Introductory Physics Laboratory and Communication Skills - PH027

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Autumn and Spring 3 15 (7.5) DR G Roch checkmark-circle


There will be laboratory sessions with eight experiments relating to both general skills and to the syllabus of the Physics lecture modules PH023, PH025 and PH026.
There will be lecture tutorials on:

  • Introduction to the module
  • Analysing experimental uncertainties
  • Writing reports on laboratory work


    This module appears in the following module collections.

    Contact hours

    Lectures 3 hours; Laboratory sessions 27 hours.

    Laboratory sessions 27 hours.


    This is not available as a wild module.

    Method of assessment

    100% coursework:
    8 laboratory reports (80%);
    assignment on uncertainty analysis (10%); Powerpoint presentation (10%).

    Indicative reading

    Core texts:

  • New Understanding Physics for Advanced Level 4th edition, by J. Breithaupt. (Copies of the 4th edition are in the library, + copies of earlier editions).
  • L. Kirkup, Experimental Methods John Wiley & Sons, Australia, 1994
    Supplementary texts:
  • Physics by J. Breithaupt (Copies of 2003 edition in the library).
  • J. R. Taylor, An Introduction to Error Analysis (Second Edition), University Science Books, US. 1997.
  • J. Topping, Errors of Observation and Their Treatment (Third Edition), Chapman and Hall, London, 1962

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    Learning outcomes

    Knowledge and understanding of physical laws and principles, and their application to diverse areas of physics (this will include laws of motion, electromagnetism, wave phenomena and the properties of matter), with modules covering the necessary mathematics.

    B. Intellectual skills:

  • An ability to identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with problems, and to make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.
  • An ability to solve problems in physics using appropriate mathematical tools.

    C. Subject-specific skills:
  • An ability to present and interpret information graphically.
  • An ability to communicate scientific information, in particular to produce clear and accurate scientific reports.
  • A familiarity with laboratory apparatus and techniques, including relevant aspects of Health & Safety.
  • The systematic and reliable recording of experimental data.
  • An ability to make use of appropriate texts, or other learning resources as part of managing their own learning.

    D. Transferable skills:
  • Problem-solving skills, an ability to formulate problems in precise terms and to identify key issues, and the confidence to try different approaches in order to make progress on challenging problems. Numeracy is subsumed within this area.
  • Investigative skills in the context of independent investigation including the use of textbooks and other available literature, and the interaction with colleagues to extract important information.
  • Communication skills in the area of dealing with surprising ideas and difficult concepts, including listening carefully, reading demanding texts and presenting complex information in a clear and concise manner.
  • Analytical skills – associated with the need to pay attention to detail and to develop an ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas, to construct logical arguments and to use technical language correctly.
  • Personal skills – the ability to work independently, to use initiative, to organise oneself to meet deadlines and to interact constructively with other people.


    1. Credit level 3. Foundation level module taken in preparation for a degree.
    2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
    3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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