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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory

Physics Consultative Committee

CC126: (Unconfirmed) Minutes of meeting of Thursday 22nd May 2008

Present: Dr D A Green (chairman), R Keast, J Foerster, S Begley, Y Yeung, G Pender, A Matsushima, C Wymant, H Davies, A Hegarty, Prof. D Ward, Dr R Padman, H Marshall (minutes).

1. Minutes

The Minutes of the last meeting were approved.

2. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising.

3. Teaching Committee Matters

The discussion of particular issues were covered later under items 8, 9 and 10.

The discussion on the courses was taken in a different order, with Part IB taken first.

4. Part IB Physics A & B

Concepts in Condensed Matter (A) (Dr Ellis) Score 3.6 (83 replies)

The feedback for this course was very positive but the pace was a little quick towards the end. The handouts could be slightly clearer.

Classical Dynamics (B) (Prof. Gull) Score 2.4 (65 replies)

The lecturer was very enthusiastic and the demonstrations were interesting, however most students found the subject very difficult and the order of the handouts was confusing.

Great Experiments (B) (Prof. Parker and others) Score 4.3 (6 replies)

The feedback was positive but the student numbers dropped considerably over the course.

General comments: some students felt that the feedback would be better collected earlier during the term.

5. Part III

Examples Classes (Prof. Carter and others) No feedback received

The general feeling of the student representatives was that these classes were generally useful, the format appropriate and that a good balance was achieved.

Projects (Dr Padman) Score 4.5 (26 replies)

All feedback was positive.

6. Part II

Quantum Condensed Matter Physics (Dr Grosche) No feedback received

Despite there being no feedback forms available for this course, the general opinion from the student representatives was that the lecturer was excellent and very clear at explaining the concepts of the course, but the handouts need improvement.

Astrophysics (Prof. Longair) Score 2.7 (55 replies)

The lecturer was very enthusiastic but there was too much breadth and not enough depth in this course. It was not clear what parts of the course were examinable and the handouts need improvement.

Particle & Nuclear Physics (Prof. Ward/Dr Lester) Score 4.2 (67 replies)

This course received very positive feedback with particular praise for Dr Lesters lecturing style. The handouts were good and clear and the speed and level was pitched about right. Dr Lester did have a tendency to talk very quickly at times.

Soft Condensed Matter & Biophysics (Dr Cicuta) Score 3.0 (19 replies)

As discussed from last term it was felt that there were too many sources of information required to study this course. The last lecture was a bit too fast.

General comments: there was a small amount of feedback from the Research Reviews, Physics in Action and Physics Education, and most who took them had had a good experience. But there were concerns regarding the lack of guidance for the Physics in Action Essay.

7. Part IA

Quantum Physics and the Physics of Large Systems (Prof. Smith) Score 2.5 (132 replies)

The score for this course was quite low but the comments were more positive. There was some problem with audibility and the speed in which the topics were covered. The notes were good, but the key points were hard to find and more worked examples would be appreciated.

Revision Lectures (Dr Duffett-Smith & Dr Jones) No feedback received

The revision lectures were very useful.

Part IA Practicals (Dr Riley) Score 3.4 (281 replies)

Generally good feedback, although there were some comments about a lack of time to complete experiments. The new experiments had worked well, and the support from the demonstrators was appreciated.

8. IA Review

Prof. Haniff from the IA Working Group explained that the working group was looking into the relationship between the Part IA courses and A Level Physics. The students were asked to reflect on their own experience within IA, the feedback from this would be used when deciding if any changes need to be made to the IA course. An electronic feedback form is to be sent to all students asking for feedback on this.

9. Teaching Webpages

Dr Padman tabled a paper and asked for some feedback on the Teaching Webpages and the information available on CamTools. Now that the lecture notes are all available on these webpages the question was asked as to whether it was needed to keep the information on CamTools up to date. The IA reps stated that it is very useful for them that everything for their courses is together on one site. It was agreed that we would maintain CamTools for IA but drop this for Part IB. The information contained in the Blue Book was also discussed, the students generally felt that we give them too much information with only the information relevant to their year group being really useful. The possibility of splitting the handbook into yearly sections will be considered.

10. Electronic Feedback Forms

Dr Padman tabled a paper with a possible structure for an electronic feedback form. The students felt that it would need to be in a very simple and easy to use format to make it quick to complete. There was concern over keeping the forms anonymous. Dr Padman will aim to set up a trial system for next year for Part III courses.

11. Other Business

Dr Green thanked this years reps for their contributions.

12. Next Meeting

The date of the next meeting Thursday 4nd December 2008 at 09:30 in the Committee Room.