Satellite Communications Engineering MSc
Why choose this course
Satellites give us an unprecedented perspective of our planet, enhance travel and provide global communications.
At Surrey, we’re internationally renowned for our work in satellite communications, broadcasting, terrestrial mobile networks and the internet: essential components of modern communication and information.
Our MSc in Satellite Communications Engineering is taught by academics and researchers with extensive theoretical expertise and practical experience. Thus it gives you a learning experience that really is out of this world.
What you will study
Mobile communications provide terrestrial coverage in densely populated areas. Satellite communications enable wireless communication in regions where mobile networking may not be cost-effective or possible.
Our course will give you an in-depth understanding of the engineering aspects of these important current and future technologies.
We have useful contacts with major satellite manufacturers, operators and service providers. We’re also proud to be a major hub for terrestrial communications research, being home to the world’s largest academic research group specialising in 5G communications.
Our forward-thinking 5G Innovation Centre was founded by major national and international players in the communications industry, including the UK’s major mobile operators. Here, the focus is on the research and development of mobile communications and wireless technology capable of meeting the needs of the digital economy and the world of tomorrow. In addition, we are also researching how satellites will integrate with future 5G technology.
MSc - Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).
Accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology on behalf of the Engineering Council as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer. Candidates must hold a CEng accredited BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree to comply with full CEng registration requirements.
Study and work abroad
There may be opportunities to acquire valuable European experience by working or conducting research abroad during your degree or shortly afterwards. It is possible to do this in the summer period with an Erasmus+ grant working on your dissertation or as a recent graduate. In order to qualify your Erasmus+ traineeship must be a minimum of two months.
Facilities, equipment and support
Through consistent investment, we have built up an impressive infrastructure to support you. 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 a network analyser and signal and satellite link simulators. The Rohde and Schwartz Satellite Networking Laboratory includes DVBS2-RCS generation and measurement equipment, and roof-mounted antennas for 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.
Technical characteristics of the pathway
The course in satellite communications engineering provides detailed and in-depth knowledge of the theory and techniques applicable to communications techniques and spacecraft design.
Our course also includes a range of modules in communications techniques and networking as well as satellite engineering and spacecraft design and operations.
Additional optional modules enable you 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 Institute for Communications Systems, the 5G Innovation Centre and the Surrey Space Centre.
Our current research concerns high throughput satellite design with advanced payload techniques. We are also working on mega constellations of satellites and on satellites within 5G, while on the networking side, work focuses on advanced internet over satellite and satellite security systems. You will do your project with the research teams in these areas and learn from specifically tailored modules on these advanced techniques.
Graduates from this course are to be found in most of the main satellite companies and form an active Surrey alumni group. Companies which have employed our graduates include Inmarsat, SES, Eutelsat and Airbus.
EVANS BG Prof (Elec Elec En)
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. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. 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.
Academic year structure
If you wish to study the full-time course, you will take eight modules. You can expect four modules to be studied in each semester. In these semesters, you will also apply for and agree a project with an academic supervisor and begin work on the project. You will move on to full-time work on this project after the end of Semester 2. After this, you have approximately two and a half months to complete the work and write your dissertation.
If you’re considering doing our course part time, you’ll study for between two to five years. The length depends on how many modules you study each year. You will study between two and six modules per year. For part-time study, we’d recommend that you do your project in your final year. This will be after you have completed all eight modules or at a time when they are near completion.
Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that modules may be subject to teaching availability, student demand and/or class size caps.
The University operates a credit framework for all taught programmes based on a 15-credit tariff. Modules can be either 15, 30, 45 or 60 credits, and additionally for some masters dissertations, 90 credits.
The structure of our programmes follows clear educational aims that are tailored to each programme. These are all outlined in the programme specifications which include further details such as the learning outcomes:
Year 1 (full-time)
Optional modules for Year 1 (full-time) - FHEQ Levels 6 and 7
FOUR in total
A full-time student must choose:
TWO in Semester 1
TWO in Semester 2
A part-time student must complete study of four optional modules within 60 months.
Unstructured (3-5 years)
Course timetables are normally available one month before the start of the semester. Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week (Monday–Friday). Wednesday afternoons are normally reserved for sports and cultural activities. Part-time classes are normally scheduled on one or two days per week, details of which can be obtained from the course administrators. View our Timetabling Policy (PDF).
Learning and disability
We have two services, Academic Skills and Development and the Disability and Neurodiversity Service which can help develop your learning.
Academic Skills and Development
Academic Skills and Development is a learning space in the Library where our learning development team is based. It comprises dedicated Student Learning Advisers and Information Skills Librarians who can help you develop your academic and research skills, including writing, presenting, revision and critical thinking.
Find out more about the study support available.
Disability and Neurodiversity Service
The University’s Disability and Neurodiversity Service supports students with disabilities, long-term health conditions, specific learning differences (such as dyslexia and dyspraxia) and other neurodiverse conditions (including autism spectrum and attention deficit disorder).
If you tell us about any conditions and register with us, we can give you appropriate support during your studies.
We can arrange exam and learning support adjustments, give advice on applications for the Disabled Students' Allowance, and test you for dyslexia and dyspraxia. We can also offer regular study skills and mentoring support.
English language support
Our English Language Support Programme (ELSP) provides tailored English language support during your studies. It is particularly valuable to students who speak English as a second or additional language, but native speakers are also welcome.
A minimum of a 2:2 UK honours degree in either Communication Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information and Communication Technologies, Physics or Telecommunication Engineering, or a recognised equivalent international qualification. We'll also consider relevant work experience if you don't meet these requirements.
View entry requirements by country
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 6.5 overall with 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in each other element.
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
The University of Surrey recognises that many students enter their higher education course with valuable knowledge and skills developed through a range of professional, vocational and community contexts. If this applies to you, a process called recognition of prior learning (RPL) may allow you to enter your course at a point appropriate to your previous learning and experience, or to join the start of a course without the formal entry requirements. This means that you may be exempt from certain elements of study in the course for which you have applied and be awarded credit based on your previous qualifications/experience. There are restrictions on RPL for some courses and fees may be payable for certain claims.
Please see the code of practice for recognition of prior learning and prior credit: taught programmes (PDF) for further information. Please email Admissions with any queries.
- These fees apply to students commencing study in the academic year 2019-20 only. Fees for new starters are reviewed annually.
- If you are on an unstructured self-paced part-time course, the fee shown is per 15 credits for the 2019-20 academic year. The fee payable in subsequent years will be reviewed annually.
Scholarships and bursaries
We're committed to making sure that we offer support for students who might need it.