PHYS285-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020

Technical and Professional Skills for Physicists

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 February 2020
End Date: Sunday, 21 June 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 28 February 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 29 May 2020


A laboratory based course in experimental techniques, data acquisition and analysis, scientific writing and career skills for second-year physics/astronomy students.

A selection of laboratories covering a wide range of techniques in measurement and analysis relevant to physics and astronomy experiments. These include:

• Design of experiments and experimental uncertainties.
• Recording data and writing scientific reports.
• Computerized data acquisition and data analysis.
• Use of equipment such as oscilloscopes, Geiger-Muller counters, and various optical and electrical equipment.
• Library database skills.
• A variety of experiments relevant to physics in the field of optics, spectroscopy, mechanics, electrical circuits, radiation, and condensed matter.

Learning Outcomes

The goals of this course are to develop the experimental, technical and analytical ability of second year physical science students.

Students will have developed the skills to make measurements and acquire and analyse data using a variety of means, including computerized data acquisition and analysis. They will have developed an understanding of the methodology required to set up and perform physics experiments. The students have demonstrated an ability to condense their work into a scientific report.


(1) PHYS101; (2) MATH102 or EMTH118 (3) MATH170 or EMTH171 or COSC121 or MATH280 or MATH282 or another approved course involving programming. These prerequisites may be replaced by a high level of achievement in level 3 NCEA Physics and Mathematics with Calculus or other background approved by the Head of Department. RP: MATH103 or EMTH119


PHYS281, PHYS282

Recommended Preparation

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Michael Albrow

Lab Technician

Orlon Petterson


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Reports 40% There are 4 formal reports, worth 5%, 10%, 10%. 15%
Preparation and attendance 20% Attendance and participation in all timetabled activiities is a requirement of this course. A minimum mark of 15% out of 20% for this part of the assessment is required in order to pass the course.
Jupyter notebook report (group work) 40% For each experiment, your group will need to submit a jupyter notebook file and supporting data files. Submissions are due at the beginning of the following week's first lab session.

Preparation and attendance. Students are expected to attend all timetabled activities. For the regular 3-hour labs, they must (a) arrive at the lab at the start time and actively participate; and (b) show detailed preparation in their lab book for the experiment.  

Jupyter notebooks showing experimental analysis and results. For each experiment, your group will need to submit a jupyter notebook file and supporting data files.  The notebook file must be well documented, and contain all the analysis code needed to reproduce your experimental results. Submissions are due at the start time of the following week's first lab session.  They will be marked out of 5, and all group members will receive the same mark.

Formal Reports - students are required to write formal lab reports for 4 of their experiments.  These will be due on particular date to be advised. Each report will receive a mark out of 10, and will be worth progressively higher weights as the course progresses.

Additional Course Outline Information

Academic integrity

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $900.00

International fee $4,250.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Physical & Chemical Sciences .

All PHYS285 Occurrences

  • PHYS285-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020