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Durham University

Department of Physics

PHYS4213 Project (2012/13)

Details of the module's prerequisites, learning outcomes, assessment and contact hours are given in the official module description in the Faculty Handbook - follow the link above.  A detailed description of the module's content is given below, together with book lists and a link to the current library catalogue entries.  For an explanation of the library's categorisation system see



Syllabus: The project involves the equivalent of four half-days per week of study and research in the Michaelmas and Epiphany Terms, with a seminar presentation in the Epiphany Term and an oral examination of a report in the Easter Term. Normally, students are expected to carry out a research-based project as an appropriate training for a professional physicist. The project will be carried out with a research group in the Department. The list of projects available is published separately. Students should select five choices from this list and complete the web-based form as directed. In choosing project topics students should be aware of any special skills required.

The projects are designed to allow students to show their ability to carry out individual scientific investigation. They will also be able to demonstrate their ability to communicate their findings, verbally in the project seminar and in writing in the final report. Guidelines for the final report are provided to students at the outset of their projects at the beginning of the academic year.

Supervisors monitor progress and provide guidance on the development of the project during weekly meetings. Students will be able to obtain further help in their project by approaching their supervisors or other members of the appropriate research group.

Students will complete a preliminary report for supervisors for the beginning of the Epiphany Term. The preliminary report will not be formally assessed, but it is envisaged that, with little alteration, much of the content can be used in the final report. The last week of the Michaelmas Term is free of lectures and offers students an opportunity to work without interruption on their projects.

Students will present a seminar on the topic and progress of their project in the penultimate week of the Epiphany Term. These presentations will be before an audience of staff and students, should last for 20 minutes and will form part of the summative assessment. Mr A.M. Skelton manages the arrangement of project seminars.

The deadline for the final report is 1.00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the Easter Term, with the oral examinations normally taking place in the following week. A timetable for these will be posted by the end of the Epiphany Term. The examination will be conducted by the supervisor and an examiner. The examiner will normally be a member of the Department, but may be from outside the Department if that is more appropriate for the project concerned. A moderator will chair all examinations and will be responsible for ensuring a uniformity of procedure and assessment between different projects.

Important factors will be the planning and execution of the project and the interpretation and discussion of the results obtained in the context of prior and other parallel work in the area.

Guest Seminars

Syllabus: Seminars will be held at regular intervals throughout the Michaelmas and Epiphany Terms. The seminars will be given by guests from a range of knowledge-based companies. Speakers will aim to show the impact of physics, or a training in physics, on their own work. There will be a focus on entrepreneurial companies and students will be challenged to consider the criteria for business success of such science-based companies.

All students are required to attend these seminars.

Skills Sessions

Dr T.A.W. Beale

Syllabus: The seminar programme will include sessions on communication and interview skills, which will then be reinforced by project supervisors during weekly meetings.