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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Physics and Astronomy : Undergraduate (School of Physics and Astronomy)

Undergraduate Course: Research Methods in Physics (PHYS09056)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Physics and Astronomy CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course allows students to acquire the general skills essential for academic and research study, whilst extending their knowledge of physics by introducing them to current topics of research. Specific aims include 1) gathering and critically evaluating information which addresses a specific research question and 2) summarizing the information and evaluation in an oral presentation and written reports, both individually and as part of a group. These skills are key foundations for project work later in the degree programme and valuable in life beyond undergraduate study, for example in research, industry or government.
Course description This course serves as an introduction to physics research, both hot topics in contemporary physics and practice in the skills that are relevant to performing research. In Semester 1, students will choose a topic to focus on over the year, each topic being based on a single 'key' paper that has appeared in a leading research journal and describes cutting-edge science. Students will complete three individually written 'warm-up' exercises related to this key paper: 1) annotated bibliography, 2) POSTnote and 3) referee report. To help students with the technical content of their key paper and the task briefs for the exercises, there is a specialist advisor on hand for each topic.

In Semester 2, students will apply the skills acquired in Semester 1 in a group project that sets out the general background for their topic, looks in detail at a recent scientific advance and sets out exciting new questions for the future. This final project will pull together the resources that students have collected in the bibliography exercise, ideas for context from the POSTnote and insights from their careful reading of the key research paper to write the referee report.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 8, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 8, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 16, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 64 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Feedback is integrated into lectures, workshops and directed study hours. Total 20 hours.
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% coursework including individually written assignments, group-project presentation and group-project report.
Feedback Students will receive individual, summative, written feedback for each of the warm-up exercises in Semester 1. In Semester 2, students will also receive summative feedback; given the nature of group work, this will be a mix between individual and group feedback. In both semesters, some exercises will also involve formative feedback, which may take the form of peer or advisor feedback. A detailed overview of the assessment and feedback strategy for this course will be available on the course Learn page at the start of the semester.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Recognise the stylistic conventions of written and oral scientific discourse and how these vary according to the requirements of the target audience with appropriate use of bibliographic citations and references in a professional manner.
  2. Identify important information that is missing from a research article, and devise a strategy for obtaining it from other sources, making use of bibliographic databases.
  3. Evaluate the validity and significance of published research and use this to inform a scientific argument or overview.
  4. Communicate scientific understanding in written and oral forms in a manner that is appropriate to an audience with less, similar or more experience of physics than themselves, follow the conventions of professional scientific discourse, and understand how written reports and oral presentations are assessed.
  5. Work as part of a collaborative team.
Learning Resources
The key paper required for this course will be provided at the start
of the course via Learn. Other resources, for example bibliographic
databases and resources, are available via the University Library
(some require EASE authentication):
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Studying this course contributes to the development of the following personal and professional attributes and skills:
- gathering information from various sources in the context of
scientific discourse using bibliographic databases;
- summarizing and critically evaluating this information;
- communicate scientific understanding based on this information in written and oral forms in a manner that is appropriate to a specified target audience;
- understand how written reports and oral presentations are assessed;
- participating in scientific discourse, e.g. in the form of peer review;
- working with others in a team to achieve a common goal.
Additional Class Delivery Information Total Hours: 100 (Lectures 8, Supervised workshop 8, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 80).
Course organiserMr Gavin Melaugh
Tel: (0131 6)51 3456
Course secretaryMs Nicole Ross
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