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CC110: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 13th March 2003

Physics Consultative Committee

CC110: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 13th March 2003


Present: Mr Ward, Mr Elliott, Mr Matsuya, Ms Jendrzejewski, Ms Schlichting, Mr Kenrick, Mr Goodsall, Ms Grandke, Mr Shanks, Prof. Longair, Dr Allison, Dr Needs, Dr Parker

Apologies: Ms Pretorius


1. Minutes

Minutes of the last meeting were approved.

2. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising.

3. Teaching Committee Matters

IB and IB Advanced courses have been revised. EM, Oscillations and Waves remain largely, but Condensed Matter has been removed. Maths will now be examinable, so that students not doing Maths for NS will get credit for their work. Those doing Maths for NS will get a theoretical physics course which will be examined. The intention is to form much stronger links between the teaching of maths and physics, and to make it possible to do Advanced Physics at IB with other subjects without doing Maths.

4. Part III

General Relativity, Dr Hobson (11 replies, avg=3.9)

Very good course, but with too much material. Lectures should not overrun. Supervisions should be spread out more.

Geometric Algebra, Prof. Lasenby and Dr Doran (2 replies, avg=4.5)

Very good course. The first half is a little slow, with the applications being more interesting. Example sheets came out too late.

Optoelectronics, Dr Sirringhaus (2 replies, avg=4.0)

No complaints.

Philosophy of Physics, Dr Massimi (6 replies, avg=3.2)

Popular course. The lecturer was liked. No complaints.

Supercomputers, Dr Segall (7 replies, avg=3.6)

No real complaints.

Quantum Information, Prof. Payne (8 replies, avg=3.9)

Course was enjoyed, but lectures could be a little slow, and the handouts were dull.

Information Theory, Dr McKay (6 replies, avg=4.5)

``Magic course''. Excellent lecturing style, which was greatly appreciated. The extra supervisions were good. The effort which has gone in has been noted by the students.

Quantum Properties, Dr Barnes (2 replies, avg=4.5)

Great course.

Remote Sensing, Dr Rees (4 replies, avg=4.3)

Brilliant course, lecturing style and comprehensive handout much liked. Answers to problems were given out too early.

Polymers and Colloids, Dr Terentjev (7 replies, avg=4.3)

The course and supervisions are very mathematical, even though the lecturer says that the maths is not essential.

Frontiers of HEP, Dr Parker (6 replies, avg=4.7)

More text in handout would help.

Shock waves, Prof. Field and others (2 replies, avg=4.0)

The first lecture was poor, but otherwise it was very enjoyable. More of the high camera demos would be good.

Experimental Astrophysics Dr Haniff (5 replies, avg=2.8)

Far too much material, and lectures overran. Question sheets didnt match lectures well.

Medical Physics, Dr Thomas and others (3 replies, avg=4.0)

Well liked course. Handouts didnt have enough text to explain the pictures.

Biological Physics, Dr Duke and Dr McPhee (6 replies, avg=2.5)

Those taking the course generally enjoyed it. There was perhaps too much emphasis on the biochemical aspects. The introductory lecture should give an overview of the content and intention of the course. Students are worried about the content of the exam.

Advanced Quantum Field Theory, Dr Evans (2 replies, avg=4.0)

Those doing the course like it.

Superconductivity, Dr Cooper and Prof. Lonzarich (4 replies, avg=3.0)

The two lecturers have very different styles. Prof. Lonzarich was very inspiring. Dr Cooper covers the material in a somewhat disorganised manner, and the experimental data can be disjointed.

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

Poorly attended.

Entrepreneurship, Various (4 replies, avg=5.0)

Very well liked, with good involvement by the students.

General Comments: Complaints about the breath of the course were not supported by the student representatives.

The way in which project talks were handled was not consistent. Some students were asked to give very long talks, and the rules needed to get the credit were not clear.

5. Part II

Systems, Dr Padman (41 replies, avg=2.4)

Lectures seemed to be disjointed. The purpose of the 2 handouts was not clear. It would be helpful to have the handouts in advance. It was difficult to relate the notes to the questions - more worked examples would be useful. Too much knowledge was assumed, and results were quoted without proof. Misprints in the question sheet didnt help.

Nuclear Physics, Dr Gibson (41 replies, avg=3.1)

Generally seen as a good well rounded course, but many complaints about the handouts - printed too large, and equations in boxes can't been read on printed handout. Too much material for only 2 supervisions with many new concepts. Work solutions would be useful at end of course.

Atoms and Light, Dr Phillips (37 replies, avg=2.2)

A very hard course, with far too much material, taught at too high a level, but with interesting references to research. Students are concerned how the examination will work. The handout is too dense and therefore hard to follow. The questions are not easily answered from the course material, even with pointers.

Particle Physics, Dr Thomson (40 replies, avg=3.9)

Well-liked and exciting lecturing style -research concepts appreciated. The question sheet is quite hard, since the new concepts are not easily absorbed. The lectures should not overrun - start should be at 5 minutes after the hour and end 5 minute before. Work solutions would be useful at end of course.

Fluids, Prof. Warner (38 replies, avg=4.1)

Excellent lecturing style, with good demos which were much liked. The videos were not always liked, seeming a little dull - perhaps they could be edited. The wine and cheese party should be revived! Lecturer showed concern that students really understood, and this was much appreciated. The problems could only be understood by reference to Faber, since they were at a higher level than the lectures. Solutions at the end of the course are needed. The handwriting is hard to read - consider producing a coherent handout, with a overview of the course structure.

Concepts in Physics, Prof. Longair (35 replies, avg=4.1)

Very well received, with enthusiastic lecturer. Nice to see overview of physics, consider similar courses in IA and IB.

Order of Magnitude Physics, Dr Mahajan (36 replies, avg=4.2)

Generally considered the best lecture course and best lecturer seen so far by this group. Nice to be shown how to make good approximations - similar courses in IA and IB would be appreciated. A handout would be useful.

TP2, Prof. Webber and Dr Cooper (16 replies, avg=3.6)

Too much material in too little time. Far too many examples on sheet, causing students to fall behind. Separate handout and questions as in TP1 should be produced.

Physics in Action, Dr Gull and Dr Ansorge (3 replies, avg=5.0)

Very well received, and considered very enjoyable by those taking it.

Experiment E2, Prof. Hills (22 replies, avg=3.5)

Generally favourable reaction. Some felt that the deadline for report is too early, making it difficult to produce good quality reports. This is more of a problem for E2B.

General Comments

Very enjoyable course overall.

6. Part IB Advanced

Electromagnetism, Dr Ford (58 replies, avg=2.5)

Lecturer was not inspiring and course dragged, reflecting a lack of enthusiasm from the lecturer. More demostrations would help. Too much time was spent on off-topic matters. Slides should not use invisible colours, and the handout should not use colour coded figures. The handouts divided opinion - some liked them and some hated them. Numbered equations should be used throughout.

Optics, Dr Hughes (55 replies, avg=3.1)

A good lecturer, but a tough course. Coherence part is particularly hard. There were complaints about the notes, which were hard to use with the practicals. Variables would be redefined without real explanation. The method of annotating notes during the lecture was very good.

Thermal Physics, Dr Allison (57 replies, avg=3.6)

Dull material but well and enthusiastically lectured. Responsive lecturing style, with good blackboard explanations, and nice demonstrations. Typos in notes should be corrected, and colours in handout need modification.

Example Classes, Prof. Littlewood (17 replies, avg=3.1)

Considered useful by those who attended. Some feel Wednesday afternoon is not a great choice of time, with too little time to return to College after lectures.

Practicals Score 3.2 (57 replies)

The practicals were well connected to the lectures, which was liked. But still too long and not very stimulating. Some complaints were made about the style of the manual, which implies that the problem should be explored, but the demonstrators insisted on a single ``correct'' way to do things. There can be problems with marking taking account of difficult partners. The quality of demonstrators was very variable, with foreign graduate students being hard to understand. The practicals were scheduled late in the term, with a gap at the beginning, giving problems with the residency rules. Students should be encouraged to begin their writeups earlier with an annoucement in mid-term.

General Comments: Some of the complaints are because the lecturers do not always explain why they do things in a certain way (ie the layout of handouts). The lecturers should try to explain more clearly their style. Some lecturers do not relate well to the level of the audience.

7. Part IB

Quantum Physics (Dr Linfield) Score 4.0 (13 replies)

Well-liked lecturer. The number of derivations is intimidating - students find it difficult to understand what is needed.

Practicals Score 2.0 (16 replies)

Practicals are too long - taking 4 hours realistically. The difficulty level is ok. The standard of demonstrating was good but there is a lack of demostrators and time is therefore wasted when people get stuck. Perhaps some hints in the manual would help, without removing the need to think. Places where everyone gets stuck should be better explained. In general students find the practicals boring, largely because of frustration at not being able to proceed.

8. Part IA

Oscillations and Waves (Dr Jones) Score 3.3 (77 replies)

The lectures were interesting and showed relations to other physics well. The lectures complemented the handout well.

Oscillations and Waves (Dr Riley) Score 3.4 (73 replies)

Very good handout, but the lecturer simply read it out, demotivating the students. Many students felt that having the handout was sufficient to do the questions, and no new information was presented in the lectures. More demonstrations with more time devoted to them would be helpful.

Practicals Score 3.1 (434 replies)

Still considered too long, although not as bad as last term. More time to explore the equipment is helpful. The lens experiment was boring and some demonstrators were poorly prepared.

General Comments: By far the hardest IA course, but many students enjoy the challenge.

Overall comments on the whole physics course

One suggestion is that there should be some feedback in the middle of each course, either from forms or from the student reps.

9. Any Other Business

Revision supervisions are a problem to find supervisors. Many students do little for them, while others hand in vast amounts of tripos questions. However, the students appreciate the help. The teaching committee will consider the problem.

10. Next Meeting

The next Consultative Committee meeting will be on Thursday 22rd May 2003 at 09:30 in the Committee Room.


MAP, March 2003