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Unit information: Current Topics in Physics in 2021/22

Unit name Current Topics in Physics
Unit code PHYSM3407
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Antognozzi
Open unit status Not open



None. Antirequisite in Foundations of Modern Physics unit.

School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides an introduction to current research in theoretical and applied physics. The course is modular, and students will cover three different topics, each a subject of active research. In each area, work is ongoing and there may be no definitive interpretation of results; the course will illustrate the nature of physics research, and explore ways of addressing such uncertainty. Topics will be available in strands for different research areas in the School, such as astrophysics, particle physics, and condensed matter physics. Students will normally follow one strand and students on the Physics with Astrophysics degree will be expected to follow the Astrophysics strand. After the course students will have several weeks to write an essay. This will be a review of a single research topic in the strand. Formative feedback will be provided on an essay plan.


  • to introduce students to topics of current research in physics
  • to develop skills in researching a new topic and distilling accurate information from current scientific literature where there are open questions
  • to develop scientific writing and presentation skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students should be able to:

  • assimilate new ideas from current research papers
  • critically evaluate current research
  • write a review style article in scientific language.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a combination of

  • asynchronous online materials, including narrated presentations and worked examples
  • synchronous group problems classes, workshops, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous directed individual formative exercises and other exercises
  • guided, structured reading

Assessment Information

Students will write one essay of up to 2,000 words on one of the topics. The final assessment mark will be based 100% on this essay. Formative feedback will be provided on a 500 word essay plan.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. PHYSM3407).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.