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Experimental Laboratory for Astrophysics I - PHY00013C

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. James Dedrick
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22

Module aims

The first year laboratory course is aimed at building on the skills learned at school or college, and in the Introduction to Experimental Laboratory (part of the Professional Skills I module), by developing the core experimental competencies required of a physicist. In addition, the experiments will support topics in the first year lectures, which will help to reinforce ideas presented in these modules.

In the first year laboratory you will learn how to use some equipment which plays a key role in a wide range of experiments. The module provides a number of core experiments, including experiments specific to astrophysics students, an observational project, and also the option of experiments in electronics or programming in Fortran 90. You will learn how to analyse experimental results, how to assess errors and how to present your work in a formal report.

The project involves working in a group on an observational astronomy problem. This will give you the opportunity to show initiative in experimental work and to use the library and other resources in researching the topic of your project. The project culminates in a conference-style presentation at which your group presents a poster and gives a talk.

Full details of the experiments and organisation of the laboratory are in the First Year Laboratory Handbook, provided on the web and in the laboratory.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate good experimental practice, including accurate record keeping
  • Demonstrate skills in observational astronomy
  • Be able to plan and execute experiments
  • Be able to identify, assess and analyse errors, including their minimisation
  • Critically appraise and discuss your experimental results
  • Have developed skills in a range of experimental techniques and in the operation of equipment including the telescope in the observatory.
  • Be able to communicate and present results.

Module content


  • Core physics experiments and core astrophysics experiments, details of which are in the First Year Laboratory Handbook and laboratory scripts provided
  • For details of the Fortran 90 syllabus, see under Laboratory for Theoretical Physics


Task Length % of module mark
Formal Report
N/A 40
Lab Books
N/A 60

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Formal Report
N/A 40
Lab Books
N/A 60

Module feedback

Our policy on how you receive feedback for formative and summative purposes is contained in our Department Handbook.

Indicative reading

Squires: Practical Physics (Cambridge)

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.