PHYSICS 399 : Capstone: Physics


2024 Semester Two (1245) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Students will undertake experimental, observational, computational and numerical investigations of key physical phenomena, working individually and in groups, producing both written and oral reports.

Course Overview

PHYSICS 399 is the capstone course for the BSc degree in Physics, for which you are required to complete advanced physics laboratory experiments in weeks 1-6, followed by a project involving one more experiment or project for weeks 7-12. This latter project involves working in a group, performing a literature review, an in-person presentation as well as writing a report.  

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 30 points from PHYSICS 201-261 and 30 points from PHYSICS 309-356

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Critically evaluate data acquired of a physics experiment (Capability 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)
  2. Communicate the outcomes and implications of experimental physics (Capability 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)
  3. Develop practical skills to perform experiments in physics (Capability 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)
  4. Evaluate the content and achievements in the scientific literature (Capability 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Experiment reports 25% Individual Coursework
Experiment oral examinations 25% Individual Coursework
Final project report 25% Group Coursework
Final project presentation 25% Group Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Experiment reports
Experiment oral examinations
Final project report
Final project presentation


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Special Requirements

You are tasked to complete a selection of experiments with a cumulative load factor of 9 in the first 6 weeks of the semester. You select experiments from a list of available experiments. The load factor listed for each experiment equals the typical number of 3-hour laboratory sessions required to complete the experimental work for that experiment. You will submit a report for each experiment as well as have an oral examination.

In the second half of the semester, you complete a final project. This project is comprised of performing one more extended experiment or completing a mini-research project. In addition to the experimental work, you will write an extended report, which includes a literature review as well as an oral presentation (10 min + 5 min questions).

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 12 hours per week involved in each 15-point course that they are enrolled in. During the first half of the course, these are comprised of six hours per week of experimenting and data processing in the laboratory and six hours of report writing and research at home.

In the second half of the course, the extended experiment is expected to take 25 hours, the preparation and delivery of the oral presentation should take 25 hours and the literature review 25 hours in total, all spread over the six weeks. All work is finalised at the end of the semester before the exam period starts. There is no exam for this course.  

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled laboratory times in the Physics Advanced Lab to complete components of the course.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.
The course will not include live online events, nor a final examination.

Learning 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.

There are no course books or other required learning resources for this course.

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.

Student feedback is generally positive about PHYS399. The first half of the course is with PHYS390 and for that part we know that some of our labs and the handouts need improvement. We continuously work on that. Furthermore, students struggle with time management, and we try as hard as we can to help students with this.

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 for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


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 course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 31/10/2023 10:53 a.m.