Module Identifier PH15720  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr Martin C Wilding  
Semester Semester 2 (Taught over 2 semesters)  
Other staff Dr Xing Li, Mr Clive A Willson, Dr David P Langstaff  
Pre-Requisite Normal entry requirements to Year 1 physics  
Co-Requisite None  
Mutually Exclusive PH15510  
Course delivery Practical   48 Hours.  
  Lecture   12 Hours.  
  Other   36 Hours. Computational workshops  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Semester assessment Math cad exercise  20%
Semester Assessment Semester assessment 3 lab reports - 20% each  60%
Semester Assessment Semester assessment Lab Diary  20%
Supplementary Assessment Supplementary assessment As determined by the Departmental Examination Board  100%

Learning outcomes

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

1. keep a laboratory diary

2. write laboratory reports using a word processing package

3. determine the causes and minimize the effect of experimental uncertainty

4. present a value of a physical measurement together with its associated error

5. use and appreciate the limitations of simple laboratory instruments

6. use MathCad to perform basic computational exercises in physics

7. apply the above skills to the performance of basic experiments in physics

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. However, in recent years, computational physics has added a new dimension to this area because the power of modern computers and software has made realistic simulations of complex phenomena possible. This has widened the areas that are accessible to physicsits as well as introducing a new discipline, computational physics, into the curriculum. The widespread use of computer modelling in industrial, financial and managerial areas has meant that students with these skills are in very demand. This module will introduce physics undergraduates to the key areas of computational physics and experimentation which can be used to understand the world around us, and learn how to use the power of computational physics to enhance the design and interpretation of experimental results.


Introduction to PC packages available in the teaching laboratories.

Introduction to computational physics using MathCad.

Basic error analysis.

Keeping laboratory diaries and writing reports.

Students will be expected to perform experiments in two of the three general areas shown below. The choice will be determined by degree scheme of the student.

1. Analogue and digital electronics.
2. Fundamental constants and radioactivity.
3. Astrophysics

Module Skills

Problem solving This is developed in the computational physics side of the module. Students will attend weekly problem solving workshops.  
Research skills Students will be expected to research the background to experiments.  
Communication Students will keep laboratory diaries and write reports on experiments  
Team work Students will generally do experiments in groups of two and we would encourage co-operation in the solution of modeling problems  
Information Technology Mathematical modeling is depent on the use of computers. In the experimental physics, students use Excel and Easyplot to analyse data and will be expected to word precess their lab reports  
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  
Personal Development and Career planning Not addressed  
Subject Specific Skills Design and performance of experiments. Analysis of experimental uncertainty.  

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Larsen, Ronald W. (Sept. 2000) Introduction to MathCAD 2000 0130200077


This module is at CQFW Level 4