MPhys Physics with Astrophysics / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Year 1 Lab Work (All Yr)

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHYS10180
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? No


Year 1 Lab Work (All Year)



Computing and Data Analysis:

1. To develop the appropriate skills and confidence to use computers for the tasks required in laboratory work

2. To introduce the basic concepts and methods required for laboratory data analysis.

3. To develop sound judgement in interpreting experimental results and uncertainties.

4. To develop the skills required for good scientific communication.


Special Topics

1. To promote awareness of selected topics at the forefront of modern-day research in physics.

2. To introduce and develop group-working skills.

3. To enhance writing and written presentation skills.

4. To develop skills in assessing the quality of one’s own and others’ work.


To ensure that students can competently use an oscilloscope and to foster an understanding of the way electrical signals are shaped by passive circuit elements.

Learning outcomes

Data Analysis:

On completion successful students will be able to:

1. Use python commands and scripts to manipulate and present experimental data in the form of graphs and tables. 

2. Estimate the precision of experimental results, from an understanding of the experimental procedure and from a statistical analysis of repeated measurements. 

3. Calculate the uncertainty in quantities derived from experimental results of specified precision. 

4. Round numerical values and uncertainites sensibly. 

5. Use the method of least squares-fitting and interpret chi-squared, χ2.

6. Distinugish between random and sustematic errors. 


Special Topics:


On completion successful students will be able to:

1. gather information on a subject which goes substantially beyond that provided in lectures.

2. work in a group to produce a piece of work which promotes physics as an interesting area of study.

3. appreciate the demands of group work.

4. grade their own and other’s work against specified assessment criteria.



On completion successful students will be able to:

1. Describe the behaviour of capacitors and inductors.

2. Observe and explain transients.

3. Design and build integrating and differentiating circuits.

4. Explain ringing, damping and Q-factors in resonant circuits, including critical damping.

5. Use complex notation and complex impedances for:

  • determination of amplitude and phase
  • resonant circuits
  • low-pass and high-pass filters
  • A.C. bridges.



1. Elementary circuit theory - discrete components, Kirchoffs laws and complex analysis

2. Semiconductor amplifiers - real and ideal systems

3. Positive feedback, oscillators and control loops

4. Analogue - to - digital conversion


Special Topics

Students will attend a series of specialist lectures on selected topics at the forefront of modern day research in physics and a session introducing the project and group working.  In the weeks following the lectures they will work together in small groups to produce a short booklet on one of the topics discussed in the lectures.  The booklet should be designed for students studying A-level physics and aim to convey the excitement of modernday physics to them.  Students will be expected to research beyond the material presented in the lectures in order to produce an informative and attractive piece of work.  Each group will assess and grade their own booklet along with a number of booklets from other groups, and these grades will form the basis of the final course assessment.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Practical skills assessment 100%

Feedback methods

Oral feedback will be given by demonstrators during the lab sessions and the assessment interviews at the end of each experiment. An annotated copy of each Lab Report will be returned to the student and the marker will discuss their comments with students. Students are also sent an email copy of each experiment assessment and lab report Feedback & Marksheet.

Recommended reading

There are no specific textbooks for First Year Lab. The main first year textbook, Young & Freedman’s University Physics, is likely to be useful for understanding the physics behind most of the experiments. Students should also read through the pre-lab material for their experiments on Blackboard before the start of each lab block.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment practical exam 4
Lectures 6
Practical classes & workshops 138
Independent study hours
Independent study 52

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
William Bertsche Unit coordinator

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