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CC107: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 14th March 2002

Physics Consultative Committee

CC107: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 14th March 2002


Present: Ms Bacon, Ms Blackburn, Ms Glansdorp, Mr Jewsbury, Mr Lintott, Mr Mach, Ms Schlichting, Ms Soule, Mr Sprague, Mr Sprake, Prof. Longair, Dr Waldram, Dr Needs, Dr Parker.


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

2. Matters Arising

Dr Simons questioned the comments in the previous minutes on Concepts in Theoretical Physics, which stated that knowledge from TP1 and TP2 was assumed. He tries to avoid any such dependance. It was agreed that TP1 and TP2 were not essential for this course, but that such background made the course easier to handle.

3. Teaching Committee Matters

Dr Waldram reported on various issues currently being considered by the Teaching Committee:

Supervision arrangements are still not as good as they should be. There were a number of complaints. Supervisions were arranged too late, and some people were moved around. Next time, the system would be run by hand in order to check that the allocation programme was running correctly.

Work is going on to review all Part III options. Astrophysics, soft condensed matter physics, and hard condensed matter are all under consideration.

Astrophysics Part III had been proposed by the IoA, but there were objections from the Physics Department. However the original IoA proposal has gone forward and might be approved. Further discussions will take place on a joint Astrophysics Part III, but this would not be available for at least a couple of years.

A draft of the later years Working Party proposals was circulated for comment.

4. Part III

General Relativity, Dr Hobson (9 replies, 0 0 1 7 1, avg=4.0)

A well received course with very good lecture notes. Only complaint was that there was far too much material.

Geometric Algebra, Prof. Lasenby and Dr Doran (7 replies, 0 0 2 4 1, avg=3.9)

A very well received course. The explicit manipulations of the algebra were appreciated. Supervisions were needed before week 6.

Optoelectronics, Dr Greenham (2 replies, 0 0 1 1 0, avg=3.5)

No complaints.

Philosophy of Physics, Prof. Lipton et al. (5 replies, 1 2 1 1 0, avg=2.4)

Prof. Liptons lecture was appreciated, but the others were not considered as good, because too much prior knowledge was assumed.

Supercomputers, Dr Segall (3 replies, 0 0 1 2 0, avg=3.7)

A well received and informative course, which unfortunately clashed with Order of Magnitude physics.

Quantum Information, Prof. Payne (9 replies, 0 1 0 7 1, avg=3.9)

Generally well received and appreciated. Prof. Paynes handwriting was poor, and the handout was perhaps too sparse. Preprepared overheads would be useful.

Information Theory, Dr McKay (12 replies, 0 1 3 2 6, avg=4.1)

``Fantastic course''. Very well received, clear and detailed handout. It would be good to make more clear exactly which material is examinable. Perhaps too much material, so pace increased towards the end.

Phase transitions, Dr Simons (7 replies, 0 0 0 5 2, avg=4.3)

A good course, much appreciated. More intermediate level questions needed on the sheet.

Quantum Properties, Dr Barnes (2 replies, 0 0 0 2 0, avg=4.0)

Well liked and interesting course, with a good handout.

Remote Sensing, Dr Rees (9 replies, 0 0 4 5 0, avg=3.6)

Well received course, although not too exciting. Handout questions seemed simple, leading to uncertainty about hte standard required for exam.

Polymers and Colloids, Dr Terentjev (2 replies, 0 0 1 1 0, avg=3.5)

Good lecturing style, but very mathematical lectures, while previous exam questions were qualitative, leading to uncertainty about the standard required for exam. Past exam questions should be a fair guide unless otherwise stated.

Gauge Field Theory, Prof. Webber (4 replies, 0 0 1 3 0, avg=3.8)

Too mathematical for some, but appreciated by those who completed the course.

Shock waves, Prof. Field and others (3 replies, 0 0 2 1 0, avg=3.3)

Well liked course, taught in an enthusiastic way. Handout were interesting but too sparse.

Experimental Astrophysics Dr Haniff (6 replies, 0 0 2 3 1, avg=3.8)

Well received course, although comments by the lecturer that people had got poor marks last year did not improve confidence and morale.

Medical Physics, Dr Thomas and others (3 replies, 0 1 2 0 0, avg=2.7)

Very interesting material, but lecturing quality was poor. Late supervisions were a problem.

Advanced Quantum Field Theory, Dr Evans (1 replies, 0 0 0 1 0, avg=4.0)

Demanding course, but very well received by those on it.

Complex Fluids, Dr Hansen and Dr Warner (1 replies, 0 0 0 1 0, avg=4.0)

Dr Warners lectures were very good, but Prof. Hansen was less easy to understand. Lectures in Chemistry Department, in spite of the majority of students being from Physics.

Low Dim Mag, Prof. Bland (2 replies, 0 0 2 0 0, avg=3.0)

Interesting course, but handout could be better organised.

Superconductivity, Dr Cooper and Prof. Lonzarich (2 replies, 0 0 1 0 1, avg=4.0)

Enthusiastically received, with keen lecturers who were appreciated. Question sheet should be delivered earlier.

Microelectronics, Dr Hasko (0 replies, 0 0 0 0 0, avg=0.0)

Poorly attended but well liked by those there. Question sheet did not cover all material.

Entrepreneurship, Various (0 replies, 0 0 0 0 0, avg=0.0)

Good course, very professional lecturers, well presented (apart from IPR). Some uncertainty about what the exam content would be like, which may have put some off.

General Comments: The course was seen as stressful, with a lot of material to cover. The educational value of spreading the exams throughout the year was understood by the students. Questionaires were not available at the Small Lecture Theatre.

5. Part II

Systems, Dr Scott (54 replies, 20 18 16 0 0, avg=1.9)

Very badly received. Poor lecturing quality, lack of connection between handout and lecture material. Problems reflected fact that lecturer was a standin for someone on leave. The question sheet did not seem related to the course material. Some improvement towards the end, but by then the students were lost.

Nuclear Physics, Dr Shepherd-Themistocleous (57 replies, 7 19 21 10 0, avg=2.6)

Lecturing was well received, and the lectures themselves were good. However, the handout was not easy to follow, and too sparse. Using the recommended textbook for the questions was essential. It would be good to relate the questions directly to the relevant chapters.

Atoms and Light, Dr Phillips (38 replies, 1 6 12 17 2, avg=3.3)

Opinion was split, with some happy and others negative. The complaints were that the course was too difficult, and the handout contained too much jargon and with too little on the basics. The course contains too much material. Concepts and ideas were well covered, but the necessary skills to tackle the questions were not passed on as well.

Particle Physics, Dr Thomson (39 replies, 0 0 9 26 4, avg=3.9)

A very well received course, with a good handout. The use of non-examinable material was excellent. Some felt that there was too much material, and the questions were perhaps too difficult.

Fluids, Dr Warner (37 replies, 0 0 7 24 6, avg=4.0)

Excellent lecturer, enjoyable demonstations. A very well received course, with a good website. Perhaps too much content, since the lecturer had to speed up towards the end.

Concepts in Physics, Prof. Longair (37 replies, 0 1 10 15 11, avg=4.0)

Enthusiastic lecturer appreciated, well received course. Perhaps too fast.

Order of Magnitude Physics, Dr Mahajan (38 replies, 0 0 3 13 22, avg=4.5)

Very good course indeed, fun, interesting, no negative comments at all.

TP2, Prof. Webber and Dr Cooper (26 replies, 0 2 7 14 3, avg=3.7)

Very good comprehensive handout. Interesting course, but too many questions set. Examples classes poorly attended because people did not have time to look at the questions. Lecturer sped up towards the end. Course has very large overlap with quantum.

Physics in Action, Dr Gull and Dr Ansorge (1 replies, 0 0 0 1 0, avg=4.0)

Very enjoyable course, with interesting lectures. Poster sessions were worthwhile.

Experiment E2, Dr Scott (10 replies, 0 0 4 6 0, avg=3.6)

Generally well received, no major complaints. Experiments vary a lot in the time required to complete.

General Comments

Students are generally happy and satisfied with the course, although the workload is high. Literature reviews are appreciated, although some people have had difficulty getting hold of their supervisors. People need instructions on how to react to this.

6. Part IB Advanced

Electromagnetism, Dr Ford (69 replies, 34 26 7 2 0, avg=1.7)

Although the lecturer had made a great effort, there were many complaints about lecture style, handout and questions. Handout was suitable for revision but not for lecturing from. Dr Ford was not using his own notes, which added to the problems. The lecturer was spoke too quietly. The recommended course text is out of print.

Optics, Dr Hughes (70 replies, 2 5 27 32 4, avg=3.4)

Generally good response. The lectures were a little rushed, and the problem sheet is too long. The physics content seems different from previous courses. It would be good to have more worked examples in the early lectures.

Thermal Physics, Dr Allison (70 replies, 0 4 28 36 2, avg=3.5)

Enjoyable course by an enthusiastic lecturer. A half-time break might help concentration. The handout could be improved to remove misprints and minor errors. It should be more clear which material had been left out for students to fill in.

Example Classes, Prof. Littlewood (35 replies, 1 8 15 10 1, avg=3.1)

Often not attended because the high overall workload. Perhaps too many examples. Would be better if more examples were worked as a class.

Practical Classes, Dr Butcher (67 replies, 3 11 29 20 4, avg=3.2)

The practicals were very good, especially for understanding the optics. However the practicals are too long to complete. The need to complete the practicals to get the marks leads people to rush without understanding the physics. The marking is not consistent between demonstrators. If the length of the practicals were reduced, it would give more scope for real experimentation. The Michelson interferometer was not liked. Perhaps too much optics - could there be more on EM and waves. Could the practicals start in week 1 in order to have more time for the Head of Class writeup.

General Comments: People in first two years do not feel connected to the Department.

7. Part IB

Quantum Physics, Dr Linfield (13 replies, 0 1 6 5 1, avg=3.5)

Lectures very well received. Handouts could be improved: key points could be highlighted, and space for diagrams would be useful. Question sheets seem too biassed towards algebra rather than physics.

Practical Classes, Dr Warner (13 replies, 4 6 3 0 0, avg=1.9)

Practicals are all on electronics, when there are no lectures. The practicals are very hard for many students, and they are not well understood. Demonstrators are not sufficiently accessible, so that people are waiting for demonstrators to be free. Some demonstrators did not seem well informed. Checkpoint system can lead to problems completing the Head of Class report.

8. Part IA

Oscillations and Waves (course A), Dr Riley (98 replies, 0 1 31 43 23, avg=3.9)

Very well received course by a good lecturer, and felt to be much better than last term. Regular summaries were appreciated. Making clear which problems should be tackled was also liked.

Oscillations and Waves (course B), Dr Batley (122 replies, 0 1 20 74 27, avg=4.0)

Very well received course by a good lecturer, and good use of demonstrations. The handout was perhaps too brief and maths based.

Practical Classes, Dr Jones (476 replies, 13 88 241 128 5, avg=3.0)

Practicals were too long and stressful, with people rushing to finish rather than understanding. Reaction to the demonstrators was mixed, with some seeming not to understand the practicals well enough, and not being familiar with the manual.

General Comments

The first term is too difficult. Spreading the material across the two terms in order to even the load would be better. It is a shame if the gyroscope is removed.

9. Any Other Business

10. Next Meeting

The next Consultative Committee meeting will be on Thursday 23rd May 2002 at 09:30 in the Committee Room.


MAP, 14 March 2002