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Format of the Course


Fig. 1: The physics computing room.

The aim of the course is to introduce you to the development of computer software and to provide you with a working knowledge of the programming language Python. The approach adopted is open learning. The course is based on a set of online (DUO) course notes intended for you to study. There is an associated set of exercises. Model solutions to these exercises are provided on DUO. There is one associated lecture and 9 demonstrator sessions.



Programming is best learned at the computer and not in lectures. There is however one introductory lecture in week 6 of the Michaelmas term. This will provide an overview of the course materials, demonstrator sessions and assessment methods.


Demonstrator Sessions

To support you in your study of Python, you are required to attend a one hour demonstrator session once per week during weeks 7 to 10 of Michaelmas term and weeks 1 to 5 of Epiphany Term. You will be allocated a place in one of these sessions and you must attend the session to which you are allocated. These are not formal sessions. You can work at your own speed. The sessions are an opportunity to get help from the demonstrators with the course exercises and later, with the summative assessed work. There is also an opportunity for the demonstrators to check what stage you have reached with your course work.


When and where to do the work

You should work through the course notes and the exercises at your own pace. They are available electronically on DUO. However, it is recommended that you study all of the course notes, excluding advanced topics, at some level by the end of week 8 of term. Help will be available in the demonstrator sessions. You will need to use all of the basic programming structures, including NumPy arrays, to do the summative assessed work for the course. This work must be submitted by the appropriate deadline.


The Python language will run happily on most computer platforms. All of the facilities that you require have been installed on the university CIS Networked PC service. You can also work on your own PC if you wish. In addition, you can work on a Physics department computer in room Ph216 at any time when it is not booked for other activities.



Information on the projects will be placed on DUO when the projects commence.



The course is not examined formally. Your proficiency in Python will be assessed through various programming exercises and in a multiple choice test. The mark for this course amounts to 20% of the marks for module PHYS1101 – “Discovery Skills in Physics”.

The summative assessed work will be four equally weighted projects in Epiphany term. Information about the projects will be announced on DUO.