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Unit information: Group Work 301 in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Group Work 301
Unit code PHYS38013
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Gradhand
Open unit status Not open

120 credit points of units at level 5/I in Physics, Physics with Astrophysics, Theoretical Physics, joint honours Physics and Philosophy, or Chemical Physics programmes.



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science


Description: Each group of around eight students produces a written report and a twenty minute presentation on a topical area of pure or applied physics. The report comprises a technical paper in the style of a review article, and a popular account in the style of a magazine article, with a combined total length of no more than 8000 words. The emphasis of the unit is on collective work and study, and the assessment criteria reflect this.


• To develop an understanding and appreciation of the collective nature of scientific research.

• To develop a capacity for independent work as part of a larger group.

• To develop interpersonal skills, particularly the presentation and defence of a group effort.

• To develop skills in independently locating and interpreting scientific and technical literature.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit students will have gained experience of:

• Working within a peer group to produce output against a deadline

• The benefits and difficulties of coordinating a group of independent researchers

• Independently following a scientific literature trail to research around a topic

• The process of producing an extended piece of formal scientific writing

• The preparation and delivery of an extended formal scientific presentation.

Teaching details

Each group is expected to appoint an editor, who takes overall responsibility for the coordination of the work, and who may have one or more deputies with specific responsibilities (e.g. the preparation of the popular account or presentation). The group are assisted in their work by an academic, who proposes the topic, and gives guidance in identifying resources and producing a well-written report and clear presentation. The role of the supervisor is to facilitate the group’s work and provide scientific and stylistic input; they are not involved in proof-reading or review of the assessed materials, or in assigning work within the group. The group define their own frequency and means of meeting, but are expected to meet weekly, collectively or via a representative, with their academic supervisor.

Assessment Details

Written reports are assessed by the group academic supervisor. Presentations are peer-assessed by the entire class. Moderation is performed in both cases by the module coordinator, and / or a deputy module coordinator. The weighting of marks is 50% for the technical report, 25% for the popular account, and 25% for the presentation. All group members receive the same mark. Each student is also required to provide evidence of their individual contribution in the form of a personal dossier, documenting the resources used in preparing the assessed work with a brief commentary.

Reading and References

Selected key resources will be provided by the academic supervisor. Identification of other materials is a goal of the unit.