Where Engineering meets Art: A review of NTU’s IEM Programme

You must be wondering what’s up and I am here to satiate your curiosity!


I have just completed my first year in Information Engineering Media, also known as IEM. I was once a polytechnic student. Graduated with an Information Technology (IT) diploma.

First year in university flew by very fast for me. There is a total of 13 weeks in each semester and exams usually last for 3 weeks.

Comparing university modules with polytechnic modules

A comparison of modules that I have taken in the first year of IEM VS first year of my IT diplomaThe modules highlighted in blue are similar in nature but are not the same. Main reason being that university modules are more theory based than hands-on.

Personally, I miss the polytechnic academic teaching style. It fits my learning style more. Compared to polytechnic, the learning curve in university is very steep. To put things into perspective, university feels like riding on a bullet train and polytechnic feels like riding a normal subway train.

Diving into the details of IEM modules


Starting with the interesting modules first, “Thinking and Communicating Visually” is an art module.

Quoting from the course content description, “This course will focus on developing visual thinking using the ‘concept sketch’ in art and design practices. The students will practice drawing as a tool for communication and for idea development. The focus will primarily be on drawing objects and figures in space. Drawing from observation and from reference will feature. The class will consist of lecture, demonstration, class work, homework, oral critique and field trips.”

To summarise that long chunk of description, it is a 13-week course-work module. You will have to draw using graphite (pencil) and charcoal. It was a super fun and an easy-going module for me and I can witness my improvement over the weeks. My favourite activity has got to be my final project. I worked on the given topic, Change. To fill you with more details without boring you, here is a video of my art portfolio.



“Basic Media Writing” is a module offered by Wee Kim Wee School of Communications (WKWSCI). What I was being taught has been grouped into 2 broad categories, namely Journalism and Advertising. Projects that were done in this module are namely “Article Writing” and “Marketing” a product or service whilst utilizing a website creator.


“Digital Electronics” and “Analog Electronics” are engineering modules offered by the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering (EEE). In Digital Electronics, you will be learning “a broad range of fundamental digital circuits. The concepts of digital signals, number systems, logic gates, switching algebra, logic minimization techniques, basic combinatorial, digital circuits and their application in more complex digital systems” as quoted from the module description.

While in Analog Electronics, you will pick up the “fundamentals of electronic circuit analysis. Exposed to circuit analysis theories, circuit devices such as diodes, op-amps and bipolar junction transistor”, as quoted from the module description.

I am not great at my engineering modules. I constantly struggle with the demands of what the questions are asking for. Out of these 4 components of this hybrid course, this is my biggest weakness.

The highlighted blue modules

“From Computational Thinking to Programming” is a coding module. You will pick up the basics of C programming language in this module. From Wikipedia’s description, C language is a “general-purpose, imperative computer programming language supporting structured programming.”

Despite not learning C during my polytechnic days, I felt that I had a head start all thanks to my diploma where I picked up a good amount of programming languages. I remember how, in class, my desk mates often exclaimed, “Hey, you’re ahead of what the Professor is currently going through in class.” The sad thing was that this module had a MCQ final test as a curveball, so the highest I attained was only a B.

“Object Oriented Programming” is another coding module, but it is all about the Java language this time. Once again—description obtained from Wikipedia—Java is a “general-purpose programming language that is class-based and object-oriented (OO). Although it is not a pure OO language, it contains primitive types and is designed to have as little implementation dependencies as possible.”

This module felt like a refresher for me; the most exciting part was the project module assigned for pair work. We could choose between Minesweeper and Sudoku. My team decided to work on Sudoku and we coded a mini-game for our Professor.

Wrapping Up

Studying in university is no easy feat, let alone deciding to take up a hybrid course. For me, discipline, interest and consistency are three important values to uphold in university academic life. If you are up for a challenge and would like to keep your career options as wide as possible, do consider taking up the IEM course. This course is offered at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) under the school of Electronics Electrical Engineering (EEE).

I am happy to answer any enquiries that you might have related to academic life at NTU, just contact me on my various social media platforms.



  1. Hi! In iem, will they teach us photoshop and illustrator? Do we get to use adobe softwares in our laptop licensed by school? Or we have to use the school computers to do the assignments?

    • Hi! When I was in IEM, I learnt Adobe illustrator in my art class (DA2002) to create posters. From experience, I sourced for my own adobe software. Do not have to use school computers to do assignments.

  2. hi! may i know how is the internships like for IEM? Do we self source or does the school provides us the list of companies for IEM? Does it include design/media companies? What are the companies available for IEM?

    Is it okay if we didn’t register for any cca? The reason because I am a beginner for the modules in IEM. And i want to focus more of my studies as i would be struggling to understand the mods as i have no experience and skills.

  3. Hello, Natasha! Thanks for this wonderful review on NTU’s IEM programme. I am currently in 11th grade and I’m very interested with this major as I love creative arts especially when combined with technology. If I may ask, may I know your high school stats, extracurriculars, and what you felt got you into NTU and the IEM programme? I would really appreciate your reply as it’ll help me a lot in finding ways to get there! :)

    • Hi! I came from a local polytechnic diploma background and scored a GPA of 3.60+/4.0, I was a member of my school’s club and helped out with activities whenever they needed people. When I got into NTU, I initially did not get IEM as my choice, had to do an appeal before I got into the course. Initially, it took me a while to get used to the structure as I felt it was very theory-centric. I see that you have an interest in arts and technology, but do note that electrical engineering is a heavy component of this course as after all, it is still hosted by the school of electrical engineering.

  4. Hello! I just got admitted into NTU IEM! Do you have any laptop recommendations for IEM? I am unsure of what laptop is best for this course as it has coding programming, and it also does autodesk inventor..

    • Hi! Congrats on getting into NTU IEM! No particular laptop to recommend but the school professors usually just recommend using laptops with Windows Operating System (OS) as it is the most compatible with most of the software.

    • Hi, i just graduated from IEM recently. @Natasha hope you don’t mind me answering some of these juniors’ questions as there is actually very little information of IEM found online from seniors.

      For laptop recommendation, i’d suggest you get a laptop that is at least 16GB ram, like you said some courses need to use autodesk inventor. You can take a look at the software minimum laptop requirement online. If i am not wrong it is actually 32GB but 16GB is enough to last you for 3 years.

      From experience, all of my friends in the course had to change laptop once, usually around year 4, as it starts to spoil from overuse then. So do put into consideration this, whether you want to get a budget laptop and let it spoil, or get a better laptop with more storage and ram but still possible for it to spoil eventually before end of 4 years. Also, highly suggest a warranty of at least 3 years for your laptop.

      For internships, you can self-source or apply from the list given by the school. Either way, you have to go for interviews. This is actually an Engineering degree so your internship have to have some sort of work that is related to engineering. However, if you do want to do Media related internships, do try to look out for it in the list, some of them is hidden in the job descriptions even though the company is a manufacturing company.

      A lot of modules in this course require you to find your own software. However, some modules do provide it- be it shared account provided from school or softwares available only in the school labs.

      For juniors wanting to get into this course from JC, do check the grades required to get in, the 10th percentile rank points and also, do well for Math. This is an engineering course so math is still a requirement.


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