A Continuing Education Course on

8th April to 13th April 2019
The Heights Hotel, Portland
Portland, Dorset, UK


- General Information
- Topics Covered in the Course
- Course Fees
- How To Apply
- Transport
- Final Notes and Disclaimer
- Appendix: Typical Timetable

General Information

This is an intensive course for engineers and scientists from both UK and overseas industrial and government establishments. Lectures, tutorials and demonstrations will be presented by staff from:

Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering, The University of Birmingham


Atlas Elektronik

The personnel from the discipline of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering at The University of Birmingham have been active in underwater acoustics and sonar research for over 45 years. During this time the members of staff have presented numerous courses related to underwater acoustics and sonar. Initially, the courses took the form of Summer Schools. From these a one-year study period was developed which led to the degree of Master of Science. However, an important market need was highlighted by the steady stream of external engineers and scientists requesting to undertake relevant two-week and three-week modules from this MSc course. The recent worldwide economic downturn has highlighted the difficulty experienced by companies by losing staff to a training budget for two weeks. Thus, from 2009 the course was compressed into six (very full) days - this appeared to work surprisingly well!

The origins of the current course date back to 1974, when the Plessey Marine Research Unit at Templecombe (now Thales) commissioned an in-house, two-week course for their own engineers. This course consisted of an intensive set of lectures together with demonstrations and tutorials. Each Spring since 1974 this course has been repeated and updated in response to feedback from the delegates. An increasing number of engineers and scientists from the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment (AUWE) at Portland began attending the course and since 1980 the location has been moved to Portland for this reason. The UK Government's sonar research laboratories underwent several name changes (ARE, DRA, DERA) and finally in 2001 DERA was split into a Government laboratory (Dstl) and a privatised unit (Atlas Elektronik). Throughout, they have actively supported this course by providing syllabus direction, international marketing and a supply of experts to provide 'current research thinking' applications lectures.

Personnel from government research establishments and major sonar manufacturers form the majority of delegates. However, oceanographers, marine biologists and offshore survey cartographers have found the course useful. Participants on previous courses have come from many countries including: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Holland, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, and the USA.

The topics covered are extensions and applications of material usually found in first degree courses. The course is ideal for those who are newly graduated and who require a rapid introduction to the subject. Equally, those who have worked for some time in the sonar area are able to broaden their own specialist knowledge by attending the course.

As a result of the reputation of the course, five of the lecturers were sub-contracted by the Open University to write, produce and present the material for distance-teaching modules. These had been commissioned by a consortium consisting of the UK Government's research establishments and five companies involved in the UK sonar industry. The first modules were "Basic Underwater Acoustics & Propagation" and "Signal Processing". A number of other modules have since been produced which include "Oceanography", "Remote Sensing" and "Sonar Transducers". These teaching packages are used by the consortium members to provide basic training of their staff.

Topics Covered in the Course

The course will consist of six (very full) days of intensive lectures, demonstrations, tutorials and group design exercises. The topics to be covered are as follows:


Units and definitions in acoustics. The loss-free wave equation. Plane waves, acoustic impedance and intensity, spherical and cylindrical waves. Acoustic radiation, monopole and dipole sources. Radiation from a piston, directivity, radiation impedance. Acoustic scattering and target strength. Absorption. Reflection and refraction.


Oceanographic measurements, velocity, temperature and salinity. Ray theory, ray tracing, sound channels and normal modes. Propagation modelling and commercial software. Volume, bottom and surface reverberation. Underwater noise, its characteristics and causes.


Electro-acoustic transduction. Transducer modelling, equivalent circuits, and numerical methods. Magneto-strictive, piezo-electric and electro-strictive transducers. Sandwich transducers, quarter-and half-wavelength plates for high-frequency transducers. Hydrophones and noise in hydrophones.


Probability of target detection and probability of false alarm. Receiver operating characteristics. Signal integration, pulse compression, matched filters, correlators, range resolution, Doppler effects and ambiguities. Fourier-transform theory. Digital processing, the sampling theorem, dynamic-range problems, realisation of correlators. Software and hardware algorithms to compute the discrete Fourier transform. Correlation using frequency-domain techniques.


Directional patterns, angular resolution, uniform line arrays and line arrays with phase and amplitude tapers. Planar and cylindrical arrays. The spatial-sampling theorem, near-field effects and focusing.


Active and passive sonars, detection, classification and localisation. Range-resolution and bandwidth relationships. The active-sonar equation, noise and reverberation limitations and Doppler processing. Side-scan sonars, mechanical scanning and its limitations. The passive-sonar equation. Electronic beamsteering by time-delay and phase methods. Digital beamformers. The Fourier transform applied to beamforming and beamsteering. Passive-ranging methods. The application of modern devices and technology to sonar-system design.


The course includes several lectures by Dstl and Atlas Elektronik specialists illustrating applications of the course material to the design and performance of present day sonar systems. Typically this material includes: reverberation, noise, transducers, wide-band systems, applications of Fourier Transforms, applications of correlation, beamforming-in-practice, compact sonar systems, underwater communications, environmental impact and future developments in sonar.

Worked examples, tutorial classes and demonstrations are all considered important aspects of the course. Following the evening meal every evening, the delegates are divided into small groups and each group carries out a design exercise involving material relevant to the course. These exercises will involve about three hours of preparation followed by technical presentations of the designs.

The course will be presented by a team which may include the following staff from the University of Birmingham, Dstl, Atlas Elektronic and othyer international organisations:

Mr. Phil Atkins Dr. Tim Collins
Dr. John R. Carey Mr. Paul Doust Prof. Alan Parsons
Dr. Nick Chotiros (ONR) Dr. Chris Kavanagh (Thales) Mr. Steve Pointer (Atlas Elektronik)
Dr. Tim Clarke (Dstl) Dr. Geoff Searing

Course Fees

The cost of the course starts from £3400* inclusive of accommodation or £2585* exclusive of accommodation. Delegates are strongly recommended to stay in the hotel in order to obtain the best learning experience (as they will be working late every evening). The course fee includes the provision of printed notes, lunches and refreshments during morning and afternoon breaks and the course dinner to be held on the Saturday evening. Special terms have been negotiated with the Portland Heights Hotel for an all-in package deal. This includes the course fee, full board for seven nights and use of the gym at the hotel. Alternatively, the standard course fee is available for those participants who do not require accommodation. Extra nights may be booked at a discounted rate for those wishing to extend their stay by contacting the reception at the Heights Hotel (http://www.heightshotel.com) and mentioning the Sonar Course.

* Early-bird booking discounts apply:
£3400 - to 9th February 2019
£3570 - 10th February to 9th March 2019 (subject to the availability of hotel rooms)
£3910 - 10th March to 5th April 2019 (subject to the availability of hotel rooms)

How To Apply

Applications for admissions to this course should be made using the on-line booking and payment system.

This site will require you to sign up as a registered user, requesting information such as email address, etc.

More information on the course can be requested from the Course Tutor, Mr. P. Atkins (p.r.atkins@bham.ac.uk)


Many delegates choose to arrive via one of the London airports and spend some time in the capital before travelling to Portland. The simplest travel option is to catch a train at London Waterloo Station [WAT] to Weymouth [WEY], with a typical journey time of 2 hours 40 minutes. Advance single tickets typically cost from £50 at www.southwesttrains.co.uk. The No. 1 bus travels to Portland at fifteen minute intervals. Alternatively, taxis are available outside the station. Many overseas delegates hire a chauffeured car to and from the airport (more details will be provided with the post-registration joining instructions).

Final Notes and Disclaimer

A £300 fee will be levied for any cancellation made in the three weeks prior to the start of the course. This fee has been introduced in order to partially recover some of the costs incurred by the University prior to the start of the course.

The United Kingdom operates a NO SMOKING policy in all public areas.

Residential delegates normally arrive on the Sunday before the start of the course, 7th April, - where the first of the large meals will await them. The course will normally finish late on the following Saturday evening. Residential delegates will depart on the following morning, 14th April 2019.

The contents of this page are given for information only. The University of Birmingham reserves the right to make alterations without notice.

Appendix: Typical Timetable

Sunday: Resedential delegates arrive - an evening meal awaits

Monday: Basic Acoustics and Transducers
0900 Introduction to Sonar Systems
1000 Basic Acoustics
1030 COFFEE (Introduction to Design Exercise)
1100 Basic Acoustics
1130 Sonar Equation
1230 LUNCH
1330 Radiation
1430 Introduction to Transducers
1500 Transducer Modelling
1530 TEA (Design Exercise)
1600 Transducers (External presentation)
1700 Directivity
2000 Delegate-led design example

Tuesday: Scattering, Oceanography & Noise
0900 Oceanography and Introduction to Propagation
1000 Ray Tracing
1030 COFFEE (Design Exercise)
1100 Ray Tracing
1130 Normal Modes
1230 LUNCH
1330 Scattering and Target Strength
1430 Noise
1530 TEA (Design Exercise)
1600 Noise and Propagation Presentation
2000 Delegate-led design example

Wednesday: Reverberation, Active Sonar ROC & Narrow-band Passive Sonar Processing
0900 Reverberation
0930 Reverberation (External Presentation)
1030 COFFEE (Design Exercise)
1100 Introduction to Sonar Signal Processing
1130 Probability and Random Processes + Demonstration
1230 LUNCH
1330 Receiver Operating Curves (ROC) for active sonars
1430 The Meaning of Spectrum Analysis
1530 TEA (Design Exercise)
1600 The Fourier Transform
1630 Sonar Basics and Power Spectra
2000 Delegate-led design example

Thursday: Narrow-band Passive Sonar and Broad-band Active Processing
0900 Signals in Discrete Form
1000 The Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT)
1030 COFFEE (Design Exercise)
1100 The Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT)
1130 Processing Gain – An Overview
1200 Matched Filters
1230 LUNCH
1330 Chirp and Linear-period Modulation
1430 Band-pass and Low-pass Correlators
1530 TEA (Design Exercise)
1600 Transducer Matching and the Importance of Phase
1630 Examples of Correlation Processing in Sonar
2000 Delegate-led design example

Friday: Broad-band Active and Spatial Processing
0900 Frequency-domain Realisation of Correlators
1000 Ambiguity Functions & Reverberation Processing
1030 COFFEE (Design Exercise)
1100 Ambiguity Functions & Reverberation Processing
1130 Beam Forming
1230 LUNCH
1330 Beam Steering (Beams and diffraction secondaries)
1430 Demonstration (Simple Active Systems)
1530 TEA (Design Exercise)
1600 Acoustic Communications (Examples of External Special Projects)
1630 Practical Problems with Arrays and Beamforming
2000 Delegate-led design example

Saturday: Passive Sonar Performance & Applications Lectures
0900 Taper Functions, Taylor and Dolph-Chebyshev Weighting
1000 Planar & Cylindrical Arrays
1030 COFFEE (Design Exercise)
1100 Planar & Cylindrical Arrays
1130 Passive Sonar
1230 LUNCH
1330 Future Developments in Sonar
1530 TEA (Design Exercise)
1600 Presentation and Comparison of Design Exercise Solutions

1000 Sunday: - Delegates Depart