Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2009-2010 (archived)


Department: Physics


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2009/10 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Laboratory Skills and Practice (PHYS2551) AND Foundations of Physics 1 (PHYS1122).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Key Skills B (PHYS3571).


  • This module is designed primarily for students studying Department of Physics or Natural Science four year degree programmes.
  • It aims to develop transferable skills in researching a topic and making oral and written presentations on the findings.
  • It aims to develop computer skills.
  • It aims to practise and reinforce basic physics concepts.


  • The syllabus contains:
  • Practice in problem solving using basic physics concepts.
  • Use of a computer to solve problems using a variety of modern computing techniques.
  • Study of the literature on a topic of choice at an advanced level and the preparation of written and oral presentations of the findings.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Having studied this module students will have formed an appreciation of the physics related to a chosen topic.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will have developed enhanced problem solving skills and an improved understanding of basic physics.
  • They will have gained experience of solving physical problems using modern computing techniques.
Key Skills:
  • Students will have the necessary skills to study the literature on a topic at an advanced level and to make written and oral presentations of the findings.

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

  • Teaching will be by computer classes, tutorials and examples classes.
  • The computer classes are designed to allow each student to develop skills in solving problems using modern computing techniques.
  • The skills covered are transferable to a wide range of activities.
  • Students will be able to obtain help and guidance through discussions with computing demonstrators.
  • The tutorials provide support for research into an advanced topic of choice and provide a forum for developing oral and written presentation skills.
  • Students receive guidance and feedback on their poster and presentation to the tutorial group.
  • The examples classes provide the opportunity to develop problem solving skills and to reinforce material learned in earlier years.
  • Student performance is formatively assessed through the general problems collection and summatively assessed through the computing project, through the poster and presentation and through a three-hour written examination.
  • The examination will provide the means for students to demonstrate their knowledge of basic physics concepts and the development of their problem-solving skills.
  • The computing classes, tutorials and examples classes 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
Tutorials 5 2 or 3 per term 1 Hour 5
Practicals 9 1 per week 3 Hours 27
Examples Classes 18 1 per week 1 Hour 18
Preparation and Reading 150
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
three-hour written examination 100%
Component: Presentation Component Weighting: 15%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
presentation 100%
Component: Computing project Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
computing project 100%
Component: Poster Component Weighting: 5%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
poster 100%

Formative Assessment:

General problems collection.

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