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The University of Southampton

OPTO6023 Photonics Laboratory and Study Skills

Module Overview

The course is devoted to carrying out a series of experiments from the area of photonics and related technologies. The experiments have been selected to underpin and illustrate some fundamental concepts in laser and fibre science and offer an opportunity to develop the correct use of key experimental techniques. After the lab part of the course is completed, a conference will be held where the students will give presentations on one of the experiments carried out. Note this is a course only for MSc students.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this course is to provide further training and encourage independent work in research labs environment, teach essential skills in carrying out experiments, recording of results, discussing and presenting them in a scientific conference format. In particular, hands-on course will embed lab skills and techniques related to practical applications of lasers, fibres and advanced materials.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The understanding of the underlying, physical effects behind the results
  • Ability to extrapolate and link the observed effects to other, relevant areas of physics
  • Knowledge of advanced functionality such as real time control and advanced mathematical processing
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Correct planning and executing experiments accompanied by recording of laboratory work and relevant observations in lab books together with computer based data acquisition
  • Precision and correct handling of experimental data sets, their plotting and curve-fitting as well as the estimation of uncertainties
  • Ability to discuss, analyse and interpret the results, both in writing and verbally
  • Clear, concise and informative writing up an experiment as a preparation for summarising results for a scientific paper
  • Understanding of basic programming using a graphical programming language
  • Ability to write software that will control and interrogate external equipment via different interface buses
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Clear delivery of an oral conference presentation of a standard expected at scientific conferences and actively participate in related discussions.
  • Ability to manipulate extracted data; display in a useful manner and export to file


The course will consist of Laboratory, Conference and Transferable Skills sections. In the Laboratory part students will carry out a selection of experiments from the list below and make a short presentation on one of the experiments. - Fibre optics and optical waveguiding - Semiconductor pn junctions - Experimental Neodymium YAG Laser - Electro-Optic Effect and Modulation of Laser Light - Optical spectroscopy - Laser modes and speed of light - Fluorescence of laser glasses - Diode Lasers

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

During the main lab sessions students will work on their own, but will be supervised by demonstrators. It is expected that students engage in discussions with demonstrators and are ready to answer their questions regarding technical and physics related aspects of their experiments. Written manuals are available for help and guidance. The initial lab sessions are devoted to general training and short introductory measurement activity to demonstrate the right methodology in carrying out experiments. Dedicated data handling and error analysis session is also included.

Independent Study78
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

Students prepare for the labs and this prelim preparation is assessed at the beginning of each lab session. Marking and feedback from demonstrators on the experiments carried out will be provided via individual vivas on each experiment. The marking sessions are scheduled separately and are not during the normal lab hours. Performance on each experiment will be assessed, including the initial preparation. The mark will take into account answers to any set questions, knowledge of the experiment to be carried out and the understanding of the relevant, background physics as well as data presentation and analysis. Both written and verbal contributions are expected. Blank marksheet and the marking criteria are included in the lab manual. This system will apply to all standard experiments carried out through the semester except for the first mark which will come from the initial hands-on activity and data handling assignment. For the Conference, the talks will be assessed by a team of markers, consisting of demonstrators. They will be marked for their scientific content, presentation and the answers to the questions from the audience (fellow students) and from the markers. Both parts, lab and conference, are compulsory.


MethodPercentage contribution
Conference presentation 12%
Laboratory 88%


MethodPercentage contribution
Laboratory 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

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