty website at for information regarding university policies and local provisions and procedures within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.
Prescribed Text/s: Note: Students are expected to have a personal copy of all books listed.
  • Communication Systems
Recommended Reference/s: Note: References are provided for guidance purposes only. Students are advised to consult these books in the university library. Purchase is not required.
Online Course Content: eLearning Blackboard:

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar

Week Description
Week 1 Introduction to the Unit of Study. Elements of communications systems, communication resources, source of information and noise.
Week 2 Communication networks, communications channels, modulation process, analog and digital communications, Shannon’s information capacity theorem. Examples.
Week 3 Continuous-Wave Modulation. Introduction to CWM, Amplitude modulation, linear modulation, DSB-SC modulation, Coherent detection, Quadrature carrier multiplexing.
Week 4 Single-sideband modulation, Vestigial sideband modulation, Frequency translation, FDM, angle modulation.
Week 5 FM, narrowband and wideband FM, nonlinear effects in FM noise in CWM, noise in AM and FM receivers.
Week 6 Pulse Modulation Sampling process and sampling theorem, PAM, BW-noise trade-off, Quantization process.
Week 7 PCM, noise in PCM, TDM, digital multiplexers
No Lab/Tutrial due to Public Holiday on Wednesday
Week 8 Delta modulation, linear prediction, differential PCM, adaptive differential PCM.
Week 9 Baseband Pulse Transmission. Matched filter, error rate due to noise, inter-symbol interference.
Mid Semester exam during lecture time
Assessment Due: Mid-Sem Exam
Week 10 Nyquist’s criterion, baseband M-ary PAM, DSL, optimum linear receiver, adaptive equalization.
Week 11 Signal-Space Analysis. Geometric representation of signals, vector channel conversion, Likelihood functions, Coherent detection of signals in noise, correlation receiver, probability of error.
Week 12 Passband Digital Transmission. Passband transmission model, coherent PSK, hybrid ASK/PSK, coherent FSK, Unknown phase signal detection, non-coherent orthogonal modulation, non-coherent binary FSK.
Week 13 Differential PSK, comparison between different digital modulation schemes, voice-band modems, multi-channel modulation, synchronization.
Exam Period Assessment Due: Final Exam

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Master of Professional Engineering (Network) 2010, 2011, 2012
Master of Professional Engineering (Telecommunications) 2013, 2014
Master of Professional Engineering (Wireless) 2010, 2011, 2012
Master of Professional Engineering (Electrical) 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Design (Level 3) Yes 27.5%
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 3) Yes 59.17%
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 3) Yes 0%
Professional Conduct (Level 2) Yes 6.67%
Project and Team Skills (Level 2) Yes 6.67%
Communication (Level 3) No 0%

These goals are selected from Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.