Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2009-2010 (archived)


Department: Physics


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2009/10 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Discovery Skills in Physics (PHYS1101) AND (Fundamental Physics (PHYS1111) OR Foundations of Physics 1 (PHYS1122)) AND (Single Mathematics A (MATH1561) and Single Mathematics B (MATH1571) OR Core Mathematics A (MATH1012) OR Maths for Engineers and Scientists (MATH1551)).


  • Laboratory Skills and Practice (PHYS2551).

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module is designed primarily for students studying Department of Physics or Natural Sciences degree programmes.
  • It aims to teach electronics as a theoretical and a practical subject, to teach the techniques of computational physics and numerical methods and to provide experience of a long laboratory experiment in Physics.


  • The syllabus contains:
  • Electronics lectures: Analogue Electronics: Components: Introduction to electrical circuit theory, networks, AC theory, passive filters, diodes, transistors; systems: noise, measurements, amplifiers. Digital Electronics: components, JK elements, counters.
  • Electronics practical sessions.
  • Computational physics: functions, random numbers, integration, linear algebra, ordinary differential equations.
  • Performance of an extended laboratory practical at an advanced level.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Having studied this module the student will understand the theoretical principles of basic electronics.
  • They will know how to structure physics problems and their computational solutions.
  • They will have formed a detailed appreciation of the physics underlying a particular project and be prepared to undertake and report on similar projects.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will have developed practical skills in electronics.
  • They will be able to apply their programming skills to solve problems using numerical methods.
Key Skills:

    Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

    • Teaching will be by lectures, workshops and practical sessions.
    • The electronics lectures aim to give a theoretical grounding in the elements of electronics - analogue and digital circuits, circuit logic and design - while the practical sessions provide a working knowledge of the subject.
    • The computational physics lectures aim to give a theoretical grounding in the elements of computational physics and numerical methods, while the workshops provide opportunities for practice and discussion of the algorithms.
    • Regular exercises in coding algorithms, to be submitted and checked electronically, will give students practice in applying these principles and will form the basis for discussion in the workshops.
    • The skills covered form the foundation needed for the long experiment in the second term and for later practical work.
    • Students will be able to obtain help and guidance from the laboratory scripts and through discussions with laboratory demonstrators.
    • Student performance is summatively assessed through a formal report for the practical sessions, through a formal report for the long experiment and through exercises.
    • The practical classes, workshops and exercises provide opportunity for feedback, for students to gauge their progress and for staff to monitor progress throughout the duration of the module.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Lectures 15 1 per week 1 Hour 15
    Workshops 9 1 per week in term 2 1 Hour 9
    Practicals 17 1 per week 3 Hours 51
    Preparation and Reading 125
    Total 200

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Practicals Component Weighting: 60%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Long Experiment 66.7% Resubmitted report
    Electronics Practicals 33.3% Written electronics exercise
    Component: Computational Physics Exercises Component Weighting: 40%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Exercises 100% Completing a set of exercises during the vacation

    Formative Assessment:

    Formative assessment of laboratory record by laboratory staff.

    Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University