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School of Physics and Astronomy

Syllabus for PHYS 30180 (14/15)

Physics Core Unit
PHYS30180 Credit Rating: 20
PHYS30280 Credit Rating: 10
Lab Tutor: Dr. G. Smith (S1), Dr. E. Kerins (S2)

Third Year Laboratory


Feedback will be offered orally by demonstrators in lab sessions, orally by demonstrators when they mark each experiment, and in writing for all lab reports.

Aims: and Learning Outcomes:

These are presented in Section 2 of this booklet.

Prerequisites: PHYS20101, PHYS20141, PHYS20161, PHYS20171,

PHYS20252, PHYS20312, PHYS20352

Follow-up courses

4th year projects or postgraduate research.


Laboratory work is divided into four blocks, A and B in S5 and C and D in S6. Each block spans six weeks and is worth 10 credits. Lab blocks comprise 8 full days in the lab on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9.00am to 5.00pm, over four weeks, followed by an Assessment: in the fifth week and poster work during weeks five and six.

MPhys students usually perform one experiment in each semester (Block A or B + Block C or D)

BSc students undertake two experiments and a dissertation (PHYS30880) during Blocks A, B and C only.

Students may express a preference as to which blocks they take. However, the final choice of blocks for each student will be made by the Laboratory Tutor for logistic reasons.

Students in some degree programmes take only one block, as indicated on the programme pages.

Experiments last 12 full days: 8 days of experimental work plus 4 days for preparing presentations and posters, and for assessment. Experiments will be assigned beforehand by the Laboratory Tutor on the basis of student requests.

Students will be given a great deal of freedom in the way they perform the experiments, but demonstrators will discuss the experiments with them at the beginning and will be available to assist and advise at all stages.


Assessment comprises three components. The first is through a presentation and interview on completion of each experiment. This component will take into account the following: experimental skill and logbook notes, the oral presentation, understanding of the relevant physics, quality of the results and the analysis, originality and initiative. The second component of assessment is through written reports of each experiment. Each written account must be in word-processed form. The third component of assessment is through the production of a scientific poster which summarizes the experiment and results. The credit split for the interview/report/poster is 65/25/10. Dates for interviews and deadlines for written reports and posters will be published well in advance and late penalties will apply.

Late submissions of lab reports or posters: the standard penalties as detailed in Section 8.1 of the Blue Book will apply.

Late interviews: 20 marks will be deducted if an interview is not booked by the end of the fourth week. If an interview is not booked by the end of the fifth week, or if students fail to show up for an arranged interview they will be awarded zero.

Please note that you are required to pass the lab (>40%) in order either to progress to year 4 of an MPhys course, or to graduate with an honours BSc. Students who fail lab may be awarded an ordinary BSc degree.

Induction to the Laboratory Course

All 3rd year students will attend at the beginning of the year, a presentation by the Laboratory Tutor and will receive from their Personal Tutors a handout describing in detail the organisation, philosophy, and methods of assessment.