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Module ICE-4415:
Advanced Optical Communication

Module Facts

Run by School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Yanhua Hong

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 light source; principles of optical modulation; characteristics of optical fibre waveguides, optical amplifiers 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

Indicative content includes:

  • Direct current modulation of laser diodes; limitations to direct current modulation; external modulation.
  • Light propagation in optical fibres; fibre losses and dispersion; transmission windows
  • High impedance and transimpedance receivers; optical amplifiers and repeaters
  • WDM; Mechanisms for optical switching and routing
  • Coherent Optical Communications Systems; Modulation Formats; Modulator Technologies.

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. Illustrate WDM system and the optical components used in WDM, and the processes involved within optical switches and routers.

  2. Contrast direct and indirect modulation of semiconductor lasers.

  3. Analyse the design of optical fibre waveguides and receivers.

  4. Describe the principles of optical amplifiers, and recognise their operating characteristics.

  5. Differentiate and describe features of conventional and coherent optical communications systems.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
EXAM Open Book Examination 50
REPORT Assignment 1

A report on optical fibre, including 1) Describe optical fibre and its working principles 2) describe 3 types of optical fibre and their properties, 3) discuss the two main limitations of optical fibres

REPORT Assignment 2

A report on WDM system, including 1) Describe WDM system and the benefits of using WDM; 2) types of WDM system; 3) the optical components used in the implementation of WDM technology and define their function and explain how to achieve these functions.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Lectures (2 hrs x 10 weeks).


Unassessed demonstration of the Laser laboratory and equipment. (1x1 hour session per student, in groups).


Extended tutor support for taught material (3 x 1 hour sessions).

Private study

Tutor-directed study, including individual assessments.


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.
  • 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

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.
  • 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;
  • Have an appreciation of moral, ethical, financial and environmental issues that may need to be considered when practicing as an engineer.¬†
  • Knowledge and understanding of facts, concepts, principles & theories
  • Problem solving strategies
  • Analyse if/how a system meets current and future requirements
  • Knowledge and understanding of mathematical principles
  • Evaluate systems in terms of quality and trade-offs
  • Knowledge and/or understanding of appropriate scientific and engineering principles

Courses including this module