Module code: PHY3051

Module Overview

This module provides students with professional skills and personal development to equip them for subsequent parts of their Research Year placement. It is carried out during the first half of their Research Year placement under the direction of their local Research Supervisor.


Module provider


Module Leader

SELLIN Paul (Physics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 150

Module Availability

Crosses academic years

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:


The exact programme of study will depend on the nature of the project and the environment in which it is carried out. The environment will typically be at a University Laboratory but may equally be at a major international government laboratory, such as the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, a research-intensive company, or at a regional hospital. Students work under the direction of a research supervisor on an experimental or theoretical, pure or applied, physics research project.

For this module students are required to complete two Activities, which each have an associated assessment:


Activity 1: Introduction to Research. Students will carry out this activity within the first two months of the research placement. The purpose is to help the students familiarise themselves with the research environment of their placement, and to start to plan ahead for their year of research. The student choses one of the following activities:


Option 1A: The Research Environment. This activity consists of a written report that describes the research activities, ethos and management structure of the host institution. The report will include a summary of the research topics or themes which are studied within the organisation, including a brief historical review of key results or research highlights from the institution. It will also describe the management structure of the organisation, the research collaborations both within the organisation, and with major external partners, and the key sources of funding which are critical to the organisation’s research success. The report will also highlight any specific areas of health and safety, research hazards, or particular ethical considerations for the institution.

Option 1B: Research Planning. In this activity the student carries out a study of their personal development and training needs for the year ahead. They will also produce a project plan that describes the technical work they will be carrying out, identifies the main objectives of the Research Year, and discusses the key research techniques that will be used to carry out this work. The student will include a self-reflection on their training needs for the year, identifying any specific personal or technical training that they need to carry out. The report will also contain a project plan and draft schedule for the year, including a Gantt chart


Activity 2: Research Publishing for Physicists. In this activity students explore the methodology of scientific data analysis and the correct approach to writing a journal paper. The student chooses one of the following activities:


Option 2A: Paper Précis: the student will write a critical review of a research paper published from a top-quartile physics journal. The report will analyse and critique the structure, layout and impact of the research paper and the use and analysis of data within the paper.


Option 2B: Mock Research Paper: the student will prepare a mock research paper based either on data produced from the placement work, or using a mock data set provided by the University. They will carry out an appropriate analysis of the data to generate summary plots/figures and a description of the methodology used in the analysis and the key random/systematic errors. The student will prepare a mock research paper for “publication” either through a physics journal or technical publication of their choice, which will be “refereed” by your Visiting Tutor.


This activity will be carried out during the first stages of the research placement.

A further element of student assessment is carried out by the Visiting Tutor, by grading the student’s performance in acquiring and carrying out a range of research skills. The grading criteria for this research skills performance is listed on the SurreyLearn module.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate core competencies in physics topics, and to develop key skills in physics research planning, presentation and communication.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of 2 units of assessment:

  • (1) Written report: “Introduction to Research”, a report on either (i) “The Research Environment”, or (ii) “Research Planning” (weighted at 40%), plus the Visiting Tutor’s assessment of the students Research Skills Performance (weighted at 20%). Combined, these assessments form one Unit of Assessment for 60% of the module.

          The deadline for this report is give in the MPhys Research Year Handbook.

  • (2) Written report: “Research Publishing for Physicists”, either (i) a critical review of a published paper, or (ii) a mock paper you have written. This report forms one Unit of Assessment for 40% of the module.


          The deadline for this report is given in the MPhys Research Year Handbook.

Formative assessment

Formative assessment is provided by verbal feedback from visiting tutors and local supervisors, and from written comments returned with the 2 reports and the student’s Research Skills Performance assessment.



Feedback is provided verbally by visiting tutors and local supervisors, and from written comments returned with the 2 reports and the student’s Research Skills Performance assessment.



Module aims

  • a widened understanding and knowledge base through `real workplace´ research experience in an industrial or academic research organization
  • an enhanced level of personal and professional development, with specific relevance to transferable skills and competencies, with emphasis on research skills;
  • deeper knowledge of scientific publishing and an opportunity to communicate research outcomes through publication to colleagues as part of the MPhys Research Year project(s).

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Demonstrate written and oral presentation skills to a high standard and in the context of a professional research environment; PT
2 Engage in reflective thinking about their research and their role within their host organization; PT
3 Develop initiative and be creative so as to provide new perspectives within the place of employment; PT
4 Understand the research environment to improve future employability PT
5 Demonstrate a level of initiative; PT
6 Be creative and reflective so as to solve problems in the workplace PT

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 encourage independent self-study.

This module is undertaken by MPhys students in the first half of their Research Year. Access to the material for this module is via SurreyLearn or through the module handbook. Students need to have available their university URN code number and password to enter the SurreyLearn site.

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: PHY3051

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Physics with Nuclear Astrophysics MPhys Cross Year Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics with Astronomy MPhys Cross Year Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics with Quantum Technologies MPhys Cross Year Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Physics MPhys Cross Year Compulsory 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 2020/1 academic year.