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Module ICE-4301:
Advanced Sensor Systems

Module Facts

Run by School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Xianfeng Chen

Overall aims and purpose

This course aims to provide students with a broad introduction of fundamental concepts, principles and analysis techniques of advanced sensors and systems to enable higher level study in the subject. This course will also provide a view of current developments in specific areas of sensor systems. Applications of these sensor systems and their main producers and users are also introduced and discussed.

Course content

Indicative content includes:

  • Review of Sensor principles – definitions, desired qualities, sensor system elements, deflection methods, input-output configurations, interfering and modifying inputs.
  • Introduction of Microsensor systems – Advantage and disadvantages of microsensors, signal conditioning and processing description, advantages of silicon and fibre optic technologies.
  • Description of components, types and applications of thermal, mechanical, magnetic and chemical advanced sensor systems.
  • Advanced applications of smart sensors and systems – desired qualities – examples and applications – a look to the future.
  • The latest development, hot topics, and technology trends.

Assessment Criteria


Equivalent to 50%. Uses key areas of theory or knowledge to meet the Learning Outcomes of the module. Is able to formulate an appropriate solution to accurately solve tasks and questions. Can identify individual aspects, but lacks an awareness of links between them and the wider contexts. Outputs can be understood, but lack structure and/or coherence.


Equivalent to the range 70%+. Assemble critically evaluated, relevent areas of knowledge and theory to constuct professional-level solutions to tasks and questions presented. Is able to cross-link themes and aspects to draw considered conclusions. Presents outputs in a cohesive, accurate, and efficient manner.


Equivalent to the range 60%-69%. Is able to analyse a task or problem to decide which aspects of theory and knowledge to apply. Solutions are of a workable quality, demonstrating understanding of underlying principles. Major themes can be linked appropriately but may not be able to extend this to individual aspects. Outputs are readily understood, with an appropriate structure but may lack sophistication.

Learning outcomes

  1. Describe advanced sensor systems and the fundamental principles.

  2. Summarise silicon and fibre optic technologies and discuss the advantages of these in sensor fabrication and operation.

  3. Appreciate the state-of-the-art and emerging technologies and methods within the field.

  4. Paraphrase the design and operating principles of a range of silicon and fibre optic sensors and systems.

  5. Analyse the performance and qualities of a range of smart sensor systems.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
REPORT Individual Report

Report describing a given sensor technology or application and its situation within the field and literature.


Present the state-of-the-art and fundamental principles of a given sensor systems topic.

EXAM Examination

End of module, unseen examination.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Individual Project

1x2 hour per week over 12 weeks.


1x2 hour per week over 12 weeks.

Private study

152 hours over 12 weeks.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • Identify emerging technologies and technology trends;
  • Apply an understanding and appreciation of continuous improvement techniques
  • Apply underpinning concepts and ideas of engineering;
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of the specialist cognate area of electronic engineering in an international context;
  • Assess and choose optimal methods and approaches for the specification, design, implementation and evaluation of engineering solutions, especially ones that include embedded microprocessors
  • Formulate and analyse requirements and practical constraints of products, processes and services, place them in an engineering context and manage their implementation;
  • Solve problems logically and systematically;
  • Assess and choose optimal methods and approaches for the specification, design, implementation and evaluation of engineering solutions.
  • Systematically review factors affecting the implementation of a project, including safety and sustainability;
  • Access and synthesize information and literature sources;
  • Use both verbal and written communication skills to different target audiences;
  • Analyse and display data using appropriate methods and mathematical techniques;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with relevant subject specific and general computer software packages.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of current advances and contemporary approaches in the discipline and have strategies for keeping that awareness current;
  • Knowledge and understanding of facts, concepts, principles & theories
  • Problem solving strategies
  • Analyse if/how a system meets current and future requirements
  • Deploy theory in design, implementation and evaluation of systems
  • Knowledge of management techniques to achieve objectives
  • Work as a member of a development team
  • Development of general transferable skills
  • Knowledge of systems architecture
  • System Design
  • Knowledge and/or understanding of appropriate scientific and engineering principles
  • Principles of appropriate supporting engineering and scientific disciplines


Talis Reading list

Reading list

Microsensors, MEMS, and Smart Devices, by J.W. Gardner, V.K. Varadan, O.O. Awadelkarim. Wiley. (particularly Chapter 8), ISBN: 0-471- 86109X

Fiber Optic Sensors: Fundamentals and Applications, 4th Edition, Author(s): David A. Krohn etc. ISBN: 9781628411805

Smart Sensor Systems, edited by Gerard C.M. Meijer, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ISBN: 978-0-470-86691-7

Fiber Bragg gratings: fundamentals and applications in telecommunications and sensing, A. Othonos, K. Kalli, Artech House, ISBN: 0890063443, 9780890063446

Courses including this module