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PX273 - Physics of Electrical Power Generation

  • Module code: PX273
  • Module name: Physics of Electrical Power Generation
  • Department: Physics
  • Credit: 7.5

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

Module content and teaching

Principal aims

This module aims to give a general introduction to power production from a physicist?s perspective using core physics already covered in previous modules. At the end you should be able to describe basic power generation technologies and perform simple calculations on efficiencies and power outputs etc.

Principal learning outcomes

At the end of the module you should be able to: Describe the basic operation of a fossil fuel power station and the physics issues relating to its operation and efficiency; Estimate transmission line losses and understand the role of transformers in power distribution; Use energy conservation to assess the theoretical upper limits for wind, wave and hydro-electric power; Describe the chain reactions in a nuclear power station and explain the differences between, and benefits of, thermal versus fast breeder reactors; Use basic physics to estimate the voltage and power output from photo-voltaic cells; Explain the energy considerations encapsulated in the Lawson criteria and its implications for fusion power and explain the heating, confinement and tritium processing in proposed reactor designs.

Timetabled teaching activities

The module runs as 20 lectured sessions.

Departmental link

Module assessment

Assessment group Assessment name Percentage
7.5 CATS (Module code: PX273-7.5)
B (Examination only) Physics of Electrical Power Generation (April) 100%
VA (Visiting students only) 100% assessment visiting/exchange PART-YEAR ONLY 100%

Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:



Optional Core


  • Undergraduate Physics (BSc) (F300) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate Physics (BSc MPhys) (F304) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate Physics and Business Studies (F3N1) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (BSc MMathPhys) (FG33) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (BSc) (GF13) - Year 2