Specialist Research Project

Module code: PA4900

This module gives you an opportunity to take part in real scientific investigation, tackling open research questions under the guidance of a member of academic staff. The 4th year Advanced Research Project is an independent scientific investigation, carried out over a thirteen-week period. Projects can be varied in nature, for example, computational, theoretical, data-analysis, lab-based etc. or some mixture, and are offered in a wide range of physics disciplines. They will usually be open-ended and flexible, without a specific final goal, and indeed you will usually be able to determine the direction that the project takes.

You will be allocated a project, where possible from a list of your preferred options. The Research Project is largely conducted through private study, with regular supervisory meetings to help planning and insight. In addition to the potential for in-depth study of a particular topic, the Research Project provides many opportunities to develop general transferable skills, such as: computer coding, experimental skills, analysis skills, oral and written communication.

Examples of recent topics include:

  • Growing supermassive black holes
  • What effect does a black hole have on the Higgs Mechanism in the Standard Model?
  • Calculation of the conductivity in 2D graphene layers
  • Finding the first stars
  • Discovering extra-solar planets in the Next Generation Transit Survey
  • Synchrotron spectroscopy of Martian and cometary samples
  • Definition and design of a student-led Leicester CubeSat mission
  • Frequency and severity of extreme weather in the UK
  • Modelling a Zombie Apocalypse
  • Agent Based Models: Applications of Physics to Complex Social Systems
  • The Cassini Grand Finale: What Lies Inside the Rings of Saturn?
  • Floating brains in space

Topics covered

  • Independent research/study skills
  • Locating relevant research materials
  • Working at a sustained pace
  • Maintaining records of work done and sources used
  • Organising workload and arranging meetings
  • Testing a hypothesis
  • Experimental procedures and good laboratory practice (lab projects only)
  • Software development and testing (computational projects only)
  • Analysing and presenting data
  • Absorbing information from a range of sources, and preparing your own take on this information
  • Writing an extended report discussing the project findings and the wider context

Learning

  • 1 hour of lectures
  • 10 hours of project supervision
  • 289 hours of guided independent study

Assessment

  • Progress (30%)
  • Poster presentation (20%)
  • Written report (50%)