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Unit outline_

PHYS3915: Topics in Senior Physics A (Advanced)

Semester 1, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit of study covers the same topics as PHYS3015, with some more challenging material.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Physics Academic Operations
Credit points 6
[An average mark of 70 or above in (PHYS2011 or PHYS2911 or PHYS2921) AND (PHYS2012 or PHYS2912 or PHYS2922)]
Assumed knowledge

6 credit points of Intermediate Mathematics

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Boris Kuhlmey,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Assignments
0% - 5 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8
Assignment Lab report
0% - 4 pages - see lab handbook for format
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Assignment Lab logbook
0% - book
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Final exam Final exam
0% Formal exam period 3 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Presentation Project oral presentation
0% Multiple weeks 20 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Project report
0% Week 14 (STUVAC) 5000-6000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8
Tutorial quiz Weekly quizzes
0% Weekly 20 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO2
Participation Project mark
0% Weekly whole semester
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

  • Students enrolled in 2CP of experimental physics will carry out 2 experiments (x 3 sessions) and write one report. The report includes a peer marking assessment.
  • Students enrolled in 4CP of experimental physics will carry out 4 experiments (x 3 sessions) and write one report and give one talk. The report includes a peer marking assessment.
  • Students enrolled in 4CP of experimental physics and also enrolled in PHYS3036 or PHYS3936 will do the full assessment for PHYS3036/PHYS3936 (2 experiments, 1 report, peer marking) and the full assessment of 4CP of experimental physics for PHYS3915 as described above, so a total of 6 experiments, 2 reports and 1 talk – in that case the PHYS3915 experimental physics report will be due in week 7, and will not include peer marking.
  • Students will only be assessed for the modules they are enrolled in. Each module will contribute to 1/3rd of the final unit mark (=2CP) and weights of assessment within each module are given by the weight of the assessments stated in the outlines for PHYS3934/PHYS3936 divided by the total weights for that module. The exact weights used calculated as a pro rata of the weights published in the outlines for PHYS3934 and PHYS3936 will be published on the unit’s Canvas site.
  • Please refer to unit outlines for PHYS3934 and PHYS3936 for details of assessment of each module. PHYS3934 includes a Problem Assignment covering all aspects of PHYS3934. Students enrolled in PHYS3915 will either be assessed on the part of the Problem Assignment relating to the module they study or have an alternative assignment specific to the module, as detailed on Canvas.
  • Exams for PHYS3934 modules and PHYS3936 modules will be concurrent to PHYS3934 and PHYS3936 exams respectively, which are scheduled on two separate days. Exam duration is 10 minute reading time, + 1h per module sat in the exam.
  • Senior Physics Special Projects are individual or group research projects and are only available to students enrolled in pre-2018 degrees. New degree students should do physics interdisciplinary research projects through PHYS3888 instead.
  • Senior Physics Special Project assessment criteria are outlined in the project module outline, available on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

At HD level, a student demonstrates a flair for the subject and comprehensive
knowledge and understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects
exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the
ability to apply subject knowledge to novel situations.


75 - 84

At DI level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a solid
knowledge and understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects
excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an
ability to apply the key ideas of the subject.


65 - 74

At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the
unit material. A ‘Credit’ reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student
who has a broad understanding of the unit material but has not fully developed
the ability to apply the key ideas of the subject.


50 - 64

At PS level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’
reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has
threshold knowledge of the subject.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Multiple weeks Schedule of lectures, tutorials, computational and experimental labs follow the schedule of the modules chosen as published in the unit outlines of PHYS3934 and PHYS3936 Lecture and tutorial (150 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Please refer to unit outlines for PHYS3034 and PHYS3036. All readings for this unit can be accessed on the Library eReserve link available in the Canvas site for PHYS3034 and PHYS3036.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate an understanding of key concepts in several areas of physics
  • LO2. apply these concepts to develop models, and to solve qualitative and quantitative problems in scientific contexts, using appropriate mathematical and computing techniques as necessary
  • LO3. design computer programs to solve physical problems
  • LO4. compare and critique experimental approaches and different approaches to numerically solving physical problems
  • LO5. design, carry out and analyse experiments to measure specific effects
  • LO6. communicate scientific information appropriately, through written work
  • LO7. analyse a physical problems in physics and develop a formalism appropriate for solving them
  • LO8. demonstrate a sense of responsibility, ethical behaviour, and independence as a learner and as a scientist.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Modules taught in this unit are shared with PHYS3934 and PHYS3936 - please refer to the unit outlines for PHYS3934 and PHYS3936 for details.

The School of Physics recognises that biases and discrimination, including but not limited to those based on gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and age, continue to impact parts of our community disproportionately. Consequently, the School is strongly committed to taking effective steps to make our environment supportive and inclusive and one that provides equity of access and opportunity for everyone.

The School has three Equity Officers as a point of contact for students and staff who may have a query or concern about any issues relating to equity, access and diversity.  If you feel you have been treated unfairly, bullied, discriminated against or disadvantaged in any way, you are encouraged to talk to one of the Equity Officers or any member of the Physics staff.

More information can be found at

Any student who feels they may need a special accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact Disability Services: who can help arrange support.

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.