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ES3C1 Measurement and Instrumentation

Module Leader: Professor D.P. Towersus.jpg15_cats.jpg

Co-Lecturer: Dr I.K. Liu

Module Information (Last offered 2014-15)


This 15 CATS module is one of the third year modules for:

Core: Optional:
  • Systems Engineering
  • Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering



All engineers rely upon data and need to be aware of its quality through an appreciation of measurement processes and the uncertainty inherent to them. Most modern products and processes involve direct measurement for control purposes, requiring engineers using them to understand the physical and design principles of the instruments used for measurement. This module addresses those requirements at a level considered essential for Systems Engineers and highly desirable for all Mechanical Engineers.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module the student should be able to...

  • Understand and respond to the need for rigorous and formal metrology concepts in designing and using measurement systems.
  • Recognize the limits on data imposed by measurement and analyse uncertainty in an appropriate manner.
  • Use basic statistical methods to aid data evaluation and decision making.
  • Appreciate how to identify and specify sensors (or complete instruments) for controlling machines and processes.
  • Understand the operating principles of a range of widely used instrumentation techniques and appreciate how to use them in the design of measurement systems


1. Definitions in formal metrology and standardization: precision, accuracy, discrimination, repeatability, calibration, traceability, etc.

2. The nature of measurement uncertainty: sources, typical forms, systematic effects and application errors, type A and type B models, formal methods of evaluation.

3. Statistical treatment of data: least-squares methods, significance in e.g the t-test.

4. Systems treatment of instruments: static and dynamic effects, response, bandwidth and filtering.

5. Transduction principles (principally with at least one electrical port)

6. Electrical instrumentation (voltage, current, passive elements, etc.)

7. Mechanical Instrumentation (displacement, force, pressure, etc.)

8. Design of measurement systems.

9. System calibration and evaluation – applications to machine tools

10. Optical Engineering

11. Illustrative case studies.

Teaching Methods

This module includes 30 hours of lectures and 2 hours of examples classes.

Required self-study: 116 hours


A 15 CATS module: 70% examined via a 2 hour paper

Exam rubric information

  • 4 Compulsory Questions

and 30% assessed consisting of a design report.

Links to:

Student Resources

Staff Pages

Reading List

Recommended Textbooks:

Dally J.W., Instrumentation for Engineering Measurement, 2nd. ed., Wiley, 1993

Bentley, J.P., Principles of Measurement Systems, Longman Scientific & Technical, 1995