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CC129: (Unconfirmed) Minutes of meeting of Thursday 21st May 2009

Physics Consultative Committee

CC129: (Unconfirmed) Minutes of meeting of Thursday 21st May 2009

Present: Dr D A Green (chairman), M Michailidis, E Freeman, J Burley, J Foerster, P Armitage, S Begley, W Barter, C Wymant, P de Grouchy, Prof. D Ward, Dr R Padman, Prof. Littlewood (for some items), H Marshall (minutes).

1. Minutes

The Minutes of the last meeting were approved.

2. Matters Arising

There were none.

3. Part IB

Condensed Matter Physics (Dr Ellis) Overall Score 3.3 (95/158 replies, 60%)

The lecturer was well liked and enthusiastic. Some students felt that the use of the OHP on both sides of the lecture theatre was difficult to see and that the handouts could be more comprehensive.

Thermodynamics (Prof. Ward) Overall Score 4.1 (88/146 replies, 60%)

This was a well liked and well received course. The structured style of the examples sheet was particularly popular as it was styled to fit the examination.

Great Experiments (Prof. Parker et al) Overall Score 3.7 (69/146 replies, 47%)

A good response to this non-examinable course, which was well attended and received.

4. Part II

Quantum Condensed Matter Physics (Dr Grosche) Overall Score 3.3 (51/92 replies, 55%)

The lecturer was enthusiastic but there was a 50/50 split of opinion on this course. It was noted that this course would be revised next year to follow on from this year's revised IB Condensed Matter course. Some students felt that the pace of lecturing needed to be adjusted with too much time taken up with revision of previous topics at the beginning of the lecture which led to topics being rushed at the ends of lectures.

Particle and Nuclear Physics (Dr Lester/Prof. Ward) Overall Score 4.1 (61/122 replies, 50%)

This was a well received course with good question sheets. The handouts were felt by some to be a slightly limited. The fact that this course was lectured by two lecturers presented no problems.

Soft Matter (Dr Cicuta) Overall Score 2.9 (41/76 replies, 54%)

There were some problems with the clarity of the lecturer and the continuity of the material. The supervision problems were not linked to the lectures, with the supervisions being too mathematical. There were also a lot of errors on the handouts and slides.

A short discussion took place regarding two courses from previous terms.

Astrophysical Fluids (Prof. Clarke)

The issue was raised again over the issue of students being requested to purchase the book written by Prof. Clarke that goes with the course. The Teaching Committee will discuss this issue.

Relativity (Dr Haehnelt)

This course was disappointing and the style of lecturing which was probably better suited to smaller numbers.

General Comments: The point was raised over the word limit on further work. Students will be penalised for the element of work that is related to this issue i.e. presentation. Prof. Ward asked for opinions on the fact that three of the courses extend into Easter term as it was felt that they were too crammed in Lent, there was no negative feedback regarding this.

5. Part III

Projects (Dr Padman)

Some students felt that they needed more time to complete their project.

6. Part IA

Quantum Physics and the Physics of Large Systems (Prof. Smith) Overall Score 2.9 (231/412 replies, 56%)

The overall score for this course was somewhat low. A lot of students felt that the lecture style was just reading through the notes, and it was only worth turning up when a new handout was issued. The content was felt to be interesting.

Part IA Practicals (Dr Riley) Overall Score 3.4 (241/412 replies, 58%)

Generally good feedback although there were some comments about a lack of time to complete experiments. Some suggested cutting short the Head of Class discussion. Some comments were made regarding the marking system and the fact that some of the demonstrators admitted that they had not completed the experiment themselves.

It was noted that it still had not been possible to enter the labs a few minutes early, in order to read demonstrators feedback from the previous experiment.

Revision Lectures (Dr Duffett-Smith/Dr Jones) No feedback used for these two lectures

The student representatives for IA reported that these lectures were not so well received this year. Some students felt that too much time was devoted to discussing the examination structure and that there were some errors in the presentation.

7. Teaching Committee Matters

1) Saturday lectures was discussed with the students not expressing a strong opinion either way

2) Dr Padman raised the issue of flexibility within the NST and the possibility of students being able to take more options for credit. The general feeling from the students reps was that this would not be a problem.

3) Group Work -- the suggestion of group work was not well received, with concern that credit should be down to individuals.

4) Prof. Ward stated that a Working Group had been set up to review the Part IB and Part II practical classes. There was a possibility that the student reps may be asked to obtain feedback from their respective classes.

8. Paper on suggestions for IA Practicals

The IA representative M Michailidis had produced a paper with some suggestions for improvement of the IA Practical. A brief discussion took place of the points raised and the paper would be passed to Dr Riley and Dr Green as overall heads of class for IA next year.

9. Other Business

It was noted that there was no funding this year for the UROPS vacation scheme.

It was suggested that some comments should be added to the `Blue Book' concerning the overlap between courses, in particular to provide advice to Part II Physical Sciences taking Half Subject Physics.

The student representatives were thanked for all their contributions during the year.

Next Meeting

The date of the next meeting: Thursday 3rd December 2009 at 09:30 in the Committee Room.