Second Year EE Subjects

General Advice:

1. Learn some new maths that you need

Before you start second year, or as soon as possible after you start, it would be super helpful if you know how to do the Laplace Transform, Fourier Series and the Fourier Transform  Probably prioritise them in that order.

2. If you haven’t already, learn how to use MATLAB

There’s a handy pdf that PMcL has made to step you through a simple example which is available here. There is also MATLAB Academy which is an online platform by MathWorks that you have access to for free if you have activated your MATLAB Licence/Mathworks account through the university. Details on that in the ‘Resources’ section below.

Subject Specific Pro-Tips:

Circuit Analysis:

Use the textbook (Electric Circuits by Nilsson & Riedel, 10th Ed). The course is based around it and it reads very well. Do the tutorials before you go, participate in the labs and learn:

  • Convolution Integrals
  • Fourier Series
  • Laplace Transform
  • Passive vs Active filters

Labs are interesting but are mildly divorced from the content of the tutorials.

Electromechanical Automation:

This subject should be called ‘Motors’. You learn about electric motors. When you start, learn the following techniques/concepts as soon as you can:

  • Block diagrams
  • Time constants of circuits
  • Laplace transform
  • Mutual inductance

There are multiple ways your grades can break down, so have a look at the Subject Outline in detail and figure out how you’re going to attack the subject.

Fundamentals of C Programming:

Do the labs, read the lecture notes and genuinely just participate in the subject. It’s well constructed and if you actually try you should be fine.

If you have a mac, learn how to use your terminal. If you have linux, you probably know how to use a terminal. If you have Windows, get the Windows subsystem for Linux. The reason for this is that the lab computers are Linux and you need to know how to navigate the file directory through it. Being able to simulate the conditions of the lab at home is super useful. Also, most software is (almost ubiquitously) written on Linux/Unix-based machines (Macs are Unix-based).

Also, get into the habit of googling any jargon you don’t get or any error codes in the terminal. The internet is a great resource for learning programming.

Signals & Systems:

This subject is a bit hard. Study a lot. Do the problems. Read the textbook. Dedicate a significant amount of time. Be comfortable with:

  • Laplace transform
  • Block diagrams
  • Fourier transform (by about a third of the way through)
  • Fourier series

The labs require a significant amount of pre and post work, so keep that in mind going in. Keep your MATLAB files as you do a few things more than once. Smash out as much of the lab project as possible as early as possible, it’s more involved than it looks.

Lecture notes are good. My approach was: skim through that week’s chapter(s), make notes on interesting things, attempt problems, get stuck, re-consult lecture notes, if still stuck consult Linear Signals & Systems by Lathi. If still stuck, badger the lecturer in the tutorial.


Laplace Transform:

Khan Academy has a really good play list. Go through, follow the derivations (pen in hand) and it will cement the idea down for you. Will probably take 4-5hrs of work. Might want to split that over 2-3 consecutive days in your preparation week(s). This is mainly about the transformation formula, how the transforms of common functions are found and some common properties of the complex frequency domain. What it is you’re actually doing is a more complex question that you’ll have to research yourself (if you find a good resource for that, contact us).

Getting a MATLAB License

  1. Student License Activation Key: 49795-96952-13716-88246-72673
  2. Go here:
  3. Follow the prompts

Learning MATLAB:

You need it for Signals & Systems and it will be handy for Circuit Analysis and Electromechanical Automation.

PMcL‘s tutorial document is here.

MATLAB now have something called ‘MATLAB Academy‘ which has (very) short videos and an online version of MATLAB that is used to answer problems. It’s pretty brilliant and a great way to get familiar. The ‘fundamentals course’ is probably about five days of full work. However, you can pick and choose what you need to learn, as it is well laid out. Strong recommend.

Bode Plots:

Appendix E of Electric Circuits by Nilsson & Riedel, 10th Ed is amazing for learning how to do Bode Plots. It also discusses the differences between straight-line approximations and more accurate plots. It’s about 5 pages long and will take you 1-2hrs to work through and absorb. Strong recommend.