Course syllabus


SSY121 Introduction to communication engineering lp1 HT19 (7.5 hp)

Course is offered by the department of Electrical Engineering

Contact details

Student Representatives

Course purpose

Students obtain in this course a basic understanding of important concepts in communication engineering and an insight into modern communication standards. A theoretical framework for signal analysis and transmission is developed, and it is utilised to design and implement a complete, low-rate digital communication system over some simple channel hardware.

The course is organised with participation of the local communication industry, to prepare students for the expectations and working style that they are likely to encounter after graduating from Chalmers. The focus of this industry-integrated learning approach is on development projects and team working.

It is a broad course that gives an overview of the communications field, paving the way for deeper studies in the field and also serving as a stand-alone course that provides students from other fields with the theoretical and practical foundations of communications.



Course literature

The course book is "Digital Transmission Engineering" by John B. Anderson. However, the entire book is not covered in the course (see course memo under Modules for more details).

Course design

The course comprises about 13 lectures, 9 exercise sessions, and 3 computer exercises. The theoretical skills are tested in practice through a teamwork project, which is continuously examined throughout the course. The project is supported by the local communication industry, and the course concludes with a workshop in which students and industry representatives together reflect upon the outcome and learning experiences.


The contents of the course are essentially defined by the following list of keywords. Minor deviations may apply from year to year.
  • Communication systems: Shannon model, OSI model, link budget
  • Communications and society: Environment and sustainability, spectrum regulation, designer's dilemma
  • Channels and channel models: cables, wireless links, optical fibers; the AWGN channel
  • Impairments: ISI, cochannel and adjacent channel interference, fading, nonlinearities
  • Selected communication standards: e.g., cellular telephony, WiFi, Bluetooth, DVB 
  • Receivers: sampling receiver, correlation receiver; matched filter implementation
  • Pulse-amplitude modulation: Nyquist criterion, T-orthogonality criterion, RC and RRC pulses
  • Bandpass signals: mixers and I/Q modulation
  • Digital modulation: properties of PAM, QAM, PSK, FSK in terms of waveforms, signal space, power efficiency, spectral efficiency
  • Synchronisation: frame, symbol, and phase synchronisation
  • Signal space analysis: signal vectors and basis functions; signal energy, length, distance; theorem of irrelevance
  • ML detection for AWGN: decision rule, pairwise error probability, union bound
  • Diagnostic plots: constellation plot, eye diagram
  • Projects and teamworking: industrial development projects, project organisation, project phases, deliveries, common values

Changes made since the last occasion

No changes since last occasion.

Learning outcomes

  • Explain the purpose of each of the main blocks (source encoder/decoder, channel encoder/decoder, modulator/demodulator) in the Shannon communication model
  • Choose signal waveforms and receiver filters for digital transmission over linear channels with additive white noise but no intersymbol interference
  • Synchronise the frame structure, symbol timing and phase of a received signal, and format signals on the transmitter side to facilitate such synchronisation
  • Describe and motivate the functions in some modern communication standards
  • Derive and calculate the uncoded bit and symbol error rate, including bounds and approximations, for transmission over the additive white Gaussian noise channel (AWGN) for simple constellations (PAM, QAM, PSK)
  • Convert continuous-time signals to a discrete constellation using orthonormal basis (Gram-Schmidt procedure)
  • Solve a complex task as a member of a project team, by planning and organising subtasks, establishing roles and common values within the team, reporting and delivering results and self-evaluating the process
  • Characterise a typical development project in industry and the process for defining, running and closing such projects
  • Demonstrate ability, at design in communication engineering, to make assessments with regard to ethical aspects, by:
    • describe and analyse possible ethical consequences and propose countermeasures
    • apply ethical principles to presentation of results

Study plan

Examination form

The mandatory parts consist of a project and a written exam. Note that since the project (and the distribution points on the different parts of the course) can change from year to year, project and exam points must be earned in the same year (defined from September to August). For example, project points earned one year expire after the second reexam in August the year after.

Course summary:

Date Details Due