Physics Problem Solving - PHYS6020

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 6 15 (7.5) Manuel Marques checkmark-circle


After taking the classes students should be more fluent and adept at solving and discussing general problems in Physics (and its related disciplines of mathematics and engineering).
There is no formal curriculum for this course, which uses and demands only physical and mathematical concepts with which the students at this level are already familiar.
Problems are presented and solutions discussed in topics spanning several topics in the undergraduate physics curriculum (Mechanics and statics, thermodynamics, and optics, etc).
Problems are also discussed that primarily involve the application of formal logic and reasoning, simple probability, statistics, estimation and linear mathematics.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 20
Private study hours: 130
Total study hours: 150


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Assignment 1 (10 hours) – 20%
Assignment 2 (10 hours) – 20%
Examination (3 hours) – 60%

Indicative reading

Oman and Oman, Physics for the Utterly Confused, McGraw Hill [QC23]
3000 Solved Problems in Physics, Alvin Halpern (ISBN 978-0-07-176346-2

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate an assured ability to identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with physics problems, and to make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.
Confidently solve problems in physics using appropriate mathematical tools.
Demonstrate competent use of appropriate C&IT packages/systems for the analysis of data and the retrieval of appropriate information for problem solving.
Present and interpret scientific information graphically to solve complex problems.
Communicate scientific information about problem solving, in particular to produce clear and accurate scientific reports.
Demonstrate an ability to make use of appropriate physics-based texts, research-based materials or other learning resources as part of managing their own learning.

The intended generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Demonstrate comprehensive problem-solving skills, in the context of both problems with well-defined solutions and open-ended problems; 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.
Demonstrate 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.
Demonstrate the ability to work independently, to use initiative, to organise oneself to meet deadlines.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate 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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