• Class Number 8856
  • Term Code 3060
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Igor Skryabin
    • Prof Kenneth Baldwin
    • Prof Kenneth Baldwin
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 27/07/2020
  • Class End Date 30/10/2020
  • Census Date 31/08/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 03/08/2020
SELT Survey Results

This second year course is an elective unit that will build on the understanding of physical principles and methods and apply them to quantitative analysis of real-world problems. Case studies will be drawn from energy systems, climate science, communications, defence, sensing/imaging, measurement standards and forensics. Course graduates will be able to use their skills to, for example, fact-check statements in the media by public figures that claim a particular outcome for a physical system. These skills will include understanding scientific method, quantitative reasoning, measurement units, noise / error estimation, sensitivity analysis, risk management assessment and truth validation. There will be lectures by guest experts drawn from government, industry and research institutions who have practical experience in the application of physics to real-world problems and public policy. The course may include site visits, but there is no laboratory component.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. Apply the scientific method in unfamiliar contexts
  2. Analyse physical claims quantitatively using physical principles and methods
  3. Estimate physical quantities efficiently using 'back-of-the-envelope' techniques, including dimensional arguments
  4. Apply error and uncertainty estimation and sensitivity analysis to enable risk management
  5. Use the above skills to validate or criticise ideas and to fact check
  6. Apply physical principles to analyse a range of practical applications

Field Trips

Several site visits are proposed for the 2020 course dependent on social distancing protocols.

Additional Course Costs


"Physics and Technology for Future Presidents", Richard A. Muller Princeton University Press (2010)

"Sustainable Energy — without the hot air", David JC MacKay (2007) - downloadable book - http://www.


Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

Written comments, verbal comments, feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Assignments weekly
2 Oral presentations one
3 Site visits several
4 Exam one

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Assignments 60 % 27/07/2020 03/12/2020 1,2,3,4,5,6
Oral Presentations 20 % 27/07/2020 30/10/2020 6
Exam 20 % 05/11/2020 03/12/2020 1,2,3,4,5,6

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Three contact hours per week (with online lecture material), optional weekly tutorial, including site visits.


We do not anticipate any restrictions to internet access for the examination – details will be provided on the PHYS2205 Wattle site.

Please note, that where a date range is used in the Assessment Summary in relation to exams, the due date and return date indicate the approximate timeframe in which the exam will be held and results returned to the student (official end of Semester results released on ISIS). Students should consult the course wattle site and the ANU final examination timetable to confirm the date, time and venue of the exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 60 %
Due Date: 27/07/2020
Return of Assessment: 03/12/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6


Weekly with a question from each lecture.

Students are expected to contribute on an on-going basis throughout the semester. The date range for this task comprises the start of the semester and the date final results are published on ISIS.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 27/07/2020
Return of Assessment: 30/10/2020
Learning Outcomes: 6

Oral Presentations

The presentation will be 10 minutes long, with a cutoff at 15 minutes maximum. There will then be 5 minutes for questions. Allow at most 10 slides in total.

The target audience should be your classmates. All presentations are open to the class, but attendance is not compulsory.

The topic can be a calculation/fact check (for which you should provide the answers as you did in the assignment), or it can be an “essay” type question (perhaps with dot point sub-topics). You will also be allowed to suggest your own topic.


Due: Present as rostered. Specific dates will be negotiated in class so the date published in this class summary comprises the start and end of the teaching session.


Content - relevant physics identified: 30%Quantitative analysis: 10%Analysis of the outcome, uncertainties: 20%Convincing presentation: 40%

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 05/11/2020
Return of Assessment: 03/12/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6


Answer any 3 from a list of around 10 questions.

Please note, that where a date range is used in the Assessment Summary in relation to exams, the due date and return date indicate the approximate timeframe in which the exam will be held and results returned to the student (official end of Semester results released on ISIS). Students should consult the course wattle site and the ANU final examination timetable to confirm the date, time and venue of the exam.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 5 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assignments are to be submitted through Wattle and will be returned approximately 1 week after relevant lecture.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

There is no re-submission of assignments

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Igor Skryabin

Research Interests

Dr Igor Skryabin

Prof Kenneth Baldwin

Research Interests

Professor Baldwin’s research interests lie in developing new laser technologies for precision measurement to test quantum theories of atomic and molecular structure that can be used, for example, to determine how air molecules react to ultraviolet light, thereby enabling better understanding of energy balance and ozone formation in the earth’s atmosphere. He is also a pioneer in atom optics – a field which uses lasers to create new technologies for atoms which are the analogue of optical elements for light – that can be used e.g. to create nanostructures for better microchips. Lasers can also be used to cool atoms to the lowest temperatures in the universe, at which point they behave more like waves than particles, enabling them to be used as sensitive detectors e.g. of changes in the earths gravitational field for mineral exploration. 

Professor Baldwin is also the Director of the ANU Energy Change Institute (www.energy.anu.edu.au). A key to many challenges facing the world today is a world-wide change to carbon-free forms of energy production. The ECI provides authoritative leadership in Energy Change research through a broad portfolio ranging from future energy technologies, to energy efficiency, regulation, economics, sociology and policy. The ECI comprises more than 300 staff and PhD students and around $100 million in infrastructure and facilities, supported by a major portfolio of external grant funding.

Prof Kenneth Baldwin

By Appointment
Prof Kenneth Baldwin

Research Interests

Prof Kenneth Baldwin

By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions