Microwaves & Optical Transmission Systems 4 ENG4100

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Engineering
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course provides an introduction to electromagnetic waves and to the principal types of transmission systems in use at microwave and optical frequencies.  Electromagnetic wave propagation is explained starting from Maxwell's equations, the concept of vector potential is introduced and its application to the design of antennas.  The components and architectures of optical communications systems are introduced.  By the end of the course, you will be able to design both microwave and optical waveguides and understand how the waveguide properties determine the performance of communications systems.  You will be able to design and analyse basic radio communication, RADAR and optical communication systems.


4 lectures per week

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements


Recommended Entry Requirements


Excluded Courses






90% Examination

10% Coursework

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ give an understanding of the propagation of electromagnetic waves in free space, dielectrics, and microwave and optical fibre waveguides;

■ enable students to design waveguides, antennas and optical fibres and calculate their performance in the context of practical systems applications;

■ give an understanding of the components and architecture of optical communications systems;

■ enable students to design radio communications, RADAR, and optical fibre communication systems.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ analyse electromagnetic wave propagation in free space, dielectrics and absorbing media starting from Maxwell's equations;

■ describe the propagation of electromagnetic waves in free space, dielectrics and absorbing media, and in microwave and optical waveguides, including reflection and transmission, impedance, waveguide modes and polarisation;

■ calculate properties of electromagnetic waves such as attenuation, impedance, power density and energy flow;

■ describe the design of waveguides, optical fibres and antennas;

■ design microwave and optical waveguides by applying appropriate boundary conditions;

■ explain the concept of magnetic vector potential and apply it to the design of antennas;

■ design simple antenna dipoles and dipole arrays and compute radiation patterns;

■ compute properties of microwave and optical waveguides including the number of modes that can be supported, the phase and group velocities, the impedance, dispersion, and the cut-off frequencies;

■ evaluate the capacity limits of optical transmission systems arising from the fundamental properties of optical sources, optical detectors, dielectric media and optical fibres;

■ analyse and design microwave systems, in particular guided wave, radio communication and RADAR systems;

■ describe optical fibre systems and architectures including: multiplex hierarchies for optical carriers; WDM and OTDM; repeaters, regenerators and amplifiers; fibre amplifiers; functional requirements for access, local area and global networks, SDH/SONET and ATM hierarchies;

■ analyse and design optical fibre communication systems including the calculation of power budgets.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must attend the degree examination and submit at least 75% by weight of the other components of the course's summative assessment.


Students must attend the timetabled laboratory classes.


Students should attend at least 75% of the timetabled classes of the course.


Note that these are minimum requirements: good students will achieve far higher participation/submission rates.  Any student who misses an assessment or a significant number of classes because of illness or other good cause should report this by completing a MyCampus absence report.