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PX152 Physics Laboratory

Lecturer: Tom Hase
Weighting: 30 CATS

The module introduces experimental science and teaches the skills required for successful laboratory work. These include how to work with apparatus, how to keep a laboratory notebook, how to handle data and quantify errors and how to write scientific reports. The module also asks you to think critically and to solve problems. Initial experiments build core skills while later experiments explore important areas of physics.


To provide a grounding in practical laboratory work and preparation for the more sophisticated practical work of the later years of the degree programme


By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Plan and execute an experiment. Students should be able take account of the time available and and use commonly-encountered equipment
  • Keep a laboratory notebook as an accurate record of an experiment
  • Analyse the results of an experiment, quantify the uncertainty in the measurements, use graphs with error bars. Students should be able to assess the effectiveness of the procedure and suggest possible improvements
  • Write a scientific report
  • Build and analyse electronic circuits containing transistors, op-amps and logic elements


Two induction days will be spent looking at: 1) making measurements, assessing their precision, and combining errors. 2) Keeping an adequate laboratory notebook; 3) Planning experimental work

Further days will be spent in the laboratory, on each of which one experiment allocated from a list will be done and the laboratory notebook record assessed for credit. The laboratory organizer will allocate experiments to be written up as formal reports for credit. Guidance on report writing will be given before the first report has to be written.

In addition, a series of workshops will develop key practical skills in electronics.

Commitment: 8 lectures of 1 hour, 1 seminar, 18 practical classes

Assessment: Laboratory Reports and Notebooks

Recommended Texts: Measurements and their uncertainties: a practical guide to modern error analysis, Ifan Hughes; Thomas P. A. Hase 2010