PG SSLC Minutes (18/01/08)
Physics PG-SSLC
Date: Friday 18th January, 2008
Time: 13:00
Venue: P520b
1. Welcome and Apologies
Malcolm Cooper, David Leadley, Oleg Petrenko, Helen Ireland, Ben
Parkinson, Bianca Barbu (Chair), Ruth Nicol (Secretary), Dean
Keeble, Dan Baker, Martin Haigh, Phillip Petcher, Francis Casson,
Matt Brown, Thomas Hayes, Karl Svensson, Kathrin W┼▒nsch, Lieke
van Spaandonk, Stephanie Liggins and Ulrika D'Haenens-Johansson
Jenny O'Leary, Valery Nakariakov, Geetha Balakrishnan, Peter
Wheatley and Nathan Barrow
2. Minutes of the Last Meeting
(a) Agreement of Minutes
The minutes from the 23rd November, 2007 were agreed.
(b) Matters Arising
i. Library
Five PhD students have confirmed they would like to attend a database/library training
session specifically for Physics. Helen Ireland has scheduled this to take place during the
first week of February and further details will be sent out shortly.
The 2nd floor of the Library is opening the week starting Monday, 21st January, 2008. This
floor will also be equipped with PCs and video rooms and will enable easier access to the
floor 2 extension, which houses books and journals.
Further additions have been made to the library's online resources, these are available via
the Library webpages.
ii. Careers Event
Several meetings have taken place between the UG and PG-SSLC representatives, the
postgraduate coordinator, Ben Parkinson, and the UG and PG careers advisors, Karen
Barker and Jenny O'Leary. The event envisaged from these meetings would try to involve
all levels of study, from undergraduates to postdoctoral research assistants, and would be
more research career orientated with representation from different companies, who work
closely with the Physics Department. Alumni would also be invited to come and speak
about their work experiences.
The problem was raised that only about 20% of physics graduates actually continue
PG SSLC Minutes (18/01/08)
careers in science and research, and that a Physics degree was often vaunted as
providing generic skills, which were applicable in a wide range of fields. An event excluding
city jobs/companies for example, might lack variety and not cover the full range of career
possibilities available. It was proposed that it should be highlighted that it was a careers
event for a subset of options, and publicised as a careers in Research event for example.
A date has been proposed; Thursday, 6th March, approx. 4-7pm. However room
availabilities still need to be checked, as Chemistry hold their weekly colloquia on
ACTION: The Chair will check the availability of PLT and the Physics Concourse for this
A request for funds was also made, and it was confirmed that the Department was willing
to support such an event financially.
It was also asked whether any contact had been made yet with any companies and/or
alumni. This has not happened yet and it was then suggested that staff could be e-mailed
for lists of present/past students still working in research areas. It would also be useful if
the different group representatives could communicate to the Chair details of any
companies their groups work with.
It was requested that the big companies particularly interested in graduates with Physics
PhDs should be targeted and invited to attend, specifically those with PhD orientated
graduate programs. The point was then raised that alumni working for such companies
might also be able to provide useful information.
ACTION: The Chair will contact relevant staff to enquire about alumni. Group reps are
asked to inquire within their groups of any companies they are particularly interested in
and e-mail the Chair with the details.
The idea of a two-day fair, with one research orientated day and a second day more
focused on the other available options for Physics graduates, was also proposed. However
it was felt that there was not enough time to organise such a large-scale event, within the
available time. The idea will be retained as a possibility for next year.
The UG-SSLC made a request for current PhDs to talk about their experiences. It was
suggested that representatives from different years and groups (theoretical and
experimental) could be invited to speak.
ACTION: Any students interested should contact the Chair or the Secretary.
3. Academic Matters
i. Midland Physics Alliance Graduate Schools
The Workshop in December was attended by a few Warwick students, however it was felt
that the compulsory nature of this workshop had not been enforced. The point was also
raised that rather than a course on Data Analysis as publicised, it had actually been more
of an occasion for the students on the Probes MPAGS course to be assessed by individual
presentations. This was not felt to have been useful for the students not taking this course.
The social aims of the workshop were then highlighted as being the main purpose of the
PG SSLC Minutes (18/01/08)
event, in order to bring together students from Warwick, Birmingham and Nottingham.
However the poor attendance was a problem.
It was suggested that to improve such workshops in the future, the aims and objectives
could be made clearer from the outset. The event could be better publicised such that the
students attending could be sure of the relevance of the workshop to their own work/
research interests.
A comment was also made on the fact that it was necessary to register for some courses
online but not others, this was felt to be ambiguous and confusing. It was indeed confirmed
that not all courses require online registration.
The lack of relevance of the current MPAGS courses to certain groups, such as
astrophysics, was also raised. Due to funding constraints, the courses are being
developed over several years, with the condensed matter physics courses being
introduced first. It is hoped that more funding will allow the employment of more staff to
promote more courses, however until then it was suggested that students should consult
with their supervisors as to which courses they need attend.
It was highlighted that MPAGS was still only six months old, and although there were still
many problems remaining, many had also been overcome, in particular with respect to the
initial multimedia problems. It was suggested that constructive feedback from the 1st year
PhDs attending the courses would also help the further improvement of MPAGS. To this
end the implementation of an anonymous online forum was proposed, as well as possibly
the distribution of feedback questionnaires at the end of the lectures.
ACTION: Ben Parkinson will create and publicise an online MPAGS feedback forum within
the next couple of weeks. Students can also contact him directly
([email protected]) with any queries/problems.
ii. PG Deadlines
PhD students in their third year need to submit a thesis plan by Monday, 3rd March, which
will then be followed by an interview with the Head of Department on Tueday, 11th March.
The thesis plan needs to include a timeplan, which could vary depending on the PhD
length (3 or 4 years).
PhD students in their first year will need to submit a 1st year report by Monday, 7th April.
4. Social Events
i. PG colloquium
The PG seminar series will be starting up again on Thursday, 24th January. Anyone
wanting to give a talk should contact Dan Baker ([email protected]).
ii. Brewery visit
Dean Keeble is investigating the possibility of organising a Brewery visit within the next
few months, more details will be circulated shortly.
5. Any Other Business
PG SSLC Minutes (18/01/08)
i. Elections 2007/2008 Committee
CFSA representative:
Francis Casson
ii. Office space update
The move to Milburn House of the MR groups should take place before the next academic
year. Currently all Departments and Centres are providing details of their space usage,
and it is hoped that the Estates move to Arden House will possibly provide some more
room for the Physics Department. However, in the short term, relief is limited and there
might be a shortage of room in Physical Sciences, meaning that some offices might be
moved to the main Physics building.
Long term plans involve the construction of a new Physics/Chemistry building with joint
facilities (possibly by 2010) as part of the science faculty expansion plan.
ACTION: For the committee to be kept informed of any new developments within the
department or groups concerning this matter.
6. Next Meeting and Dates to Note
The next meeting will be on the 7th March, 2008 at 13:00 in P520b.
The next PG colloquium will be on the 24th January, 2008 at 17:00 in the Physics common