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Last modified: 25 May 2018 11:16

Course Overview

The course is based on modern views on the structure of solids, how that structure is determined by X-ray crystallography and the basics of structure-property relationships.  This involves learning the language of the basic shapes and symmetry displayed by crystals, then using that within the interdisciplinary subject of X-ray crystallography, source of many Nobel prizes and great advance in Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science, Biology and Medicine.  The course then briefly examines some key topics including semiconductors, defects and amorphous materials.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Professor Jan Skakle

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Either Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • One of PX2505 Practical Optics and Electronics (Passed) or PX2510 Relativity and Quantum Mechanics (Passed) or PX2512 Cosmology, Astronomy and Modern Physics (Passed)
  • One of GL2015 Petrology & Mineralogy (Passed) or PX2011 An Introduction to Space Science and Remote Sensing (Passed) or PX2013 Light Science (Passed) or PX2015 Dynamical Phenomena (Passed)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • CM3020 Solid State Chemistry (Studied)
  • CM3036 Solid State Chemistry (Studied)
  • CM3037 Inorganic and Solid State Chemistry (Studied)
  • PX3012 The Solid State (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

The course begins at the basics of describing crystalline solids, taking in shapes and symmetry, and moving on to a thorough coverage of diffraction methods (X-ray, neutron and electron) and how they are used to describe crystalline materials. Workshop will develop these ideas into 3-dimensional symmetry and how this can be described mathematically. From the study of perfect crystals, the course will touch on non-crystalline solids and defects in crystals, naturally developing into the basic ideas of doping in semiconductors. Quasicrystals, liquid crystals and photonic crystals will also be introduced within the framework of structural descriptions and diffraction. Effects of strain and particle size will also be explored. The concept of reciprocal space will be developed and linked back into the basics of X-ray crystallography.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown


More Information about Week Numbers

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: 1 one and a half hour written examination (60%), in-course assessment - based on workshops and online assessment (40%).

Resit: 1 one and a half hour written examination (60%), opportunity to resubmit any missed assessments. Only the marks obtained on first attempt can be used for Honours classification.

Formative Assessment

Online quiz (which provides detailed feedback on answers) taken more than once with best mark counting, thus acting as formative as well as summative assessment.


  • Continual feedback during workshops and assistance with course material during workshops.
  • Online quiz (which provides detailed feedback on answers) taken more than once with best mark counting, thus acting as formative as well as summative assessment.
  • Feedback given during tutorials.
  • Workshops marked and returned with feedback on worksheets.

Course Learning Outcomes


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