Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Laboratory Techniques for Experimental Physics (20 Credits)
Academic Year
Semester 1 (Taught over 2 semesters)
Mutually Exclusive
Mutually Exclusive
Mutually Exclusive
A Level Physics and Mathematics or equivalent
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Practical 20 x 4 Hour Practicals


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Written Lab Diary.  The students are assessed on the quality of note-taking during a 3 hour experiment. Each experiment is unique and the length of words required is different. The minimum is 200 words per experiment.  50%
Semester Assessment 2 x Written Lab Report,  2 x 1000 words  40%
Semester Assessment Written Worksheet,  20 hours  10%
Supplementary Assessment As determined by the Departmental Examination Board  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate practical competence and accuracy in carrying out experimental procedures including measurement, use of scientific instruments and recording of results.
2. Write a clear scientific report including theoretical background, experimental description, presentation and analysis of results, and interpretation and evaluation.
3. Identify types of uncertainties in an experiment and determine error propagation.
4. Work with others in a considerate way, dividing the duties efficiently.
5. Respect and acknowledge the intellectual property of others.

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. In this module you will learn the basic techniques of performing experiments, taking measurements, accounting for uncertainty in your measurements, analysing results and comparing them with theory.

In Aberystwyth the experimental physics modules are arranged so that students progress over the three or four years from following a set of detailed instructions performing simple experiments in the first year, to researching a topic and devising their own experiments and investigations in their final year projects.

This module will introduce physics undergraduates to the key areas of experimental physics which can be used to understand the world around us. A worksheet detailing uncertainties in measurement and accuracy of models is expected. Emphasis is placed on accuracy of note-taking. Undergraduates will be expected to keep a laboratory diary as they are conducting the experiments. In addition to the notes kept in the diary, students will be expected to write up two of the experiments as formal reports, including background research into the topics. In addition to this in second semester students will be introduced to ways of capturing and presenting data using electronic devices and computer packages.


• Basic error analysis.
• Keeping laboratory diaries and writing reports.
• The series of experiments in first semester are based on core physics modules taken concurrently. In second semester students will be expected to perform a selection of experiments allocated on a "round-robin" basis. These experiments cover key areas of physics.

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.
Improving own Learning and Performance Each week the feedback provided for the lab diaries encourages the students to improve their note-taking.
Information Technology Modern data analysis is dependent on the use of computers. In some experiments, students use a computer package to analyse data and will be expected to word process their lab reports.
Problem solving Students will apply problem solving techniques in the course of experimentation and in the handling of data arising from experiments.
Research skills Students will be expected to research the background to experiments.
Subject Specific Skills Use of specific equipment. Performance of experiments. Writing scientific method. 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 modelling problems.


This module is at CQFW Level 4