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CC112: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 4th December 2003

Physics Consultative Committee

CC112: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 4th December 2003


Present: M Banglawala, Ms Carley, Mr Cheadle, Mr Credgington, Ms Guebert, Mr Hopkinson, Mr McNeil, Mr Plant, Mr Revill, Mr Yianni, Prof. Longair, Dr Allison, Dr Parker.

Apologies: Dr Needs


1. Minutes

Minutes of the last meeting were approved.

2. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising.

3. Teaching Committee Matters

Form and Conduct notices are now approved, and so examination information is now available for students and DoS's.

4. Part III

Quantum Condensed Matter (Prof. Liang) Score 1.8 (10 replies)

Course was not well received. Handouts were disorganised, and contained significant mistakes. There was no overview of the course, and the structure and flow of the course is poor. The lectures themselves were not clearly presented, and did not connect well with the material covered in the Part II course. There were only 2 example sheets, which do not cover the entire course, and many questions were too simple.Solutions were provided rather late for the second sheet. Students are concerned about the content of the exam, since the material in the lectures and example sheets is not coherent.

Structure and Properties of Condensed Matter (Prof. Donald) Score 3.6 (18 replies)

Course was well received, but worked solutions would be welcomed.

Gravitational Astrophysics and Cosmology (Prof. Fabian et al.) Score 4.1 (23 replies)

A very popular course, with excellent lectures. The lecture handouts and overheads were not in the same format, making it harder to follow the lectures. Some supervisors tended to read out worked solutions which they didnt fully understand.

Particle Physics (Dr Batley) Score 4.2 (20 replies)

A very well received course. Some felt that there was too much emphasis on experimental detail. Two sets of handouts were prepared, but it was sometimes hard to connect the two.

Physics of the Earth as a Planet (Dr Priestly) Score 3.0 (10 replies)

Some lectures were given by a stand-in lecturer, which has affected the scores. Nonetheless a satisfactory course. Symbols need to be defined coherently, and explained as needed. The supervisions were very good. Practicals were very much liked, and more would be appreciated.

Theoretical Concepts in Physics (Prof. Simons) Score 4.0 (11 replies)

Very well liked by the theoretically inclined, but very rapidly lectured, making it difficult to follow if a lecture was missed. Supervisions were well organised. The worked solutions could be explained better.

Quantum Field Theory (Prof. Manton) Score 4.4 (7 replies)

Very well liked. Example sheets are intended for mathematicians, and so have little physics content.

Formation and Evolution of Stars (Dr Tout) Score 0.0 (0 replies)

No feedback this year.

Themes in Cavendish Research (Various) Score 3.8 (5 replies)

Generally enjoyed by those who attended. Course clashes with some practicals and supervisions which reduced attendance.

General Comments: please ensure that all symbols are clearly defined as soon as they are needed, and repeated if required.

5. Part II

Solid State Physics (Dr Smith) Score 3.3 (51 replies)

Interesting and well-liked course. The handout was double-spaced, but this is not ideal for taking notes. Diagrams and handouts had significant mistakes. Pictures drawn in lectures for explanations should be in handout. The procedure of inviting and answering questions at the end of each lecture was appreciated. Some supervisions suffered from language difficulties with non-native English speakers. The example sheet was too supercial, with too many questions simply inserting numbers into formulae.

Thermal and Statistical Physics (Dr Needs) Score 3.1 (51 replies)

The course was a little dull, but this was felt to reflect the material, rather than the lectures themselves. The handout was comprehensive, like a textbook. Some find this difficult to link with the lectures. Perhaps more indexing of the material would be useful. Some sections were omitted, perhaps because the course is too long for the time available. It is easier to follow with two overheads working together. Some questions were difficult to treat from the material presented. Indications of the level of difficulty would be helpful.

Quantum II (Prof. Ritchie) Score 3.0 (48 replies)

The lectures were presented with the lights dimmed, which impeded concentration. The lectures were not presented in an animated manner. Too much algebra was presented. The powerpoint presentations could be enhanced by some explanations on the OHP. The website was mostly appreciated, but some would like the material to be entirely contained in the handout. More examples of state counting would be useful.

Computational Physics (Dr Alexander) Score 3.5 (46 replies)

The lectures were well delivered and helpful. Those who have done computing found it a little boring, while those who hadn't found it hard -but this is understood to be inevitable. Some optional introductory material could help. Twelve lectures might not be needed - could one first do the self-study, then move onto the physics methods. More emphasis on structured programming at the beginning would be helpful. The quality of demonstrators on projects was variable, and they didn't all agree. The project element should stay, but the current problems vary greatly in difficulty (galaxies harder than others). Perhaps two smaller projects could produce a more level playing field. More examples of less trivial algorithms would be helpful. It is not clear (impossible?) how to obtain remote access to the Linux systems.

Relativity and Electrodynamics (Dr Cooper) Score 4.0 (49 replies)

The lecture course was very well received, with a popular lecturer. The handout was very well presented, with space for notes. The level of difficulty of the questions should be indicated. Summaries and recaps were good.

TP1 (Dr Terentjev) Score 3.8 (27 replies)

Most people liked the course very much. But the course went too slowly at the beginning and too slowly at the end.

Experiment E1 (Dr Butcher et al.) Score 3.3 (16 replies)

The impression students have of the course is very dependent on the particular supervisors, and how they worked. It would be good to have regular times for access to supervisors. The Josephson experiment gave particular difficulty. Students should be reassured that the difficulty of experiments, and problems with the apparatus, is taken into account by Heads of Class when marking.

Supervisions: three supervisions seems too few for some courses. Worked solutions are liked, perhaps simply released on the web for a limited period at the end of the course.

6. Part IB Advanced

Electromagnetism (Dr Ford) Score 3.3 (52 replies)

The lectures were well received. However, too much time was devoted to algebra and easy parts of the course, with harder parts covered at the same pace. It would be better to focus more on the difficult parts. There was too little explanation of the purpose of each derivation and its applications, making it hard to start on the problem sheets. More worked examples would help. The demonstrations were interesting and well-liked. The notes were excellent, and the summary sheet was useful. The website was good.

Practicals (Dr Saunders) Score 3.1 (45 replies)

The practicals were of the right level of difficulty, but they are too long, and so people concentrate on getting the marks rather than understanding. Some complaints about the time taken to plot graphs. The experiments are considered better than the IA. The fact that different demonstrators can be asked is liked, as some demonstrators are not well trained. The demonstrator marking level is variable. Heads of Classes should moderate marks. Rough time estimates on each section would be helpful. Practical 6 had problems because the correct software was not described in the class manual, for newly purchased systems.

7. Part IB

Oscillations, Waves and Optics (Dr Greenham) Score 3.2 (75 replies)

A good treatment of a rather boring course. The demonstrations helped to maintain interest. Some topics in optics have been skipped, such as image formation theory. The emphasis was perhaps too much on the simple material at the expense of the complex. There were a few mistakes in the handout which were not pointed out in the lectures. Every single equation was highlighted - this could be reserved for the important ones. The question sheets didnt link too well - more worked examples would help.

Experimental Methods (Dr Saunders) Score 3.3 (76 replies)

Opinion was strongly divided on this course. Some people didnt like the handwritten handouts. The lecturing style was good. More rigour would be appreciated, or references to textbooks where such treatment could be found. Problems were generally easy, with some very hard ones. Supervision was variable, with some Colleges not supplying any.

Practicals (Dr Saunders) Score 2.8 (11 replies)

See above.

General Comments: The Maths for IB course has started and is going well.

8. Part IA

Mechanics and Relativity - Course A (Dr Green) Score 3.7 (83 replies)

An excellent lecturer with very positive feedback. The material was well explained. It would be useful to have some more difficult examples in the lectures, and more starter questions on the examples sheet. Worked solutions would be useful at the end of the course. Some extra slides are shown in lectures, it would be useful if these were on the web.

Mechanics and Relativity - Course B (Dr Julian) Score 3.8 (158 replies)

Very well received with an excellent lecturer. The overall feedback was very positive. The mid-lecture break was much appreciated. The material was sometimes presented in a mathematical way, and some more links to the physics would be useful. It was not always easy to follow the notes, and more space for own notes would be useful. More emphasis on relativity at the expense of Newtonian mechanics would help. A summary sheet with the handout would welcomed.

Practicals (Dr Haniff) Scores: A course 3.0 (79 replies) , B course 2.9 (233 replies)

The practicals were considered very stressful. The quality and competence of demostrators is very important, as is their attitude, which must be helpful and sensitive to the students needs. An example of a good lab report would be useful, as well as tips on ways to simplify measurements and error calculations. A course on experimental methods in IA might be useful.

9. Any Other Business

10. Next Meeting

The next Consultative Committee meeting will be on Thursday 11th March 2003 at 09:30 in the Committee Room.


MAP, December 2003