About this course
Our MSc Microelectronics System Design degree is a cutting-edge course, allowing you to choose from a wide range of modules based on digital integrated circuit design and analogue integrated circuit design.
Our Microelectronics System Design degree examines aspects of system integration and discrete device properties. It is also an excellent platform for further research in the Nano or Electronic and Software Systems groups.
We’ve led many of the most important advances in electronics and microelectronics over the past 30 years. This course will give you the highly sought-after skills for research or work in the industry.
You’ll gain key skills relating to digital and analogue integrated circuit design and electronic systems engineering. There will also be opportunities to engage in specialised activities around the production of system on chip design on both integrated circuit and advanced FPGA (field-programmable gate array) platforms.
Through this course you’ll learn how to:
- specify and design complex and highly integrated microelectronic systems
- model and simulate the behaviour of parts of microelectronics systems elements and complete circuits
- evaluate a device design using advanced simulation and modelling tools
- find, understand and explain literature related to specialised areas of microelectronics systems
- formulate a research project involving an advanced microelectronics system using appropriate the latest techniques, technologies and tools
Employability is a strong focus throughout this course:
- you'll have close links with all the major UK Design companies who recruit many of our graduates
- we have an ECS dedicated careers hub affiliated with over 100 renowned companies such as; IBM, Arm, Microsoft Research, Imagination Technologies, Nvidia, Samsung and Google
- we are second for graduate prospects in Electrical and Electronic Engineering in the Complete University Guide 2019.
Your course leader for this Microelectronics MSc is Professor Koushik Maharatna. Their recent research interests have a focus in biomedical and health informatics, biomedical circuits and systems, and engineering in medicine and biology.
This course is based at Highfield.
This qualification is awarded by the University of Southampton.
Download the Course Description Document
The Course Description Document details your course overview, your course structure and how your course is taught and assessed.
Changes due to COVID-19
Although the COVID-19 situation is improving, any future restrictions could mean we might have to change the way parts of our teaching and learning take place in 2022 to 2023. This means that some of the information on this course page may be subject to change.
Find out more on our COVID advice page.
You’ll need a 2:1 degree in electrical engineering or electronic engineering.
You must also have an upper 2:1 score in the following:
- 1 maths module
- 1 physics module
- 1 circuit module (e.g. circuit design or circuit analysis)
- 2 relevant electronics modules (e.g. electronics design, embedded system design, digital electronics, semiconductor devices)
Find the equivalent international qualifications for your country.
English language requirements
If English isn't your first language, you'll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. You'll need all of the following scores as a minimum:
IELTS score requirements
- overall score
We accept other English language tests. Find out which English language tests we accept.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
This is a full-time master’s course. You’ll study for 12 months, usually from September to the following September.
In semesters 1 and 2 you'll study the taught part of your course. This also includes the first part of the ELEC3221, including its formative assessment.
This part of the course is made up of some modules that everyone on the course takes, and modules we’ll ask you to choose from a list of options. You’ll also begin preparing for your research project.
You'll also have exams which usually take place in January and May/June.
Over the summer, you’ll work independently on a research project lasting 14 weeks, which will include a 15,000-word dissertation you'll be assessed on. You’ll have one-to-one meetings with your supervisor during this time to discuss your progress.
Want more detail? See all the modules in the course.
For entry in Academic Year 2022-23
Year 1 modules
You must study the following modules:
Digital System Design
The following topics will be covered: - How SystemVerilog is interpreted for simulation and synthesis - How to use EDA tools to configure FPGAs - The principles of functional verification of digital systems - The principles of Built-In Self-Test and s...
Your research project will enable you to explore in depth some aspect of your specialist subject area. You will be allocated a project supervisor with whom you will meet and agree a project brief and plan. These must be submitted to, and agreed by, ...
Research Methods and Project Preparation
The Module will prepare students for the summer Research Project and research based coursework exercises. It will give students a grounding in the research methods and techniques necessary in order for planning and successful execution and completion of t...
Secure Hardware and Embedded Devices
This course covers security and trust of hardware and embedded devices, with a particular focus on the emerging security challenges facing the internet of things technology. It includes the following topics: vulnerabilities in current digital system desig...
VLSI Design Project
Design hierarchical modules using a layout editor. Demonstrate project management and time management skills including working to deadlines and planning your work beyond the next deadline. Communicate your work accurately and concisely through writt...
VLSI Systems Design
This modules provides an understanding of the design and layout of digital VLSI circuits and systems through laboratories and design exercises making use of appropriate CAD tools.
You must also choose from the following modules:
Advanced Wireless Communications Networks and Systems
This module is taught in Semester 2. It is particularly aimed at equipping our MSc Mobile Communications and Smart Networking, and MEng Electronic Engineering with Wireless Communication students with advanced communication theory and technologies, vital ...
Analogue and Mixed Signal CMOS Design
The key aim of this module is to provide the background and the methods for the understanding of the operation of basic analogue CMOS cells, and how to design common functions. The emphasis is placed on design of analogue functions specifically as part of...
This module covers the mathematics, techniques, and applications of modern cryptography. We will look at the history of code making and code breaking, and draw lessons for the future from the mistakes and successes of the past. We will also give a gentle ...
Digital Systems Synthesis
Describe the design of complex digital systems using a (SystemVerilog and SystemC based) behavioural synthesis approach. Provide understanding of the algorithms which underpin behavioural synthesis including scheduling, allocation and binding. Gain ...
This module gives a broad introduction to application-specific processor system design and illustrates the use of such processors in the broader context of complex digital systems. A significant portion of the module assessment is coursework where stud...
Quantum Devices and Technology
The aim of this module is to provide an overview of advancement of quantum devices and technology in line with the development of nanoelectronics and nanotechnology. Students will gain knowledge of basic quantum mechanics and how the quantum mechanics are...
Learning and assessment
The learning activities for this course include:
- classes and tutorials
- individual and group projects
- independent learning (studying on your own)
What to read before you start
This course requires some pre-reading before you start. If you’re unable to find the recommended books, you can use similar books instead. Most of the books listed below will be used as course texts.
Programming is not explicitly taught as part of this MSc. You'll be expected to be able to program in C for some units and for the project. There are many suitable books available, for example, Buchanan, W., C for Electronic Engineering, Prentice Hall, 1995.
You should be familiar with:
- functions (arguments, return, scope, recursion).
- dynamic memory allocation.
- structures (declaration, definition, pointers, arrays).
- header files and modular programming.
- Digital Design - Zwolinski, M., Digital Design with VHDL, Addison Wesley Longman, 2000, ISBN 0-201-36063-2 [Shops]. You should read and understand chapters 1 to 7.
- Circuit Theory - Sedra, A.S. and Smith K.C., Microelectronic Circuits 3rd Edition. Read: Chapters 1, 2, 10.9-11 and 11.
- Signal Processing - Proakis J. G. and Manolakis D., Digital Signal Processing: Principles, Algorithms and Applications, 3rd ed., Prentice Hall, 1996.
- Digital Communications - Sklar, B., Digital Communications: Fundamentals and Applications (2nd Ed.), Prentice Hall PTR, 2001. Read: Chapters 1-4, 6, 7, 12.
- Wireless Communications - Rappaport, T. S., Wireless Communications: Principles and Practice (2nd Ed.), Prentice Hall PTR, 2002. Read: Chapters 1-5.
We’ll assess you through:
- coursework, laboratory reports and essays
- a dissertation
- group essays
- individual and group projects
- written exams
You will be required to carry out an individual final project which will be assessed by a 15,000-word written dissertation.
We’ll assign you a personal tutor, and you’ll have access to a senior tutor.
Graduates from our microelectronics master’s are sought after by commercial enterprises and universities worldwide.
We have close links with all the major UK Design companies who recruit many of our graduates. This degree also has a dedicated careers hub which is affiliated with over 100 renowned companies such as:
- Microsoft Research
- Imagination Technologies
Visit our careers hub for more information.
Through a mix of networks, mentors, societies and our on-campus startup incubator, we also support you to build entrepreneurship and professional enterprise skills. Discover more about enterprise and entrepreneurship opportunities.
Careers services at Southampton
We're a top 20 UK university for employability (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022). Our Careers and Employability Service will support you throughout your time as a student and for up to 5 years after graduation. This support includes:
- work experience schemes
- CV/resume and interview skills workshops
- networking events
- careers fairs attended by top employers
- a wealth of volunteering opportunities
- study abroad and summer school opportunities
We have a thriving entrepreneurship culture. You'll be able to take advantage of:
- our dedicated start-up incubator, Futureworlds
- a wide variety of enterprise events run throughout the year
- our partnership in the world’s number 1 business incubator, SETsquared
Fees, costs and funding
Fees for a year's study:
- UK students pay £9,250.
- EU and international students pay £28,000.
What your fees pay for
Your tuition fee covers the full cost of tuition and any exams.
Find out how to pay your tuition fees.
Accommodation and living costs, such as travel and food, are not included in your tuition fees. Explore:
10% alumni discount
If you’re a graduate of the University of Southampton you get a 10% discount on your postgraduate tuition fees.
Postgraduate Master’s Loans (UK nationals only)
This can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate master's course. Find out if you're eligible.
Funding your postgraduate studies
A variety of additional funding options may be available to help you pay for your master’s study. Both from the University and other organisations.
Funding for EU and international students
Find out about funding you could get as an international student.
How to apply
- Use the 'apply for this course' button on this page to take you to our online application form.
- Search for the course you want to apply for.
- Complete the application form and upload any supporting documents.
- Submit your application.
We will be closing applications to this course on Monday 6 March 2023, midday UK time.
Each year we see a large volume of high-quality applications and places for many of our courses are very competitive.
Application assessment fee
We’ll ask you to pay a £50 application assessment fee if you’re applying for a postgraduate taught course.
This is an extra one-off charge which is separate to your tuition fees and is payable per application. It covers the work and time it takes us to assess your application. You’ll be prompted to pay when you submit your application which won’t progress until you've paid.
If you're a current or former University of Southampton student, or if you’re applying for certain scholarships, you will not need to pay the fee. PGCE applications through GOV.UK and Master of Research (MRes) degree applications are also exempt. Find out if you’re exempt on our terms and conditions page.
When you apply you’ll need to submit a personal statement explaining why you want to take the course.
You’ll need to include information about:
- your knowledge of the subject area
- why you want to study a postgraduate qualification in this course
- how you intend to use your qualification
You'll also need to send 2 academic references.
Please include the required paperwork showing your first degree and your IELTS English language test score (if you are a non-native English speaker) with your application. Without these, your application may be delayed.
What happens after you apply
You'll be able to track your application through our online Applicant Record System.
We'll assess your application on the strength of your:
- academic achievements
- relevant professional experience
- personal statement
- academic references
We will aim to send you a decision 6-8 weeks after you have submitted your application.
If we offer you a place, you will need to accept the offer within 30 working days. If you do not meet this deadline, we will offer your place to another applicant.
Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive, we may not be able to give you specific feedback on your application if you are unsuccessful.
Equality and diversity
We treat and select everyone in line with our Equality and Diversity Statement.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
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