This course has taught me the most in terms of practical design, and analysing from "top down". Meaning that there was a lot of focus on analysis of the whole circuit and each individual block. A lot of relates to courses such as METR4201, ELEC2004 and ELEC2003.
There is a LOT of content to cover, and expect to be in the lab for most of the time during the 2nd half of the semester. This is not a algebra based electronics course. You will using your analytic skills from ELEC2003 and ELEC2004, but your rarely used them in a practical environment. In this course you will be specifically building and designing opamps. Initially you will works with opamp ICs and do general designs, but throughout the course you'll learn what actually goes on in these ICs and build an opamp yourself using discrete components (Heavy focus on BJTs and FETs).
By the end of the course you'll know exactly how most circuits work. For example, the design project we did was building an audio amplifier with some specific design characteristics. The key is efficiency in your design approach. There are many different variations to achieve the design parameters, but the highest marks will be given to the most efficient approach. Obviously you'll need to know how you designed your circuit and exactly how each stage functions. Don't expect that you can copy the circuit from the internet and build it. The tutors will know, the professor will know and you'll get into an unnecessary conversation most likely resulting in a 0 and miss conduct.
Overall, this was by far one of the most influential courses I have took in electronics. It links all of the concepts you learned from previous years. All of that 'useless' algebra that you were doing and not knowing what it was used for is put into a real-world scenario.
In terms of the exams. They are incredibly predictable if you attend the lectures. The mid semester exam was literally covered in the lecture notes. The final exam has three questions and was LITERALLY past paper questions. Q1 came from 2016, Q2 came from 2013 and Q3 came from 2014. To be honest, I would prefer the exam questions to have different values to that of the past papers. Most people copied the entire past paper solutions step by step as their double-sided A4 page and went into the exam mindlessly pasting these solutions as the answers. I disagree with this type of exam procedure, it doesn't promote problem solving and doesn't require us to know the process. It does however promote a rote learning method, which is sad since this is a electrical design course not a memorisation one.
Good luck, and expect some long hours. My advice: Don't waste time, use your time in the lab efficiently and do the pre-labs BEFORE you come into the lab!
Note: I took this Sem 1 - 2017, doesn't let me choose it though.
This third year course is easily the hardest ELEC course I have completed. There was a lot of lab work including a project, which really took up the hours. On top of that, the theoretical problems we had to solve were much more complicated than things we had done prior to that. It takes a lot of dedication to smash this subject, but Phil is a good coordinator, and not many people fail either. The exams were similar enough to previous years and tutorial questions that memorizing the material is enough to scrape through. I learnt a lot from this course.
Overall, Dr Terrill and the teaching staffs do a preatty good job in this semester. They are enthusiastic, approachable and the course content is hard but fantastic. I know a lot of people have trouble with this course yet in my opinion, the teaching staffs have done all they can do to assisst. The only downside of it is in the pratical labs and project. In the last lab of lab competency one, there are a lot of repititions. People don't need to repeat five or six experiments to learn about BJT and it could be made into one. The second lab competency is put out at a not-too-good time. Both labs, to be fair, help people reinforce their theorectical knowledge but require a huge amount of time and if you don't know what to take and what to abandon, it will surely shorten the amount of time you can spend on the project. A lot of circuit topologies in the course are not stable or they have to be employed in special ways, which are not listed in the course content and it makes the project really hard, require knowledge that is somewhat far beyond the scope of this course. For example, I could mention a few. Common-emitter amplifier topology, without degeneration resistor, has poor linearity (the art of electronics, 2nd edition, p 83) or in a JFET, you should not make gate voltage larger than source voltage (the art of electronics, 2nd edition, p 119), etc. These "problems", as mentioned before, make the project virtually really tough because people generally have to deal with problems that they do not know what it is, on top of all regular problems. Issues like this make the course content and learning activities far from perfection.
Having mention all of these, do I mean that we need more in the course material?? No, of course not. With the amount of concepts and practicals that are in the course right now, the timetable is already full and people are already having a hard time so adding more only result in more problems. What I truly means is that you can put up a little bit more of non-compulsory but helpful advices and information, some open topics maybe, and lead people into the right ways if they have problems: i.e.: topic about thermal stability, topic about how to design anti parasitic oscillation circuit, topic about precision and low noise circuits, topic about how real world components deviate from theories. In each of these topics, you don't have to do much. Just put up a few documents on blackboard in each topic and make a few mentions in the lecture if you can. The documents do not need to be formal, a readable book scan, an informal, relaxing paragraph would be enough. In that way, if people have trouble, they can find more information, if they don't have any trouble, then it's great. It does not need to be compulsory, who want to get it can easily get it, who does not can get on without thinking about it. That's all I need.
Semester 1 - 2014
Phil is enthusiatic, good at teaching and explaining course content.
Tutorial and lab greatly emphasize theoretical knowledge.
Tutors in the course are a great help, as well.
The project leave me with so many opening, unanswered questions.