Undergraduate Teaching

Engineering Tripos Part IIA, 3F1: Signals & Systems, 2018-19

Engineering Tripos Part IIA, 3F1: Signals & Systems, 2018-19

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Module Leader

Dr T O'Leary


Dr T. O’Leary and Dr F. Forni

Lab Leader

Prof M Smith

Timing and Structure

Michaelmas term. 16 lectures.


The aims of the course are to:

  • Cover three basic topics in signals and systems which provide the basis for further topics in signal processing, communications, control and related subjects.
  • Introduce the z-transform, which is the generalisation of the Laplace transform to discrete time systems.
  • Introduce digital filtering.
  • Introduce stochastic processes.


As specific objectives, by the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Be familiar with the theory and application of the z-transform.
  • Analyse the stability of discrete-time systems
  • Understand the use of correlation and spectral density functions.
  • Analyse the behaviour of linear systems with random inputs.


Enabling theory, application and design, Dr T. O’Leary and Dr F. Forni

Introduction to signals and systems, discrete time signals and systems, Z-transform (5L – O’Leary)

  • Discrete signals and systems, LTI systems, convolution. 
  • z-transform and solution of linear difference equations
  • System analysis in the z-domain. 
  • Impulse and frequency responses.

Applications & digital filtering (8L – Forni)

  • Design and properties of digital feedback systems. Nyquist stability criterion. 
  • Design and properties of Digital Filters, FIR and IIR
  • Analysis of systems with discrete/continuous interfaces.
  • DTFT/DFT and links to z-transforms 
  • The Fast Fourier Transform (FFT)
  • Windowed spectral analysis of data 
  • Introduction to 2D filtering, image analysis

Introduction to random processes and linear systems (3L – O’Leary)

  • Continuous time random processes, correlation functions, spectral density.
  • Response of continuous time linear systems to random excitation.


Flight control

Learning objectives

  • Simulation of various aircraft models on the computer.
  • Study real-time (manual) control and the limitations imposed by time delays.
  • Design of a simple autopilot.
  • Illustrate frequency response concepts in analogue and digital control systems, conditions for oscillation in feedback systems and stability.
  • Gain familiarity with MATLAB.

Practical information:

  • Sessions will take place in the EIETL laboratory on Wednesdays and Fridays of full term from 11am-1pm.
  • Students will find it helpful to read through the lab sheet in advance of carrying out the experiment.
  • Students will have the option to submit a Full Technical Report.

Full Technical Report:

Students will have the option to submit a Full Technical Report.


Please see the Booklist for Part IIA Courses for references for this module.

Examination Guidelines

Please refer to Form & conduct of the examinations.


The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) describes the requirements that have to be met in order to become a Chartered Engineer, and gives examples of ways of doing this.

UK-SPEC is published by the Engineering Council on behalf of the UK engineering profession. The standard has been developed, and is regularly updated, by panels representing professional engineering institutions, employers and engineering educators. Of particular relevance here is the 'Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes' (AHEP) document which sets out the standard for degree accreditation.

The Output Standards Matrices indicate where each of the Output Criteria as specified in the AHEP 3rd edition document is addressed within the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering Triposes.

Last modified: 16/05/2018 13:31