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Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

Did you ever wonder about the efficiency of different forms of renewable energy, the mechanisms behind the formation of double rainbows or efficient ways of counting the number of termites in a nest? This non-calculus course provides an excellent opportunity to understand the basic principles of physics necessary to answer these and many other questions relevant to multiple disciplines, ranging from geology to engineering to biology and environmental sciences.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 1
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Francisco Perez-Reche
  • Dr Alessandro Moura

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Either Programme Level 1 or Programme Level 2

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

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

A physics course without calculus and minimal algebra requirements designed for science students of disciplines other than physics. It is comprised of lectures, tutorials and practical laboratory sessions.

The course covers topics from mechanics to radioactivity and teach the students how to answer simple questions such as :

Mechanics: How is our food intake related to our physical size?. What forces work in a rugby scrum?. How efficient are the different forms of renewable energy?

Properties of matter: How fragile are our bones?. How can we distinguish between a fake and a real piece of gold?

Heat and molecular kinetic theory: How do bodies regulate temperature?. How many molecules are there in a glass of beer?

Capillary action, diffusion and osmosis: How does the sap rise in trees?. How does a pond skater walk on water?

Electricity: What is the link between a shark and an electric field?. How do nerve cells transmit signals?

Optics: Why do diamonds sparkle?. How does a light microscope work?

Radioactivity: How can you determine the age of a mammoth?. How can radioactivity be used to treat cancer?

Further Information & Notes

Some of the practical laboratory sessions are optical experiments and as such they may be difficult to complete if the student is blind or partially sighted. However, the labs are carried out in groups of two. Hence, in this instance the work would be shared out appropriately.

Contact Teaching Time

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

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: Final two-hour exam (75%), completion of practical class notebook and laboratory reports (25%).

Resit: Two-hour exam (75%), completion of practical class notebook and laboratory reports (25%).

Formative Assessment

Formative informal assessment of tutorial work.


Lab notebooks will be marked and returned within two weeks of submission.

Course Learning Outcomes


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