Engineering Institute of Technology


Unit Name


Unit Code



Unit Duration



Bachelor of Science (Engineering)


Duration 3 years

Year Level


Unit Creator/Reviewer






Credit Points



Total Program Credit Points 81 (27 x 3)

Mode of Delivery

Online or on-campus.

Unit Workload

(Total student workload including “contact hours” = 10 hours per week)

Pre-recordings / Lecture – 1.5 hours Tutorial – 1.5 hours

Guided labs / Group work / Assessments – 2 hours Personal Study recommended - 5 hours

The objective of this unit is to impart to students a detailed knowledge of the imperatives and configurations used for remote monitoring of power systems, particularly communication hardware and protocols. Information presented in this unit will also include: the importance of vendor-independent systems; how this objective is achieved by various standardisation efforts, including IEC standard 61850; and, the role played by OPC specifications. Students will complete a project covering the design of a power system monitoring facility for a distribution network of a large city.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this Unit, students are expected to be able to:


  1. Explain the need/importance of remote monitoring and control of large power networks, and the emphasis on security.

  2. Apply the basic principles of industrial data communications to a range of scenarios.

  3. Evaluate and compare the communication protocols adopted in power network monitoring systems according to application.

  4. Demonstrate using practical examples how the standardisation of communication devices and protocols can achieve vendor independent systems.

  5. Demonstrate the application of OPC data access specifications in power network monitoring systems.

  6. Analyse the role of IEC 61850 standards for power system automation.

    Completing this unit may add to students professional development/competencies by:

    1. Fostering personal and professional skills and attributes in order to:

      1. Conduct work in a professionally diligent, accountable and ethical manner.

      2. Effectively use oral and written communication in personal and professional domains.

      3. Foster applicable creative thinking, critical thinking and problem solving skills.

      4. Develop initiative and engagement in lifelong learning and professional development.

      5. Enhance collaboration outcomes and performance in dynamic team roles.

      6. Effectively plan, organise, self-manage and manage others.

      7. Professionally utilise and manage information.

      8. Enhance technologist literacy and apply contextualised technologist skills.

    2. Enhance investigatory and research capabilities in order to:

      1. Develop an understanding of systematic, fundamental scientific, mathematic principles, numerical analysis techniques and statistics applicable to technologists.

      2. Access, evaluate and analyse information on technologist processes, procedures, investigations and the discernment of technologist knowledge development.

      3. Foster an in-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge, computer science, engineering design practice and contextual factors applicable to technologists.

      4. Solve basic and open-ended engineering technologist problems.

      5. Understand the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds associated with sustainable engineering practice.

    3. Develop engineering application abilities in order to:

      1. Apply established engineering methods to broadly-defined technologist problem solving.

      2. Apply engineering technologist techniques, tool and resources.

      3. Apply systematic technologist synthesis and design processes.

      4. Systematically conduct and manage technologist projects, work assignments, testing and experimentation.

The Australian Engineering Stage 1 Competency Standards for Engineering Technologists, approved as of 2013. This table is referenced in the mapping of graduate attributes to learning outcomes and via the learning outcomes to student assessment.


Stage 1 Competencies and Elements of Competency


Knowledge and Skill Base


Systematic, theory based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the technology domain.


Conceptual understanding of the, mathematics, numerical analysis, statistics, and computer and information sciences which underpin the technology domain.


In-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the technology domain.


Discernment of knowledge development within the technology domain.


Knowledge of engineering design practice and contextual factors impacting the technology domain.


Understanding of the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of sustainable engineering practice in the technology domain.


Engineering Application Ability


Application of established engineering methods to broadly-defined problem solving within the technology domain.


Application of engineering techniques, tools and resources within the technology domain.


Application of systematic synthesis and design processes within the technology domain.


Application of systematic approaches to the conduct and management of projects within the technology domain.


Professional and Personal Attributes


Ethical conduct and professional accountability.


Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains.


Creative, innovative and pro-active demeanour.


Professional use and management of information.


Orderly management of self and professional conduct.


Effective team membership and team leadership.

Successfully completing this Unit will contribute to the recognition of attainment of the following graduate attributes aligned to the AQF Level 7 criteria, Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competency Standards for Engineering Technologists and the Sydney Accord:


Graduate Attributes

(Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Professional and Personal Development)

EA Stage 1 Competencies

Learning Outcomes

A. Knowledge of Science and Engineering Fundamentals

A1. Breadth of knowledge of engineering and systematic, theory-based understanding of underlying principles, and depth of knowledge across one or more engineering sub- disciplines


1.1, 1.3


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

A2. Knowledge of mathematical, statistical and computer sciences appropriate for engineering technology




2, 3

A3. Discernment of knowledge development within the technology domain


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

A4. Knowledge of engineering design practice and contextual factors impacting the technology domain





B. Problem Solving, Critical Analysis and Judgement

B1. Ability to research, synthesise, evaluate and innovatively apply theoretical concepts, knowledge and approaches across diverse engineering technology contexts to effectively solve engineering problems


1.4, 2.1, 2.3


4, 5

B2. Technical and project management skills to design complex systems and solutions in line with developments in engineering technology professional practice


2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.2


C. Effective Communication

C1. Cognitive and technical skills to investigate, analyse and organise information and ideas and to communicate those ideas clearly and fluently, in both written and spoken forms appropriate to the audience




1, 2, 3, 4, 5

C2. Ability to engage effectively and appropriately across a diverse range of cultures



D. Design and Project Management

D1. Apply systematic synthesis and design processes within the technology domain

2.1, 2.2, 2.3

4, 5

D2. Apply systematic approaches to the conduct and management of projects within the technology domain




E. Accountability, Professional and Ethical Conduct

E1. Innovation in applying engineering technology, having regard to ethics and impacts including economic; social; environmental and sustainability


1.6, 3.1, 3.4


E2. Professional conduct, understanding and accountability in professional practice across diverse circumstances including team work, leadership and independent work


3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6


This table details the mapping of the unit graduate attributes to the unit learning outcomes and the Australian Engineering Stage 1 Competency Standards for the Engineering Technologist.




Graduate Attributes














Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competency Standards for Engineering Technologist

























































































































































































Unit Learning Outcomes























































Student Assessment



Assessment Type

When Assessed



(% of total unit marks)

Learning Outcomes Assessed


Assessment 1

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Practical / Remote Lab / Simulation

Example Topic: Power system monitoring and communication basics.

Students will complete a written assignment with about 30 questions to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of power system monitoring and the importance of data communication in such systems.


Week 6




1, 2


Assessment 2

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Practical / Remote Lab / Simulation

Example Topic: Communication protocols and need for standardisation

Students will complete a test with about 20 questions of numerical problems and short answer questions (each to be answered in less than 100 words and explanatory diagrams)to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of communication protocols used in monitoring power networks and the need for standards.


Week 9




3, 4


Assessment 3

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Practical / Remote Lab / Simulation / Project / Report

Example Topic: Students will complete a project covering the design of a power system monitoring facility for a distribution network of a large city.


Week 11




2, 3, 4


Assessment 4

Type: Examination

An examination with a mix of detailed essay type questions and numerical problems to be completed within 2 hours.


Final Week






Attendance / Tutorial Participation

Example: Presentation, discussion, group work, exercises, self-assessment/reflection, case study analysis, application.




Prescribed and Recommended Readings


Required textbook(s)

IDC Technologies course manuals:

  1. Data communication and networking protocols

  2. IEC 61850 for substation automation

  3. DNP3, IEC 60870.5 and Modern SCADA Communication Systems

Reference Materials

References from authentic websites on the Internet. For example: : An Interactive Tutorial: The definite guide for OPC.


Unit Content

One topic is delivered per contact week, with the exception of part-time 24-week units, where one topic is delivered every two weeks.


Topics 1 and 2

Remote monitoring and control of power networks with a focus on ensuring secure operations

  1. History of power system automation

  2. Automation at local (substation) level and network level

  3. Hardware used (RTU), PLC, and IED

  4. Limitations of RTU/PLC type of devices

  5. Typical automation configurations

  6. Comparison of different configurations

  7. Conventional (telemetry-based) communication

  8. Digital communication methods/equipment

  9. Comparison and applications of communication methods

  10. Dedicated communication networks vs public networks

  11. Security concerns while using public networks

  12. Smart grids as drivers of electrical network automation


Topics 3, 4 and 5

Basics of data communications

  1. Definitions and basic principles

  2. Analogue and digital signals

  3. Serial and parallel communication

  4. Synchronous and asynchronous communication methods

  5. Full and half-duplex communication

  6. Message codes and message formats

  7. Interface standards (RS 232, RS 485, 10 base T, 10 base T, 100 Base T etc)

  8. OSI reference model and examples

  9. Data cables and wiring categories

  10. Role of fibre-optics and fibre/copper interface

  11. Communication topologies and networks (LAN, WAN)

  12. Wireless (Radio, Microwave, Satellite) communications and standards adopted

  13. Function and operating principle of Modems

  14. Protection of data by encryption

  15. Common encryption methods

  16. Virtual private networks


Topics 6 and 7

Different communication protocols and their application

  1. What is a protocol?

  2. Common protocols used in industrial data communication

  3. Ethernet (CSMA/CD) and token ring

  4. TCP/IP V4 and V6

  5. Modbus and Modbus plus

  6. ProfiBus

  7. Device Net

  8. HART

  9. Profibus

  10. Foundation FieldBus

  11. DNP3

  12. UCA


Topic 8

Standards used in Industrial and power system data communications

  1. IEEE 802 standards suite for LAN communication

  2. IEC 802 (Wireless communication) 3. IEC 60870

4. IEC 61107

5. IEC 62056


Topic 9

OPC data access specification and their role in SCADA

  1. Objective

  2. Need for data exchange standard

  3. Basis of OPC standards

  4. Structure of OPC specifications

  5. OPC specifications for different functions

  6. OPC data exchange specification

  7. OPC security


Topics 10 and 11

IEC 61850 for vendor independent communication

  1. Scope and outline

  2. Services under the standard

  3. Data objects and classes

  4. Manufacturing messaging specifications (MMS)

  5. Substation architecture

  6. Merging units, station, and process bus

  7. Ethernet communication within substations

  8. Switches and bridges

  9. WAN communication issues

  10. Data modelling approach

  11. Communication profiles

  12. Samples values, GOOSE, GSSE

  13. Substation configuration language

  14. Conformance and testing


Topic 12

Unit Review

In the final week students will have an opportunity to review the contents covered so far. Opportunity will be provided for a review of student work and to clarify any outstanding issues. Instructors/facilitators may choose to cover a specialized topic if applicable to that cohort.