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Durham University

Faculty Handbook Archive

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2013-14. The current handbook year is 2019-20

Department: Physics

PHYS1101: DISCOVERY SKILLS IN PHYSICS

Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2013/14 Module Cap None. Location Durham

Prerequisites

  • A-Level Physics and A-Level Mathematics.

Corequisites

  • Foundations of Physics 1 (PHYS1122) AND ((Single Mathematics A (MATH1561) and Single Mathematics B (MATH1571)) or (Linear Algebra I (MATH1071) and Calculus and Probability I (MATH1061))).

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.

Aims

  • This module is designed primarily for students studying Department of Physics or Natural Science degree programmes.
  • It provides basic experimental and key skills required by physicists, and should be taken by all students intending to study practical physics beyond Level 1.
  • Using experiments in physics as the vehicle, the module provides a structured introduction to laboratory skills development, with particular emphasis on measurement uncertainty and written communication skills.
  • To teach a scientific computing language.
  • It provides opportunities for students to become more aware of the skills necessary for success in enterprise activities.

Content

  • The syllabus contains:
  • Errors in laboratory work: systematic and random errors, combination of errors, common sense in errors.
  • Electronic document preparation.
  • Use of spreadsheets in data analysis
  • Developing a scientific style of writing.
  • Good practice in maintaining laboratory notebooks.
  • Information literacy, including introduction to sources of reference material.
  • Experimental laboratory: safety in the laboratory, skills through practice, introduction to instrumentation.
  • Introductory experiments in physics.
  • Extended experiments in physics.
  • Introduction to programming in a scientific computer language and application to simple computational tasks.
  • An enterprise seminar.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will have gained a working knowledge of the treatment of errors in laboratory work.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will know, and be able to apply, the constituents of a scientific style of writing.
  • They will be aware of a variety of reference sources and know how to use them effectively.
  • They will have acquired practical competence and accuracy in carrying out experimental procedures including measurement, use of apparatus and recording of results.
  • They will be able to write a clear scientific report including theoretical background, experimental description, presentation and analysis of results, and interpretation and evaluation.
  • They will have a working knowledge of a scientific computing language.
Key Skills:
  • They will be able to use computer software to write reports and to analyse data.
  • They will have an increased awareness of the skills necessary for success in enterprise activities.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Teaching will be by lectures, laboratory sessions, exercises, workshops, computing exercises and an information literacy session.
  • The lectures will provide the means to give a concise, focused presentation of the theoretical material on error analysis.
  • The lectures will also provide essential information on good practice in laboratory notebook keeping, report writing and the use of spreadsheets.
  • The computing lectures give an introduction to the basic principles of scientific computing and the computing workshops and exercises give practice in applying these principles.
  • When appropriate the lectures will also be supported by the distribution of written material, or by information and relevant links on DUO.
  • Students will be able to obtain further help in their studies by approaching their lecturers, either after lectures or at other mutually convenient times (the Department has a policy of encouraging such enquires).
  • The information literacy session will introduce students to a variety of reference sources and how to use them effectively.
  • The laboratory sessions will consist of experimental projects and one group oral presentation.
  • These sessions will provide the means for students to acquire practical competence and accuracy in carrying out experimental procedures including measurement, use of apparatus and the recording of results.
  • During the sessions students will be able to obtain help and guidance from the laboratory scripts and through group discussions with laboratory demonstrators.
  • Student performance in the laboratories will be summatively assessed through written reports.
  • The written reports will provide the means for students to demonstrate their achievement of the stated learning outcomes.
  • Work in the early stages of the experimental laboratories will be formatively assessed. This will enable students to gauge their progress and will inform their subsequent work. Work in the later stages will be summatively assessed.
  • Students' knowledge of the treatment of errors will be assessed by coursework problem exercises in error analysis.
  • Student performance in computing is summatively assessed through computing exercises.

Teaching Methods and Contact Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 12 1 per week 1 hour 12
Practicals 17 1 per week 3 hours 51
Computing workshops 9 1 per week 1 hour 9
Other (Information Literacy Session) 1 1 in term 1 1 hour 1
Preparation and Reading 127
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Written Report Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written report and laboratory performance 100% Resubmitted written report 100%
Component: Extended Written Reports Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Extended written report 1 and laboratory performance 50% Resubmitted extended written report 1, 50%, and/or resubmitted written report 2, 50%
Extended written report 2 and laboratory performance 50% Resubmitted extended written report 1, 50%, and/or resubmitted written report 2, 50%
Component: Computing Exercises Component Weighting: 15%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Computing Exercises 100% Resubmitted computing exercises
Component: Problem Exercises Component Weighting: 5%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Problem Exercises 100% Extended set of problem exercises 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment of the work done in the early stages of the experimental laboratories.


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University