Module ICM-4138:
Mobile Communications Systems

Module Facts

Run by School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

15 Credits or 7.5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Prof Jianming Tang

Overall aims and purpose

This module will provide students with an in-depth understanding of current and emerging wireless transmission techniques, mobile communications systems and networks, with particular attention being focussed on operation principles and performances of mobile networks of different generations (2G, 3G and 4G) from layer 1 to layer 3. The future developing trends of mobile networks are also discussed.

Course content

• Introduction to fundamental concepts, terminologies and basic techniques involved in mobile communication systems. They include, for example, OSI reference model, signal characteristics in both the time and frequency domains, digital and analogue modulation, antennas, signal propagation, various multiplexing and de-multiplexing techniques, as well as spread spectrum. • Access media controls: Hidden and exposed terminals, near and far terminals, as well as wireless MAC techniques including SDMA, FDMA, TDMA and CDMA. • Wireless telecommunications systems including GSM, GPRS, UMTS/IMT-2000 and LTE/LTE-Advanced. • Mobile IP and mobile ad-hoc networks. • Wireless TCP congestion control

Learning outcomes mapped to assessment criteria


50%. Understand basic operating principles


60%. Making use of the understanding of fundamental concepts, practical network design issues can be analysed.


70%. Use can be made of different elements learnt from the module to design a system/network to provide required performances for a given application scenario.

Understand the fundamental concepts involved in wireless communication systems.

Able to explain the differences and relationships between the concepts and techniques Able to explain the operating principles of various concepts. Able to provide a reasoned assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of specific techniques, and appreciate the challenges of future development

Understand media access controls.

Able to explain why media access technologies used in fixed computer networks often cannot be applied to wireless networks and understand unique challenges associated with wireless terminals accessing “space” as the common medium. Able to understand how a broad range of media access technologies work. Can demonstrate insights into the rational behind different access methods adopted for different purposes. Can establish a close link between multiplexing schemes discussed before and the methods used for accessing the medium.

Understand various wireless communication systems and emerging new technologies.

Able to provide and explain the generic architecture as well as a number of specific examples of key techniques. Describe the characteristics of various communications systems for different circumstances and able to provide a clear picture of the subject from low to high layers. Can discuss in-depth the design, operation, strengths and weaknesses as well as suitability to various application scenarios for topics covered in this part. In addition, be able to apply the knowledge to analyze problems in practical system implementation.

Understand more network layer issues related to mobile networks.

Able to explain why fixed protocols do not always map into the mobile domain. Able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of key factors that should be considered in system designs. Able to demonstrate insight into the changes needed to enable efficient operation over mobile networks

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
EXAM Examination 80
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT 20 review questions 20

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 126

20 hours over 3 weeks


4 hours over 3 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.
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

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;
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of the specialist cognate area of computer systems engineering in an international context;
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of the specialist cognate area of computer systems for controlling complex systems;
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of the specialist cognate area of computer systems engineering in safety-critical areas;
  • 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;
  • Appreciate the importance of designing products with due regard to good laboratory practice, health and safety considerations and ethical issues.
  • 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;


Reading list

Main textbook 1) Jochen Schiller, “Mobile Communications”, Addison-Wesley, 2003 2)E. Dahlman, et al., “4G LTE/LTE-Advanced for Mobile broadband”, Elsevier, 2011 3) C.Cox, “An introduction to LTE- LTE, LTE-Advanced, SAE and 4G Mobile Communications”, Wiley, 2012

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: