Module code: PHY3047

Module Overview

The purpose of this module is to introduce students to aspects of physics education through practical classroom experience in a local school and to reflect on this through a coursework assignment, the preparation of a special project related to their placement, and a final report.

Module provider


Module Leader

MCDONALD Peter (Physics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

JACs code: F300

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Clinical Placement Hours: 140

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

There are no prerequisites. This module is dependent on the University obtaining placements in local schools or the student being able to find a placement for themselves outside of the Guildford / Woking / Godalming area. This limits places to about 8 - 10 per year. Students are selected on the basis of interview with preference given to those able to demonstrate a commitment to the teaching profession / working with young people. Students wishing to take this assessment will be required to undergo, and get a positive result from, a DBS security check.

Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Training and basic skills. The students will be given an initial introduction to relevant elements of the National Science Curriculum and its associated terminology. They will receive a half day of basic training in working with children and conduct in the school environment, and will be given a chance to visit the school they will be working in before commencement of the module.

  • Classroom observation and assistance. Initial contact with the teacher and pupils will be as a classroom assistant, watching how the teacher handles the class, observing the level of physics taught and the structure of the lesson, and offering practical support to the teacher in lesson preparation or administrative work.

  • Teaching assistance. The teacher will assign the student actual teaching tasks, which will be dependent on specific needs. This could include offering problem-solving coaching to a smaller group of pupils, or taking the last ten minutes of the lesson for the whole class.

  • Extra-curricular activities. The student may be supervised by the teacher in running an out-of-timetable activity (if appropriate), such as an after-school science club or special coaching periods for higher ability students.

  • Special project. Following discussion with the teacher as to what would be appropriate, each student will devise a special project that will interest or be of use to the particular pupils they are working with, be it as part of a science club or part of the day-to-day teaching of physics. The student will have to show that they can analyse a specific teaching problem and devise and prepare appropriately targeted teaching materials and basic tests.

  • Written report. The students will be required to keep a journal of their progress in working in the classroom environment and to write a critical report of between 1000 and 1500 words based on this journal. The special project materials will also be submitted, some of which may be written.

  • Physics in education essay. The students will also be expected to undertake background reading and write a carefully-argued extended essay (2-3000 words) related to the learning and teaching of physics. This will be supervised by the Departmental Contact. A title should be agreed between the student and the Departmental Contact before the Easter break in Semester 2. For example, past essays have considered.

    • Does the use of IT and the internet in the classroom aid learning of physics?

    • Attitudes to Physics and how they can be improved.

    • How should calculators be used in the physics classroom?

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY 33
Attendance only PLACEMENT ASSESSMENT Pass/Fail

Alternative Assessment

Alternative assessment: It is not possible to organise a second placement for students either over the summer (schools closed) or the next academic year (very limited placements available for the new cohort). Therefore students failing the “Placement Assessment” only will be required to submit a detailed lesson plan and rationale for its creation and delivery. Students failing the “Placement Assessment” and additionally the “Written Report” and/or the “Teaching Assessment” will be required to submit a detailed lesson plan and a rationale for its creation and delivery in lieu of the “Placement Assessment” as well as one or two essays for the other failed UoA or UoAs. Students passing the “Placement Assessment” but failing any other UoA will be required to resubmit that UoA except where the module convenor determines that, notwithstanding that the “Placement Assessment” is passed, there is insufficient material to resubmit a UoA. In such cases a further essay may be substituted for that UoA. Such a circumstance maybe where the student attended the school and participated in lessons but was unable to perform an in-class project as planned.

Assessment Strategy

Anonymous marking is not possible for this module.  Each school hosts just one student, the former necessarily identified in the coursework submissions. The essay titles are generally unique to the student, decided on the context of the placement. Moreover the cohort is very small making anonymity close to impossible.

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

  • Understanding of the role of a secondary school physics teacher.

  • Subject knowledge through the coursework assignment and report.

  • Communication and teaching skills through the individual presentation and through classroom experience.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • A short written report (worth 33%, of between 1000 and 1500 words, typically due towards the end of Semester 2)

  • An extended essay on a topic in Physics Education (worth 33% of between 2000 and 3000 words; deadline is typically after the Easter Break in Semester 2)

  • An individual presentation describing a special project undertaken at the placement school (worth 34%; due typically towards the ends of Semester 2)

  • A placement assessment based on an attendance record signed by the supervising teacher at the host school, moderated by the module convenor and one other academic. Pass will be awarded for 30 hours active attendance.


Formative assessment


  • 2 tutorial meetings to discuss progress with the module convenor



Module aims

  •  provide an opportunity for final-year students to gain first-hand experience of physics education through a  mentoring scheme with physics teachers in local secondary schools.   Typically, each student will work with a range of classes for half a day every week for 10 weeks. The classes may vary from Year 7 to Year 12.
  •  enable students to reflect on their experiences in school through coursework assignment and report writing.
  •  give students a range of responsibilities, from classroom assistant to the organisation and teaching of a self-originated special project.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Understand the key roles of a class teacher in terms of preparation and delivery of teaching materials,  pupil management and in dealing with teaching colleagues KCT
2 Communicate physics ideas and practical skills to pupils in the classroom, both on a one-to-one basis as well as to a larger audience as appropriate KCP
3 Plan, research and deliver an educational activity based on the needs of the school, and to communicate the results of this activity to their peers KCPT
4 Plan, research, write and correctly reference an extended essay on a topic related to physics education ( KCPT
5 Reflect constructively on their experience in the classroom and on the feedback  they receive from pupils and teachers alike CPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

• Provide an introduction to and practical experience of the roles and responsibilities of a secondary school physics teacher.

• Enable students to independently research and reflect on wider topics in physics education, and to give practice at communicating their ideas to teachers, pupils and peers.


The learning and teaching methods include:

• 1 x 2 hour Practical training before going in to the placement school.

• 10 x weekly placement school visits of approximately 3 hours (or e.g. 8 by 4 or 6 by 5).

• Meetings as appropriate with the departmental contact to agree an essay title and to give practical guidance on the special project and presentation.


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: PHY3047

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Physics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics with Nuclear Astrophysics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics with Astronomy BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Mathematics and Physics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Mathematics and Physics MPhys 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Mathematics and Physics MMath 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.