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Microwave and Optical Fibre Communications

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Microwave and Optical Fibre Communications


The closing date for applications to start this course in September 2023 has now passed. Find out more

Key information

Duration: 1 year full time or 2 years part time

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

UK fees*: £12,600

International/EU fees**: £22,800

The course

Microwave and Optical Fibre Communications (MSc)

Microwave and optical fibre communication systems enable high-speed communication, used in our everyday life from high-speed home-based internet, smart mobile phones, machine-to-machine communication systems, and ‘Everything Connected’. At Royal Holloway, we are one of the few institutions in the UK with the skills and resources to provide hands-on experience in this area. You’ll join an active, research-focused, postgraduate-only community; a unique microwave photonics and sensors research group.

This new masters focuses on the usage of fibre optics and RoF communications in 5G/6G and beyond, as well as in areas such as space and defence.  As a student you will:

  • Conduct hands-on experiments using microwave and photonic components and their integration into broadband transmission systems and have the opportunity to see first-hand how Radio Frequency signals are transmitted through fibre optic systems, as we’re one of only a handful of universities with microwave photonics cutting-edge laboratory facilities sponsored by leading defence industry.

  • Develop an understanding of a range of advanced theories, simulation methods, and practical design spectral efficiency techniques applied in industry, providing you with the essential knowledge expertise and skills required to become an Microwave Photonics engineer.

  • Work on industry-funded projects that will be overseen directly by industry-leading specialists in emerging smart communication technologies.

This MSc programme will contribute specialist expertise productively to a multi-specialist development team working on solving modern real-world emerging communication engineering problems, in terms of analysis, design, implementation, testing, and project management.

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Core Modules

  • Agile Engineering
  • This is a major group project in which students will work on an agreed practical problem that is relevant to tomorrow's societal needs and agreed with their supervisor. The working practice of the groups will be modelled on industrial practices in terms of planning, keeping proper records of meetings and the progress of work, and students will each take on a responsibility within the team that is vital to the professional and successful running of the group project. The overall aim is to provide students with a full appreciation of mechanisms that can support professional group working and its management in engineering practice in the context of exploring and researching solutions to a topic relevant to society.

  • This module develops a comprehensive understanding of the theory behind digital signal processing (DSP) and progresses to include how DSP can be implemented in real-time and embedded systems. Initially, students will be introduced to the theory behind signal processing progressively increasing the depth and breadth of their knowledge using Matlab software interface. Material will include sampling theorem, digital filtering, the discrete Fourier transform, the z-transform and adaptive filtering. Then, students will gain an understanding of how to program hardware to perform industry standard DSP algorithms such as filtering, spectral analysis and including Wiener filtering and adaptive echo cancellation. Advanced topics include high-resolution spectral estimation techniques and speech processing. Limitations of hardware such as finite precision, floating point operations will also be studied.

  • The main aims of the module are to provide guidance and experience of working in Mobile and Fibre Optic high-speed smart communication systems ensuring that user requirements are understood and used to produce suitable advanced solutions. Students will acquire knowledge of fundamental concepts, terminology, techniques, and principles: Radio over Fibre (RoF) components; causes and techniques to remove radio frequency interference; optical multiplexing and switching technologies; link budget calculation; optical network architectures; increased dynamic range. Furthermore, students will be exposed to the importance of RoF systems in the broadband mobile and fibre telecommunication systems, where they are used for applications such as fibre optics, microwave and photonic components, antenna remoting, radar detection, satellite communications, signal generation, and electronic warfare systems. Students will interact with leading UK communication industries and learn from experienced communication leaders on how to apply communication engineering skills to real-world problems.

  • This module covers advanced communications systems, focusing on microwave, optical, and broadband technologies. Students will gain knowledge and understanding of these systems and their applications in high-speed networks. They will learn to analyse complex microwave systems using mathematical and computational tools, such as estimating satellite link budgets. The module also covers the breakdown and categorisation of communication system elements, including high-speed optical data network architectures. Students will study radio propagation, design principles of advanced microwave systems, and sources of degradation, distortion, and losses. Additionally, they will be introduced to the latest CAD tools for evaluating and synthesising practical microwave systems.

  • The module extends the knowledge acquired in digital systems with advanced topics in the emergent area of FPGA based system on chip design. The module will cover state-of-the-art features available in modern FPGAs exploring their fine-grained internal architecture and embedded macro blocks such as DSP slices, IPs and hardcore/softcore processors. A design language based on C/C++ will be presented as an alternative to traditional RTL design (VHDL). High level synthesis tools will be used to compute signal processing applications.

  • The aim of this module is to provide students with the opportunity to carry out an in-depth engineering project, potentially in collaboration with industry, to solve a real-world problem or create a novel product. For specialised MScs, the project will be related to the specialisation topic.

Optional Modules

  • All modules are core

This MSc consists of eight modules and a dissertation. Teaching follows several different complementary models: face-to-face, online, pre-recorded, workshops, presentations, practical sessions, hands-on experiments labs. Assessments cover a variety of activities: groupwork, presentations, reports, Moodle quizzes, etc. Across the four MScs, examples and industry case-studies are international and cover many different backgrounds. Modules feature built-in formative assessments (eg Moodle quizzes, workshops, presentations) that complement and lead up to summative assessment.

Students have a close relationship with their tutors, and with the teaching staff in general, which means they have many opportunities for feedback. They receive oral feedback in workshops, presentations, practical sessions, and labs.


Electronic Engineering or related subject

Or equivalent from a: Telecoms, Electrical, Electronics or Systems Engineering background.

International & EU requirements

English language requirements

All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.

The scores we require
  • IELTS: 6.5 overall. No subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. No subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here.

You will develop unique advanced theoretical and, practical design techniques applied in industry, providing you with the essential knowledge expertise and skills required to become a photonics and microwave experts.  

Globally there is a massive growth of wireless mobile and fibre optics broadband communication, and on completion of this course you’ll be well prepared for career opportunities in a range of telecommunication and business in telecoms sectors.

We look forward to finding out about the exciting path you will chose for your future and supporting you on your journey.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £12,600

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £22,800

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year.

All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. This means that the overall cost of studying the course via part-time mode is slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information, please see our terms and conditions. Please note that for research courses, we adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the RCUK website.

** The UK Government has confirmed that EU nationals are no longer eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you will be classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support those students affected by this change in status through this transition. For eligible EU students starting their course with us during the academic year 2023/24, we will award a fee reduction scholarship equivalent to 30% of the difference between the UK and international fee for your course. This will apply for the duration of your course. Find out more

*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2022/23 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

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