Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Signal Processing and Communications MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

Signal processing and communications provide the theoretical foundations for any application which generates, processes, transmits or stores any type of signal. They underpin many of the technological advancements which are currently driving rapid change in industry, such as the Internet of Things, machine learning and data science.

Our MSc in Signal Processing and Communications will enable you to contribute to the industries and research that will help make our world smarter, healthier, and more sustainable.

You will be immersed in the most recent and exciting developments such as; deep neural networks, compressive sensing, wireless communication theory, and numerical Bayesian methods, and you will gain an understanding of the theoretical foundations of the subjects, as well as recent advanced topics and how they are applied to solve practical situations.

Through the MSc research project, you will demonstrate applications and delve deeper into the underpinning theory by investigating a solution to a real-world signal processing and communication problem.

Who this programme is for

Our programme is suitable for graduates who wish to develop specialist knowledge and skills relevant to industries where signal processing, machine learning, and digital communications are integral. It is also suitable as advanced study in preparation for a PhD in the field, and as a graduate, you could have the opportunity to obtain a scholarship to continue your studies with us.

How will I learn?

You will receive lectures, coursework and practical exercises to deepen your knowledge and you will have opportunities to:

  • learn from our internationally leading researchers whose research informs our teaching
  • hone your programming skills
  • access dedicated high-performance GPU computing facilities for your MSc project
  • engage with the Institute for Digital Communications, often in collaboration with industrial partners

The MSc in Signal Processing and Communications is a full-time 12-month programme.

Semester 1

  • You will take the following compulsory courses:
  • Discrete-Time Signal Analysis
  • Digital Communication Fundamentals
  • Image Processing
  • Probability, Estimation Theory, and Random Signals (PETARS)
  • Engineering Research Methods with Grand Challenge

Semester 2

  • You will take the following compulsory courses:
  • Digital Signal Processing Laboratory
  • Array Processing Methods and MIMO Systems
  • Adaptive Signal Processing
  • Machine Learning for Signal Processing
  • Advanced Coding Techniques
  • Advanced Wireless Communications

Courses can change from year-to-year. Those listed provide a representation of courses previously offered. Courses for the forthcoming year will be published on the Degree Programme Table in the Spring.

MSc Dissertation Project

In the summer months (May - August), you will complete your MSc dissertation project under the supervision of one of our academics.

Examples of recent topics include:

  • Speaker recognition using artificial intelligence analysis on vocal signal
  • Visible light communication for connectivity among autonomous vehicles
  • Realtime Detection and Identification of Underwater Objects
  • Improving image-guided cancer treatment by machine learning
  • Deep Learning for Computational Imaging
  • Multilingual detection of flu symptoms in tweets.

The programme is designed to provide broad training in digital communications, machine learning, and signal processing. We cover the theoretical foundations as well as advanced topics at the cutting-edge of current research.

The objectives of our programme are to:

  • identify fundamental principles of signal processing and communications
  • apply these principles in scientific and technological terms
  • consider current limits and future priorities for signal processing and communications.

The increasing demand for experts in signal processing and communications means you will be well-placed to develop a rewarding and exciting career.

On graduating you will be well placed to pursue a career in an industry such as:

  • machine learning and deep learning
  • data science
  • internet of things
  • communications
  • radar
  • medical images and physiological monitoring
  • audio and speech recognition and production
  • anywhere else signal processing is applied

Alternatively, you could choose to pursue research work in an academic or industrial environment or go into PhD studies in Edinburgh or in other prestigious institutions in the UK and abroad.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, typically in electrical and/or electronics engineering with a specialisation in signal processing and/or communications.

We will also consider your application if you have a background in a related field, such as computer science, machine learning, physics or mathematics.

Entry into this programme is competitive. A typical offer will normally require a UK first class honours degree, or equivalent, and high grades in fundamentals, such as mathematics, signals and systems, probability and statistics, and communications and signal processing are required. In addition, some of the courses and/or your final MSc project may require programming or learning a new programming language. Therefore, you will normally need to demonstrate practical knowledge and/or experience in a high level programming language.

Students from China

This degree is Band B.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:


If you receive an offer of admission, you will need to pay a deposit to secure your place.

  • £1,500 (this contributes towards your tuition fees)

Any applicants who are required to pay will receive an offer with full details. (If there is no information on your offer about the deposit, then you are not required to pay.)

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Living costs

You will be responsible for covering living costs for the duration of your studies.

Tuition fees

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Engineering International Masters Scholarships

  • £3,000

The scholarships will be awarded to overseas applicants who have been accepted for admission on a full-time basis for an eligible postgraduate taught Masters programme within the School of Engineering.

The scholarship will be awarded broadly on the basis of academic merit with candidates requiring a first-class honours degree from a UK university or overseas equivalent.

Learn more about this scholarship:

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Engineering
  • Sanderson Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FB

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications may close earlier than the published deadlines if there is exceptionally high demand.

We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline.

We aim to make the majority of decisions within eight weeks of the selection deadline.

If we have not made you an offer by a specific selection deadline this means one of two things:

  • your application has been unsuccessful, in which case we will contact you to let you know, or
  • your application is still being considered, will be carried forward for consideration in the next selection deadline and we’ll be in touch once a decision is made

Selection Deadlines

Round Application Deadline Decisions made or applications rolled to next deadline
1 15 December 1 March
2 31 March 31 May
3 31 May 31 July

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Engineering
  • Sanderson Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FB