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Networks and Distributed Systems, MSc in Engineering

Academic content

Academic content

On this page, we have gathered short descriptions of the four semesters, comprising the master’s programme in Networks and Distributed Systems. You may also find examples of projects made by the students.

See also the curriculum for the master’s programme in Networks and Distributed Systems. Here, you may find details on courses and projects as well as information on the programme’s legal basis, etc.


All bachelors enrolled in the programme who have not obtained their bachelor's degree from Aalborg University must take part in a course on problem based learning (PBL) as part of the 1st semester project. In case non-AAU bachelors get credit transfer for the 1st semester, they will be asked to take part in a course ensuring that they are trained in working according to the PBL-model. Read more about PBL here.


On the 1st semester, the main theme is scientific work, and you are going to write a scientific article together with fellow students. Moreover, you will do a project together. The project topic on the 1st semester is often networks – for instance, you may design a network for use in demanding situations, e.g. for handling the communication between dash board and the gearbox in a car. You may also choose to work with larger distributed systems such as cooperating robots. The results must be presented at a conference at Aalborg University, and traditionally, selected projects may be chosen for presentation at international conferences with participating scientists from all over the world.


  • Real-time networks over IP protocol
  • Networks for satellite communication
  • Intelligent control of capacity in wireless networks
  • Intelligent networks for disaster areas
  • Control systems for field robots


  • Stochastic processes
  • Distributed real-time systems
  • Communication networks and ambient intelligence (elective)
  • Wireless PHY/MAC fundamentals (elective)

2nd SEMESTER; distributed systems design

On the 2nd semester, you will design a large distributed system in which several subsystems must communicate and interact in order for the system to reconcile.

Via theory, methodology and practical work, you will solve problems such as how to make such robots work together, how to design a wireless unit that can last for 30 years moulded in concrete, how to ensure that both software and hardware of a satellite works properly before launch, etc., etc.

The semester project will often take its starting point in a practical problem presented by a company or originating from a research project, with certain requirements such as functionality, capacity, quality and reliability. The challenge lies in designing a network that lives up to the stated requirements, having first-class functionality despite e.g. low battery capacity.


  • Routing in wireless ad-hoc networks betweren cars
  • Localisation in wireless networks
  • Analysis of network traffic
  • Wireless sensor networks for gathering seismographic data


  • Wireless systems performance
  • Fault detection, isolation and modelling
  • Network performance and applications


On the 3rd semester, you begin your specialisation, and many students choose to spend both the 3rd and the 4th semester on their master’s thesis. The topic largely depends on your interests; typically, students choose subjects within analysis or network planning.

The 3rd semester mainly focuses on analysis; e.g. examining how a large system handles demanding situations, involving several factors at the same time. This could for instance be how an alarm system reacts to virus attack, or what would happen if seven components in an aeroplane broke independently of each other. Or what will be the future broadband network?  

In order to carry out such analyses, you need to have vast technological insight. On the 3rd semester, you will of course be taught technological and statistic disciplines enabling you to work with analyses such as these.

Apart from analysis, you may also choose to focus your studies on network planning. Here are subjects such as: What will be the future broadband infrastructure? How do wired and wireless technologies interplay, etc.


  • Energy control in wireless sensor networks
  • Intelligent traffic systems
  • Development of a system for IP-telephony and video
  • Navigation system for pedestrians
  • Total plan for broadband network in Iceland

On the 3rd semester, you also have the option of studying at another university outside of Denmark or spend the semester as an intern in a company.

3rd semester courses

  • Systems of systems/complex systems
  • Machine learning (elective)
  • Non-linear control systems (elective)

4th semester; master’s thesis

The 4th semester is reserved entirely for working on your master’s thesis. You have freedom of choice to a large extent when it comes to the topic. It could for instance be a research project or your own idea – the topic must always be approved by your thesis supervisor.

There are no courses on the 4th semester.

Study Method at AAU - Problem Based Learning

Study Method at AAU - Problem Based Learning

The study method at AAU is called Problem Based Learning (PBL). Together with your fellow students you will work with real life problems by way of problem based project work.

learn more about Pbl at aau