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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHYS3778 Advanced Lab (MNatSci)

20 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Dr G. Burnell

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Module replaces

Module replaces PHYS3555 (Advanced Experimental Techniques)and PHYS3666 (Analysis in Experimental Physics)

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The ability to apply physical understanding and higher level problem solving skills to the processes in designing and carrying out experimental studies is essential for both higher level academic study in applied and experimental sciences and to many professional careers for physicists. This module forms the bridge between the first and second year laboratory physics courses and the research focusses, open-ended projects of the 4th year Natural Sciences programmes. In this module, students carry out extended, open ended experimental studies using techniques and/or equipment common place in the School of Physics Astronomy’s research programmes to hone skills in experimentations and data analysis.


This module will give the students and increased awareness of skills required in preparing, conducting, analysing and interpreting of a wide range of advanced laboratory investigations through the use of appropriate measurement, data analysis and statistical techniques and to communicate and defend their work in a variety of professional contexts.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:
• Perform advanced physical experiments using high-tech experimental and analytical techniques.
• Explain and apply a range of experimental, statistical and computational analytical techniques to data.

Skills outcomes
• Develop problem solving skills and practical approaches to troubleshooting experimental equipment and data analysis.
• Present experimental findings and defend results and methodology in oral and written presentations, at an appropriate level.
• Communicating complex concepts in one-to-one situations


Each student undertakes 2 "experimental mini-projects" of 3-4 weeks each from a list of experiments appropriate to the programme of study. The list of potential experiments reflects the research activity in the School of Physics and Astronomy, a typical list would include many pof the following: Nebular Spectroscopy, Stellar Clusters, Radio Interferometry, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Ultrasound Immersion Method, Ellipsometry of thin films, Quantised Conductance in nanoscale contacts, Differential Scanning Calorimetry, Low-temperature Electrical Transport, Point Contact Andreev Reflection Spectroscopy, Magneto-optical Kerr Effect, Crystal Growth and Characterisation, Scanning Tunnel Microscopy, Atomic Force Microscopy, Magneto-transport, Variable Phase devices, Saturated Absorption Spectroscopy, Optical properties of Liquid Crystals.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Office Hour Discussions61.006.00
Private study hours96.00
Total Contact hours104.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Pre-lab preparation, background reading and research, experimental data analysis, oral preparation, viva voce preparation, formal report preparation= 96 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Viva-Voce Examinations, written feedback from each experimental project

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportFormal report25.00
PracticalLaboratory performance and viva-voce examination for each experimental project undertaken assessed by supervisor and demonstrator.60.00
PresentationOral presentation15.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Students are required to submit all elements of the coursework in order to pass the module.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 05/11/2019 08:49:58


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