Skip to main content

We are aiming for an incremental return to campus in accordance with guidelines provided by NSW Health and the Australian Government. Until this time, learning activities and assessments will be planned and scheduled for online delivery where possible, and unit-specific details about face-to-face teaching will be provided on Canvas as the opportunities for face-to-face learning become clear.

Unit of study_

ELEC5511: Optical Communication Systems

Optical telecommunications has revolutionized the way we receive information and communicate with one another. It underpins broadband access networks, data centres, computer networks, and the next generation 5G. This course will provide an understanding of the fundamental principles of optical fibre communication systems. This includes optical fibre propagation characteristics and transmission properties. Then light sources are considered and the fundamental principles of laser action in semiconductor and other lasers, including nanotechnology for quantum well lasers, tunable lasers, optical amplifiers, and optical transmitters based on semiconductor and electro-optic modulation techniques. On the receiver side, photodetection principles, nanotechnology photodiode structures, and optical receiver sensitivity will be presented. Other aspects such as photonic integration, as well as multi-channel multiplexing techniques will also be discussed. Finally, the complete optical fibre communication system will be studied to realise high capacity digital transport for data centres, local area networks and multi-channel optical systems.


Academic unit Electrical and Information Engineering
Unit code ELEC5511
Unit name Optical Communication Systems
Session, year
Semester 1, 2020
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Assumed knowledge

(ELEC3405 OR ELEC9405) AND (ELEC3505 OR ELEC9505). Basic knowledge of communications, electronics and photonics

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Robert Minasian,
Tutor(s) Wenjian Yang ,
Administrative staff Thomas Huang
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam Final exam
75% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Assignment Assignment 1
6% Week 06 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Assignment Assignment 2
6% Week 10 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Skills based evaluation group assignment Computer laboratory
7% Week 11 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO10 LO9 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Assignment 3
6% Week 13 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
group assignment = group assignment ?
  • Assignments: Each assignment will assess student knowledge and understanding of the design and analysis of optical fibres, laser transmitters, optical receivers, and optical communication systems.
  • Computer laboratory: The computer labratory assessment will comprise computer aided design and simulation modules. 
  • Final exam: The final exam will cover all aspects of the unit of study.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic honesty, academic dishonesty, and the resources available to all students.

The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic dishonesty or plagiarism seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of dishonesty, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 1. Optical fibre communications overview; 2. Key fibre system elements, lightwave transmission capacity Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 02 1. Optical fibres; 2. Single-mode optical fibre Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 03 1. Single-mode optical fibre; 2. Propagation modes Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 04 1. Dispersion in optical fibres and compensation; 2. Loss in optical fibres; 3. Specialty photonic crystal fibres Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 05 1. Principles of lasers; 2. Laser mode control Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 06 1. Laser characteristics; 2. Laser dynamic pulse modulation Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 07 1. Light emitting diodes; 2. Electro-optic modulators Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 08 1. Optical receivers; 2. Avalanche photodetector APD Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 10 1. Digital optical receiver design; 2. Receiver sensitivity Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 11 1. Optical communication system design; 2. Optical amplifiers Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 12 1. Optical fibre amplifiers; 2. Multichannel lightwave systems Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Week 13 Multichannel lightwave networks and systems Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Assumed knowledge: Basic knowledge of communications, electronics and photonics.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Prescribed readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas.

  • G. P. Agrawal, Fiber-optic Communication Systems. Wiley, 2010.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate the ability to undertake inquiry and knowledge development by first identifying the information needs and then effectively targeting searches of various media and formats such as the internet, library databases and electronic publications and synthesising the information most pertinent to the project at hand
  • LO2. demonstrate the ability to write reports to communicate technical and often complex material using clear and concise language, as well as a logic string of thought, for the presentation of lab and project work
  • LO3. demonstrate the ability to work in a team, assuming specific roles and responsibilities and drawing on the collective knowledge of the group to reach design solutions for optimised fibre transmission and optical transmitters
  • LO4. demonstrate the ability to design a complete optical fibre communication system to enable the design of data transmission optical systems, local area networks and multi-channel optical systems
  • LO5. demonstrate knowledge and proficiency of optical fibre propagation characteristics and transmission properties, using the principles developed throughout the course
  • LO6. demonstrate knowledge and proficiency of light sources including the principles of laser action in semiconductors, the characteristics of optical transmitters based on semiconductor and external modulation techniques, and the characteristics of optical amplifiers
  • LO7. demonstrate knowledge and proficiency of the principles of photodetection and optical receiver operation
  • LO8. demonstrate knowledge and proficiency of fibre devices and multiple wavelength division multiplexing techniques and application to multichannel systems and networks
  • LO9. utilise knowledge of the concepts in optical communications to apply the principles to the design of complete optical communication systems for data transmission and networks
  • LO10. demonstrate effective use of computer-based tools of analysis, visualisation and simulation in engineering work and draw out meaningful and applicable information, aiding a specific engineering project.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
No significant changes have been made since this unit was last offered


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.