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CC119: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 16th March 2006

Physics Consultative Committee

CC119: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 16th March 2006

Present: R. Freedman, K. Imada, M. Morley, J. Kim, D. Fosbrook, N. Rasumov, A. Wang, Prof. Littlewood, Prof. Ward, Dr Padman, Prof. Parker.

Apologies: H. Brice, H. Davies.

1. Minutes

Minutes of the last meeting were approved.

2. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising.

3. Teaching Committee Matters

Teaching office will move next week, next to admin. Review of 1st year practicals has been completed, and report has been received. New major option on Classical Field Theory and General Relativity, and minor options on Frontiers of Solid State Physics, and Materials, Electronics and Renewable Energy. Reviews about to start of Part II Astro/Physics to bring them closer together, with collaboration with the IoA. Thermal Physics for example could be reorganised. TC has agreed not to run A and B courses in IA in the future. A single lecturer will do the whole course. Problems with supervisions seem to have been resolved, but long term problems will arise as senior staff as less willing to do College teaching. Large group supervisions are not as valuable - example classes may be a better option. But the Colleges will not pay for very large groups.

4. Part III

Quantum Electronics in Semiconductors , Dr Barnes (6 replies, avg=3.7)

Enjoyable course, lecturer well prepared. Some people found the notes intimidating. Too much material for the time.

Superconductivity and Quantum Coherence, Dr Bergemann (24 replies, avg=3.8)

Enthusiastic and inspiring lecturer. But the lecture notes were too brief and too much algebra had to be copied. Some found they lacked the basics to understand the material on current research.

Biological Physics, Dr Duke (7 replies, avg=3.6)

Too much material, and the examples sheets didnt connect well to the material. However the material was considered interesting.

Observational Astrophysics Prof Haniff (8 replies, avg=4.0)

Excellent lecturer. But many symbols not well defined when introduced. Generally a good course.

General Relativity Dr Hobson (19 replies, avg=4.2)

Very interesting course, with enthusiastic and clear lecturer. However, it was very difficult and mathematical, and there were too many questions on the sheets. Overall well liked.

Information Theory, Prof MacKay (25 replies, avg=4.9)

Best course ever for many students. Would like it to be a major option. However, students resent the need to buy textbook.

Frontiers of HEP, Prof Parker (20 replies, avg=4.0)

Well received course. Well lectured, at good level. Some parts of handouts didnt print well.

Quantum Information, Prof Payne (29 replies, avg=4.0)

Well received course. Passionate lecturer. But he cut out all experimental material, and was rushed, and there wasnt enough info to do the examples.

Quantum Optics to Quantum Matter, Prof Phillips et al. (7 replies, avg=3.4)

Well liked and interesting course, which was well taught. More explanations, in particular of equations would be useful. This overlaps a lot with previous courses.

Shock waves, Dr Proud et al. (9 replies, avg=4.1)

Fun and exciting course, with good demonstrations. Enthusiastic lecturer, but handouts had some problems. More simpler worked examples in lectures would be useful.

Phase transitions, Prof Simons (15 replies, avg=4.5)

Excellent course, well lectured, with excellent supervisions. Very good handouts. The material was hard and more time would be useful.

Entrepreneurship, S.N. Stockley et al. (12 replies, avg=4.7)

Loved by those who attended. Stimulating and interesting. Handouts would be appreciated.

Medical Physics, Dr Thomas et al. (8 replies, avg=3.8)

A good, interesting course, but a little fragmented by the many lecturers.

Gauge Field Theories, Prof Webber (10 replies, avg=3.6)

Those who had done QFT found it easy, but those who hadnt found it hard. There was too much algebra without clear explanations.

Advanced Quantum Field Theory, Prof Osborn (1 replies, avg=1.0)

Only one reply. That person found the lectures hard to follow, with the writing hard to read, and the proofs difficult to follow.

General Comments: Some people would like courses not on physics, for example on languages, as in Engineering and Chemistry. Modularisation may make such choices easier to timetable.

5. Part II

Concepts in Physics, Dr Hobson (36 replies, avg=4.8)

Fantastic lecturer. Should be used as an example to others. Good attendance even though non-examinable.

TP2, Prof Webber and Dr Duke (25 replies, avg=3.8)

Lectures are good, blackboard technique appreciated. Too much material and the lecturer had to skip some parts. It would be useful to know which parts are non-examinable. The examples classes worked well, with a good number of demonstrators. Some questions need special tricks - this could be indicated.

Physics in Action, Prof Bland and Dr Batley (18 replies, avg=3.6)

Well liked and interesting course. ``Breath of fresh air'' compared to rest of course. Need less lectures on publishing, and less emphasis on PhD's and research. More guidance on what is expected from posters and essays would be useful. Each group for posters should contain at least one person with expertise on computing to help with the technical design.

General Comments

It would be useful if the experiments could be spread out more in time, to avoid clashes with supervision work in term. Please can Prof Gull put page numbers on his handouts!

Physics Education is a great course, with good esprit de corps. The only complaint is that the course leader is not always as responsive as he could be. Fast feedback is important because of the timing with school work. This problem should be resolved by the appointment of the new Outreach Officer. More places could be filled, if more schools participated.

It would be useful if all old Tripos papers were on-line. A new computing officer has been assigned to the teaching website and improvement

6. Part IB Physics and Advanced Physics

Classical Dynamics, Dr Ellis (62 replies, avg=4.3)

Very clear and well lectured course. Good notes and examples.

Classical Thermodynamics, Prof Ward (69 replies, avg=3.5)

Well received course, although the material was a little dull. The lecturing style was liked. People didn't like the notes being the same as the powerpoint. More worked examples in the lectures would be useful, with less derivations of general principles.

Mathematical Physics, Prof Warner (44 replies, avg=3.0)

Very entertaining and enthusiastic lecture style, with good demos. Students were not clear what the course added to the maths provision already done. This appears to be a fluids course. The TC will consider the structure of Maths provision and review the content of this course.

Practicals, Dr Butcher (91 replies, avg=3.4)

The practicals were generally considered better than IA, and than last term. Head of Class feedback was considered useful. The marking scheme was not clear to the students.

General Comments: Not all questions are on the web from last term.

8. Part IA

Oscillations and Waves, Dr Jones (37 replies, avg=3.7)

Generally good lectures, with a friendly and approachable lecturer. The handouts were clear, but some complained that the lecturer only read out the notes. However the demonstrations were good and fun. Too much time was spent on the easier parts, and the harder material was a little rushed.

Oscillations and Waves, Dr Riley (92 replies, avg=3.9)

Excellent lecturer, with a fast pace, but good handout compensates. However not all the demonstrations were strictly relevant to the course. Some questions are too close to the lecture notes.

Practicals (175 replies, avg=3.1)

The practical material is unbalanced with respect to the content of the course. Some practicals are done before the material is covered. The timing is better than last term, so most students finish on time, but guidance is not good enough to know what to do. Feedback has now been provided on demonstrators. In general the practicals this term were more fun than last term. People with no experience of electronics found them more challenging.

General Comments: Course is more accessible this term, perhaps because people have got used to system, but also because the example sheets are closely linked to the course.

9. Any Other Business

Code of practice for project allocation. Paper circulated by Rachel Padman has been approved by the TC. The paper was approved and will be circulated.

Allocation of practicals. The computerised system has had problems, and has interfered with the arrangements for supervision pairs. Some changes will be made next year. It would be useful if the DoS could allocate pairs before allocations are made.

Recording of lectures - this is disliked by many lecturers. TC will promulgate a policy on this, requiring lecturers permission.

There is a request for a scanner in the library, in order to scan material for a literature. An electronic output from the copier would be a possibility.

10. Next Meeting

The next Consultative Committee meeting will be on Thursday 25th May 2006 at 09:30 in the Committee Room.

MAP, March 2006