Module Identifier PX34010  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Professor Geraint Vaughan  
Semester Semester 1  
Pre-Requisite Core Physics Modules at Level 1  
Course delivery Lecture   8 lectures (first half of semester)  
  Practical   36 Hours Laboratory. 12 laboratory sessions (3 hours each)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam1 Hours End of semester examination  20%
Semester Assessment Course Work: Young's Modulus experiment  30%
Semester Assessment Course Work: Photometry Experiment  30%
Semester Assessment Course Work: MathCad exercises  10%
Semester Assessment Course Work: Theory Exercises  10%

Learning outcomes

After taking this module students should be able to:   

Brief 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. Applications of these concepts will be made through practical work and computational work using MathCad.


Use of MathCad for statistical problems

Theory of measurement

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. Determine the temperature of an incandescent filament by optical 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.

Transferable skills

Use or STOMP CAL package
Simple modelling using MathCad

Reading Lists

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


This module is at CQFW Level 6