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What is coursework?

Work that you do during the course - investigations.

Is it practical?
Yes in all the sciences some part of your coursework must involve an experiment

How long can I spend on it?
Very much depends on the experiment and your teacher. Usually up to three weeks if the experiment is large.

Who chooses what I do?
Often it is you although some times your teachers may give you some ideas

When do I do it?
Usually during the eighteen months before your exams

Is it important?
Very. Often up to 20% of the marks for your course.

Can it help my final grade?
Yes good coursework may make all the difference. Bad coursework usually means that you have not made the effort and not that you don't understand the subject

Can I work with a friend?
Yes as long as you both do the work and as long as you both write up a separate account at the end.

Can I ask for help?
Of course. Ask your friends, your teacher, your parents and use books, CDs and the Internet

Is coursework hard?
No. It should be fun and interesting but do plan your time. Don't leave everything until the last minute.

Practical coursework


Practical Coursework is a really important part of many Physics courses and so it is vital that you understand what to do in order to be successful. As well as this section look at the one called "Experiments and how to do them".

Coursework should be a kind of simple research project. Do not expect to find your coursework experiment written down by someone else in a book.

The first thing to do is to choose your experiment so here are some ideas of possible experiments that you could use.

Coursework suggestions
1. Crater effect of projectiles on a surface
2. Silt meter a way of measuring the pollution in water
3. Salt meter concentration and conduction
4. Boats how does the streamlining of a boat affects how well they move through water
5. Immersion heater what is the best kind of immersion heater
6. Lighting a corridor how does the colour of the walls affect the light in a corridor
7. Cars and carpet
8. Pendulum
9. Spring
10. Physics of the human body
11. Physics of athletics
12. The efficiency of a small motor
13. The efficiency of a small water pump
14. How the bounce of a squash ball changes with temperature
15. How stretchy are tights?
16. Sound levels around your school
17. Bridge structures
18. Mobiles
19. Physics of paper gliders
20. Stretching rubber bands
21. Bending of hacksaw blades
22. Objects falling through sticky liquids
23. The light dependent resistor
24. A model car powered by an elastic band
25. The strength of different glues
26. Model sycamore seeds
27. Clocks
28. Forces and direction opening doors etc.
29. Strength of an electromagnet
30. Strength of wet and dry tissues
31. Floating and Archimedes
31. A structure made from paper alone that will support the greatest weight
32. Bending of plants in the wind
33. Fuse wire
34. Optical levers and bending the bench
35. Density of stone
36 Heat loss from plastic or polystrene cups
37. Keeping a cup of tea hot for 30 minutes
38. Small solar cells
39. The best paper glider
40. Energy in a candle

Your teachers will probably have given you a list of things that the exam boards need but here are three check lists to make sure that everything is there. You can use any of them to help you.

Check list number one:

This is a very simple basic framework to start you off on the road to a successful experiment. The other two check lists are much more detailed.

Check list number two:

Check list number three:

Example coursework account
For an example account of a piece of practical coursework please open the file called Coursework practical sample.

This is a suggested account for one of the experiments listed on page 2. It is not meant to be copied, but it will give you an idea of what is needed. Comments are included in red at important points.

It is a good idea to make the points easy to see so that however is reading it can follow it without problems.

© Keith Gibbs 2020