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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory

Physics Consultative Committee

CC116: Minutes of meeting of Thursday 17th March 2005

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

Apologies: Andy Nowacki

1. Minutes

Minutes of the last meeting were approved.

2. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising.

3. Teaching Committee Matters

The new Part III will have shorter minor options, with more time for projects. A new Part II experiment on NMR is running, with more to come. New computing clusters will be installed for computing projects.

4. Part III

Gauge Field Theories, Prof Webber (3 replies, avg=3.7)

Very much enjoyed. More in depth notes would be welcome.

Information Theory, Dr McKay (14 replies, avg=4.6)

``One of the best courses ever!''. The textbook is very central to the course, and it is hard to obtain without buying a copy. The web copy is too large to download. Perhaps a handout with key concepts would be useful.

General Relativity, Dr Challinor and Dr Doran (10 replies, avg=3.8)

The course was presented too quickly for students to absorb the hard maths, and the example sheet was too long. The applications part was much liked.

Frontiers of HEP, Prof Parker (9 replies, avg=4.0)

Well received course. Some of the examples were hard to start on.

Superconductivity, Dr Cooper and Prof Lonzarich (2 replies, avg=4.0)

Only one person is taking this. Dr Cooper was lecturing first, and some of the basics were not well covered, so people were put off.

Quantum effects in low Dimensional Semiconductor devices, Dr Barnes (5 replies, avg=3.8)

Good course, but perhaps with too much material. Lecturer worked hard at explaining the material.

Microelectronics, Dr Hasko (3 replies, avg=3.7)

Well received. Handouts in black and white are a problem with many diagrams.

Optoelectronics, Dr Sirringhaus (3 replies, avg=4.0)

Well received. Needs to explain more of the concepts.

Phase transitions, Prof Simons (4 replies, avg=4.3)

Well lectured, with excellent supervisions. Hard material.

Shock waves, Dr Proud (5 replies, avg=3.6)

Interesting course.

Polymers and Colloids, Dr Terentjev (5 replies, avg=3.8)

Well liked, with an excellent lecturer, but the handouts were hard to read. The students would prefer the supervisions to be given by the lecturer.

Experimental Astrophysics Dr Haniff (11 replies, avg=3.8)

Course was good, but there was too much material, and too many examples. The supervisions were good.

Medical Physics, Dr Thomas and others (7 replies, avg=3.6)

Well liked. Some parts needed more time to make clear.

Remote Sensing, Dr Rees (5 replies, avg=3.8)

Well liked. Lecture notes on the web are expensive to print, and the question sheet is far from the Tripos standard.

Quantum Information, Prof Payne (12 replies, avg=3.6)

Well received course. The supervisions were not well done.

Biological Physics, Dr Duke (8 replies, avg=2.9)

Disappointing course. The material is interesting, but people found the course hard to follow. The lectures were not clearly delivered. It was hard to connect the example sheet to the lectures.

Entrepreneurship, Various (7 replies, avg=4.1)

A well liked and useful course. The four o'clock lecture time is inconvenient for some.

Advanced Quantum Field Theory, Dr Drummond (1 replies, avg=3.0)

First part of the course was less interesting.

Philosophy of Physics, Dr Massimi (0 replies, avg=0)

A harder course than some expected, but interesting.

Supercomputers, Dr Segall (0 replies, avg=0.0)

Course sounds very specialised, which may put some off.

General Comments: It is important that lecturers arrange for good supervisors for these specialised courses. Lecturers should also be clear about how they expect the students to learn the material.

5. Part II

Concepts in Physics, Prof Longair (34 replies, avg=4.4)

Well received, with enthusiastic lecturer. The dimensional analysis part was liked.

TP2, Prof Webber and Dr Cooper (20 replies, avg=3.4)

Mixed response. Writing on the board was appreciated, and the examples classes worked well.

Physics in Action, Dr Bland and Dr Batley (2 replies, avg=4.5)

Well liked course.

Experiment E2, Dr Butcher (20 replies, avg=3.6)

This course went well, with the new NMR experiment liked. Phase-locked loops and specific heats were less liked.

General Comments

New courses: Quantum condensed matter: very hard to understand, with too much material. The lectures don't match the questions well. Soft condensed matter: students are confused about the mathematical level. The maths questions can't be done from the notes. Terms are undefined and derivations are not done in the lectures. Which material is examinable is not clear. Astrophysics: interesting course, but the delivery was muddled and the handout was not clear, with many errors. The lecturer was enthusiastic, but the problems made it hard to do the questions. Nuclear and Particles: some of the handout slides didnt print correctly. The course was well organised, with clear lectures.

6. Part IB Physics and Advanced Physics

Classical Thermodynamics, Dr Ward (56 replies, avg=3.5)

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

Classical Dynamics, Dr Ellis (52 replies, avg=3.2)

Very enthusiastic and engaging lecturer, with good demonstrations. The handouts and lectures are similar but not identical, causing some confusion. The later parts of the course, such as free precession, were more rushed. More guidance of finding background material on the maths would be useful. Summaries of key ideas would be useful.

Mathematical Physics, Prof Warner (38 replies, avg=2.8)

Some people liked this, and some had great difficulties. The course is very based around fluids, but it is hard to find any textbook to cover this material. Students are not clear what the course is attempting to achieve. The demonstrations were liked, as was the lecturing style. The handout was fragmented, with too little detail.

Practicals, Dr Butcher (56 replies, avg=3.4)

The practicals were generally well received, and more interesting than the previous term.

General Comments: Mathematical methods: no feedback last term, so new forms circulated. Very good response. Supervisors were poor.

8. Part IA

Oscillations and Waves (Dr Jones) Score 3.5 (37 replies)

The lecturing style was a little dry, reading out the notes, with some problems with audibility. There was not much outside of the notes to add interest. The notes themselves were very good. Some parts were rushed, but the recaps at the start of lectures were liked.

Oscillations and Waves (Dr Riley) Score 3.7 (92 replies)

Very good lecturer, with much positive comment on the demonstrations.

PracticalsScore 3.1 (53 replies)

There are cases where the practical occurs before the lecture has covered the material. A good fraction of the class still feel pressed for time to finish. The quality of demostrators was variable. Parts of the manual were confusing, especially the sections on electronics. The class should be clearly told that the aim of practical work is to learn good technique, not to mechanically complete the experiments. Demonstrators and HoC should mark accordingly, giving good credit even to incomplete work.

9. Any Other Business

Feedback could be provided during the courses so that lecturers could improve immediately. Reps should approach the lecturers or teaching committee if needed.

10. Next Meeting

The next Consultative Committee meeting will be on Thursday 26th May 2005 at 09:30 in the Committee Room.

MAP, March 2005