It’s hard to imagine a world without mobile networks, the internet, radio, or audio-visual appliances. Bringing together knowledge from both electrical engineering and computer science, communications engineers drive these communications systems which are so fundamental to the modern world; we can now easily make international calls, Skype our friends, and even communicate with satellites orbiting the planet. How could you influence what happens next?
You study a wide range of topics in communications, including:
- Radio frequency circuits and systems
- The transmission of digital signals over analogue links
- The transfer of audio-visual information
Our School is a community of scholars leading the way in technological research and development. Today’s communications engineers are creative people who are focused and committed, yet restless and experimental. We are home to many of the world’s top engineers, and our work is driven by creativity and imagination as well as technical excellence.
You also cover traditional topics in electronics, including signal processing, circuit design, processors and software.
We are Top 150 for Telecommunication Engineering in ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2019 and more than two-thirds of our research rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014).
You graduate prepared to move into relevant roles across almost every industry.
Programming at Essex
Teaching someone to programme is about opening a door. In your first year at Essex you will study a module that introduces you to programming using Python. We assess your ability to think in a programmatic way in the very first week of term and if you require additional support, we offer classes which will boost your skills and confidence with programming.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university
Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement with an external organisation, as part of one of our placement year degrees. The learning outcomes associated with this programme focus on using the specialist technical skills acquired in the first two years of the course and developing communications skills with customers.
Students are provided with support to secure a placement. Recent placements undertaken by our students have been with ARM, Microsoft, Intel, Nestlé, British Aerospace, and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, as well a range of SME software and hardware companies.
If you complete a placement year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
We have been one of the leading electronics departments in the country throughout our history, and in recent years, our prolific research staff have contributed to some major breakthroughs.
We invented the world’s first telephone based system for deaf people to communicate with each other in 1981, with cameras and display devices that were able to work within the limited telephone bandwidth. Our academics have also invented a streamlined protocol system for worldwide high speed optical communications.
- We have six laboratories that are exclusively for computer science and electronic engineering students. Three are open 24/7, and you have free access to the labs except when there is a scheduled practical class in progress
- Students have access to CAD tools and simulators for chip design (Xilinx) and computer networks (OMNet++)
- Software includes Java, Prolog, C++, Perl, Mysql, Matlab, DB2, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, and Project
- All computers are dual boot Windows 10 and Linux. Apple Mac Computers are dual boot MacOS and Windows 10
- We also have specialist facilities for research into areas including non-invasive brain-computer interfaces, intelligent environments, robotics, optoelectronics, video, RF and MW, printed circuit milling, and semiconductors.
Demand for electronics and communications engineers is high; the IT and engineering sectors are growing at a rate that outstrips the supply of fresh talent.
The profession offers a range of careers from design and development to marketing, management, production engineering and applications engineering. An incredible 92% of our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering students are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2020). Graduates also find employment in other disciplines because of the highly numerate nature of the subject.
Our department has a large pool of external contacts, ranging from companies providing robots for the media industry, through vehicle diagnostics, to electronic system design and circuit design and manufacture, who work with us and our students to provide advice, placements and eventually graduate opportunities. Read more about computer science and electronic engineering career destinations here.
Many of our graduates have gone on to work with BT, whose research centre is located just 30 minutes from the Colchester campus. Other recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:
- National Instruments
- Circad Design Ltd
- McLaren Formula One Team
- B&W Group
We also work with our University’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- 92% of our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering students are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2020).
- We are ranked 27th in the UK for Computer Science and Information Systems in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2021).
- Become part of the next generation of industry professionals and academic researchers to help drive the economy, and push the frontiers of knowledge.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
- Courses are taught by a combination of lectures, laboratory work, assignments, and individual and group project activities
- Group work
- A significant amount of practical lab work will need to be undertaken for written assignments and as part of your learning
- In your first year, you will have exams before the start of term in January
- You are assessed through a combination of written examinations and coursework
- All our modules include a significant coursework element
- You receive regular feedback on your progress through in-term tests