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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Physics and Astronomy : Undergraduate (School of Physics and Astronomy)

Undergraduate Course: Practical Physics (PHYS08048)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Physics and Astronomy CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is designed for pre-honours physics students. It provides an introduction to computer programming, data analysis and experimental laboratory techniques. It serves both as a preparation for further practical work in physics-based degree programmes, and as a stand-alone course for students of other disciplines, including mathematics, chemistry, geosciences, computer science and engineering. The course consists of laboratory sessions and workshops to develop understanding, familiarity and fluency.
Course description Scientific Programming
- Introduction to python programming, basics of Linux, executing programmes
- Data types, variables and operators
- Command line and file input and output
- Conditional statements, loops and lists
- Importing and using python modules, mathematical functions, simple graphs
- Introduction to functions
- Reusable code, finding and fixing bugs

Data Analysis
- Uncertainty, accuracy and precision
- Mean value; standard deviation; error on the mean
- Using a spreadsheet for data analysis
- Combining uncertainties
- Graphs and graph plotting
- Least squares methods
- Application to a real-world problem

Experimental Laboratory (Experimental Physics 2)
- Introductory lecture on research methods, keeping a lab book, and writing reports.
- Two 3-week experiments chosen from Compound and Kater Pendula, Radioactive Decay, Atomic Spectroscopy, Michelson Interferometer and Geometric Optics.
- One 3-week experiment on digital and analogue electronic circuits
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites Students MUST also take: Modern Physics (PHYS08045) OR Classical and Modern Physics (PHYS08044)
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Programming and Data Analysis (PHYS08049)
Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Appreciate the relationship between experiment, theory and computation as scientific techniques, and assess whether an experimental result (in conjunction with an estimated error) or output from a computer program is physically reasonable
  2. Explain the importance of reproducibility of scientific work, and the role that laboratory notebooks and quantitative statements of confidence in results play in achieving this
  3. Apply standard practical techniques (e.g., routine handling of common laboratory equipment, linear least-squares fitting and writing short, procedural computer programs) as directed in a lab script to achieve a stated goal
  4. Present a record of an experiment or computation in an appropriate, clear and logical written form (e.g., lab notebook, lab report, fully documented computer code), augmented with figures and graphs where appropriate.
  5. Take responsibility for learning by attending laboratory sessions and workshops, and completing coursework
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Malcolm McMahon
Tel: (0131 6)50 5956
Course secretaryMiss Yolanda Zapata-Perez
Tel: (0131 6)51 7067
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