Module ICM-3014:
Optical Communication

Module Facts

Run by School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Prof Alan Shore

Overall aims and purpose

The main learning objective is to treat the design and operating characteristics of advanced digital optical fibre communication systems. Students will obtain an understanding of the dynamical behaviour of laser diodes; principles of optical modulation; characteristics of optical fibre waveguides and optical receivers. In addition students will gain an appreciation of the role of these components in determining the performance of practical optical communications systems.

Course content

• Direct current modulation of laser diodes; laser rate equations and their solution; limitations to direct current modulation; external modulation. • Mechanisms for optical switching and routing; candidate structures • Light propagation in optical fibres; fibre losses and dispersion; transmission windows • High impedance and trans-impedance receivers; optical amplifiers and repeaters • Modulation Formats. Modulator Technologies. Coherent Optical Communications Systems. System Design

Learning outcomes mapped to assessment criteria







Understand the direct and indirect modulation of semiconductor lasers.

Able to explain the processes of direct and indirect modulation of semiconductor lasers Able to apply solutions of the laser rate equations in order to determine the modulation performance Able to derive the equations which determine the limitations on laser diode modulation

Understand the operation of optical switches and routers.

Able to explain the basic physical mechanisms underlying optical routing Able to explain the operating principles of optical functional devices Able to design devices for prescribed applications

Understand the principles and design of optical fibre waveguides and receivers.

Able to define the design criteria for optical fibre channels. Able to explain the basic structure of optical repeaters Able to explain the trade-off between loss and dispersion. Able to determine the receiver configuration appropriate to a defined application Able to estimate the effects of dispersion on pulse propagation. Able to demonstrate the role of all-optical processing in optical repeaters

Understand Digital Optical Communication Systems

Able to explain the basic structure of optical repeaters and identify their role in optical communications systems Able to determine the receiver configuration appropriate to a defined optical communications system application. Able to demonstrate the role of all-optical processing in optical repeaters; can define the performance characteristics of advanced optical communications. systems

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Examination 100

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 76

2 hour lectures over 12 weeks 4 x 1 hour tutorials during lecture slots (week 18, 21, 24, 26)


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • 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.
  • 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

  • Apply underpinning concepts and ideas of engineering;
  • Solve problems logically and systematically;
  • Use both verbal and written communication skills to different target audiences;

Courses including this module