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Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

This 100% continuously assessed course explores two fundamental areas of physics. In electronics you will go from building simple circuits to designing complex logical architectures, using both real components and simulation software.

The optics half of the course explores various fascinating optical phenomena, some of which are practically applicable for geologists and many other scientific disciplines.   The practicals elegantly demonstrate the fundamental properties of light.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 2
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Ross Macpherson
  • Dr Charles Wang

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Programme Level 2

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

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

The course is evenly divided between an introduction to the fundamentals of digital electronics and optical experiments illustrating theory discussed in the PX 2013 course. The first six weeks of twelve are spent doing electronics, the remaining weeks are for optics.

The electronics begins at the level of specifying the behaviour of the basic logic gates and the construction on a breadboard of simple circuits from circuit diagrams, covers Boolean algebra and ends with using Karnaugh maps to develop fairly complex circuits from a set of desired behaviours.

The optics covers: interference effects, such as using Newton's rings to determine the radius of curvature of a lens and then the refractive index of water; polarisation, including optical activity and Brewster's angle; the function of lens systems, from finding focal to length to determining the six cardinal points of a telephoto lens; and laser diffraction from various different gratings and objects.

The optics experiments include a number of places where digital photographs are taken of an optical effect (the ring system for a lens on an optical flat, the Peacock's eyes from the aser beam) and used, particularly in the former case, to make measurements.

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: In-course assessment (60%) and assessment of laboratory reports (40%)

Resit: Same, with resubmission of reports.

Formative Assessment

The demonstrators assess lab performance. Students keep a lab manual, which is submitted at the end of the week and returned at the beginning of the next lab session, with a mark and brief comments from the demonstrators.


Lab books are graded and returned weekly, marks for the experiments are made available to the students.
The students submit one lab report on a self-selected electronics experiment and one on an optics experiment, due roughly one week after the completion of the topic. These are then marked and returned within a fortnight.

Course Learning Outcomes


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