Physics Consultative Committee
CC111: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 22nd May 2003
Present: Ms Pretorius, Mr Ward, Mr Elliott, Mr Matsuya, Ms Schlichting, Mr Kenrick, Mr Goodsall, Mr Shanks, Prof. Longair, Dr Allison, Dr Needs, Dr Parker, Prof. Donald (for item 3).
Apologies: Ms Grandke, Ms Jendrzejewski.
Minutes of the last meeting were approved.
2. Matters Arising
There were no matter arising.
3. Womens Issues
Prof. Donald introduced the issue. A macho culture should not be allowed to intimidate female students. One rep reported that she had been put off experimental physics by inappropriate comments. It was reported that Newham had a very strong support system, but that women in other colleges did not get the same supportive atmosphere. However some women felt that they benefited from the interaction with men. Would womens meetings help? It was felt that this could be counterproductive. Perhaps a list of contacts would be more useful. It was noted that there is a womens officer responsible for issues such as harassment. The department had a good ratio of female staff (8/90) compared to other departments, but the staff are overloaded, so any proposed actions had to be realistic.
Prof. Donald will produce a paper for the Teaching Committee.
4. Teaching Committee Matters
There are proposals to abolish Literature Reviews in Part II, and the question of whether there should be a choice of options in Part II. The student representatives felt the reviews were interesting and stimulating. Experience with computing projects was more mixed.
The concept of choice met with mixed reactions. The selection of subjects closely related to the current Part III options was queried. The idea of taking Part II courses as options in Part III was liked, but the timetabling issues were very hard to resolve.
5. Part III
Examples classes (Dr. Warner) Score 4 (2 replies)
Some complaint about the competence of the demonstrators. The project deadlines conflicted with the early example classes. The questions should be more closely aligned with the examinations.
Some project vivas has been set too close to the General Paper.
6. Part II
Examples classes (Prof. Liang) Score 3.3 (3 replies)
Some people wanted a brief overview of the course, and for examples to be done on the board. It is hard to attempt the problems in the room.
General Comments: TP2 is structured into 6 areas, and in the past there have been questions in each area in the exam, but this year there was not such a good overlap, and one question was in an area in which none of the 100 examples was relevant.
7. Part IB Advanced
Quantum Mechanics (Prof. Payne) Score 4.0 (78 replies)
Interesting course with a very good lecturer. The notes do not have enough room for annotations - big margins would be useful. Significant sections of material are discussed in the lectures, but are not in the notes. Those sections are hard to follow as they are written very quickly on the OHP.
Condensed Matter Physics (Prof. Friend) Score 3.1 (78 replies)
A good lecturer but a dull course. People not doing Materials find it hard. Perhaps the IA Materials content could be pointed out (they are available on the web). Those who have done Materials find some of the early content repetitive, and those who didnt do IA Chemistry are disadvantaged. The notes are long, and somewhat wordy.
General Comments: the examinations are very close to the end of lectures. A consistent line needs to be taken on whether Head of Class reports should contain error calculations. The overall instructions on reports could be clearer.
8. Part IB
Astrophysics (Prof. Hills) Score 3.2 (6 replies)
A stimulating course, with a nice lecturing style, at the right level, but the exam questions assume more mathematical knowledge than is emphasised in the course. The writing on the OHP is not very clear, and the symbols used are not defined. The lectures were being updated during through the course, which ran late.
The lectures run too close to the exams, so that people do not turn up to the last lectures.