Module Description

PHY1028 IT and Electronics Skills


Code: PHY1028
Level: 1
Title: IT and Electronics Skills
InstructorsDr F.Y. Ogrin and Dr I.R. Summers
CATS Credit Value: 15
ECTS Credit Value: 7.5
Pre-requisites: N/A
Co-requisites: N/A
DurationT1:01-11, T2:06-11
Availability: unrestricted
Background Assumed: -

Total Student Study Time

150 hours, to include: 11×2-hour computer laboratory sessions (IT); 12×3-hour practical laboratory sessions (electronics); 27 hours of directed self-study; 65 hours of self-study.


Every physicist must be able to analyse data, evaluate theoretical models, and present their work in the form of a technical report. They must also be able to perform investigations, such as experiments, and solve the problems they encounter in a systematic and logical manner.

Students will start by learning to produce high-quality typeset reports using LaTeX and a stylesheet. The second part of the module, introduces the student to the GNU Octave numerical mathematics package. The Octave language is essentially the same as the MATLAB™ language which is widely used in commercial and research environments for numerical modelling. The final part introduces the basic areas of digital electronics, as they might be encountered in physics instrumentation, etc., and to provide the necessary theoretical background to carry out experimental investigations. A small amount of analogue electronics is also covered, this being included for the benefit of those students who will choose to do no further electronics modules. The skills developed in this module will be applied and developed throughout the programme.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  1. Module Specific Skills:
    1. use a numerical language (e.g. Octave) to manipulate data and solve equations using matrix methods;
    2. describe the operation of a range of digital-electronics circuits and of some basic analogue-electronics circuits.
  2. Discipline Specific Skills:
    1. use LaTeX and a stylesheet to produce high-quality typeset reports containing mathematical equations, tables, graphs and diagrams;
    2. use appropriate techniques for measurement of circuit performance and techniques for fault-finding;
    3. build and test simple electronics circuits of the type used in physics instrumentation.
  3. Personal Transferable Skills:
    1. use a computer to solve problems and produce documents;
    2. solve problems logically.

Learning / Teaching Methods

This module is practically based. Comprehensive work sheets have been produced for each session and demonstrators are present to answer any queries that may arise during the organised sessions. Students are encouraged to work at their own speed depending on their previous experience. This means that students with no prior experience will need to spend more time than their more experienced counterparts outside the class sessions to complete the assignments contained in the work sheets.

E-Learning resources (ELE PHY1028),

Assessment and Assignments

ContributionAssessment/AssignmentSize (duration/length)When
10%Mid-Term IT Skills Test 1120 minutesWeek T1:05
10%Mid-Term IT Skills Test 2120 minutesWeek T1:11
30%Class and homework IT Skills assignmentsIn class + 2 hours eachWeekly T1:01-11
30%Written reports on electronics experimentsIn classWeekly T2:06-11
20%Electronics Problems Sheets5×1hrWeekly T2:06-10

Syllabus Plan and Content

Part A: IT Skills

  1. Introduction
    1. Use of the Exeter Learning Environment.
    2. The Apple Macintosh
      1. Graphical User Interface
      2. using the Mac OS X system
    3. Network home directories and the file-server
      1. understanding the local file-server.
  2. LaTex
    1. Using LaTeX to create a simple document
      1. Text
      2. Equations
      3. Tables
      4. Figures
    2. Using a stylesheet to produce high-quality experiment reports
    3. Use of Octave with a template for plotting, linear regression analysis, statistical analysis, error bars
  3. Octave
    1. Introduction
      Range of applications, platform and implementation specific differences, relationship of Octave to MATLAB.
    2. Fundamentals
      User interface, definitions, data structure, commands and functions, matrix operations, 'help' system.
    3. Input/Output and analysis
      Creating files and loading data, working with data, basic plotting, saving workspace ('*.mat' files).
    4. Numerical integration
      Using numerical methods for calculation of integrals
    5. Fitting
      The least-squares criterion, fitting polynomial and exponential functions, 'polyfit' and 'polyval', fitting data with a linear function, extracting polynomial coefficients, plotting the fitting function, errors.
    6. Programming
      Scripts and functions, creating and executing '*.m' files, basic programming: using 'for' and 'while' loops, conditional statements 'if', 3-D graphics.

Part B: Electronics

  1. Combinational Logic
    NAND and NOR gates; truth tables; combination of gates to implement logic functions.
  2. Sequential Logic
    R-S flip-flops; J-K flip flops and simple control circuits; binary counters; shift registers.
  3. Memory chips
    Input and output of data; use of addresses.
  4. Microprocessors
    Basic operation; I/O and simple control situations; D/A and A/D on input/output data bus
  5. D to A and A to D Conversion
    Operation of DAC; use of DAC to make ADC; sampling rates, conversion times, aliasing and the Nyquist Theorem
  6. Analogue Electronics
    1. Simple amplifier circuits based on op-amps; gain, bandwidth, input impedance, output impedance, signal/noise ratio.
    2. Filters: description in terms of frequency response.
    3. Comparators.

Core Text

Storey N. (1998), Electronics: A Systems Approach (2nd edition), Addison-Wesley, ISBN 020117796x (UL: 621.381 STO)

Supplementary Text(s)

Faissler W.L. (1991), Introduction to Modern Electronics, Wiley, ISBN 0-471-62242-7 (UL: 621.381 FAI)

Formative Mechanisms

Feedback occurs during the practical sessions via demonstrators and students are able to monitor their own learning by attempting the assignments and having them marked. Tests allow students to gauge their level of progress.

Evaluation Mechanisms

The module will be evaluated using information gathered via the student representation mechanisms, the staff peer appraisal scheme, and measures of student attainment based on summative assessment.

Validate   Link-check © Copyright & disclaimer Share