Digital and Wireless Communications (online)


This is a new online course aimed at teaching the core principles of digital and wireless communications along with methods of implementing these principles in practice.

The course will be delivered as a series of online live tutorials.

To augment the theoretical aspects of the course, various case studies will be discussed, and you will be able to apply the knowledge gleaned in the tutorials to work through structured software mini-projects based in MATLAB/Octave.

Taking this course will provide you with:

  • A comprehensive and rigorous treatment of modern digital and wireless communication techniques, viewed from a balanced perspective that illustrates how theory is applied in practice.
  • The knowledge to be able to critically appraise different techniques and to design/simulate fundamental aspects of communication systems.
  • A practical take on system modelling via software mini-projects, which will also be used to consolidate knowledge and to explore more advanced methods and theory.

The limited number of places available on this course ensures that everyone is able to take full advantage of the discussions and exercises.

Dates, Times and Delivery

The Digital and Wireless Communications (Online) course will run over online sessions delivered via Microsoft Teams on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The live tutorials will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:00 - 15:30 (UK time) with a 30-minute break in between. The course is set to run on the following dates:

  • Tuesdays: 9, 16, 23, 30 November 2021
  • Thursdays: 11, 18, 25 November 2021

Access to the course VLE (virtual learning environment) will enable you to communicate with other students and view/download course materials.  Tutor support is available throughout.

A world clock, and time zone converter can be found here:

You should allow for 10 - 15 hours study time per week in addition to the weekly lessons.

Programme details

Each unit will be covered in two x 1.5-hour sessions over a period of seven weeks.

Unit 1

  1. Introduction to Digital and Wireless Communication
    • Concept of modulation: encoding messages in waves
    • Noisy channels
    • From analogue to digital: birth of the information age
    • Correcting errors through coding
    • Going wireless
    • Brief look at modern systems
  2. Review of Mathematical Foundations
    • Complex numbers
    • Vectors and matrices
    • Differentiation and integration
    • Linear systems and convolution
    • Fourier analysis
    • Applied probability

Unit 2

  1. Baseband Signal Representation
    • Sampling and Nyquist’s theorem
    • Quantisation
    • Forward-error correction
    • Signal space constellations
    • Digital baseband transmission
  2. Spectral Analysis
    • Stationary and cyclostationary random processes
    • Power spectral density
    • Random pulse sequence spectrum
    • Spectral analysis of digital baseband modulation schemes

Unit 3

  1. Passband Modulation
    • Baseband versus passband signals
    • Digital passband modulation and spectral analysis
    • Rate versus bandwidth
    • Multidimensional signals and orthogonal basis expansions
    • Frequency shift keying (FSK)
  2. Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM)
    • Modulation and orthogonality
    • The guard interval
    • Digital implementation via the FFT
    • Capacity
    • OFDM in practice

Unit 4

  1. System Design and Simulation Lab
  2. Coherent Demodulation and Detection
    • Phase-locked loop
    • Additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN) channel
    • Signal-to-noise ratio
    • Correlation and matched-filter demodulation
    • Maximum a posteriori probability detection
    • Maximum likelihood detection

Unit 5

  1. Dispersive Channels
    • Linear time-invariant (LTI) systems
    • Nyquist’s condition for zero intersymbol interference
    • Eye diagrams
    • Maximum likelihood sequence detection and the Viterbi algorithm
    • Linear equalisation
  2. Wireless channels and fading
    • Wireless propagation
    • Multipath
    • Linear system model
    • Large-scale and small-scale fading
    • Frequency selectivity

Unit 6

  1. Diversity methods
    • Time and frequency diversity
    • Spatial diversity
    • Space-time codes
  2. Multiple-input multiple-output
    • Capacity
    • MIMO techniques

Unit 7

  1. System Design and Simulation Lab
  2. Multi-user Communication
    • Orthogonal resource sharing
    • Nonorthogonal multiple access
    • Multi-user MIMO


Participants who attend the full course will receive a University of Oxford electronic certificate of attendance. 

The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended.

You will be required to attend all of the live sessions on the course in order to be considered for an attendance certificate. 


Description Costs
Course Fee £895.00


Prof Justin Coon

Course Tutor

Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Science, Oxford University

Tutorial Fellow of Oriel College

Dr Coon has worked in the field of communications and networks for over 15 years. He spent a decade in industrial research labs (HP Labs and Toshiba Research Europe Ltd) before moving back to academia full time.

He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Science at Oxford University and a Tutorial Fellow of Oriel College where he teaches various courses and tutorials on mathematics, electricity and electronics, control, semiconductor physics, and communication theory and system design.

Dr Coon's research interests include communication techniques and analysis, network theory, random graphs, quantum networks and sensing, and error correction for storage and communication channels. His (reasonably) up-to-date CV can be found here.

Level and demands

The course is designed to appeal to graduate level engineers, physicists, mathematicians and computer scientists who have limited experience with and/or limited knowledge of communications.

This course is also an ideal refresher course for those who have previously studied communications.

Knowledge of and basic competence in mathematics (calculus, linear algebra, probability) will be helpful but is not absolutely essential; all basic theory will be covered through preparation material, extra reading, and during the first unit.  


IT requirements

This course is delivered online using Microsoft Teams. You will be required to follow and implement the instructions we send you to fully access Microsoft Teams on the University of Oxford's secure IT network.

This course is delivered online; to participate you will need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended Minimum computer specification.

It is advised to use headphones with working speakers and microphone.