Photonic Integrated Circuits, Sensors and Networks (PIXNET) MSc – 2 years

Join our unique, two year, joint masters course in photonics integration and kick start your career in this rapidly expanding industry.

A partnership programme with universities in Italy, Netherlands and Japan

Course type


Course format

Integrated international placement


2 years full-time

UCAS code(s)


Start date

Why explore the Erasmus Mundus Photonic Integrated Circuits, Sensors and Networks programme

Head of Group for Electronic Engineering, John Williams, discusses his experiences of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

UK postgraduate loans are nowopen

UK postgraduate loans have now opened. If you’re starting a masters course on or after 1 August 2021, you can apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £11,570 to help with course fees and living costs.

Find out more

Photonic Integrated Circuits, Sensors and Networks (PIXNET) MSc – 2 years
University of the year

Course outline and modules

PIXNET is a unique two year Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree course supported by European Union funding. 
Offered jointly by four universities across the world, you’ll benefit from the distinctive and complementary academic qualities and strong educational and research environments of each one, graduating with two, full masters qualifications. 
You’ll also benefit from the involvement of industrial partners who will give you the opportunity to bridge the gap between your academic knowledge and its real-world applications. This will be especially helpful as you work on your masters project. 
What you’ll learn 

During this two year course you’ll study a crucial field in the evolution of information and communications devices. You’ll learn about the role of photonics integration within communications, sensing and switching, all of which will significantly enhance your employability when you graduate. 
Our course gives you the knowledge and skills to design, build and evaluate innovative, integrated devices based on photonic technologies. It’s an interdisciplinary initiative to train telecommunications and electrical engineers to investigate the adoption of Photonic Integrated Circuits (PIC) as a central pillar in the evolution of information and communication devices.  
There are five specialisms you can choose as a student on this collaborative course:

•    Optical switching technologies 
•    Optical transceiver technologies 
•    Design of photonic integrated devices 
•    Photonic integrated devices manufacturing 
•    Theory and techniques for photonic integrated devices. 


Core modules:

•    Radio Systems and Personal Communication Networks
•    Optical Networks
•    Modelling and Characterisation of Fibre Photonic Devices
•    Optical Communications Systems
•    MSc Dissertation

You will need to choose four of the following module options:

•    Machine Learning (*compulsory for first year students)
•    Introduction to Parallel Programming Techniques
•    Broadband Wireless Networks
•    Strategic Management and Finance
•    Digital Communication and Information Theory
•    5G Signal Processing
•    Project Management
•    Internet of Things
University partners 

The PIXNET course is delivered in partnership between Aston, the Scuola Superiore Sant’anna (Pisa, Italy), Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (Netherlands) and Osaka University (Japan). 
Industrial partners 

We also have strong relationships with a wide range of multinational organisations who contribute significantly to the course through their own expertise. There are 19 formal Associated Partners including Ericsson, STMicroelectronics, TIM, Trenitalia, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana and ten specialist SMEs. 

Entry requirements

The information contained on this website details the typical entry requirements for this course for the most commonly offered qualifications. Applicants with alternative qualifications may wish to enquire with the relevant admissions teams prior to application whether or not their qualifications are deemed acceptable. For less commonly encountered qualifications this will be judged on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the academic admissions tutor. 

Learning, teaching and assessment

Learning will be a combination of formal lectures, seminars, workshops as well as individual and group projects and presentations.   

Assessment will be through a combination of assignments and exams, with a major project contributing to the final grade.  

Fees and scholarships

Erasmus Mundus 2 year programme

Scholarship and self-funded places available

Please see for full details

UK postgraduate loans are now open

If you’re starting a masters course on or after 1 August 2021, you can apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £11,570 to help with course fees and living costs.

UK postgraduate loans are now open


At Aston University we are committed to supporting the most talented and hardworking students to achieve their potential by providing a range of scholarships to help lower tuition and living costs. Find out more about our scholarships here.

20 per cent postgraduate alumni scholarship


Career prospects

This course will give you not only the theoretical knowledge but also the transferable skills to play a leading role in the evolution of integrated photonics as a key technology for the future development of many modern industries, including ICT, biomedical industries, sensing and the aerospace industry. 

There is a huge demand from industry for graduates with these skills and those graduating fromsimilar courses have gone on to further study at European institutions or into senior level roles in industry.

International students

Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students on many of our postgraduate programmes. Students from over 120 different countries chose to study with us every year and Aston is not only a great place to study, based in the centre of Birmingham it’s also a great place to live.

Post-study work visa

Aston University welcomed the creation of a new immigration route which will enable international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies to find work. The new post-study work visa will apply to international students starting undergraduate and postgraduate courses from 2020.
More information on post-work visas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why study this PIXNET course at Aston? 

You’ll graduate with a joint masters, having benefitted from the input of four universities across the world, each with its own specialisms.  

This will put you in a strong position as you enter the market as an engineer with expertise in this area, which is currently in high demand. 

What will I be doing on the PIXNET course at Aston? 

You will be gaining the knowledge and skills you need to develop your career and take on a senior engineering management role. You’ll learn through a series of taught modules and undertaking a major project.  

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