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Computational Laboratory - PHY00011I

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Matt Probert
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21 to Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

Computational physics is the third way of studying physics and is in addition to (and complementary with) theoretical and experimental physics. Computer programs model the real world using theoretical ideas cast into mathematical form and then converted into an algorithm. This algorithm is expressed in a high level programming language, and this is then run on the computer. The analysis and development of the results is closely akin to experiment, in that input (independent) quantities may be varied and the change in the output (dependent) quantities are found. Hence a simulation is the representation of an individual experiment, and may be used to give a prediction of the results of that experiment, if the model is accurate. Such simulation may be considerably easier /quicker / cheaper to perform than the equivalent experiment, and may also yield fresh insight and understanding into the results of the experiment. That is why computational physics has become essential to many modern research fields. The techniques of computational physics embrace model design, numerical analysis, computer programming and experimentation. This laboratory is designed to help you to develop these essential skills.

Module learning outcomes

Demonstrate quality of record keeping

Write appropriate computer programs from a description of the core physics ideas and algorithms

Plan and execute computational experiments with such programs

Present your results in various graphical forms

Interpret and demonstrate critical assessment of your results

Test and verify the accuracy and correctness of a simulation

Demonstrate the effect of software and hardware limitations on program performance

Use appropriate computational tools to improve your scientific programming and effectiveness

Be able to communicate and present your laboratory work both informally through discussion and in the style of a leading scientific journal.


Task Length % of module mark
Formal Report 1
N/A 25
Formal Report 2
N/A 25
Lab Notebook
N/A 50

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Formal Report Re-assessment
N/A 50
Lab notebook Re-assessment
N/A 50

Module feedback

Laboratory books -Your laboratory note book will be marked, and annotated, by your demonstrator. You will get verbal feedback on your work at this time.

Formal reports - You will receive your report back along with a mark sheet that provides a mark and a set of comments/suggestions for each section of the report. Following the first term report, you will receive feedback (as a group) during Term 2 to guide you in the preparation of the second report. Individual verbal feedback on formal reports will be provided if requested (see the Laboratory Coordinator for this).

Indicative reading

Laboratory scripts - You will be provided with lab scripts

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students