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CC115: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 2nd December 2004

Physics Consultative Committee

CC115: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 2nd December 2004


Present: Joseph Bae, John Edmunsdson, Rhodri Mainsell, Lionel Matsuya, Alice Myerson, Andy Nowacki, Steffen Sahl, Katrina Soderquest, Erica Thompson, Prof. Longair, Dr Allison, Prof. Needs, Prof. Parker.


1. Minutes

Minutes of the last meeting were approved.

2. Matters Arising

The thermodynamics course has been given to a new lecturer, and the style will be more conventional. The purpose of the maths course was not clear last year. It has been restructured and targeted at reinforcing maths skills for real physical problems.

3. Teaching Committee Matters

Part II General will be replaced by Part II Physical and Biological Sciences. It will be possible to take this without having taken Advanced Physics. The TC is now looking at the new Part III course, with similar major options, only 12 minor options (with students possibly taking 4 of these), giving 2 free weeks for project work. It is hoped that students can start on their projects during Michaelmas term.

4. Part III

Quantum Condensed Matter (Prof. Littlewood) Score 3.1 (10 replies)

This course was perceived to be very difficult. The presentation is very mathematical, with insufficient motivation from the physics. The handout includes notes and photocopies, which do not always agree, and the photocopies do not reproduce the green ink.

Structure and Properties of Condensed Matter (Prof. Donald) Score 3.9 (12 replies)

Course was well received, and was very interesting. The main complaints were related to the handouts, which were in note form. Some diagrams were not readable. The use MSWord equations was not ideal.

Gravitational Astrophysics and Cosmology (Prof. Fabian et al.) Score 4.0 (20 replies)

A very popular course, with interesting material. Some of the lectures were hard to hear, and the use of the microphone would help. The lecturers dont follow the order of the notes, making it hard for students to follow, and to take their own notes.

Particle Physics (Dr Batley) Score 4.1 (16 replies)

A very well received course. The lecturer and handouts were exemplary - the handouts were clear, with instant corrections to any errors. The use of two handouts could cause some confusion, more cross referencing would be useful. Some difficult material was covered a little quickly.

Physics of the Earth as a Planet (Dr Priestly) Score 2.8 (9 replies)

The subject was popular, but the course has a lot of material to take in, and the handouts do not correlate well to the lectures or problem sheets. Some diagrams were not clear, and some handouts had an unacceptable level of errors. Some key terms are not defined. It is not clear to the students how much of the maths needs to be learnt.

Theoretical Concepts in Physics (Prof. Simons) Score 4.3 (7 replies)

A popular course. The use of the blackboard was much liked.

Quantum Field Theory (Prof. Manton) Score 4.3 (3 replies)

Very well liked by those who attended. People would like to see worked solutions.

Formation and Evolution of Stars (Dr Tout) Score 4.0 (1 replies)

Very little feedback, but that was positive. Well connected to the Gravitational Astrophysics.

Themes in Cavendish Research (Various) Score 3.4 (7 replies)

Well liked interesting lectures, but attendance is affected by clashes with other work, and the timeslot.

General Comments: supervision arrangements were made very late, which caused problems with supervisions overhanging late in term. However, the physics in the course is very interesting.

5. Part II

Thermal and Statistical Physics (Prof. Needs) Score 3.7 (55 replies)

The handout was very good. Some students didnt find a clear connection between the notes and the questions. More worked examples would be appreciated.

Quantum II (Prof. Ritchie) Score 3.1 (56 replies)

Many complaints that the algebra was split across slides. Lecture style was poor, with the notes being read out. The experimental detail was liked, but it was not clear what was examinable. Overall, there was too much algebra which was not well explained. There were also too many questions to be completed in supervisions.

Relativity and Electrodynamics (Dr Cooper) Score 3.8 (54 replies)

The lecture course was very interesting, but the speed of the lectures was too high, making it hard to understand. However the handout was very good, well structured and clear. The examples were hard (although interesting), but more introductory steps within the examples would be useful.

Computational Physics (Dr Alexander) Score 3.2 (51 replies)

Those who have done computing found it a little boring, while those who hadn't found it hard. More guidance on how to go from the results to writeup would be useful.

TP1 (Dr Terentjev) Score 3.5 (39 replies)

Very well received. It would be helpful if the lecturer used a microphone. There was more interesting material in the course than could be covered in the time available. The examples classes were not liked .

Experiment E1 (Dr Butcher et al.) Score 3.6 (13 replies)

The experiments were really liked, and the opportunity to spend time on real problems was appreciated. The timing at the beginning of term clashed with supervision work. Some experiments happen before the material was covered in lectures. The handouts need revisions to correspond to the actual work. More time is needed for the writeup.

General Comments: course is satisfactory.

6. Part IB Advanced

Electromagnetism (Dr Ford) Score 3.2 (57 replies)

The lectures were very sound. However people found it difficult to apply the course material to the problems - more real examples are needed, as well as more demonstrations. The solution sets were appreciated. The handouts should be bound up properly, and the green material in the powerpoint was not legible. The Hall effect could be perhaps be covered.

7. Part IB

Oscillations, Waves and Optics (Dr Greenham) Score 2.9 (69 replies)

The material was ok, but the lecture style was monotonous. There should be more demonstrations. The notes were verbose, and sometimes the algebra was lost. The examples were too numerical, without enough physical concepts being explored. Could the conditions for coherence be introduced?

Experimental Methods (Dr Saunders) Score 3.7 (27 replies)

Very enthusiastic lecturer, and a well received course. The notes are not very rigorous, for example on Nyquists theorem. The example sheet was considered hard (eg on op-amps). The answers were presented next to the questions. It would be better to circulate them separately. Supervisions were often not given.

Practicals (Dr Saunders) Score 3.4 (62 replies)

The practicals were much better than IA, of the right level of difficulty, but some still feel under time pressure. The quality of the demonstrators is very variable, and the quality of demonstrator marking was also inconsistent in the amount of feedback.

General Comments: lab visits would be good to show students what is happening in the lab.

8. Part IA

Mechanics and Relativity - Course A (Dr Green) Score 3.8 (58 replies)

Generally very good, with excellent handouts. The lecturer was good and stimulating. Some of the maths was covered too fast, or too much prior knowledge was assumed (for example Int.Bac) students. More lines of algebra in the handouts would be useful (even if not presented in the lectures). More demonstrations and interactivity in the lectures would be helpful. The example sheets were too hard for many, taking more time than other subjects. Some felt that too much time was spent on A-level material, and then accelerated over more difficult material like relativity.

Mechanics and Relativity - Course B (Dr Duffet-Smith) Score 4.1 (186 replies)

Very well received with an excellent lecturer. The handouts were very good. Students would like to have all the notes at the beginning. Colours in the handouts need to be clear in photocopies. The examples seemed harder than those in the lectures. More examples in the lectures would be useful. As in the A course, the perhaps too much time was spent on the early material. Lecture demonstrations were much liked.

Practicals (Dr Haniff) Scores: A course 3.1 (37 replies) , B course 3.1 (111 replies)

The practicals were considered very stressful because of time pressure. This means that people focus only on getting finished, rather than on the content. Some Head of Class introductions were too long. The first practical seems to have created a particular sense of pressure, with many long error calculations.

9. Any Other Business

Deadlines for practical HoC writeups were discussed. Students dont understand why they cannot alter their practical days.

10. Next Meeting

The next Consultative Committee meeting will be on Thursday 17th March 2005 at 09:30 in the Committee Room.


MAP, December 2004