Module code: PHY1035

Module provider


Module Leader

FAUX DA Dr (Physics)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 4

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 1

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 92

Lecture Hours: 32

Laboratory Hours: 46

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework DATA HANDLING 20%
Practical based assessment LABORATORY ASSESSMENT 30%
Coursework ESSAY 20%
Coursework GROUP WORK 30%

Alternative Assessment

The laboratory diaries and class test UoA may be assessed through one laboratory diary, one lab report and a class test. The Essay UoA may be assessed by essay only. The Group work UoA may be assessed by solo problem-solving activity (Problem 1) and the broadcast activity.

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

Pre-university level education to Advanced Level standard.  

Module overview

This module covers a wide range of generic skills important in scientific investigation. These skills cover data handling, statistical analysis, laboratory skills, scientific writing, ethics (including academic misconduct), group working covering problem-solving, an oral presentation and public communication, plus library-based information research skills including information retrieval and referencing.

Module aims

teach the basic elements of probability distributions and to be able to undertake simple statistical and error analysis.  To be able to use a computer spreadsheet to do such analysis, plot graphs and perform curve fitting.

establish a foundation of practical skills when conducting experiments to verify theory and to improve understanding

develop skills in analysing data.  The development of scientific report-writing skills is contained within this component of the module.

explore issues of ethics in science and academic misconduct

provide an introduction to finding suitable information from different sources available through the library, and referencing the sources appropriately. 

to develop writing skills and referencing of scientific work through writing a short essay and group wiki

develop critique skills and be able to participate in peer review

to develop confidence and skills in oral presentation

to undertake a problem-solving activity as part of a group and communicate the outcomes in a manner suitable for public consumption.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
Analyse and present reduced experimental and probabilistic results of the multiple measurements of physical observables.  C
Quote averages and errors of such variables. K
Fit theoretical predictions to graphs where one independent observable is changing using the method of least squares, and find the errors in the fitting parameter(s).  C
Use simple error theory to find the errors of quantities dependent on (combinations of) the observables. C
Use simple probability distributions to predict the outcome of experiments.  C
Apply basic practical skills for laboratory work, including use of different measuring equipment CPT
Demonstrate teamwork skills with a lab partner; T
Perform measurements and keep clear and accurate records of the results. C
Be aware of and understand how to access library resources available in the University Library and online. T
Understand different types of citations, including those for books and journals.
Use the web for authoritative information T
Be able to find information from different sources available in the University Library. PT
Be able to write bibliographies in a variety of formats, and reference appropriate sources. PT
Understand the structure used in different types of scientific writings. T
Understand the principle of peer review, and be able to critically review work. P

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

The laboratory experiments include: Ball bouncing; Focal length of a lens; Spring; Ionizing radiation; Load matching; Mass of Jupiter.
Research Skills
Probability: Discrete and continuous distributions, expectation values, Binomial, Gaussian and Poisson distributions.  The Central Limit Theorem.
Statistics: Mean, standard deviation, standard error in mean.
Data Analysis: Propagation of errors, least-squares fitting; c2-distribution
Spreadsheets: Excel spreadsheets including calculations and graphs
Computer Algebra: Introduction to some features of MathCAD
Using the University Library, including the different types of resource available, how to search the library catalogue, understanding different types of citations, appropriate referencing, and searching for authoritative information on the web.
Workshop on working in groups, communicating scientific work through writing, oral presentation and the peer review system.
Group work in which the students contribute to a group oral presentation, group wiki and prepare a solution to a complex problem-solving activity.

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

equip students with practical and professional skills
provide students with subject knowledge and the ability to apply it to practical situations

The learning and teaching methods include:

Four hours per week for the first 6 weeks in the laboratory
Probability, Statistics, Data Analysis, Spreadsheets and Computer Algebra: A one hour lecture followed by a one hour tutorial session in a computing laboratory weekly, for six weeks.
8 hours of material delivered by University Library staff in a mixture of workshop and lecture format. 
14 hours of group working spread over the semester with sessions on essay work, scientific ethics, problem-solving and presntation skills.
Support for the problem-solving activity through the small-group-tutorial system.



Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate


laboratory practical skills
ability to perform statistical analysis of data
professional scientific skills


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Online Data Handling test

·         Online Library test

·         A short (500-800 word) essay  (week 8)

·         Laboratory diary mark (throughout semester)

·         Group work consisting of a presentation (week 9) and wiki development (week 11)

·         Problem-solving task submission (week 11)

·         Practical Laboratory test (end of semester)



Formative assessment and feedback

Students receive their mark from the online library test as feedback. Students receive written feedback on their essay in the form of three peer-review forms. Students receive written feedback on their group presentations via assessment forms completed by their peers, a Ph.D. student and an academic. Students receive weekly support and feedback for the problem-solving activity through the small-group-tutorial system. In the laboratory, students receive oral feedback weekly from academic and/or postgraduate demonstrators and through diary marks. The data handling activity includes academic and/or postgraduate demonstrator feedback and advice for the computer-based sessions.


Reading list


Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.