Postgraduate study

Signal Processing and Communications MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

The MSc in Signal Processing and Communications provides graduates and working professionals with a broad training in signal processing and communications, including machine learning and data science. It also offers you an excellent opportunity to work on state-of-the-art research problems in those areas.

Signal processing and communications provide the theoretical foundations for any application which generates, processes, transmits or stores any type of signal. Some practical examples include:

  • computers and smartphones, and the Internet,
  • video streaming
  • autonomous vehicles
  • wearable sensors
  • radar and wireless systems
  • sensor networks
  • medical images
  • financial products

Signal processing and communications are key areas underpinning the Internet of Things and machine learning revolutions we are experiencing today.

This one-year programme will immerse you in the most recent and exciting developments in those areas, including advances in modern machine learning techniques. You will learn about the theoretical foundations of the subjects, as well as about recent advanced topics and how they are applied to solve practical situations. Through the MSc research project, you will solve real-world signal processing and communication problems to demonstrate applications and delve deeper into the underpinning theory. The MSc projects are related to research carried out within the Institute for Digital Communications, often in collaboration with industrial partners and/or other multidisciplinary research centres.

Our programme is taught by excellent researchers at the cutting edge of their field, leading some of the most exciting recent developments. This means that you will benefit from close, direct contact with academics pushing the boundaries of current technologies including, among others, deep neural networks, compressive sensing, wireless communication theory, and numerical Bayesian methods. Our MSc also benefits from having access to dedicated high-performance GPU computing facilities for the MSc project.

The MSc in Signal Processing and Communications was established in September 2004 and, since then, over 600 students from over 30 different countries have graduated from it. This programme is the largest in the UK in this area and one of several in Europe which has a curriculum that covers both signal processing and communications, with a strong emphasis on machine learning techniques.

In summary, our programme places emphasis on fundamental concepts and how they relate to recent advances using real-world problems to demonstrate their practical application. By joining our MSc, you will work on state-of-the-art research problems and benefit from studying within one of the most industrially engaged Schools in the University of Edinburgh. After graduating, you could pursue a career in industries such as communications, radar, medical imaging, finance, and wherever signal processing is applied, or pursue research work in an academic or industrial environment. No matter what your preference is, the increasing demand for experts in the areas of this MSc means that you will be well placed to develop a rewarding and exciting career.

Who this programme is for

Our MSc is suitable for recent graduates who wish to develop the specialist knowledge and skills relevant to signal processing, machine learning, and digital communications.

It is also suitable as advanced study in preparation for research work in an academic or industrial environment or in a specialist consultancy organisation.

Engineers or other professionals wishing to participate in the MSc programme may do so on a part-time basis.

The MSc in Signal Processing and Communications is a full-time 12 month modular programme starting in September each year.

In the first two semesters, you will study taught courses including lectures, coursework, and practical exercises, with a total of 60 credits in each of the two semesters. Afterwards, you will complete a research project worth 60 credits.

The project is reported by an MSc thesis and it will normally be based upon a real-world problem posed by academic staff. The MSc projects are related to research carried out within the Institute for Digital Communications, often in collaboration with industrial partners and/or other multidisciplinary research centres. The total number of credits points for the MSc is 180.

Semester 1 (September – December)

Students must select 60 credits from the following courses:

  • Image Processing (10 credits)
  • Digital Communication Fundamentals (10 credits)
  • Discrete-Time Signal Analysis (10 credits)
  • Probability, Estimation Theory, and Random Signals (PETARS) (20 credits)
  • Engineering Research Methods with Grand Challenge (10 credits)

Semester 2 (January - April)

Students must select 60 credits from the following courses:

  • Digital Signal Processing Laboratory (10 credits)
  • Array Processing Methods and MIMO Systems (10 credits)
  • Adaptive Signal Processing (10 credits)
  • Machine Learning for Signal Processing (10 credits)
  • Advanced Coding Techniques (10 credits)
  • Advanced Wireless Communications (10 credits)

MSc Dissertation Project

In the summer months (May – August), you will complete your MSc project. Many recent projects use modern machine learning, including deep networks, as a framework for problem solving. If that is your case, you will have access to dedicated high-performance GPU computing facilities to accelerate the training of your algorithms.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2021/22

The MSc in Signal Processing and Communications is designed to provide excellent students with a 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 in those areas.

The objectives of our programme are to:

  • Identify fundamental principles of signal processing and communications;
  • Elaborate these principles in scientific and technological terms; and
  • Consider current limits and future priorities for signal processing and communications.

Topics covered in our MSc include, among others:

  • Compressive sensing
  • Machine learning and deep neural networks
  • Wireless communication theory
  • Numerical Bayesian methods

In addition, some of the courses and/or your final MSc project may require programming or learning a new programming language. Therefore, you will also have the opportunity to hone your skills in programming.

With our excellent employability record and internationally respected reputation, the University of Edinburgh is a reliable choice for developing your engineering career.

This programme will appeal to graduates who wish to pursue a career in an industry such as:

  • machine learning and deep learning
  • data science
  • internet of things
  • communications
  • radar
  • medical imaging
  • anywhere else signal processing is applied

Recent graduates have taken up roles in major international technological companies immediately after completing our MSc.

Our programme is suitable for graduates who wish to develop the specialist knowledge and skills relevant to this industry and as advanced study in preparation for research work in an academic or industrial environment, or in a specialist consultancy organisation. Some of our graduates have embarked in PhD research in world-leading institutions, either in the UK and abroad.

In summary, the increasing demand for experts in the areas of this MSc means that you will be well placed to develop a rewarding and exciting career.

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, typically in electrical 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, 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.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

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.
  • 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.
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: 62 overall 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.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

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.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Deposit

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

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MSc2 YearsPart-timeTuition 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 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 six 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 31 December 15 February
2 31 March 15 May

You must submit one reference with your application.

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