Accessibility statement

(NS) Experimental Techniques - PHY00038I

« Back to module search

  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Thomas Krauss
  • Credit value: 15 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Related modules

Pre-requisite modules

  • None

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

The Experimental Techniques aspect of this module examines some of the principles, practices and applications underlying the measurement and detection of signals, e.g. electrical or optical signals, which are at the heart of experimental physics and technological applications today. Students will learn how to assess the information content of signals and measurements and how this impacts on practical applications. Both analogue and digital signals will be analysed, as well as sources of noise and signal recovery in the presence of noise. Specific applications in the detection of weak signals in physics will be discussed. The lectures will include experimental demonstrations to illustrate key points, and students will solve simple numerical problems. A group project, conducted during the second half of the course, affords the opportunity for the more in-depth study of a technological application where applying appropriate test & measurement techniques and detecting weak signals is essential.

Module learning outcomes

  • Discuss the fundamental sources of noise in electrical circuits, their physical origin and their quantitative evaluation where appropriate.
  • Understand what is meant by ‘time domain’ and ‘frequency domain’ of signals and noise, and how to use Fourier Transforms to change from one domain to the other.
  • Describe the effect of noise on both analogue and digital signals in both the time and frequency domains.
  • Calculate signal-to-noise and power ratios in decibels.
  • Be able to read data sheets and assess the different components of a measurement system.
  • Describe how an analogue signal can be converted to a digital signal, and the limitations of the conversion, including quantization noise.
  • Calculate the optimum frequency for sampling an analogue signal to convert to digital (Nyquist Criterion).
  • Discuss methods for signal recovery, improving signal-to- noise, the circumstances under which such methods work, and their limitations. Be able to design simple filters.
  • Be able to write simple computer programs related to test & measurement problems.
  • Present an overview of a technological application which uses test & measurement techniques.
  • Recognise the nature of a test & measurement problem and develop strategies of how to solve it.


Task Length % of module mark
Group Assignment
N/A 30
Physics Practice Questions
N/A 15
University - closed examination
Experimental Techniques
1.5 hours 55

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Group Assignment
N/A 30
University - closed examination
Experimental Techniques
1.5 hours 55

Module feedback

Physics Practice Questions (PPQs) - You will receive the marked scripts via your pigeon holes. Feedback solutions will be provided on the VLE or by other equivalent means from your lecturer. As feedback solutions are provided, normally detailed comments will not be written on your returned work, although markers will indicate where you have lost marks or made mistakes. You should use your returned scripts in conjunction with the feedback solutions.

Exams - You will receive the marks for the individual exams from eVision. Detailed model answers will be provided on the intranet. You should discuss your performance with your supervisor.

Group presentation - You will receive, by email, group marks and comments for the document submitted and the oral presentation.

Advice on academic progress - Individual meetings with supervisor will take place where you can discuss your academic progress in detail.

Indicative reading

Jim Lesurf: Information and Measurement

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.