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Unit information: Physics Dissertation 333 in 2020/21

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Unit name Physics Dissertation 333
Unit code PHYS38331
Credit points 30
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Gersen
Open unit status Not open

120 credit points at level I/5 of any BSc physics, joint honours with physics or Chemical Physics programme.



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science


The dissertation is an opportunity for students to produce a major review of a single topic in physics. The dissertation is student-led and leads to a substantial report detailing the topic, combining material from a variety of sources.


The dissertation is a substantial exercise where the student demonstrates initiative and independence, bringing a diversity of knowledge and skills to bear on a particular topic. A major component of this unit is to develop the ability to synthesise material from a wide variety of sources and analyse critically the current status of knowledge about the specific topic.

Intended learning outcomes

The student will:

  • learn how to assemble a wide range of information about a specific problem,
  • learn how to identify the important elements of current knowledge of the topic and test their validity and significance,
  • learn how to present material clearly and concisely both verbally and in manuscript,
  • produce a clear and coherent report representing a significant academic document about the topic.

Teaching details

The dissertation will be mainly library-based. Both a supervisor and an assessor will be involved during the duration of the dissertation. Generally the student and supervisor will meet weekly.

Assessment Details

Assessment is through an interim presentation at the start of spring term and a final dissertation of about 6,000 words at the start of summer term. The interim presentation is 10 minutes long followed by 2 minutes of questions. The presentations are given individually, attended by an assessor and small group (typically 5-10) of other project or dissertation students. The presentation is jointly marked by the assessor and your peers. The final dissertation must be produced independently. The dissertation will be independently marked by an assessor and your supervisor, and you will have an approximately 30 minute interview to discuss your dissertation. The final assessment is based on day-to-day performance, the quality of the dissertation, the results and analysis. Marks will be awarded for technical ability, diligence, motivation and an understanding of the science of the dissertation. The marks will be agreed upon by the assessor and supervisor.

The final unit mark is made up of two coursework components weighted as follows

Interim presentation (10%) Final dissertation and interview (90%)

Reading and References

This will depend on the specific topic but may include textbooks, research journals, previous project reports and web-based material.