Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Practical Research Skills
Academic Year
Semester 2
Mutually Exclusive
FG25520 or PH35410 FG35410
PH15720 or PH15510 FG15510, FG15720
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Literature review  (2 pages)  10%
Semester Assessment Poster  (1 page)  10%
Semester Assessment Oral Presentation  (15 minutes)  10%
Semester Assessment Individual Report  (10 pages)  30%
Semester Assessment Exercise - Risk assessment  (2 pages)  10%
Semester Assessment Exercise – Analysis techniques  (3 pages)  30%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of failed element  (As determined by the Departmental Examinations Board)  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. ​​​Investigate topics related to project work through research papers and articles and present a literature review with bibliography using Endnote or similar software.

2. Plan and perform a project with minimal input from teaching staff, utilising laboratory and analytical skills developed during the course.

3. Gather data experimentally or from online resources demonstrating awareness of instrument operation and calibration.

4. Analyse and interpret data.

5. Present an experiment and its results in an oral presentation, a poster and a formal report.

6. Carry out risk assessment for experimental work.

Brief description

The module is the bridge between first-year laboratory work and the final-year projects. It gives students experience of the environment of practical physics research. Students will be introduced to the skills required for the final-year project and will develop these by working on an allocated project in groups of four or five. The students will develop an understanding of project planning and execution, instrumentation and computing techniques, risk assessment, literature searching, data analysis and interpretation. They will communicate their project-work and results by poster, oral presentation and a formal report.


Students are introduced to:

Library and internet searching, referencing software, reading and writing scientific papers

Analytic and computational techniques on topics such as image processing, use of Unix, modelling, simulation, and statistical analysis.

Instrumentation and data from various resources.

Safety in project work covering Risk Assessment and items such as COSHH, DSEAR, laser and radiation safety.

The students will work in groups of four of five on an allocated project. They will be required to apply the skills developed in the module to research the background to the project, plan the project, develop an experimental strategy, and analyse and interpret the results. The project-work assessment will include a literature review, poster and oral presentation and an individual formal report. The students will also be assessed on exercises on formal risk and analysis techniques.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Application of number is essential in analysing data, including for error propagation and uncertainty.
Communication Students will communicate their project work through a literature review, an oral presentation, a poster and a formal report.
Improving own Learning and Performance The students develop and improve their performance in a set of skills used in final-year undergraduate projects.
Information Technology Students research the background to a project using internet and library searches and present a literature review using Endnote or similar bibliographic software. Students develop computational skills in data analysis and use facilities available for word processing and presentations.
Personal Development and Career planning Many of the skills developed are essential elements of a physics degree and in future employment. Risk assessment is a transferrable skill in the workplace.
Problem solving Problem-solving is a core skill in physics project work.
Research skills Students are expected to research the background to the work, the context of the experiments and to be aware of the most recent related literature.
Subject Specific Skills Knowledge of appropriate research tools, e.g. computational programming, instrumentation.
Team work Students work on a project in groups of four to five.


This module is at CQFW Level 5