Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Numerical Methods
Academic Year
Semester 1
Successful completion of Year 2.
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 1 hour lectures
Practical 12 x 2 hour workshops


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment A portfolio of coursework for completion by the end of the semester.  40%
Semester Assessment A mini-project for completion by the end of the semester.  60%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit portfolio and project report  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate a familiarity with various techniques for scientific computing and analysis

Write and develop simple numerical codes to solve specific physical examples.

Provide an analysis of a range of numerical methods through a series of coding exercises.


Computational physics provides an alternative approach to the solution of practical and theoretical problems. Solutions that are intractable by analytical techniques can also be solved numerically. Numerical simulation is now an important part of physics and other scientific disciplines. Familiarity with numerical techniques and increased computer power provide opportunities for study across the entire range of science and technology, and this module aims to provide an introduction to computational physics by introducing the basic techniques of numerical analysis.

Brief description

In this course the basic techniques of numerical analysis will be introduced through use of a script-based programming language. Once the basics are introduced, simple methods, such as interpolation, integration and the roots of functions will be explored. As the module progresses, more complicated methods such as Fourier transforms are introduced. An important part of the module is the solution of ordinary differential equations which will also form part of the numerical project that forms part of the assessment.


This module will comprise a series of 10 lectures with associated 2 hour practical laboratory sessions. The first two lectures and workshops will be to introduce script based programming to students. This will include:

  • Simple programming examples.
  • Loops and iterations.
  • Arrays.
  • Functions and subroutines.
  • Data input and output.
Application of numerical methods will be introduced by reference to the appropriate topics in physics and will include:

  • Linear interpolation.
  • Numerical integration.
  • Root finding.
  • Fourier analysis.
  • Solutions to ordinary differential equations (Runge-Kutta).
The assessment for this module will consist of a portfolio of coursework and code that will be drawn from the material presented in each weekly workshop. In addition a small mini-project that will comprise the application of a numerical method to a specific physical problem will be completed and assessed.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Necessary throughout.
Communication Written answers to exercises must be clear and well-structured. Good listening skills are essential to progress in this course.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be expected to develop their own approach to time-management in their attitude to the completion of work on time.
Information Technology Work will be set which requires the use of library facilities.
Personal Development and Career planning Completion of exercises and project to set deadlines will aid personal development.
Problem solving A portfolio of selected exercises from each of the exercise classes will be marked.
Research skills Students will be expected to use the written resources to find supplementary material.
Subject Specific Skills Numerical analysis is a key skill for physics and the physical sciences.
Team work Students will be encouraged to work together on questions during the exercise classes.

Reading List

General Text
(1996-) FORTRAN numerical recipes /William H. Press ... [et al.]. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press Primo search (1996.) Numerical recipes in FORTRAN 90 :the art of parallel scientific computing /William H. Press ... [et al.] ; foreword by Michael Metcalf. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press Primo search Ellis, T. M. R. (c1994 (various) Fortran 90 programming /T.M.R. Ellis, Ivor R. Philips, Thomas M. Lahey. Addison-Wesley Primo search Kincaid, David. (c2002.) Numerical analysis :mathematics of scientific computing /David Kincaid, Ward Cheney. 3rd ed. Brooks/Cole Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6