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The University of Southampton

PHYS1017 Physics Skills 1

Module Overview

The Physics Skills units develop a range of skills needed by a professional physicist, including facility in conducting experiments and in analysing and reporting their results. Physics Skills 1 runs in first semester and its companion Physics Skills 2 (PHYS1019) follows in the second semester. Classes are held in the first year teaching lab and the teaching rooms in the Physics Building (Building 46). The first semester module PHYS1017 is a prerequisite for PHYS1019.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • After studying this course, students should have developed their experimental skills by performing and analysing a number of investigations in the laboratory.
  • They should also be capable of keeping a record of laboratory work in a logbook, and have learnt the requirements for presenting the results of experimental work in a report.


The course begins with a brief introduction (shared with an introduction to the Maths Module) in the first week; weeks 2 and 3 are dedicated to a short course in Data Analysis. For the nine weeks of experiments that then complete the semester, the class is divided into 3 groups (X, Y, and Z), each of which is further divided into 3 sub-groups. Each sub-group cycles through the following 3 sets of experiments: - Linked experiments, in which a particular subject is explored via an extended set of experiments - Stand-alone experiments, in which specific topics related to the first year syllabus are explored experimentally. Each stand-alone experiment is expected to be completed within a single 4-hour session - Mini-projects, which give students an opportunity to develop their creativity by tackling a novel problem with little prior instruction To prepare for the 'linked' experiments, Lab Prelim classes are sometimes held on Thursday afternoons.

Learning and Teaching

Wider reading or practice10
Completion of assessment task134
Preparation for scheduled sessions1.5
Follow-up work1.5
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

I Hughes & T Hase (2010). Measurements and their Uncertainties: a practical guide to modern error analysis. 


Assessment Strategy

No more than 4 laboratory sessions may normally be omitted for a mark to be returned for the course. Late Submissions: Unless explicitly approved by the Faculty Special Considerations Board late submissions are not permitted for this module. Referral Method: There is no referral opportunity for this syllabus in same academic year.


MethodPercentage contribution
Laboratory work and associated tasks 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Lab Marks carried forward 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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