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Unit information: Physics World 301 in 2015/16

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Unit name Physics World 301
Unit code PHYS38010
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Furqaan Yusaf
Open unit status Not open

120 credit points at Level 5 in single honours or joint honours Physics programmes.



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science


To introduce students to current topics of interest to practising physicists. To practice and improve the skills of acquiring and disseminating new scientific information at a level appropriate to general public. To provide additional opportunities to improve verbal and written communication skills. Students will read and work to understand articles in the Institute of Physics magazine 'Physics World'. Each student will receive a personal copy of 'Physics World' every month together with some back numbers and will be expected to give two half-hour talks each on an article of his/her choice to a group of peers with a staff moderator.


To give an overview of the latest developments in physics, presented in a lively and approachable way. To understand the relationships between different branches of physics and the coherence of the subject, particularly as an underpinning to science. To provide experience of interpreting material in various formats, of following up references to a variety of scientific literature, and in presenting a summary of complex material in a digestible and interesting way.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit students will be able to:

  • Read and understand specialised articles in a professional journal and discuss the findings in a small group.
  • Prepare a clear and concise talk summarising the physics content of such an article.
  • Write a clear and concise summary of the physics content of such an article in such a way that it can be understood by a professional physicist not specialising in the field in question.
  • Become familiar with information retrieval systems on the World Wide Web and in computer packages for presentation of talks.

Teaching details

Group activities led by a member of academic staff.

Assessment Details

Assessment is based on both the talks and the essays. Marks are determined from both the quality of presentation and the level of comprehension displayed. The mark for the talks is determined by the member of staff who chairs the sessions and acts as an assessor. All marks are moderated by discussions among all staff involved in the course.

Reading and References

A selection of “Physics World” issues leading to a literature search and further reading.