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Electronics: signal processing, control and communications

This module teaches industrially relevant skills in the application of analogue and digital electronics to signal processing, control and communications. Signal processing looks at the ways both analogue and/or digital filters can remove noise from signals. Control shows how using feedback and a suitable controller can change the dynamic behaviour of processes (electronic/mechanical or other) to meet a desired criterion. Communication shows how cables and radio waves can communicate data.

What you will study

This module takes the ideas that you know about basic electronic circuits, together with general engineering principles, and looks at three of the main applications of electronics. It comprises three blocks: signal processing, control and communications.

Interactive software and OpenEngineering Laboratory experiments support the course materials in all three blocks. Throughout the module, we use illustrative case studies.

Block 1: Signal processing
The first block introduces you to signal processing. It starts by defining what we mean by noise in a signal, showing how to explain this in the frequency domain. It then shows how we can remove the noise with the use of analogue electronic circuits – called filters. We’ll show you how to design filters to perform specific tasks by using mathematical models. We’ll also give you a refresher on complex numbers. The block ends with a look at digital filters. First, how we can design filters that run on computers and can perform many of the filtering tasks of analogue circuits. Finally, we look at aspects of processing that we can only do with digital signals, such as image processing.

Block 2: Control
This block introduces the idea of control theory. It discusses the basic principle of using feedback, as well as processes’ transient responses. Block 2 extends some of the ideas of mathematical modelling introduced in Block 1, so you can start designing controllers that produce the desired behaviour of a process. You’ll spend some time looking at how to implement controllers electronically in both analogue circuits and as digital algorithms. You’ll then look at some of the ideas of intelligent control, specifically fuzzy logic control and neural networks.

Block 3: Communication
The final block introduces the principles of communication, with emphasis on radio communications. It starts by looking at modulation, and how to encode a message into a radio frequency waveform. It shows the design and implementation of transmission and receiver circuits, and how radio frequency circuits differ from electronic circuits. You’ll consider aspects of both analogue and digital communications and explore the advantages of each. Finally, you’ll look at space communications – the problems that are inherent, together with the solutions.

You will learn

The knowledge and skills developed in this module are applicable in various engineering roles. At the end of it you’ll be able to:

  • describe the application of electronic systems in signal processing, control and communications
  • search and use relevant journal papers via the library website
  • work with signals, including sampling and filtering
  • design controllers to achieve a desired dynamic response
  • design radio frequency circuits for transmitters and receivers
  • work with equipment using the OpenEngineering Laboratory.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements to study this module.

However, we recommend you have one of the following:

  • passes in Electronics: sensing, logic and actuation (T212) and Engineering: mathematics, modelling, applications (T194)
  • engineering knowledge equivalent to OU level 1 and mathematical knowledge to A-level or above; plus a pass in an electronics module from another institution at FHEQ level 5/SCQF level 9

If you’re not sure you’re ready, talk to an adviser.


What's included

You'll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • access to interactives, Multisim Live online circuit simulation software and the remote OpenEngineering Laboratory to carry out practical activities
  • assessment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.

You'll also be provided with three printed module books, each covering one block of study and written especially for the module to explain the theory behind signal processing, control and communications. There are also three printed practical activities guides each covering one Block of practical activities.

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Corporate firewalls often block the video and data connections to the OpenEngineering Laboratory; therefore, we recommend a standard ISP connection. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Recent versions of the following browsers are most suitable for carrying out web-based activities:

  • Chrome
  • Firefox

Internet Explorer, Edge, Safari, and iOS browsers currently don’t support all the web standards used by the OpenEngineering Laboratory.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part. If you want to participate, you’ll likely need a headset with a microphone.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

Both the TMAs and EMA assess the module material as well as practical (Open Engineering Lab) and simulation activities.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your TMAs.

Block quizzes help you prepare for the assessments. The quizzes don’t count towards the final mark. Their purpose is to support your learning and determine for yourself how well you’ve understood the teaching.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying T312 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Electronics: signal processing, control and communications (T312) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2020.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2026.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school