Satellite Communications Engineering MSc

To learn more about Surrey and what we offer, sign up to a webinar.

Why Surrey?

Surrey’s satellite and space technology programmes are renowned internationally, and our graduates are held in equally high regard.

The Masters in Satellite Communications Engineering is a leader in Europe in equipping students with the necessary background to enter the satellite industry or to continue on to a research degree.

Programme overview

Our Masters programme in Satellite Communications Engineering is designed to give you the specialist multidisciplinary skills required for careers in the satellite and space industries.

We have an exceptional concentration of academic staff experienced in the satellite area, in addition to well-established contacts with all the major satellite manufacturers, operators and service providers.

Industry participates in the MSc programme in both lecturing and projects, and facilitates excellent engagement for our students. Graduation from this programme will therefore make you very attractive to the relevant space-related industries that employ over 6,500 people in the UK alone.

Read about the experience of a previous student on this course, Thanat Varathon.

Programme structure

This programme is studied full-time over one academic year and part-time students must study at least two taught technical modules per academic year. It consists of eight taught modules and a project.

Example module listing

The following modules are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

Facilities, equipment and support

Through consistent investment, we have built up an impressive infrastructure to support our students and researchers. The University of Surrey hosts Surrey Space Centre – a unique facility comprising academics and engineers from our own spin-out company, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.

Our mission control centre was designed and developed by students to support international CubeSat operations as part of the GENSO network, and it also supports the development of the University’s own educational satellites.

Our teaching laboratories provide ‘hands-on’ experience of satellite design and construction through the use of EyasSAT nano-satellite kits. They also house meteorological satellite receiving stations for the live reception of satellite weather images.

Elsewhere, our fully equipped RF lab has network analyser, signal and satellite link simulators. The Rohde and Schwartz Satellite Networking Laboratory includes DVBS2-RCS generation and measurement equipment, and roof-mounted antennas to communicating live with satellites.

A security test-bed also exists for satellite security evaluation. We have a full range of software support for assignments and project work, including Matlab, and you will be able to access system simulators already built in-house.

Satellite Communications Engineering students can also make use of SatNEX, a European Network of Excellence in satellite communications supported by ESA; a satellite platform exists to link the 22 partners around Europe. This is used for virtual meetings and to participate in lectures and seminars delivered by partners.

Our own spin-out company, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, is situated close by on the Surrey Research Park and provides ready access to satellite production and industrial facilities. In addition, we have a strategic relationship with EADS Airbus Europe-wide and several other major communications companies.

Educational aims of the programme

Our philosophy is to integrate the acquisition of core engineering and scientific knowledge with the development of key practical skills (where relevant). The programme aims to:

  • Attract well-qualified entrants, with a background in Electronic Engineering, Physical Sciences, Mathematics, Computing & Communications, from the UK, Europe and overseas
  • Provide participants with advanced knowledge, practical skills and understanding applicable to the MSc degree
  • Develop participants' understanding of the underlying science, engineering, and technology, and enhance their ability to relate this to industrial practice
  • Develop participants' critical and analytical powers so that they can effectively plan and execute individual research/design/development projects
  • Provide a high level of flexibility in programme pattern and exit point
  • Provide students with an extensive choice of taught modules, in subjects for which the Department has an international and UK research reputation

Intended capabilities for MSc graduates:

  • Underpinning learning– know, understand and be able to apply the fundamental mathematical, scientific and engineering facts and principles that underpin satellite communications engineering.
  • Engineering problem solving - be able to analyse problems within the field of mobile and satellite communications and more broadly in electronic engineering and find solutions
  • Engineering tools - be able to use relevant workshop and laboratory tools and equipment, and have experience of using relevant task-specific software packages to perform engineering tasks
  • Technical expertise - know, understand and be able to use the basic mathematical, scientific and engineering facts and principles associated with the topics within satellite communications engineering.
  • Societal and environmental context - be aware of the societal and environmental context of his/her engineering activities
  • Employment context - be aware of commercial, industrial and employment-related practices and issues likely to affect his/her engineering activities
  • Research & development investigations - be able to carry out research-and- development investigations
  • Design - where relevant, be able to design electronic circuits and electronic/software products and systems

Technical characteristics of the pathway

This programme in satellite communications engineering. provides detailed in-depth knowledge of theory and techniques applicable to radio frequency (RF) and microwave engineering.

The programme includes core modules in both RF and microwave covering all ranges of wireless frequencies and a number of application devices including radio frequency identification (RFID), broadcasting, satellite links, microwave ovens, printed and integrated microwave circuits.

Additional optional modules enable the student to apply the use of RF and microwave in subsystem design for either mobile communications, satellite communications, nanotechnology or for integration with optical communications.

The teaching material and projects are closely related to the research being carried out in the Department’s Advanced Technology Institute and the Institute for Communication Systems.

Programme learning outcomes

The programme provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, skills, qualities and other attributes in the following areas:

General transferable skills

  • Be able to use computers and basic IT tools effectively
  • Be able to retrieve information from written and electronic sources
  • Be able to apply critical but constructive thinking to received information
  • Be able to study and learn effectively
  • Be able to communicate effectively in writing and by oral presentations
  • Be able to present quantitative data effectively, using appropriate methods
  • Be able to manage own time and resources
  • Be able to develop, monitor and update a plan, in the light of changing circumstances
  • Be able to reflect on own learning and performance, and plan its development/improvement, as a foundation for life-long learning

Underpinning learning

  • Know and understand scientific principles necessary to underpin their education in electronic and electrical engineering, to enable appreciation of its scientific and engineering content, and to support their understanding of historical, current and future developments
  • Know and understand the mathematical principles necessary to underpin their education in electronic and electrical engineering and to enable them to apply mathematical methods, tools and notations proficiently in the analysis and solution of engineering problems
  • Be able to apply and integrate knowledge and understanding of other engineering disciplines to support study of electronic and electrical engineering.

Engineering problem-solving

  • Understand electronic and electrical engineering principles and be able to apply them to analyse key engineering processes
  • Be able to identify, classify and describe the performance of systems and components through the use of analytical methods and modelling techniques
  • Be able to apply mathematical and computer-based models to solve problems in electronic and electrical engineering, and be able to assess the limitations of particular cases
  • Be able to apply quantitative methods relevant to electronic and electrical engineering, in order to solve engineering problems
  • Understand and be able to apply a systems approach to electronic and electrical engineering problems

Engineering tools

  • Have relevant workshop and laboratory skills
  • Be able to write simple computer programs, be aware of the nature of microprocessor programming, and be aware of the nature of software design
  • Be able to apply computer software packages relevant to electronic and electrical engineering, in order to solve engineering problems

Technical expertise

  • Know and understand the facts, concepts, conventions, principles, mathematics and applications of the range of electronic and electrical engineering topics he/she has chosen to study
  • Know the characteristics of particular materials, equipment, processes or products
  • Have thorough understanding of current practice and limitations, and some appreciation of likely future developments
  • Be aware of developing technologies related to electronic and electrical engineering
  • Have comprehensive understanding of the scientific principles of electronic engineering and related disciplines
  • Have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of mathematical and computer models relevant to electronic and electrical engineering, and an appreciation of their limitations
  • Know and understand, at Master's level, the facts, concepts, conventions, principles, mathematics and applications of a range of engineering topics that he/she has chosen to study
  • Have extensive knowledge of a wide range of engineering materials and components
  • Understand concepts from a range of areas including some from outside engineering, and be able to apply them effectively in engineering projects

Societal and environmental context

  • Understand the requirement for engineering activities to promote sustainable development
  • Be aware of the framework of relevant legal requirements governing engineering activities, including personnel, health, safety and risk (including environmental risk issues
  • Understand the need for a high level of professional and ethical conduct in engineering

Employment context

  • Know and understand the commercial and economic context of electronic and electrical engineering processes
  • Understand the contexts in which engineering knowledge can be applied (e.g. operations and management, technology development, etc.)
  • Be aware of the nature of intellectual property
  • Understand appropriate codes of practice and industry standards
  • Be aware of quality issues
  • Be able to apply engineering techniques taking account of a range of commercial and industrial constraints
  • Understand the basics of financial accounting procedures relevant to engineering project work
  • Be able to make general evaluations of commercial risks through some understanding of the basis of such risks
  • Be aware of the framework of relevant legal requirements governing engineering activities, including personnel, health, safety and risk (including environmental risk) issues

Research and development

  • Understand the use of technical literature and other information sources
  • Be aware of the need, in appropriate cases, for experimentation during scientific investigations and during engineering development
  • Be able to use fundamental knowledge to investigate new and emerging technologies
  • Be able to extract data pertinent to an unfamiliar problem, and employ this data in solving the problem, using computer-based engineering tools when appropriate
  • Be able to work with technical uncertainty


  • Understand the nature of the engineering design process
  • Investigate and define a problem and identify constraints, including environmental and sustainability limitations, and health and safety and risk assessment issues
  • Understand customer and user needs and the importance of considerations such as aesthetics
  • Identify and manage cost drivers
  • Use creativity to establish innovative solutions
  • Ensure fitness for purpose and all aspects of the problem including production, operation, maintenance and disposal
  • Manage the design process and evaluate outcomes
  • Have wide knowledge and comprehensive understanding of design processes and methodologies and be able to apply and adapt them in unfamiliar situations
  • Be able to generate an innovative design for products, systems, components or processes, to fulfil new needs

Project management

  • Be able to work as a member of a team
  • Be able to exercise leadership in a team
  • Be able to work in a multidisciplinary environment
  • Know about management techniques that may be used to achieve engineering objectives within the commercial and economic context of engineering processes
  • Have extensive knowledge and understanding of management and business practices, and their limitations, and how these may be applied appropriately

Global opportunities

We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.

Learn more about opportunities that might be available for this particular programme by using our student exchanges search tool.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Tim Brown

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

Admissions enquiries:


Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: To be confirmed
  • Part-time: To be confirmed

Start date:

Sep 2017

Entry Requirements

An honours degree in electronic engineering, mathematics, computing or physical sciences. Our minimum entry level is a 2.2 from a good UK university, or overseas equivalent. Relevant industrial experience will also be considered.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, 6.0 in each component (or equivalent)

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2017 £9,000 £19,000
Part-time Sep 2017 £1,000* £2,200*

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/2018 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


The Surrey International Scholarship for Excellence

For all (with the exception of MBA) postgraduate taught courses starting in September 2017 within the Surrey Business School and the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management we are offering all applicants who hold a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent the opportunity to be awarded between £2,000 and £4,000 through the Surrey International Scholarship for Excellence Scheme. Download a flyer or read more for eligibility and to apply.

For more details

Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

For more details

Admissions Information

Our Admissions Policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.

Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

Find out more


Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

Our alumni