Physics and Astronomy

International Summer School

Physics International Summer School 4

Each summer the Physics department runs two four-week modules:

Introductory Physics 1 and Introductory Physics 2

Introductory Physics 1 is required in order to take Introductory Physics 2.

For information about dates and application process, please visit the International Summer School pages.

For information on the content, assessment and teaching on the modules please see below or contact us directly at


Preparation resources

Make the most of the International Physics Summer School, get your maths up to speed by visiting the Maths Readiness page.


The laboratory analysis will use Excel 2013 and you may find it helpful to prepare by developing the skills shown in these videos:

How are the modules organised?

The modules are intensive physics courses, at UK University level 4. They are equivalent to 15 credits each, corresponding to 150 notional hours of learning per module.

Contact time per 4-week module is 6 x 3 hour labs, 6 x 2 hour workshops and 12 x 1.5 hour lectures. Your self-study should take up at least an additional 25 hours per week. Lectures, labs and workshops run Monday to Thursday, and some assessments are held on Fridays.  Each module has the same structure in terms of contact hours and assessment.

A customised textbook is provided that covers all the material in both modules. A calculator is provided for you to use in all workshops, class-tests, mid-term quizzes and final exams. Due to the intensive nature of the course it is not possible to make changes to timetables or reschedule assessments. 

Syllabus for Introductory Physics 1

Syllabus for Introductory Physics 2 

Assessment weighting for Introductory Physics 1

Assessment weighting for Introductory Physics 2

Assessment: mid-term and final exam

The mid-term quiz occurs on Friday of week 2. It is 1 hour long and consists of 10 multiple-choice questions.  It contributes 15% of the mark for each module.

The final exam occurs on the Thursday of week 4. It is two hours long and consists of 20 multiple-choice questions. It contributes 50% of the mark for each module.

All the multiple-choice questions receive one mark for a correct answer, and zero for a wrong answer. There are no negative marks nor partial credit. So the mid-term quiz is marked out of 10 and the final is marked out of 20.

In line with the policy of the Physics and Astronomy Department we do not arrange viewings of quizzes or exam papers following the exams.

Assessment: labs

Your lab work will develop your laboratory and analysis skills and help you understand the physical concepts in the modules.

The labs contribute 25% of the credit for each module. You will take 6 labs per module, handing in a report before the end of each 3-hour lab. The best 5 marks of these reports will be used to make up your lab credit. 

At the start of Session 1 you will be given a Laboratory Script that covers all the material you need for Session 1 and Session 2 modules.

Your first lab will not require you to carry out a full experiment; rather you will focus on graphing, excel and uncertainties. The work you carry out in this first lab will be fundamental to the analysis of all other labs.

In labs you will be working in groups of up to 8 students with one Associate Tutor. You will most likely collect data in pairs, although you may be collecting data individually. There are four experiment set-ups for each Associate Tutor and you will carry out a different experiment each time.

The topics covered match the contents of each Session, but may anticipate or follow lectures depending on the circuit arrangement for each group.

For Session 1 labs cover: oscillations, waves, heat equivalence, interference, phase-shift, resonance and the gas-laws. 

For Session 2 labs cover: interference of lasers, photo-electric effect, charge to mass ratio of electrons, measurement of fundamental electric charge, capacitance, behaviour of electric fields and potentials.

All labs must start on time, and health and safety advice followed at all times. For this reason if you are more than 15 minutes late to a lab your will not be allowed to carry out the experiment and will receive zero marks for that report.

Assessment: workshop quizzes

Your workshop work will help you understand concepts covered in lectures and prepare you for the quizzes and exams.

Your workshop in-class quizzes will contribute 10% credit to your module. There will be 6 workshops, but you will only have 5 in-class quizzes, and your first workshop will not have a quiz.

At the start of Session 1 you will be given a Problem Set book that has practice problems for all of Session 1 and Session 2. 

There are between 8 and 12 students per workshop with one Associate Tutor. You will prepare by working on problems and your Associate Tutor will answer questions and guide you through the concepts of these questions. 

Each workshop is 2 hours long and the test occurs at the start of the workshop and takes 15 minutes. You must be on time for your quiz in order to receive credit.

Support during the modules

These Introductory Physics modules are intensive and we advise that you take advantage of support available throughout the course.

If you find you are struggling we advise that you talk to some one as soon as possible, while continuing to focus on the new material. Because of the intensive nature of the course it is important that you keep up with the new material.

There are four members of faculty lecturing on the modules. In addition to 30 physics Associate Tutors, there are 4 Lab and Workshop Supervisors on hand to answer questions.

There will be Office Hours with the lecturers and Help Desks with Associate Tutors to go over problem sets. In addition, there is a dedicated email where you can ask for help or advice regarding any aspect of your studies.

Students applying for Reasonable Adjustment

ISS Students with a disability or diagnosed long-term condition may have reasonable adjustments (sometimes called accommodations) in place at their home institution. For any ISS student any reasonable adjustment request will need to be made three weeks prior to the assessment concerned. For the Physics modules, assessments start in week two of the first module and reasonable adjustments requests should be submitted two weeks before the start date of the International Summer School.

Since three weeks notice is required for reasonable adjustment requests, students are advised to contact SSU with any questions about student support in advance of the deadline. Also, do contact SSU if you have a long-term condition, which may be exacerbated by an intensive period of studying in a new environment.

Please contact: Student Support Unit (SSU) on

Confidential advice can be found at:

Deadline for requests is Friday 7 June 2019 in order to cover the start of the assessments.

 Physics International Summer School 3  Physics International Summer School 1

ISS summer school lecture theatre

Please note that the University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver courses and modules in accordance with the descriptions set out here. However, the University keeps its courses and modules under review with the aim of enhancing quality. Some changes may therefore be made to the form or content of courses or modules shown as part of the normal process of curriculum management.

The University reserves the right to make changes to the contents or methods of delivery of, or to discontinue, merge or combine modules, if such action is reasonably considered necessary by the University. If there are not sufficient student numbers to make a module viable, the University reserves the right to cancel such a module. If the University withdraws or discontinues a module, it will use its reasonable endeavours to provide a suitable alternative module.