Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Introduction to Computational and Experimental Physics
Academic Year
Semester 2 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Mutually Exclusive
A Level Physics and Mathematics or equivalent
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Practical 3 hour practical per week


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Sci LAB exercise  15%
Semester Assessment 4 lab reports - 15% each  60%
Semester Assessment Lab Diary  25%
Supplementary Assessment As determined by the Departmental Examination Board  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. keep a laboratory diary

2. write laboratory reports using a word processing package

3. determine the causes and minimize the effect of experimental uncertainty

4. present a value of a physical measurement together with its associated error

5. use and appreciate the limitations of simple laboratory instruments

6. use Sci Lab to perform basic computational exercises in physics

7. apply the above skills to the performance of basic experiments in physics

Brief description

Experimentation is a fundamental part of the physical sciences process. It allows us to understand the world around us, to develop theories and to test those theories. However, in recent years, computational physics has added a new dimension to this area because the power of modern computers and software has made realistic simulations of complex phenomena possible. This has widened the areas that are accessible to physicsits as well as introducing a new discipline, computational physics, into the curriculum. The widespread use of computer modelling in industrial, financial and managerial areas has meant that students with these skills are in very demand. This module will introduce physics undergraduates to the key areas of computational physics and experimentation which can be used to understand the world around us, and learn how to use the power of computational physics to enhance the design and interpretation of experimental results.


Introduction to PC packages available in the teaching laboratories.

Introduction to computational physics using SciLab.

Basic error analysis.

Keeping laboratory diaries and writing reports.

Students will be expected to perform a selection of experiments allocated on a "round-robin" basis.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number In essence, physics is based on the use of mathematics and experimental physics on the manipulation of number. Application of number is a central part of this module
Communication Students will keep laboratory diaries and write reports on experiments
Information Technology Mathematical modeling is depent on the use of computers. In the experimental physics, students use Excel and SciLab to analyse data and will be expected to word process their lab reports
Problem solving This is developed in the computational physics side of the module. Students will attend weekly problem solving workshops.
Research skills Students will be expected to research the background to experiments.
Subject Specific Skills Design and performance of experiments. Analysis of experimental uncertainty.
Team work Students will generally do experiments in groups of two and we would encourage co-operation in the solution of modeling problems

Reading List

General Text
Nelkon, Michael. (1987.) Advanced level physics /Michael Nelkon, Philip Parker. 6th ed. Heinemann Educational Primo search
Should Be Purchased
Tipler, Paul Allen (2004.) Physics for scientists and engineers /[Paul A. Tipler, Gene Mosca] 5th edition. W.H. Freeman Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4