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Organisation

Your Course Organisers

Nicholas d'Ambrumenil is in charge of all the teaching. Michael Pounds (PS102), the Senior Tutor, is available to help with any issue which affects you.

Any student contemplating changing to a different degree course offered by the Physics Department should discuss the possibility with their personal tutor and also see the Director of Studies, Nicholas d'Ambrumenil, as soon as possible. Changes become progressively more of a problem as the year goes on and will not be allowed by the Department, except under exceptional circumstances, after week 8.

Teaching

Teaching is by lectures, examples classes and tutorials. Lectures and tutorials are normally given by members of staff, while the examples classes are usually given by postgraduate students or postdoctoral research fellows. Lectures start at 5 minutes past the hour and last 50 minutes.

Towards the end of each module you will be asked to fill in a questionnaire, and at the end of the academic year you will be asked to complete a further questionnaire about the year as a whole. We use your responses to these questionnaires to help us identify areas where improvements in our teaching can be made. It is inevitable from the timing of these questionnaires that the responses can only be used to change things in future years. If you feel that there are serious problems that should be addressed immediately you should discuss the matter with the person giving the module, or with one or more of the following people: your Personal Tutor, Nicholas d'Ambrumenil (the Director of Studies), Michael Pounds (Director of Student Experience) or one of your Staff Student Liaison Committee representatives.

Academic Tutorials

Your Personal Tutor will be your Academic Tutor during your first year. They will monitor your academic progress and will see you weekly for tutorials. These will be used to extend your interest in your subject and to develop your ability to communicate information and ideas. Tutors also use tutorials to help students to prepare for the various examinations. Problems with lecture modules should be dealt with in the first instance in the examples classes (see below) or by going to see the Lecturer, but Tutors will help with general points causing difficulty. Your tutor also deals with the additional worksheets which are marked for credit and count towards the mark for the Tutorial:

Tutorial

You will see that there is an item on your course regulations called Tutorial. This mark is based on your performance on two separate activities: a subset of the physics problems which are marked for credit, and five worksheets.

Physics Problems and Examples Classes

Each physics lecturer issues a set of problems on their module. You are expected to make a serious attempt to solve all the problems on these sheets, as problem solving forms a vital part of the learning process. Formal assessment is based only on a sub-set of these problems (the starred ones) for the core physics modules: Physics Foundations, Electricity and Magnetism, Classical Mechanics and Relativity, Quantum Phenomena. Some of these will use MasteringPhysics, which is the computer-based learning package associated with the first year textbook. Others require written answers to be handed in to examples class tutors (via their pigeon hole) by 11:30 am on the Monday of the week ('n+1') following the one in which the question was set ('week n'). Please note that work submitted late will receive zero.

Your answers will be marked and handed back to you at the beginning of each Examples Class. In the Examples Class the tutor will go over all assessed and some unassessed questions for week n. The first Examples Classes of the academic year will therefore be in the second week of the autumn term. The Department considers it important that students attempt the questions set, and for this reason approximately 25% of the credit for each solution will be awarded to all serious attempts, irrespective of the correctness of the answer. Further details of the assessment are avaialable from the homepage of PX129.

The Worksheets

The worksheets cover material which you may have met in some form or other, but which it is important to understand, as it will often be assumed by other modules. The first of the worksheets is on Complex Numbers and is due in by the end of the first week. You should hand in your answers to your tutor. The second, on Vectors, will be handed out at the beginning of week 2 and the answers are due by the end of week 3. The third is on Matrices and will be handed out around the end of week 4. The fourth is on Multiple Integration and will be handed out early in term 2. The fifth, Integration along Lines and over Surfaces will be handed out later in term 2.

Option Choices

You will see from the course regulations that your course consists of a 'core', which you have to take, together modules you choose from lists of options. You can take more than the 'normal' load. Marks for all examination papers sat will appear on your University transcripts. Within any part of the course (core, option lists) the best results meeting the minimum requirement will count towards the class for the year.

Choosing which options to take is an important part of the degree particularly in later years. Your personal tutor and students who have taken the modules in previous years can all give good advice on how to choose your options. It is usually a good idea to sample the modules on offer and make up your mind whether to take the module and examination when you have a clearer idea of what is involved. It is also possible to sit through a module and then decide at the end to deregister for the examination.

Successful Study

Employers view graduates as people with the potential to organise and manage. This expectation is based partly on the fact that, in order to obtain a good degree, a student has to organise and manage their own time and skills effectively. If you can organise yourself, there is a good chance you will be able to manage others!

Everyone admitted to this Department has the capacity to make a success of the course. However, some students can find it hard to organize their time effectively. A copy of a short article on study techniques is available and this may well be useful in this respect. It is also important to review periodically how well you are coping and to identify approaches which are working successfully and areas where there are problems.


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