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Unit of study_

ELEC9405: Communications Electronics and Photonics

Semester 2, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit of study provides an introduction to the fundamental operation and design of transmitter and receiver subsystems for two broad classes of communications systems: those based on electronic transmission and those based on optical transmission. In the area of electronic communication subsystems, the course presents transmitter and receiver design. Topics relating to the transmitter comprise electronic oscillator sources, tuned electronic amplifiers, and modulators. Topics relating to receiver design comprise RF and IF frequency selective amplifiers, mixers, demodulators, phase-lock loops, feedback amplifiers, and high frequency RF and microwave communication amplifiers. In the area of optical communication subsystems, the course presents photonic transmitters and receivers. On the transmitter side this focuses on the principles of light generation in optical sources such as semiconductor lasers and light emitting diodes, electro-optic modulation of light, and optical amplifiers. On the receiver side, photodetectors, optical receivers, and front-end circuits are discussed. The principles and design of these subsystems are considered with reference to a basic optoelectronic communication link.

Unit details and rules

Unit code ELEC9405
Academic unit Electrical and Information Engineering
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge

A background in basic electronics and circuit theory is assumed.

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Xiaoke Yi,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Open book) Type C final exam Final exam
Canvas exam
70% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Small continuous assessment Assignment
Report and Quiz
30% Multiple weeks One hour for each assignment
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Type C final exam = Type C final exam ?

Assessment summary

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

For more information see guide to grades.

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.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity 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 integrity breaches seriously.  

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

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction: electronics and photonics communications Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 02 Feedback amplifiers Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 03 Tuned amplifiers Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 04 Oscillators Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 05 Optical source: LED Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 06 Optical source: laser Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 07 Electro-optic modulators Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 08 Optical amplifiers Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 09 Optical detectors Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 10 Basic optoelectronic links Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 11 Modulation and demodulation Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 12 Mixers Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  

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.

Required readings

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

  • G. Agrawal, Fiber-optic communication systems. Wiley
  •  A. Sedra and K. Smith, Microelectronic Circuits (2nd). Oxford, 2005

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. design, implement and test a complete electronic communication system that can transmit information, using technical principles and design methodology presented throughout the course
  • LO2. understand oscillator sources, tuned amplifiers, and modulators, including RF and IF frequency selective amplifiers, mixers, demodulators, and feedback amplifiers
  • LO3. understand light generation in optical sources such as semiconductor lasers and light emitting diodes, modulation of light, photo detectors, and optical receivers circuits
  • LO4. apply the principles of communications electronics and photonics to a basic optoelectronic link as part of a specific engineering design problem
  • LO5. demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental principles and concepts of electronic communication transmitters and receivers to the extent of the material presented in the course
  • LO6. describe the principles of optical communication transmitters and receivers to the limit of the material presented throughout the course
  • LO7. undertake inquiry and knowledge development using varied sources and media formats to synthesise and supplement information pertinent to the course work presented
  • LO8. make written presentations in the form of lab and project reports
  • LO9. work in a team and sustain the process of creative team interaction for the design of a complete electronic communication system by assuming various roles, being open to alternate viewpoints and contributing creatively to achieve completion on time and within scope.

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

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

New photonic labs have been developed which will be offered to the students in 2020.


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.