Course Title: Advanced Laboratory Techniques

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Advanced Laboratory Techniques

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2009

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Dougal McCulloch

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3391

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

The course relies on practical skills developed in PHYS1066 Practical Physics, and familiarity with concepts developed in PHYS1074 Materials and Thermal Physics

Course Description

This course is part of the core practical component of programs leading to a Physics qualification in the School of Applied Sciences.
It is the main laboratory course for 3rd year physics students in 1st semester. It gives students the opportunity to use high-quality equipment across a range of laboratories in the School, and teaches them principles of good laboratory practice in preparation for a more extended experimental project in a following semester.
Students completing this course will be well prepared for research programs in third year and beyond, as well as laboratory based employment.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

After completing the course, students will :

• have gained experience in a wide range of advanced experimental techniques.
• have experience in laboratory exercises which have significance in industrial, domestic and everyday living applications;
• have gained experience in the application of scientific method and mathematical analysis;
• have improved their skills in maintaining a laboratory journal and in report writing;
• be able to reliably process, evaluate and interpret the information presented by the above systems;
• be able to evaluate the influences of the equipment on the recorded information;
• have an understanding of the theory behind the techniques studied.

Overview of Learning Activities

Learning will occur through the student’s direct involvement and feedback on progress in:

- preliminary tasks;
- introduction to safety issues;
- reading the notes provided to gain an understanding of the basis of the techniques.
- working in small teams;
- mini tutorials conducted by the demonstrator during the experiments.
- gaining practical "hands on" experience of a number of widely used techniques.
- use of equipment manuals;
- development of interactive equipment skills;
- data acquisition and analysis;
- maintenance of a comprehensive laboratory journal;
- report writing.

Overview of Learning Resources

Some references relevant to the individual experiments may be suggested by the supervisors but students are also expected to seek out appropriate references themselves, from the Library or on-line. Experiment notes and supplementary materials will be made available. Students will conduct experiments using equipment provided by the School, including computing facilities. A personal scientific calculator will be useful.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment will be based on pre-lab tests (in some cases) and laboratory journals inspected or submitted at the end of each laboratory session, and on written reports for each of the two-week experiments. Students will be assessed on the degree of technical skill and competence developed in the laboratory, and on the qualities of presentation, relevance, data analysis and integration displayed in formal reports prepared on the outcomes of the experiments.