Physics Research Project - PH700

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
Autumn and Spring
View Timetable
7 60 (30) DR S Ramos Perez




School of Physical Sciences
Procedures for Projects Involving Human Participation

It is a University requirement that any final year project undergraduate, postgraduate or staff research project involving human participants should be subject to a procedure to determine whether ethics approval is needed. The procedure employed by SPS and the Faculty of Science are described here:

Undergraduate projects PH600, PH603, PS620, CH620, PS720, PS740 and PH700
Each project proposal collected from academics will include an ethics approval checklist designed to determine if ethical approval is required from the faculty i.e. does the project involve human participants. It is the responsibility of convenors to ask supervisors to fill in these checklists with students. If the answer to any of the questions on the checklist is yes please see below;

The following text will be introduced into the information pack or the handbooks of the module:

“Before you commence any work, it is important that the ethics of that work be considered; for example, taking fingerprints or collecting images of faces of your colleagues etc. Your supervisor will discuss any ethics issues with you and you should keep a copy of the documentation”

For projects involving human participants other than those conducting the project itself, students and their supervisors are required to read, note and act upon the guidelines available at to obtain approval from the Sciences Research Ethics (Human Participation) Advisory Group.

Further information on Ethics can be obtained from Dr Donna Arnold, SPS representative on the Sciences Research Ethics Advisory Group.



  • To provide an experience of open-ended research work.
  • To begin to prepare students for postgraduate work towards degrees by research or for careers in R&D in industrial or government/national laboratories.
  • To deepen knowledge in a specialised field and be able to communicate that knowledge orally and in writing.
    All MPhys students undertake a laboratory, theoretical or computationally-based project related to their degree specialism. These projects may also be undertaken by Diploma students. A list of available project areas is made available during Stage 3, but may be augmented/revised at any time up to and including Week 1 of Stage 4. As far as possible, projects will be assigned on the basis of students' preferences – but this is not always possible: however, the project abstracts are regarded as 'flexible' in the sense that significant modification is possible (subject only to mutual consent between student and supervisor). The projects involve a combination of some or all of: literature search and critique, laboratory work, theoretical work, computational physics and data reduction/analysis. The majority of the projects are directly related to the research conducted in the department and are undertaken within the various SPS research teams.
  • Details

    This module appears in:

    Contact hours

    5 hours module introduction, talks guidance and feedback on talks;
    40 days conducting supervisor-guided research (a minimum of 280 timetabled hours);
    2 days project ‘conference’ (approx. 14 hours).

    Total hours of study, including private study: 600 hours.


    This is not available as a wild module.

    Method of assessment

    Coursework 100%. Students are required both to write a formal report of the work and to present their findings as a talk, such as would be contributed to a scientific conference. The conference-style presentation is filmed, and the resulting DVD used to provide detailed feedback. The work is also subject to an oral examination. The final mark will be obtained from four separate assessments: 1) the progress, aptitude and general diligence (15%), 2) the progress report (55%), 3) an oral examination (15%) and 4) a talk (%15).

    Indicative reading

    None; appropriate background reading will be suggested by individual project supervisors

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    Learning outcomes

  • 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.
  • An ability to execute and analyse critically the results of an experiment or investigation and draw valid conclusions. To evaluate the level of uncertainty in these results and compare them with expected outcomes, theoretical predictions or with published data; thereby to evaluate the significance of their results in this context.
  • An ability to interpret mathematical descriptions of physical phenomena.
  • An ability to plan an experiment or investigation under supervision and to understand the significance of error analysis.
  • A working knowledge of a variety of experimental, mathematical and/or computational techniques applicable to current research within physics.
  • 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 (including relevant aspects of Health & Safety), theories and techniques.
  • The systematic and reliable recording of experimental data or derivation of theoretical results.
  • An ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources as part of managing their own learning. C&IT skills which show fluency at the level and range needed for project work such as familiarity with a programming language, simulation software or the use of mathematical packages for manipulation and numerical solution of equations.
  • An ability to communicate complex scientific ideas, the conclusion of an experiment, investigation or project concisely, accurately and informatively.
  • Experimental skills showing the competent use of specialised equipment, the ability to identify appropriate pieces of equipment and to master new techniques and equipment.
  • An ability to make use of research articles and other primary sources.
  • 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.
  • Investigative skills in the context of independent investigation including the use of textbooks and other available literature, databases, 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. C&IT skills are an important element to this.
  • 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.

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