Laboratory and Computing Skills for Physicists - PHYS3700

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Combined Autumn and Spring Terms 4 30 (15) Christopher Lynch checkmark-circle


This module guides students through a series of experiments giving them experience in using laboratory apparatus and equipment. Students will also learn how to accurately record and analyse data in laboratory notebooks and write scientific laboratory reports. The experiments cover subjects found in the Physics degree program and are run parallel with Computing Skills workshops in which students are introduced to the concept of using programming/scripting languages to analyse and report data from their experiments.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 90
Private Study Hours: 210
Total Study Hours: 300


This is not available as an elective module choice.

Method of assessment

Assignment 1 (2 hr lab session) - 6%
Assignment 2 (2 hr lab session) - 6%
Assignment 3 (2 hr lab session) - 6%
Assignment 4 (2 hr lab session) - 6%
Assignment 5 (2 hr lab session) - 6%
C1 Python Assignment (1 hr workshop) - 5%
C2 Python Assignment (1 hr workshop) - 10%
C3 Python Assignment (1 hr workshop) - 10%
C4 Python Assignment (1 hr workshop) - 10%
E1 LAB REPORT (4hr lab session) - 5%
E2 LAB REPORT (4hr lab session) - 10%
E3 LAB REPORT (4hr lab session) - 10%
E4 LAB REPORT (4hr lab session) - 10%

Indicative reading

Kirkup, L. (1994) Experimental Methods
Taylor, J. (1997) An Introduction to Error Analysis
Jackson, C. (2011) Learning to Program Using Python

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

1 Demonstrate an ability to identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with problems, and to make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.
2 Demonstrate 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.
3 Demonstrate an ability to communicate scientific information, in particular to produce clear and accurate scientific reports.
4 Show a familiarity with laboratory apparatus and techniques, including relevant aspects of Health & Safety.
5 Demonstrate the ability to systematically and reliably record experimental data.
6 Demonstrate an ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources as part of managing their own learning.
7 Show a systematic understanding of how computers work according to human's instructions.
8 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of computer programming principles, and their application to diverse problems.
9 Demonstrate an ability to solve problems in physics/mathematics using appropriate mathematical tools. Ability to use computational methods for the practical application of theory and to use information technology and data-processing skills to search for, assess and interpret data.
10 Demonstrate an ability to use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical behaviour including the use of computer programming along with development of simple algorithms.
11 Show competence in the use of appropriate C&IT packages/systems for the analysis of data and the retrieval of appropriate information.
12 Demonstrate an ability to present and interpret information graphically including the use of computer programming.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage 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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