The university timetable is split into 50 minute sessions between 9 am and 5:50 pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and 9 am and 12:50 pm on Wednesday. First year physics students have around 22 of these sessions a week. Half of these will be lecture based courses, a lecturer teaching the course from the front of a lecture theatre to the entire cohort. This is supplemented by our online learning environment which hosts lecture notes, reading lists, lecture recordings and/or non-assessed problems as appropriate.
For all students, excluding those on certain theoretical physics courses, five hours a week in the first year will be spent in the laboratory. Experimental physics teaching is important, equipping students with skills in experimental techniques, planning, data analysis and report writing. We have modern, purpose-built laboratories with up-to-date technology. In addition to general Physics laboratories, we have a specialised AstroLab for those on the Physics and Astrophysics programmes. In the later years lab time increases and work is based in specialised laboratories which concentrate on one subject area – for example Nuclear Physics, Solid State Physics or Photonics. Laboratory classes are led by lecturers and are assisted by postgraduate teaching assistants.
Computing is taught for two hours a week in the first two years. Students are taught to code using the Python language, and there is no assumption of previous experience. In third year there are optional advanced computing laboratory options and students may choose a fourth year project with an emphasis on computational work.
Examples classes are a chance to work on practice problems collaborativley and with help from teaching assistants. First year students have one 50 minute mathematics guided session a week and a two hour skills workshop. The skills workshops will teach the relationship between different areas of physics, the application of this understanding to the solution of real life problems and the communication skills needed to convey this knowledge to others.
The final component of the first year timetable is a weekly tutorial session. Tutor groups are no bigger than 4 students who meet with the same tutor throughout the academic year. This is an opportunity to talk through the physics learnt that week, go through example problems, talk about interesting physics and generally be a point of contact for all academic topics. Tutorials also take place in the second year, in the third year students are allocated a personal tutor but weekly meetings are replace by various support structures around particular modules, in the fourth year tutorials are replaced with project supervisions.