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CC123: (Unconfirmed) Minutes of meeting of Thursday 24th May 2007

Physics Consultative Committee

CC123: (Unconfirmed) Minutes of meeting of Thursday 24th May 2007

Present: Dr D.A. Green (chairman), H. Price, S. Begley, C. Templeton, J. Reynolds, H. E, B. Sherwin, A. Brown, S. Sahl, Prof. D. Ward, Dr R. Padman, H. Marshall (minutes).

Apologies: T Fitch.

1. Minutes

The Minutes of the last meeting were approved.

2. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising.

3. Teaching Committee Matters

Prof. Ward confirmed that the IB courses would be renamed Physics A and Physics B and that Physics B would now be on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday at 9.00am. Physics B would also now include a course on Computing and an optional `non-examinable' course on `Great Experiments'.

4. Part III

Although there was no official feedback from the Part III Examples Classes, they were generally well received. Some students were requesting more time for their project and more time from their project supervisor.

5. Part II

Quantum Condensed Matter Physics (Prof. Littlewood) Score 2.9 (20 replies)

The material in this course is very hard, and it is felt that too much knowledge was assumed, and that the key concepts were covered too quickly. The lecturer's handwriting was sometimes difficult to read and there was not enough detail in the notes and some parts were missed out. It was generally interesting course, but it was felt by several that more detail was needed covering `the key concepts.

Particle & Nuclear (Prof. Ward/Dr Lester) Score 3.9 (27 replies)

Generally this was found to be an interesting course, although some students felt that there was too much material covered. The co-ordination between the two lecturers worked well.

Astrophysics (Profs Gull/Lasenby) Score 3.6 (16 replies)

The ordering of this topics within this course had changed since last year, and it was felt that Prof. Gull's more general overview of a range of astrophysical topics, after the more mathematical cosmological topics had worked well. It was noted that Fluid Dynamics will be taught next year in the extended IB Dynamics course.

Soft Condensed Matter (Prof. Donald) Score 3.3 (23 replies)

There were few written comments on the feedback forms, but overall a relatively large number forms with good numerical feedback. The lecturers style worked well, although it was felt that the nature of the material means that explanations were sometimes not very rigorous, and that the presentation of the handouts could be improved.

General Comments: `Physics in Action' -- some students felt that would be good to start the preparation for this in Michaelmas as there is a lot of work, especially when combined with a Research Review. `Physics Education' -- this was enjoyed, although it was felt that it would be useful to have an introductory talk to give more idea of what is expected in their reports. The vivas for Physics Education were not scheduled promptly, and disrupted exam revision. `Research Review' -- this was well enjoyed, the supervisions were variable but generally good. It was suggested that the good range of different types of further work in Part II should be advertised more to students in IA and IB.

6. Part IB

Statistical Physics (Dr Allison) Score 3.5 (62 replies)

A good style of lecturing, with clear explanations of key ideas. However, the handouts could be improved, as they are not complete in places, and are sometimes inconsistent with notation. Some felt that too much time was spent recapping from the previous lecture at the start of the next.

Quantum Physics (Dr Hughes) Score 3.3 (55 replies)

The lecturer was thought to be very well organised, and the notes were very clear, although the course was a bit dry and it was suggested that it could be a little more philosophical.

7. Part IA

Quantum Physics and the Physics of Large Systems (Prof. Smith) Score 2.5 (120 replies)

There were generally negative responses to this course. The lecturer was not very audible and his style of reading out material from handout did not work for many students, who were not able to identify the key concepts. Although there was a lot of interesting material in the course, it was felt that the pace was similar for all topics, whereas more time was needed on the difficult topics.

Revision Lectures (Dr Riley/Dr Duffett-Smith) Score 4.2 (113 replies)

These lectures were well received, useful and entertaining, although there was a dissapointingly small number of responses. Giving students an opportunity to specify what material to cover in the last lecture had worked well, and was much appreciated.

Practicals (Dr Jones) Score 3.0 (163 replies)

The response to the practicals was very mixed. Some concern was expressed about the quality of some demonstrators. The Optics experiment was liked, but the camera experiment was too long to be written up within the available time.

8. General Comments

The problem of small numbers of feedback forms makes it difficult for Prof. Ward and the Teaching Committee -- and lecturers -- to assess what issues need addressing. The students representatives asked if they could have access to send out email to their relevant year group, and it was agreed that this could be done via the Teaching Office, or possibly in future by direct access to the appropriate email list. It was also agreed that it would be good if incoming, new student representatives, particularly those in IA, could contact the previous year's representatives. The aim would be to let them know that the Consultative Committee, and the Teaching Committee, do take seriously the feedback, and to get them to encourage more students to complete the feedback forms. Dr Green will review the format of the feedback form, to explain how the feedback is used, with them aim of soliciting more feedback, including specific constructive criticism and where improvements could be made.

9. Any Other Business

The student representatives were thanked for their service during the year.

10. Next Meeting

The date of the next meeting Thursday 29th November 2007 at 09:30 in the Committee Room.