Module Identifier PX34010  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Professor Geraint Vaughan  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr James Whiteway  
Pre-Requisite Core Physics Modules at Level 1  
Course delivery Lecture   8 lectures (first half of semester)  
  Seminars / Tutorials   3 workshops  
  Laboratory   36 Hours 12 laboratory sessions (3 hours each)  
Assessment Course work   Young's Modulus experiment   30%  
  Course work   Photometry Experiment   30%  
  Course work   MathCad exercises   10%  
  Course work   Theory Exercises   10%  
  Exam   1 Hours End of semester examinations   20%  

Module description

This module is a laboratory-based course where the handling of data in selected experiments is treated in parallel with a course on the theory of measurement, the nature of experimental errors, random and systematic. The course provides an introduction to the basic statistics encountered in Physics, including the Binomial, Poisson and Normal distributions, and simple least-squares regression. The estimate of standard error, the combination of errors and the optimum design of experiments to reduce the final error in the most efficient way are covered, together with a demonstration of selection effects in compiling a data-base. Further instruction on the MathCad programming package will be given.

Module objectives / Learning outcomes

After taking this module students should be able to:   

Additional learning activities

Use or STOMP CAL package
Simple modelling using MathCad

Outline syllabus

Use of MathCad for statistical problem

Theory of measurement (STOMP Measurement and Uncertainty Package)

Random and systematic errors
Accuracy and Precision
Mean and standard deviation
Gaussian, Poisson and Binomial distributions
Combining uncertainties
The Least Square Principle, graphing data and fitting a straight line to data


1. Photometry experiment - exercise in taking and transforming measurements

2. Young's Modulus experiment - Determination of Young's Modulus, with special care taken to estimate the random uncertainty in the final result. Identification of the parameter contributing most to the final error.

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Roger Barlow. Statistics. Wiley ISBN 0 471 92295 1
** Reference Text
R. Larsen. Introduction to Mathcad 2000. Prentice Hall ISBN 0-13-020007-7
P M Morse (theory of Young's Modulus Experiment). Vibration and Sound.