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Durham University

Department of Physics

PHYS1101 Discovery Skills in Physics (2013/14)

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 http://www.dur.ac.uk/physics/students/library/.

Content and Teaching Methods

Introduction and Safety

Dr M. Szablewski

1 lecture in Michaelmas Term

The laboratory arrangements will be discussed and important safety information will be given. Attendance is compulsory.

Errors Lectures

Prof I.G. Hughes

3 lectures in Michaelmas Term

Syllabus: Errors in laboratory work: systematic and random errors, combination of errors, common sense in errors.

Textbooks:

Required: Measurements and their Uncertainties, I.G. Hughes and T.P.A. Hase (OUP)

The Laboratory Notebook

Dr M. Szablewski

1 lecture in Michaelmas Term

Good practice in keeping a laboratory notebook.

Spreadsheets Lecture

Prof I.G. Hughes

1 lecture in Michaelmas Term

Syllabus: Use of spreadsheets in data analysis.

Introduction to Programming

Dr N.A. Dipper

5 lectures and 9 workshops in Michaelmas and Epiphany Terms

Syllabus: Computer programming and programming languages. Representations of numbers. Introduction to numerical computation. Programming in Python: variables, expressions, types, control flow, functions, arrays, input/output, objects and methods.

Textbooks:

Additional: Beginning Python - From Novice to Professional, Magnus Lie Hetland (Apress)
Additional: Python in a Nutshell, Alex Martelli (O'Reilly)

Skills Sessions

Dr R.M. Potvliege and others

5 three-hour sessions in Michaelmas Term

Syllabus: Safety in the laboratory. Introduction to instrumentation: oscilloscopes, function generators, circuits. Verifying physical laws, measurement technique, statistics of measurement, dimensional analysis, graph plotting. Applications of material from the errors lectures. Electronic document preparation. Information literacy, including introduction to sources of reference material. The final skills session will include a short one-to-one tutorial on laboratory report writing.

Textbooks:

Required: Measurements and their Uncertainties, I.G. Hughes and T.P.A. Hase (OUP)

Report Writing

Dr G.H. Cross

1 lecture in Michaelmas Term

Syllabus: Developing a scientific style of writing.

Discovery Experiments

Dr R.M. Potvliege and others

4 three-hour sessions in Michaelmas Term

Syllabus: Introductory experiments in physics (one per week) using structured scripts, with students working in pairs. One experiment forms the basis for a summatively-assessed written report. One of the sessions takes the form of an Enterprise Seminar.

Textbooks:

Required: Measurements and their Uncertainties, I.G. Hughes and T.P.A. Hase (OUP)

Full Experiments

Dr G.P. Swift and others

8 three-hour sessions in Epiphany Term

Syllabus: Full experiments in physics (one lab session per week), with students working in pairs. Two experiments form the bases for summatively-assessed extended written reports. One session is devoted to one-to-one oral feedback from the marker of the first full experiment report.

Textbooks:

Required: Measurements and their Uncertainties, I.G. Hughes and T.P.A. Hase (OUP)

Laboratory Information

Students are required to attend one 3-hour laboratory session every week starting in week 2. The laboratory sessions are 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Students must sign the attendance list at the start of each session.
At the introductory lecture you will hear a talk detailing the management of the laboratories and safety issues. A list showing laboratory days and group assignments will be published before the end of teaching week 1.
Each student will be given his/her own lab book in October. Laboratory scripts will be provided and background material is available on the online Physics Laboratory Guide

Problem exercises

See http://www.dur.ac.uk/physics/students/problems/. For this module the problem exercises relate only to the Errors Lectures.

Advance notice

All students who will be taking the Level 2 physics laboratory module (PHYS2641 Laboratory Skills and Electronics) in 2014/15 must ensure that they are available to undertake a week-long project following the end of the examination period in June 2014. Subject to confirmation, these projects will take place in weeks 26 and 27 (9-20 June 2014) and will contribute to the summative assessment for the Level 2 module. Further details will be announced.