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CC102: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 25th May 2000

Physics Consultative Committee

CC102: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 25th May 2000

Present: Ms Deng, Mr Eldridge, Mr Gough, Mr How, Ms Jenkins, Mr Richards, Mr Riley, Ms Somodi, Dr Gull, Prof. Longair, Dr Waldram, Dr Batley.

Apologies were received from Ms Larrabee, Mr Liddell and Dr Ward.

1. The draft minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

2. Matters Arising

CC Minutes: Prompted by a note from Dr Butcher, a discussion was held on the procedures currently being followed for the distribution of student questionnaires and CC minutes. It was concluded that present arrangements were satisfactory.

Introductory Tours: The introductory tours of the Cavendish Lab which were introduced this year as part of the first Part IA Practical session of the Michaelmas Term had been carried out by some, but not all, Heads of Class.

3. Teaching Committee Matters

Part III Examples Classes: The TC had considered the suggestion that the Part III Examples Classes be moved from the Lent to the Easter Term, and this had led to a general discussion on the purpose of the General Paper itself. These issues will be reconsidered at future meetings.

Part II Timetabling: The TC is no longer minded to swap the TP1 and TP2 courses. The deadline for submission of Computer Projects will remain at the start of the Lent Term.

Maths for Natural Sciences: A revision of the Part IB Maths syllabus is now under way. The new syllabus will assume material only from the Part IA `A' course. A particular issue is the teaching of numerical methods, with consideration being given to moving to a project based course taking advantage of modern IT techniques.

4. Part IA

Fields, Relativity and Quantum Physics (A), Dr Green (87 replies, 0, 4, 20, 48, 15, avg=3.9)

A very good course with good lecture notes. The material on quantum physics was considered to be the hardest part of the course.

Fields, Relativity and Quantum Physics (B), Dr Carter (101 replies, 1, 10, 30, 45, 15, avg=3.6)

A well received course, clearly lectured and with good lecture notes. The material was generally felt to more interesting than for the other Part IA courses. It would be helpful if diagrams which were shown on the OHP in lectures could also be made available in the lecture handouts as there was usually insufficient time to copy them down fully.

Practicals, Prof. Lonzarich and others (185 replies, 10, 46, 99, 29, 1, avg=2.9)

Most students liked the possibility of being able to choose their own practicals, and found the Easter Term practicals more enjoyable than in previous terms. The practical on complex impedance was felt to be too hard and too long. Some students reported problems with the attitude of certain demonstrators, probably because the demonstrator failed to appreciate that many students had had very little experience of practicals at school. This was a major factor deterring many students from continuing with physics in Part IB.

5. Part IB

Physics of Electronic Devices, Prof. Ahmed (3 replies, 0, 0, 1, 2, 0, avg=3.7)

There were no particular issues raised for this course, which was well received.

6. Part IB Advanced

Quantum Mechanics I, Dr Payne (109 replies, 1, 2, 24, 52, 30, avg=4.0)

An excellent course, enthusiastically lectured and with interesting material. Much of the material towards the end of the course was quite difficult however, and topics such as spin were covered very close to the exams; it was asked whether it might be possible to timetable the course earlier in the year.

Condensed Matter Physics, Prof. Friend (106 replies, 3, 19, 54, 26, 4, avg=3.1)

The course was quite well received. It was generally felt to contain too much material, especially considering that it ran close to the exams. The material on crystals at the start of the course was covered too fast for those who had not already taken the Materials option in Part IA, but too slowly for those who had.

7. Part II

The Part II Examples Classes had been very well attended and had generally been found to be useful. Solutions for all the classes had been made available within a reasonable period of time. In one class, only one demonstrator plus the lecturer had been available, which was felt to be insufficient. The last class had been held very close to the exams.

In the TP2 course, quantisation of the simple harmonic oscillator had been labelled as non-examinable, but had in fact formed the basis of half of one of the examination questions.

8. Part III

The Part III student representatives had carried out a follow-up questionnaire to that of the Lent Term on the Part III Examples Classes and Projects. The consensus that it would be preferable to move the Examples Classes to the Easter Term remained, the main point being to hold as many of the classes as possible after the Project deadline. Holding up to three classes per week was not felt to be a problem. A popular structure for the classes was to allow students some time to work through each question, followed by the lecturer working through the solution on the board.

In the case of Part III Projects, some clarification of the amount of supervision that should be expected from the supervisor or others would be useful. This applies also to the amount of help that is allowed or can be expected with the project write-up.

9. Any Other Business

The student representatives were thanked for all the work they had put in throughout the year and were presented with book tokens by way of appreciation.

10. Next Meeting

The next Consultative Committee meeting will be on Thursday 30th November 2000 at 09:30.


JRB, 22nd June 2000