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 then followed by a debriefing session in which the group's (or individual's, where appropriate) performance is reviewed. 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.
  2. Writing scientific reports and scientific record keeping
    In this role-playing exercise, you are working for a fictitious company which receives a special request from a potential customer. To meet the customer' request, a simple physics investigation must be carried out, in a team of 6. The exercise requires careful record keeping in a log-book, as you must then produce a condensed report which will impress your "customer".


  1. How to write a CV and a letter of application.
    A talk presented by the university careers service, followed by a video, together give pointers for writing successful CV's and job applications. The importance of this as a communications exercise is emphasised.
  2. An exercise in group decision making.
    In this role playing exercise, you are in a hypothetical life-or-death scenario, adrift in the North Sea following a helicopter crash. You must work against the clock to prioritise a list of items that may or may not prove crucial to your survival. Strong team work and the ability to resolve conflicts of opinion are vital skills here. You will have the opportunity to assess your performance against that of an expert.
  3. Speaking to an audience.
    A short popular science article 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 three of your peers and a postgraduate chairperson, who will give feedback on your performance.


  1. Power for Pemang.
    This is a major problem solving exercise, devised by the Institute of Physics. In groups of 10 students play the role of energy consultants, invited to submit plans to modernise the energy generating infrastructure of a small island republic. Each team is completely self-reliant and must organise itself to produce, by the end of the day, a plan which is then presented to, and judged by, the 'Government' of Pemang. A prize is awarded for the winning proposal.

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% Perform a simple experiment and write a condensed report 1 day Day 1 1,3 Written and verbal
10% Write a CV and letter of application 2 hours Day 2 4 Written and verbal
10% Prepare a summary a scientific article and present it orally to an audience 2 hours Day 2 2 Written and verbal
10% Small-group decision-making exercise 2 hours Day 2 5 Written and verbal
40% Large-team exercise 1-day Day 3 6 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 whole 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 N/A