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Unit information: Physics Research Project in 2015/16

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Unit name Physics Research Project
Unit code PHYSM3406
Credit points 60
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Gersen
Open unit status Not open

Core Physics 303 PHYS30030 or Year abroad PHYS39000



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science


The project is an opportunity for students to undertake research in physics, either experimental or theoretical, and carry out an investigation, usually associated with one of the research areas in the department. Experimental projects are usually done in pairs. The project is student-led and leads to a substantial report detailing the project, how it was approached and the results obtained. A substantial research project requires initiative and independence and a diversity of knowledge and skills. This is an opportunity to gain insight into tackling real problems and acquire the skills necessary to work in a particular research area, presenting work in a variety of different ways.


To give students the opportunity to undertake a substantial research project requiring them to demonstrate initiative and independence and apply a diversity of knowledge and skills.

Students will gain insight into tackling real problems.

To allow students to acquire the skills necessary to work in a particular research area.

Students will learn to present their work in a variety of different ways.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate that they have acquired the technical skills necessary to do research in their area.
  • Plan and carry out a substantial research project.
  • Critically evaluate current research in the area of their project
  • Present their work clearly to an audience of their peers.
  • Demonstrate originality in tackling problems.
  • Produce a clear and coherent report of a standard which would be suitable for publication.
  • Devise and use assessment criteria.

Teaching details

Throughout the project students will be directed by their academic supervisor and will also receive advice and feedback from a named assessor. The quantity and nature of contact with the supervisor will vary depending on the nature of the project. However students would be expected to meet with their supervisor at least weekly. The first stage of the project will consist of a literature review initially directed by the supervisor. Students will also be provided with a set of well defined tasks which, when completed will indicate that they have acquired the technical skills necessary to proceed with the project.

Assessment Details

The final assessment mark for the unit is broken down as shown below. Formative assessment is though the Interim report and skills training element. Performance in these will be reviewed with the student once they are completed. The interim report will be assessed independently by supervisor and assessor. The skills will be defined when the project proposal is submitted with tasks to be completed. Completion of the tasks will result in the marks being awarded. The final presentation will normally be assessed by fellow students and a staff moderator with 50% of the mark coming from peer assessment and 50% from the moderator. When non-disclosure agreements are active which prevent other students hearing the presentations, the assessment will be made by a small panel of academic staff.

Students will be involved in setting the assessment criteria. The poster will be assessed by academic staff during a poster session. Students working in pairs will submit one poster and will receive one mark.

The final project mark will be based on the report and on work throughout the year. Both supervisor and assessor will be present at the final interview.

Interim Report (2,500 words) (10%) Skills Training (5%) Final presentation (15 minutes + questions) (10%) Poster session (5%) Final project report and Interview (8,000-10,000 word report + 30 minute interview) (70%)

Reading and References

Reading will come from the relevant literature, research papers and advanced text books, and will be project dependent.