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School of Physics and Astronomy

5. Learning Resources (16/17)

5.1 The University of Manchester Library

The University Library is the largest non-legal deposit academic library in the United Kingdom, and includes extensive collections in physics, astronomy and related subjects. Students, staff and researchers at The University of Manchester also enjoy access to an abundant virtual library of electronic resources, 24 hours a day, throughout the year.

The University Library consists of a large central facility on the main campus (the Main Library), together with several satellite libraries (including the Braddick Library). The Main Library is situated at the end of Burlington Street, some five minutes walk from the School of Physics and Astronomy, and houses the principal collections for science and other subjects. The Braddick Library primarily serves taught course students from the School of Physics and Astronomy, and is located within the School on the first floor of the Schuster Building. The Braddick Library supplements the Main Library's provision, and includes a Recommended Book Collection containing recommended reading for courses, a Teaching Collection of books and reference works, and a self-service photocopying facility.

Out of hours access to the study area of the Braddick Library is available for all third and fourth year students.

Study facilities also include the Learning Commons building on Oxford Road.

The University Library supports students with a comprehensive range of services. These include High Demand collections of the most heavily used materials, self-issue and self-return machines, online renewals and reservations through the library catalogue, online reading lists, self-service photocopying, document supply, and library and discipline-specific guides. A range of study facilities cater for a variety of study styles, including Group Study Rooms that can be booked in advance through the student portal. Several computer clusters offer access to over 240 networked computers, which are available during the Main Library's opening hours.

The University Library's website ( http://www.manchester.ac.uk/library ) provides detailed information about its services, enables access to the library catalogue, and delivers a wealth of electronic resources that can be used remotely. The relevant discipline-specific pages offer advice and access to resources for physicists and astronomers ( http://subjects.library.manchester.ac.uk/physics ). Resources include databases that support literature searching by identifying references to relevant publications, as well as electronic journals, electronic books and electronic reference materials (such as handbooks and data compilations, encyclopaedias and dictionaries) that enable access to full text publications.

The University Library is actively working to ensure that all students with special needs have full access to all library resources and services. The University Library has a designated Disability Support Co-ordinator, Gavin Park ( gavin.park@manchester.ac.uk ), who may be contacted directly by students.

5.2 Physics Help Service

Help with problems in most areas of Physics and Mathematics is available in the Braddick Library for two hours each week, and times are available on Blacboard (see section 5.3).

5.3 Blackboard ( https://online.manchester.ac.uk )

Blackboard is the University-wide virtual learning environment. Each course module has a Blackboard site. Information about laboratory and project procedures are available from the relevant module sites within Blackboard. In addition the UG Virtual Common Room in Blackboard contains links to past exam papers, minutes of meetings and lecture timetables as well as other useful links.

Examples sheets and their model answers for most courses are made available electronically on Blackboard.

5.4 Computing Facilities in the School

Public clusters.

There is a PC cluster on the Mezannine floor of the Schuster Building. The next nearest clusters are on the ground floor of the Chemistry Building and in the George Kenyon Building. A full list of clusters and their realtime availability is accessible from the IT Services website ( http://www.itservices.manchester.ac.uk ).

Wireless access for laptops and mobile phones is available in most of the Schuster Building.

First floor teaching lab.

This floor is the home of the Don Butler PC cluster, which consists of 20 general purpose PCs.

Third floor teaching wing.

This floor houses the main teaching computing facilities.

PCLAB1 contains forty PCs used mainly for teaching and computing courses and for general purpose use. There are also a limited number of wired connection points for laptops.

PCLAB2 contains twenty two PCs used for teaching computing and analogue hardware control and for general purpose use.

PCLAB3 is the 4th year cluster. This contains ten computers of which some contain dedicated software for the 4th year projects; three computers run dedicated experiments under the Linux operating system.

Fourth floor teaching lab.

This lab mainly contains dedicated experiment control systems with some 26 machines. There are also four general purpose machines for word processing and data analysis.

Software in the teaching labs.

The two main operating systems used are Windows and Scientific Linux. Scientific Linux has been adopted as the defacto standard Linux distribution throughout the Faculty of Science and Engineering. Common applications to support document preparation, web browsing, etc. are installed as standard. Specialist applications like Matlab, Mathematica, LabView, visualisation packages, etc. are installed as required.

The University also has a large portfolio of applications software that can be used by students on campus or in the halls of residence.


All clusters provide some form of networked printing which is charged at School standard central charges. Each student is credited with an allowance by the School to cover the costs of printing for coursework