PHY0000 Communication and Key Skills 2017-18
Dr M.K.M. Browning
Delivery Weeks: T1:06
Level: 4 (NQF)
Credits: not applicable NICATS / not applicable ECTS
Enrolment: 149 students (approx)


This is the Communication and Key Skills component of the Physics practical laboratories (PHY1027 Practical Physics I and PHY1030 Practical Physics and IT Skills). It is run as a 3-day series of activity-based workshops in the Term 1 'Opportunities Week' of Stage 1. Each new activity is introduced by a course lecturer, who briefly describes the task and its relevance to the course. The activity is completed and followed by peer or demonstrator feedback, where appropriate. These include training for, and hands-on experience of, working as a team and a range of oral, written and inter-personal skills.

Module Aims

This component of the physics practical laboratories aims to develop the effective communication skills physics students need to complete many of their modules. After graduation, this need will intensify and communication and key skills often prove decisive in obtaining a job and in performing that job well.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

A student who has passed this module should be able to:

Syllabus Plan


  1. Introduction
    The importance of communication skills in the modern working environment. Introduction to different types of communication, and the importance of knowing your audience.
  2. Order of magnitude estimation
    In this problem-solving exercise, you will be given a series of questions that require you to estimate certain quantities to within a factor of ten, given limited information and your own ingenuity. After a period of individual effort, you will then discuss the problems as a group, brainstorming different methods of solution and writing up your best estimates.
  3. An afternoon as a scientific journalist
    You will be given a selection of recent peer-reviewed articles, highlighting important scientific results from the past few years. You will choose one, read it, and produce a 1-page written summary appropriate for a popular audience, to be given to your demonstrator (who will provide feedback as appropriate).


  1. CVs and speculative applications
    A talk presented by the university careers service gives pointers for writing successful CV's and job applications, including an introduction to "speculative applications" (for students who are too junior for standard internship or placement schemes). The importance of this as a communications exercise is emphasised.
  2. Speaking to an audience
    Your scientific article from the previous day is used as the basis for you to produce a 10 minute talk, using visual aids. Your talk is then delivered to an audience comprising of your peers and a postgraduate demonstrator, who will give feedback on your performance.


  1. Making a group video.
    In groups of 10, you will choose a scientific topic of your choice as the basis for a group video. Groups must decide who the audience for their video will be, and choose communication strategies and visual aids appropriate for that group. The tasks of script writing, filming, etc, must be delegated amongst the members of the group, and a clear plan for this must be presented by the end of the day. (The video itself will be submitted following the course, allowing time for students to film and edit.)

Learning and Teaching

Learning Activities and Teaching Methods

Description Study time KIS type
3×1-day communications skills workshops 21 hours SLT


Weight Form Size When ILOS assessed Feedback
30% Read a scientific paper and write a concise popular-level summary of it. 1 day Day 1 1,2 Written and verbal
10% Order of magnitude estimation problems. 2 hours Day 2 3,6 Written and verbal
5% Write a CV and/or speculative application letter. 1 hours Day 2 5 Written and verbal
25% Present a scientific article orally to an audience. 4 hours Day 2 1,2 Written and verbal
30% Team video Day 3 T1:12 4,6,7 Written and verbal

Notes: A pass in this component is a programme requirement


The following list is offered as an indication of the type & level of information that students are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Instructor(s).

Core text:

Supplementary texts:


Further Information

Prior Knowledge Requirements

Pre-requisite Modules N/A
Co-requisite Modules N/A


Re-assessment is not available except when required by referral or deferral.

Original form of assessment Form of re-assessment ILOs re-assessed Time scale for re-assessment

Notes: Students who fail to get an overall mark of 40% in this component will be requred to repeat it the following year.

KIS Data Summary

Learning activities and teaching methods
SLT - scheduled learning & teaching activities 21 hrs
GIS - guided independent study 0 hrs
PLS - placement/study abroad 0 hrs
Total 21 hrs
Summative assessment
Coursework 0%
Written exams 0%
Practical exams 100%
Total 100%


IoP Accreditation Checklist
  • XX-03 Working in groups and teams
Availability Physics students only
Distance learning NO
Keywords Physics; Communication skills; Customer; Exercise; Group work; Key skills; Planning; Presentation skill; Record-keeping; Reporting; Team work.
Created 01-Oct-00
Revised 01-Sep-16