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Faculty Handbook

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run each academic year.

Department: Physics

PHYS2641: LABORATORY SKILLS AND ELECTRONICS

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham

Prerequisites

  • Discovery Skills in Physics (PHYS1101) AND Foundations of Physics 1 (PHYS1122) AND ((Single Mathematics A (MATH1561) and Single Mathematics B (MATH1571)) OR (Calculus and Probability 1 (MATH1061) and Linear Algebra 1 (MATH1071))).

Corequisites

  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None

Aims

  • This module is designed primarily for students studying Department of Physics or Natural Sciences degree programmes.
  • It builds on laboratory skills, such as experiment planning, data analysis and specific practical skills, encountered in the module PHYS1101 Discovery Skills in Physics.
  • It aims to teach electronics as a theoretical and a practical subject, to teach the techniques of computational physics and numerical methods and to provide experience of a research-led investigation in Physics.
  • To encourage students to think about their post-university careers, to provide them with a range of employability information and to introduce them to applications of physics in enterprises.

Content

  • A team-based project, undertaken in June of the previous academic year, providing a transition from Level 1 to Level 2 laboratory work.
  • Activities to develop skills in data interpretation, experiment design, specific practical techniques, report writing, error analysis, team working and critical thinking.
  • Electronics lectures: Analogue Electronics: Components: Introduction to electrical circuit theory, networks, AC theory, passive filters, diodes, transistors; systems: noise, measurements, amplifiers. Digital Electronics: components, JK elements, counters.
  • Electronics practical sessions.
  • Performance of an extended laboratory practical.
  • Computational physics: functions, random numbers, integration, linear algebra, ordinary differential equations.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Having studied this module students will know how to plan experiments and to interpret data quantitatively and systematically.
  • They will understand the theoretical principles of basic electronics.
  • They will have formed a detailed appreciation of the physics underlying a particular project and be prepared to undertake and report on similar projects.
  • They will know how to structure physics problems and their computational solutions.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will have specific laboratory practical skills generally useful in practical physics.
  • They will have developed practical skills in electronics.
  • They will be able to apply their programming skills to solve problems using numerical methods.
Key Skills:
  • Students will have developed their written and oral presentation skills sufficiently to be able to write fluent and well-structured reports and to give clear and convincing oral presentations.
  • They will be able to work successfully as part of a team to solve an open-ended problem.

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

  • Teaching will be by lectures, practical sessions, workshops and project work.
  • The open-ended ‘bridge project’ is undertaken in June of the previous academic year, providing a transition from Level 1 to Level 2 laboratory work. Students will work in teams on an extended project lasting one week, which will develop their problem-solving, teamwork and presentation skills. (Students who are unable, for good reason, to undertake the bridge project in June will undertake an equivalent project in the following Epiphany Term.)
  • The practical sessions are small group activities designed to develop skills in data interpretation, experiment design, team working, specific practical techniques and reporting, and critical reading of relevant scientific papers. The skills covered form the foundation needed for the research-led investigation in the second term and for later practical work. Students will be able to obtain help and guidance from laboratory scripts and through discussions with laboratory demonstrators.
  • The electronics lectures aim to give a theoretical grounding in the elements of electronics – analogue and digital circuits, circuit logic and design – while the practical sessions provide a working knowledge of the subject.
  • The computational physics lectures aim to give a theoretical grounding in the elements of computational physics and numerical methods, while the workshops provide opportunities for practice and discussion of the algorithms.
  • Regular exercises in coding algorithms, to be submitted and checked electronically, will give students practice in applying these principles and will form the basis for discussion in the workshops.
  • Student performance is summatively assessed through a short presentation on the ‘bridge project’, through a formal report for the skills sessions (to include a short oral presentation), through an electronics practical examination, through a formal report for the research-led investigation and through exercises.
  • The practical classes, workshops and exercises provide opportunity for feedback, for students to gauge their progress and for staff to monitor progress throughout the duration of the module.
  • Invited speakers give presentations on employability and the applications of physics in enterprises.

Teaching Methods and Contact Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 15 1 per week 1 hour 15
Project 1 One full week in previous Easter Term 35 hours 35
Workshops 8 1 per week in term 1 1 hour 8
Practicals 18 1 per week 3 hours 54
Careers talks 5 1 hour 5
Preparation and Reading 83
TOTAL 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Bridge Project Component Weighting: 17%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Bridge Project 100% Equivalent project during summer vacation
Component: Skills Session Component Weighting: 17%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Skills Session 100% Resubmitted writeup
Component: Research-led Investigation Component Weighting: 32%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research-led Investigation 100% Resubmitted report
Component: Electronics Practicals Component Weighting: 17%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assessed Electronics Practical 100% Resit assessed electronics practical
Component: Computational Physics Exercises Component Weighting: 17%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Exercises 100% Completing a set of exercises during the vacation

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment of laboratory record by laboratory staff.


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



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