USQ LogoCourse specification
The current and official versions of the course specifications are available on the web at
Please consult the web for updates that may occur during the year.

ELE4109 Measurement Science and Instrument Engineering

Semester 1, 2013 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Engineering & Surveying
School or Department : Electrical, Electronic & Computing
Version produced : 21 July 2014

Contents on this page


Examiner: Andrew Maxwell
Moderator: Nigel Hancock


Pre-requisite: ELE3506


An instrument is an Information processing machine involving: sensing (usually analogue); signal processing (analogue and digital); reference to a scale of measurement or a standard; and, display or actuation. Although modern instruments are mostly implemented using electronic technology, their functionality is determined largely by embedded software. The physics of the sensing interface remains fundamental. Design of an optimal instrument (or instrumentation system) to meet a new measurement requirement involves the formal design methodology of measurement science: it is not adequate to rely on experience alone and an "off-the-shelf" solution will usually not be available. Hence this course does NOT present a traditional catalogue of standard techniques. In consequence this is a design-oriented course which seeks to develop cross-disciplinary skills in fundamental areas including the use of the Measurement Process Algorithm; the physics, classification and selection of sensors and transducers; theory of scales and standards; signals, systems and modelling techniques; evaluation of available technologies; manufacturing; economic and management implications. Advanced topics will be drawn from: fibre optic and silicon sensors; distributed sensing; rule based and fuzzy sensing; multisensor systems and sensor fusion; intelligence and mechatronics in instruments; and tactile sensing. This course is appropriate for students with a range of backgrounds in the senior or honours years of an engineering or science degree with an appropriate electronics background.


The course objectives define the student learning outcomes for a course. On completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. analyse general measurement problems in terms of referents and measurands by means of the Measurement Process Algorithm;
  2. analyse and model instrumentation systems in terms of information flow;
  3. define and explain common instrument performance parameters including static and dynamic response;
  4. analyse and model transducer performance;
  5. evaluate alternative technologies that might be applied in the realisation of an instrument;
  6. select and implement major signal recovery methods and strategies for signal-to-noise improvement;
  7. draw up specifications and plans for the development and management of an instrumentation system;
  8. choose appropriate transducers and instrumentation system components in the broad areas of temperature measurement and flow measurement;
  9. evaluate current developments and potential future directions in sensing techniques and measurement system design.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Instruments as Information Machines
1.1. The scope of measurement science and instrumentation engineering.
1.2. Measurement system architecture.
1.3. The differing roles of measurement - knowledge/calibration/control.
2. Identification of the Measurement Requirement
2.1. The Measurement Process Algorithm - attributes, referents and measurands.
3. Overview of Sensors and Transducers
3.1. Energy conversion, impedances
3.2. The information machine versus the energy machine.
3.3. Multi- sensitivity, influence variables.
3.4. "Latent Information".
3.5. Sensor individuality.
3.6. Sensor classification - self-generating and modulating.
3.7. Energy domains.
3.8. 2D, 3D and 4D sensor space.
4. Transducer Modelling
4.1. Reasons for modelling and types of model.
4.2. Energy flow modelling and terminal relations.
4.3. Overview of mathematical techniques, FDM, FEM, applications and examples.
4.4. Models as functional parts of instruments
5. Design of Measurement Systems
5.1. Philosophy, approaches, engineering design versus industrial design.
5.2. Specifications, the CAD and CAE of instruments.
6. Enabling Technologies
6.1. Electrical.
6.2. Mechanical/kinematic.
6.3. Fluid/thermal.
6.4. Radiative/acoustic/ optical.
7. Signal Recovery Techniques
7.1. Noise in measurement systems, white, 1/f, drift, offset.
7.2. Theory of averaging, the Boxcar, the Multipoint Averager.
7.3. Autocorrelation and crosscorrelation in instruments.
7.4. Modulation-based techniques, synchronous detection and "lock-in" techniques.
8. Transducer Practice
8.1. Temperature and flow measurement
9. Management of Instrument Systems 5.00
10. Current and Future Directions
10.1. Distributed measurement systems, field bus options.
10.2. Smart sensors, concepts, examples.
10.3. Fibre optic sensing, fibre optic fundamentals, sensing capabilities, options, examples.
10.4. Sensing for robotics, requirements, tactile sensing and imaging.
10.5. Distributed sensing; sensor fusion, concepts and requirements, introduction to fuzzy processing, robotic applications

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Bentley, JP 2005, Principles of Measurement Systems, 4th edn, Pearson Prentice Hall, New York.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Doebelin, EO 1990, Measurement Systems, Application and Design, 4th edn, McGraw Hill, New York, NY.
  • Lang, TT 1991, Computerized instrumentation, John Wiley, Chichester, NY.
  • Stein, PK 1991, The unified approach to the engineering of measurement systems, Stein Engineering Services Inc, Phoenix, AZ.
  • Sydenham PH, Hancock, NH & Thorn, R 1989, Introduction to measurement science and engineering, John Wiley, Chichester, NY.
  • Sydenham, PH & Thorn, R 2005, Handbook of measurement system design, John Wiley, Chichester, NY.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Directed Study 60.00
Examinations 2.00
Private Study 43.00
Project Work 40.00
Report Writing 10.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
PRELIMINARY DESIGN 100 10 12 Apr 2013
FINAL DESIGN 300 30 31 May 2013
2 HOUR CLOSED EXAMINATION 600 60 End S1 (see note 1)

  1. Student Administration will advise students of the dates of their examinations during the semester.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    (i) To complete the examination satisfactorily, students must obtain at least 50% of the marks available (or at least a grade of C-) for the examination. (ii) To complete the two assignments satisfactorily, students must obtain at least 50% of the marks available in aggregate.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without prior approval then a penalty of 10% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment will apply for each working day late.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of a passing grade, students must demonstrate, via the summative assessment items, that they have achieved the required minimum standards in relation to the objectives of the course by: (i) satisfactorily completing the examination and assignments; and (ii) obtaining at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for all summative assessment items.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks (or grades) obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    In a Closed Examination, candidates are allowed to bring only writing and drawing instruments into the examination.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the examination period at the end of the semester of the next offering of this course.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within five days if required by the Examiner.

  3. In accordance with University's Assignment Extension Policy (Regulation 5.6.1), the examiner of a course may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. The usual method of assessment submission for the Faculty is by written, typed or printed paper-based media (i) submitted to the Faculty Office for students enrolled in the course in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mailed to the USQ for students enrolled in the course in the external mode. The due date for the assessment is the date by which a student must (i) submit the assessment for students enrolled in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail the assessment for students enrolled in the external mode.

  5. The Faculty will NOT normally accept submission of assessments by facsimile or email.

  6. If electronic submission of assessments is specified for the course, students will be notified of this in the course Introductory Book and on the USQ Study Desk. All required electronic submission must be made through the Assignment Drop Box located on the USQ Study Desk for the course, unless directed otherwise by the examiner of the course. The due date for an electronically submitted assessment is the date by which a student must electronically submit the assignment. The assignment files must be submitted by 11.59pm on the due date using USQ time (as displayed on the clock on the course home page; that is, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

  7. Students who do not have regular access to postal services for the submission of paper-based assessments, or regular access to Internet services for electronic submission, or are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements prior to the submission date.

  8. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded the temporary grade: IM (Incomplete - Make up). An IM grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non-directed personal study.

  9. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  10. Harvard (AGPS) is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use Harvard (AGPS) style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide.

Evaluation and benchmarking

In meeting the University's aims to establish quality learning and teaching for all programs, this course monitors and ensures quality assurance and improvements in at least two ways. This course: 1. Conforms to the USQ Policy on Evaluation of Teaching, Courses and Programs to ensure ongoing monitoring and systematic improvement. 2. Forms part of the Bachelor of Engineering and/or Bachelor of Engineering Technology program and is benchmarked against the: - USQ accreditation/reaccreditation processes which include (i) stringent standards in the independent accreditation of its academic programs, (ii) close integration between business and academic planning, and (iii) regular and rigorous review; and - professional accreditation standards of Engineers Australia.