Short courses


Optical Transmission Networks

  • 150 hours
  • 8 weeks (1pm to 3pm each Monday) + optional exam


This short course on optical systems will give you an advanced understanding of the physical layer of optical transmission systems and networks on different time, and length, scales.

The course covers all types of photonic networks, from access and metro to wide-area networks; next-generation optical modulation formats and transceivers; optical signal transmission impairments and mitigation, and optical multiplexing methods, e.g. wavelength division multiplexing, and optical and electronic network switching technologies.

It's run by UCL's Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering.

Who this course is for

The department's short courses/CPD modules are aimed at those working in the telecommunications industry such as researchers, engineers, IT professionals and managers.

They're particularly suited to graduates in electronic and electrical engineering, communications engineering and computer science who want to further their knowledge on a particular topic, or work towards a Master's degree.

You don't need to have any pre-requisite qualifications to take this course.

Course content

During the course you'll look at the description of optical networks as a set of optical links, including the principle of wavelength routing on different time-scales (static and dynamic). This part of the course also includes optical interconnects.

On optical transmission the focus is on the elements of analysis and design of point-to-point optically amplified transmission systems as well as access applications. This covers in-depth understanding of optical transmission system design, optical amplifiers and amplified systems and the operation of wavelength division multiplexed systems.

We'll analyse both linear and nonlinear sources of transmission impairments and their accumulation with distance and interaction with dispersion.

The choice of modulation formats, fibre dispersion and electronic processing techniques are discussed with the aim of maximising the spectral efficiency, channel capacity and operating system margins.

Dates, assessment and certificates

Classes will be held from 1pm to 3pm on Mondays, over 8 weeks..

Teaching will take place in person with some materials available online. Please note, dates and teaching arrangements may need to change in response to government guidance around Covid-19.

The course is assessed by exam.

If you complete the course but not the exam, you'll receive a certificate of attendance.

If you take and pass the exam you'll get a certificate stating this, which includes your pass level.

Benefits of UCL's Electronics and Electrical Engineering CPD courses

You can take this course as a standalone (one-off) course/module, or accumulate it towards an MSc qualification (up to two standalone modules can be transferred towards the flexible MSc degree).

Benefits to the employee
The programme offers the opportunity for professional people working in the telecommunications industry to develop their career, be able to respond to changes in their environment, and learn while they earn. It's also designed to give you the opportunity of working towards an MSc qualification from an academic institution whose quality is recognised world-wide.

Benefits to employers
Our flexible CPD courses enhance staff motivation and assists in the recruitment and retention of high-quality staff. It enables your company to keep ahead of the competition by tapping into world-leading research, and to profit from UCL's world class Telecommunications and Business expertise.

View the full range of related courses available.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • understand the principles of optically amplified optical transmission systems, power levels, noise accumulation and the trade-off between system capacity and reach
  • carry out power-budget calculations for optically amplified links
  • understand signal transmission impairments: fibre dispersion, PMD, fibre nonlinearity
  • carry out calculations quantifying the effects of dispersion and nonlinearity on an optical link
  • understand the concept of spectral efficiency, appreciate the difference between symbol rate and bit rate, and describe the use of different modulation formats and other signal dimensions to increase capacity (such as polarisation and phase)
  • clearly understand optical system performance metrics: signal-to-noise ratio, sources of noise, capacity and spectral efficiency
  • understand trade-offs between optical systems capacity and reach, choice of modulation and detection formats, and implications on system performance
  • understand and apply the principles of electronic processing (transmitter and receiver based) and the basics of coherent detection
  • describe and analyse a variety of optical network architectures: access vs core, static vs dynamic operating on different time - and length - scales
  • analyse and design network topologies and calculate their capacities
  • have the knowledge and confidence to design optical communications links and networks on different time - and distance - scales
  • describe current research trends and explain expected future directions in optical communications with reference to key problems that need to be solved

Course team

Professor Polina Bayvel

Professor Polina Bayvel

Polina is Professor of Optical Communications and Networks at UCL and heads the Optical Networks Group (ONG), which she set up in 1994. The group's research is focused on the analysis and design of high-capacity adaptive optical network architectures, wavelength-routing algorithms, high-speed optical fibre transmission and the study and mitigation of fibre nonlinearities using a variety of signal processing techniques. She's authored/coauthored more than 360 refereed journal and conference papers, and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng), the Optical Society of America, and UK Institute of Physics.

Course information last modified: 17 Jan 2022, 09:40