PHYSICS 390 : Experimental Physics


2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Covers advanced experimental techniques, giving students choices between a wide range of classic physics experiments and open-ended investigations of physical phenomena.

Course Overview

The basis of all knowledge of the physical sciences lies in experiments. This course requires at least 15 points from Physics 201, 202, 203, 231, 240, 244, 251, 261. Hereby we note that the three courses 201,202,203 are required for the BSc physics major.
The student will have access to a broad spectrum of prepared experiments, ranging from Compton scattering to Earthquake propagation. They will be required to submit a written report about their findings, as well as present their findings in an oral examination. Each experiment has a load factor, which represents the number of 3 hr afternoons the student is expected to spend on the experiment. The student will perform a number of experiments, adding up to 19 load factors. 
You would take this course if, in addition to deepening your understanding of physics in general, you would like to learn a range of specific experimental skills that will easily translate to your further career, be it in research and development, more theoretical or numerical tasks, or more practical projects. 

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 15 points from PHYSICS 201, 202, 203, 231, 240, 244, 251, 261

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Develop and demonstrate the use of experimental equipment to obtain a scientific result (Capability 1)
  2. Communicate The results of the experiment in a written report (Capability 1 and 4)
  3. Explain The workings of the experiment verbally (Capability 4)
  4. Interpret Instructions in combination with existing literature in order to plan and carry out an experiment (Capability 1 and 2)
  5. Recognise Limitations of experimental equipment and find ways to overcome these. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories 100% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5

Key Topics

The student will carry out a range of experiments stemming from Classical Physics, Quantum Physics and Electronics.

Special Requirements

The student is expected to attend all scheduled lab sessions assigned to them.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in. There are no lectures for this course, but attendance in the laboratory is required for 19 afternoons during the semester. As this paper is entirely practical, it cannot be taken remotely.

For this course, you can expect 6 hours of planning and carrying out experiments and 4 hours of preparing the written and oral reports. 

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience or Online

This course is offered in two delivery modes:

Campus Experience

Attendance is required during the scheduled lab sessions to complete  this course. The lab sessions for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.


Attendance is [required/expected] at scheduled online activities including [labs/tutorials/studios/clinics] to [complete/receive credit for] components of the course.
The course [will/will not] include live online events including [group discussions/tutorials/lectures] and these will be recorded.
Attendance on campus is [required/not required] for the [test/exam].
Where possible, study material will [be available at course commencement/be released progressively] throughout the course.
This course runs to the University semester/quarter timetable and all the associated completion dates and deadlines will apply.

Learning Resources

The student is required to have a hard cover notebook to record their results.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Level 1: Delivered normally as specified in delivery mode.

Level 2/ 3 / 4: All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 30/07/2021 10:40 a.m.