Laboratory Technics for Physics

Academic year
Subject Area
Language of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites

Math (12th grade high-school); General Physics I.

Teaching Methods

1. Data analysis methods are taught in the theoretical lessons.
2. In the laboratory classes students execute, under supervision of the professor, laboratory works previously prepared, in groups constituted in a rotation basis. The last hour of the class is dedicated to data analysis and discussion of results. Data are recorded and analysed in an individual logbook.
3. Afterwards each group writes a report on some works, including an introduction with the necessary theoretical basis and the presentation of the results in graphs and tables, jointlywith the corresponding analysis and discussion

Learning Outcomes

1. Acquisition of basic concepts in data analysis of direct and indirect measurements: methods for estimating the best values associated to the data, as well as of the functional correlations. Least-squares fit by minimization of chi-squared.
2. Development of experimental and laboratory competences related to the measurements with  several instruments and estimating the best values, with special emphasis on the identification of the characteristics of the instruments and the origin of systematic and random errors.

The following secondary competences are also aimed at:
3. organization and work method;
4. scientific communication, through written reports;
5. use of computing means for the basic analysis of experimental data.

Work Placement(s)



1. True value. Errors in measurements. Error propagation. Probability distributions.
2. Least-squares principle and maximum-probability principle.
3. Best estimate of the true value. Confidence intervals.
4. General notions of curve fitting to experimental data. Linear fitting. Evaluation of the quality of the fit. The chi-squared test and the normalized chi-squared.
5. Notions on basic instrumentation: multimeters, oscilloscope, etc.
6. Execution of laboratory works for direct and indirect measurements.

Assessment Methods

Logbook: 30.0%
Experimental reports: 30.0%
Exam: 40.0%


[1] Liliana Ferreira, Introdução à análise e tratamento de dados experimentais, Departamento de Física da Universidade de Coimbra, 2012.
[2] John R. Taylor, An Introduction to Error Analysis (2nd ed.), University Science Books, California, 1997.
[3] I.G. Hughes and T.P.A. Hase, Measurements and their uncertainties, Oxford Univ. Press, 2010.
[4] Philip R. Bevington & Keith Robinson, Data Reduction and Error Analysis for the
Physical Sciences (3rd ed.), McGraw-Hill, New York, 2003.
[5] Gordon L. Squires, Practical Physics (4th ed.), Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 2001.