Last Updated S012019


Unit Name Communications and Networks
Unit Code BIA206S
Unit Duration 1 Semester

Bachelor of Science (Engineering)

Duration 3 years    

Year Level Two
Unit Creator / Reviewer N/A
Core/Sub-Discipline: Sub-discipline
Pre/Co-requisites Nil
Credit Points


Total Course Credit Points 81 (27 x 3)

Mode of Delivery Online or on-campus. 
Unit Workload (Total student workload including “contact hours” = 10 hours per week; 5 hours per week for 24 week delivery)
Pre-recordings / Lecture – 1.5 hours
Tutorial – 1.5 hours
Guided labs / Group work / Assessments – 2 hours
Personal Study recommended – 5 hours

Unit Description and General Aims

The objective in presenting this unit is to impart to students the fundamental principles of communication systems. The subject matter covered in this unit will include: connectivity (cable and wireless) in the context of the OSI standard and its implementation in the TCP/IP protocol suite; basic TCP/IP protocols, in conjunction with specific networking devices, such as switches, routers and firewalls; and, communication systems-wide range of industrial protocols. The focus is on the physical layer issues to give some context to communication. This will be further built on in a later communication unit.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this Unit, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Compare and contrast cabling systems.
    Bloom's Level 4
  2. Compare and contrast standard connections (RS-232, RS-485).
    Bloom's Level 4
  3. Evaluate the principles of communication layering protocols.
    Bloom's Level 5
  4. Explain TCP / IP protocols (OSI layers 1 to 4).
    Bloom's Level 2
  5. Detail the principles of operation of typical network devices.
    Bloom's Level 4
  6. Compare and contrast industrial field buses and evaluate their relative advantages.
    Bloom's Level 4
  7. Design a wireless network.
    Bloom's Level 6
  8. Design a radio telemetry system.
    Bloom's Level 6

Student assessment

Assessment Type When assessed Weighting (% of total unit marks) Learning Outcomes Assessed

Assessment 1

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Practical / Remote Lab / Simulation

Example Topic: Cabling (copper and fibre optic), connection standards (RS-232, RS-485).

Students may complete a quiz with MCQ type answers and solve some simple equations to demonstrate a good understanding of the fundamental concepts.

Due after Topic 3 15% 1, 2

Assessment 2 

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Practical / Remote Lab / Simulation

Example Topic: TCP/IP protocols and network devices.

Students may provide solutions to simple problems on the listed topics

Due after Topic 6 20% 3, 4, 5

Assessment 3

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Practical / Remote Lab / Simulation / Project / Report

Example Topic: Industrial protocols, wireless systems. Students could design a simple wireless based network based on a site survey provided – using wireless software.

Students may complete a quiz with MCQ type answers or solve some simple problems or using software to complete a practical.

Due after Topic 11 20% 7, 8

Assessment 4

Type: Examination

Example Topic: All topics

An examination with a mix of detailed report type questions and/or simple numerical problems to be completed in 3 hours

Final Week 40% 1 to 8

Attendance / Tutorial Participation

Example: Presentation, discussion, group work, exercises, self-assessment/reflection, case study analysis, application.

Continuous 5% 1 to 8

Prescribed and Recommended Readings




Parziale, L, Britt, DT, Davis, C, Forrester, J, Liu, W, Matthews, C, Rosselot, N 2007, TCP/IP Tutorial andTechnical Overview, 8th edn, IBM Redbooks, ISBN 0738494682. Online version available at:
Dietrich, R 2004, Industrial Ethernet - From the Office to the Machine - World Wide, HARTING Electric GmbH & Co. Online version available at:

IDC Technologies, Setting up, Understanding and Troubleshooting of Industrial Ethernet and Automation Networks, IDC Technologies, Perth.

IDC Technologies, Best Practice in Industrial Data Communications, IDC Technologies, Perth.

IDC Technologies, Practical Data Communications & Networking for Engineers and Technicians, IDC Technologies, Perth.

Notes and Reference Texts

IDC notes and Reference texts as advised.
Other material advised during the lectures
Knovel library:

Unit Content

Topics 1 and 2


1. Cable characteristics (noise, grounding, shielding)
2. Practical cabling (standards, connectors, grounding, impedance, opto-isolators, termination, and transients)
3. Copper cabling (Near End Cross Talk (NEXT),
4. Coaxial cables (construction, characteristics)
5. Fibre optic (construction, multi-mode, single mode, splicing, connectors, testing, optical time domain reflectometer)
6. OSI Model
7. Context of layered levels of communication

Topic 3

Connection standards

1. RS-232 (connections, voltages levels, signal format, limitations, troubleshooting etc.)
2. RS-485 (characteristics, voltage levels, termination, repeaters, troubleshooting)

Topics 4 and 5

Network devices and TCP/IP protocols

1. TCP/IP protocol standard
2. Ethernet (Frame, half and full duplex operation, Virtual Local Area Networks)
3. Transmission Control Protocol (characteristics, operation)
4. User Datagram Protocol (characteristics, operation)
5. IP addressing, Address Resolution Protocol, Internet Control Message Protocol
6. Routing tables, default gateways

Topics 6 and 7

Industrial Protocols

1. Modbus (characteristics, protocol stack, application data units, master-slave operation)
2. Modbus TCP/IP (communication stack, headers, encapsulation, client server connection)
3. Distributed Network Protocol 3 (characteristics, frame format, DNP message, Plus, Data Highway Plus, HART)
4. MODBUS plus, Data Highway Plus, HART (media, physical and data link layers, architecture, frames, Medium Access Control)
5. DeviceNet, PROFIBUS, Foundation Fieldbus H1 (media, physical and data link layers, architecture, frames, Medium Access Control)
6. Third generation industrial protocols – Ethernet/IIP, Foundation Fieldbus HSE)

Topics 8 and 9


1. Wireless fundamentals (frequency allocations, dB, modulation, spread spectrum, multiplexing)
2. Antennas (characteristics, dipoles, reflectors, wave energy)
3. Site surveys (path profiles, zone clearance, layout, fading)
4. IEEE802 standards (bridging, roaming, MAC, Frames, selection)
5. Security (SSID and shared key authentication, encryption)

Topics 10 and 11

Radio Telemetry

1. Principles of operation (line of sight, repeaters, environmental factors fading)
2. Infrastructure, architecture, and security (site selection and access, antenna support, loading and torsional stability



Topic 12

Unit Review

In the final week, students will have an opportunity to review the contents covered so far. Opportunity will be provided for a review of student work and to clarify any outstanding issues.

Software/Hardware Used


  • Software: N/A

  • Version: N/A

  • Instructions:  N/A

  • Additional resources or files: N/A


  • N/A