Project code



School of Energy and Electronic Engineering

Start dates

October, February and April

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3-year full-time or 6-year part-time PhD project, to commence in October 2020 or February 2021. 

The PhD will be based in the School of Energy and Electronics and will be supervised by Dr Salem Aljareh, Professor Bill Dawber and Dr Branislav Vuksanovic.

Active radars provide the primary source of detection and tracking information for air traffic control and vessel traffic management, forming a key component of the national, commercial and security infrastructure. Conventional active radar technology is relatively expensive setting a practical limit to the number of radar systems in a surveillance network, which often results in significant gaps in coverage.

This project will develop techniques and technologies for ultra-low cost passive radar systems, which could provide affordable and extensive coverage at a fraction of the cost of conventional radar systems. Passive radar in this context exploits existing emitters such as radio and TV broadcasts, eliminating the need for expensive transmit hardware. The proliferation of software defined radio (SDR) has led to widely available low–cost hardware and software to receive, digitise and process radio frequency signals.

This PhD project builds on work completed through collaboration between University and industrial partner aimed at developing a proof-of-concept demonstration of passive radar detection of ships and aircraft using two low cost USB SDR dongles receiving the scattered transmission from the Rowbridge digital television broadcast. The proposed project will deliver a complete low-cost passive radar with the ability to use multiple transmission types from several disparate transmission sources.

The transmissions will be at different broadcast frequencies and potentially with different modulation types. Ideally, the radar will be able to process several simultaneous transmissions to provide frequency and spatial diversity. This novel multiple-input, multiple output (MIMO) approach exploiting both spatial and temporal diversity is expected to significantly improve the coverage and accuracy of the passive radar. The project will also investigate techniques to provide 360-degree coverage by combing the outputs from multiple antennas to provide all-round surveillance.

This project will also investigate the feasibility of multi-lateration using multiple geographically separated passive radars, each receiving multiple transmissions from multiple emitters of opportunity. This will further improve the MIMO capability of the radar network. The use of multiple antennas providing coherent phased array reception at each passive radar site should further improve signal reception when looking in only one sector.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

Entry Requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an Civil Engineering or related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

The candidate should possess an MEng or MSc in communication systems engineering, electronic engineering or physics with excellent grades from a reputable university. Knowledge in Radar Systems, Radio Signals and Digital Signal Processing (DSP is required. The candidate should also demonstrate a strong programming in Matlab and good mathematical and analytical skills. Experience using antenna design, C/C++ programming and knowledge in passive radar is desirable. This PhD study is part of a collaboration between the university and an industrial partner (leading company in technology and engineering) and the candidate will benefit from the collaboration during and after the study.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Salem Aljareh ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code ENGN4560219.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Electronic Engineering PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.