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Durham University

Department of Physics

PHYS1101 Discovery Skills in Physics (2015/16)

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 to Skills Development, Laboratory Work and Safety

Prof D. Atkinson

1 lecture in Michaelmas Term

Introduction to the need for physics-based skills training including data collection, record keeping, data handling and scientific presentation in reports and oral presentations. Introduction to the integrated approach to skills development through training and practice from Level 1 onwards in Physics at Durham. Practical details of the laboratory arrangements will be discussed. Important safety information will be given. Attendance is compulsory.

Errors Lectures

Dr Q. He

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)

Laboratory Notebook Lecture

Dr Q. He

1 lecture in Michaelmas Term

Good practice in keeping a laboratory notebook.

Library and Employability Session

Dr R.M. Potvliege and others

Syllabus: An information session run by staff from the University Library and the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre outlining the services they offer and giving practical advice on the career opportunities open to students after graduation.

Spreadsheets Lecture

Dr Q. He

1 lecture in Michaelmas Term

Syllabus: Use of spreadsheets in data analysis.

Information Literacy Session

Syllabus: A session led by staff from the University Library focusing on helping students to identify, find and evaluate relevant sources of information and on other skills relevant to a research-led degree.

Data Analysis Lecture

Dr Q. He

1 lecture in Michaelmas Term

Syllabus: Issues in least-square fitting and critical analysis of data.

Report Writing Lecture

Dr Q. He

1 lecture in Michaelmas Term

Syllabus: Developing a scientific style of writing.

Scientific Presentation Skills Lecture

Prof D. Atkinson

1 lecture in Epiphany Term

Syllabus: Good scientific presentation technique. Planning and overall considerations when preparing a scientific presentation. Practical advice on structuring a presentation. Practical advice on the preparation of visual content.

Introduction to Programming

Professor R. M. Myers

3 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 is devoted to a short one-on-one tutorial on laboratory report writing, based on a data analysis exercise, and practical tuition on the use of a spreadsheet application.

Textbooks:

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

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 of the sessions takes the form of an Enterprise Seminar. The results and observations made in the laboratory notebook during these sessions are formatively assessed.

Textbooks:

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

Full Experiments

Dr G.P. Swift and others

9 three-hour sessions in Epiphany Term

Syllabus: Full experiments in physics including a mini extended-investigation (one lab session per week), with students working in pairs. Two experiments form the bases for a formatively and summatively-assessed extended written report respectively. One session is devoted to one-to-one oral feedback from the marker of the formatively-assessed report. One session is devoted to carrying out and recording the results of a simple scientific task, with the records kept being summatively assessed. One session is devoted to presenting the results from the mini extended-investigation.

Textbooks:

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

Oral Presentation

Dr Q. He

One-hour session in Epiphany Term

Syllabus: Each student will give an individual oral presentation.

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 notebook in October. Laboratory scripts will be provided and background material is available on the online Physics Laboratory Guide

Problem exercises

See https://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 2016/17 must ensure that they are available to undertake a week-long project following the end of the examination period in June 2016. Subject to confirmation, these projects will take place in weeks 26 and 27 (6-17 June 2016) and will contribute to the summative assessment for the Level 2 module. Further details will be announced.