RF Circuit and Systems Design

Key information

Start date: 04 July 2022

Planned to be face to face

Attendance dates:

July 2022: 04, 05, 06, 07, 08

Time commitment: 5 days


Stag Hill campus, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH

Contact details:


This course has been specifically designed to cover the major elements relevant to engineers working or starting out in the radio frequency (RF) field and should provide you with the expertise required to excel in this chosen field.

By joining some of the foremost experts in the field of RF engineering, you will quickly be given the tools to get to grips with the major aspects of RF circuit and system design. You will obtain an understanding of the technologies behind transmitter and receiver design including small signal RF amplifiers, synthesisers and PA design.

The course is usually very popular so early booking is advised. Numbers will be restricted to 12 attendees in order to allow for Social Distancing in the classroom and the laboratories. 

Who is this course for?

This course is intended for delegates wishing to consolidate and upgrade their RF knowledge to improve their effectiveness in implementing and using RF systems in the radio industry.

Good and comprehensive notes, enthusiastic lecturers… Would definitely recommend it to my colleagues at the same level for the purpose of learning and senior ones for refreshing… Excellent facilities, food, administration and parking… Lectures were passionate and informative.

Comment from previous student

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of how to apply RF systems and circuit design concepts in existing and future radio technologies, including use of S-parameters and the decibel scale.
  • Be able to design and analyse circuits containing active non-linear components most commonly used in active RF devices.
  • Understand how to use and apply data measured with RF test and measurement equipment including network analysers and spectrum analysers.
  • Recognise commonly used active RF devices and know how to integrate them into systems.
  • Apply circuit design theory within a computer simulation environment.

Course content

Please note that we reserve the right to alter the syllabus. Any major changes will be notified to delegates before the course starts.

9am - 10:30am - RF transmission lines
Dr Tim Brown

An introduction to the properties and characteristics of transmission lines for use at RF will be given. Included in the presentation will be an introduction to the Smith chart and its uses in RF circuit design.

11am - 12:30pm - Planar circuit design
Dr Tim Brown

The presentation will focus on microstrip, and the application of this technology for the design of RF circuits. The theory and design of some common matching circuits will be included, and the treatment extended to consider the design of planar lumped components.

1:30pm - 3pm - The Smith chart and lumped element circuit matching
Dr Tim Brown

Smith chart principles and trajectories. Designing of lumped element L-matching networks using a Smith chart. Wideband PI- and T-networks.

3:30pm - 6:45pm (break included) - CAD laboratory: Smith chart and matching
Dr Tim Brown and Wesley Buxton

Experimentation with the Smith chart and lumped elements using computer aided design software.

9am - 10:30am - Transistor circuits and automatic gain control
Dr Tim Brown

Understanding bipolar junction transistors and field effect transistors and their usage in RF circuits. The long tail pair. Use of long tail pair in an automatic gain control. Applications of automatic gain control.

11am - 3pm (break included) - Receivers and mixers 1 and 2
Professor Mike Underhill

Intermediate frequency filters. Mixers, intermodulation, phase noise effects in mixers. Regenerative, tuned radio and superheterodyne receivers. Mixer products. Noise and noise figure. Noise matching.

3:30pm - 6:45pm (break included) - CAD low noise amplifier design laboratory
Dr Tim Brown and Wesley Buxton

This laboratory covers a number of aspects of RF amplifier design, in particular matching, stability, gain and noise figure. Measurement and tuning of simple lumped element RF band pass filters. Measurement of RF noise and low noise amplifiers.

9am - 10:30am - Software radio basics and demo
Professor Mike Underhill

Receiver architecture. Signal representation. Modulation spectra. Bandwidth and noise. Digital filtering. Software defined radio receiver demonstration.

11am - 12:30pm - Oscillators and frequency synthesisers
Professor Mike Underhill

Phase noise and time jitter. Phase lock loop principles, frequency synthesis. Phase comparator noise and noise sources in the phase lock loop. Types of phase comparator. Divider techniques. The anti jitter circuit.

1:30pm - 6:45pm - Lab groups and MSc tutorial (Break included)

7:30pm - Course dinner at the RumWong Thai restaurant

9am - 10:30am - Classes and types of power amplifiers
Dr Tim Brown

Overview of power amplifiers (PAs). Which technology? PA non-linearity and effect on waveform. PA efficiency and class. Introduction to class AB. Introduction to doherty. Highly efficient PA techniques. PA architectures. Reliability and thermal considerations.

11am - 12:30pm - RF amplifier design 
Professor Ian Robertson

This lecture introduces the classical principles behind small-signal RF amplifier design - matching, stability, DC biasing, gain and noise figure circles. The lecture then covers practical design in a range of technologies and applications.

1:30pm - 3pm - RFICS and MMICS
Professor Ian Robertson

This lecture introduces the key active and passive components for GaAs and Silicon IC design. The most common circuit topologies are introduced for amplifiers, mixers, oscillators, switches, variable attenuators and phase shifters. Finally, recent developments in millimetre-wave silicon designs are introduced.

3:30pm - 5:30pm - Transceivers and handsets
Professor Ian Robertson

This lecture considers the different architectures used for modern transmitters and receivers in mobile handsets. A number of practical solutions and chipsets are studied and some of the key off-chip RF components are considered - filters, the PA and switches (including MEMS).

5:30pm - 6:45pm - Tutorial/lab visit
Dr Tim Brown and Christian Mattei

This session will be a continuation from the previous lectures covering useful tutorial problems. A laboratory visit will be conducted in the second half to the RF labs used in Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre.

9am - 10:30am - Non-linear characteristics of power amplifiers
Dr Tim Brown

Why linearise? Modelling device non-linearity. Linearisation choices. Introduction to polar loop transmitter. Introduction to feed-forward linearisation. Introduction to digital pre-distortion. Practical considerations.

11am - 12:30pm - RF filters
Dr Tim Brown

The essential theory pertaining to RF filters will be reviewed. The presentation will include the practical design of planar filters using microstrip technology, and the work extended to consider the application of recent multilayer planar techniques for RF and microwave filter design.

1:30pm - 3pm - RF antennas and propagation
Dr Tim Brown

Introduction to the key concepts of antennas: radiation patterns, gain, directivity, efficiency, polarisation, impedance. Simple free space propagation, multipath. Snell’s laws and ionospheric refraction. Fade margin.

Learning and teaching methods

Learning and teaching methods include the following:

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Computer based laboratory sessions.


There is no assessment for those who take this as an individual short course.

Course leader

Tim Brown profile image

Dr Tim Brown

Senior Lecturer in RF Antennas and Propagation

Entry requirements

There are no prerequisites required to do this course.

Recognition of prior learning

The format of the course is such that even those with only a rudimentary understanding of the topic will quickly be brought up to speed.

Fees and funding

Price per person:


Non IET members: Early bird rate*


IET members: Early bird rate*


Non IET members: Standard rate


IET members: Standard rate

* Early bird rate available up to one month before the course start date

What these fees include

Lunch, refreshments and course notes which will be provided on Dropbox or similar format.

How to apply

Payment can be accepted by purchase order, credit card or bank transfer on our online store.

Please note that we do not charge VAT as we are an educational establishment.

Payments will be accepted subject to availability. If making payment by credit card, please forward the transaction receipt by email to Barbara Steel.

Register your interest

Terms and conditions

When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations and our terms and conditions. You are also confirming you have read and understood our privacy notice.

  • Cancellations notified in writing ten working days before the event; we charge a cancellation fee of 35 per cent of the standard rate. If we have already received payment we refund 65 per cent of the full fee.
  • Cancellations within 10 working days before the event; We charge these at the full rate and do not give refunds.
  • If no written notice of cancellation is received, no refund can be made.
  • The University of Surrey reserves the right to cancel any event. In this case, the full fee will be refunded unless a mutually convenient transfer can be arranged. Details of event changes or cancellations are available by phoning +44 (0)1483 686040.
  • Delegates can make a provisional registration for a course by telephone or email. However bookings are only acknowledged formally once payment has been received.
  • Substitutions from the same company may be made following consultation with the Continuing Education Manager.
  • The University reserves the right to cancel any course on the grounds of insufficient numbers or for other reasons beyond our control. In this case the full fee will be refunded unless a mutually convenient transfer can be arranged.
  • Registrations cannot be accepted without a valid purchase order, credit card payment or cheque.
  • Proof of payment.
  • Registrations must come with a valid purchase order, credit card payment or cheque.


This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the commencement of the course. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.