University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)

Undergraduate Tutorials

Physics Tutorials

Tutorials for Physics undergraduates consist of a group students who meet each week with their tutor for at least 50 minutes as follows:

The tutor will also be available in weeks T1:12, T2:00 and T3:01-02 to discuss issues that arise during the revision period, but attendance by students is optional.

All physics tutorials follow the general guidelines given here and the stage-specific details are documented separately:

These guidelines are intended to ensure equivalent treatment of students and also to allow tutors enough scope to deal flexibly with the specific problems raised by individual tutorial groups.

Students studying at Exeter in their Stage 3 year take a general problems examination (PHY3053), which tests the comprehension of the general principles of physics. The problems do not relate to any specific module but represent the kind of questions that a well-trained physicist should be capable of answering from his or her core knowledge of physics. Stage 3 Tutorials help students to prepare for this paper.

Common Guidelines for Undergraduate Tutorials

Tutors are the primary contact between undergraduate students and the Department. A Physics tutor is normally the student's personal tutor as well as their academic tutor.

Tutorials are an important part of the teaching programme. Everybody involved is expected to be present and on time; if a tutorial has to be rescheduled students will be notified a week in advance unless this is made impossible by exceptional circumstances.

Written work collected by the tutor should be marked within a week of handing in. Generally assignments should be graded, either by the tutor or by the tutorial group as appropriate. Samples of marked work may be copied and used for teaching-quality review purposes.

The duties of a tutor specifically include the following:

  1. Keeping a record of attendance at tutorials (see Tutorial Record Sheet below), including a record of the quality (e.g. marks) of assessed tutorial work, and the diligence and contribution of each tutee to tutorials.
  2. Producing summary tutorial reports close to the end of each term. These should be discussed with students.
  3. Forming an overall impression of how well the programmes are working for their tutees in order to inform discussion at the Programme and Module Review Meetings.
  4. Including activities in tutorials that help student develop skills that will enhance their employability.
  5. Checking that students are aware of the Department's expectations of them as specified in the Code of Practice for Teaching and Learning, and instigating corrective action where necessary, on:
  6. Reporting problems which require further action, particularly relating to the above points, to the relevant Student Co-ordinator without delay.
  7. Ensuring that all tutees understand the normal academic conventions for working with, and citing the work of, others. Specifically, students should be made to understand what is meant by plagiarism, how to avoid it, the applicable University code of practice and how it will apply to the work expected of them during the year.
  8. Encouraging tutees to attend events and skills-development activities that will enhance their employability. All tutees should be made aware of the sources of help and advice available through the Careers Service and should be encouraged to engage in appropriate career-planning and job-application activity.
  9. Being available for occasional one-to-one meetings in order to discuss individual progress and matters affecting the student experience that are not appropriate for group discussion.
  10. Facilitating student engagement in a reflective Personal Development Planning process.
  11. Helping tutees to deal with serious personal difficulties (e.g. health or family problems, etc.) The Stage Co-ordinator and/or Director of Education will be informed in appropriate cases; it is particularly important that periods of absence are recorded by the Department and the affected staff (e.g. in a teaching laboratory) notified. Clearly in many cases referral to the professional advice services will be most appropriate.

See also: University Guidance for Personal Tutors

Tutorial Record Sheet

Attendance at tutorials is compulsory.

At the start of each semester the Education Support Office distributes a Tutorial Record sheet for each student. The pre-printed information (name, programme, email address, etc.) should be confirmed with each student at the first tutorial. It has columns to record what exercises were set, whether the student is present or absent, marks for work and comments. It also has space for Stage 1 and Stage 2 tutors to note performance in mid-semester ('MST') tests. The back of the sheet can be used for more general notes and records about the student (e.g. to jog people's memory when writing references). At the end of the semester, all record sheets should be returned to the Education Support Office who will place them in the student's personal file.

All absences must be reported by email to the Student Co-ordinator immediately (i.e. at the end of the tutorial).

A student who needs to be absent for good reason must either get permission for absence from the DoE in advance, or use the Mitigating Circumstances Procedures to get warnings, etc. revoked.

One-to-One Meetings with Physics Tutors

The University's Academic Support Framework (August 2017) stipulates that undergraduate students must have one-to-one meetings with their academic tutors at specific times throughout the year. As follows:

T1:021. Transition Stage 1: Identifying strengths and areas for support, general getting to know each other and relationship building.
Stages 2-4: Focus on looking at assessment from previous year, discussing areas of strength, areas for development. Signposting additional support. Setting expectations around employability readiness, etc.
T1:072. Progress Check in, identifying any emerging concerns. Initial feedback on any formative assessed work or summative. Checking understanding of expectations and criteria for assessed work, formative and summative; progress with applications for placements CV writing etc. where appropriate. Identifying any specific problems with modules. Checking whether ILPs, etc. are in place and being properly implemented. Reminder of employability support.
T1:11/123. Ambition Planning for winter exams and dissertations. Main focus is on preparation for next steps: internships, jobs, further study. etc. Advice and guidance and signposting as necessary depending on where student is.
T2:00Ad hoc session (optional) This is really to pick up any serious concerns issues: interruptions, wellbeing, etc. around the winter exams and assessment. It is important that students know that they can access their academic tutor for advice and guidance at this time if necessary. Use email, phone or Skype if face-to-face meetings are not convenient.
T2:044. Progress and Ambition Reviewing assessment outcomes, planning final term. Full understanding of requirements. Identifying any major issues with modules. Advice on time management if necessary, particularly around dissertations or final lab projects. Keeping focus of 'where next' in sight. Looking at draft CV or letters of application, if appropriate.
T2:10-115. Progress and Review Final formal meeting. Checking on next steps and preparation for exams/dissertations.
T3:02-05Ad hoc session (optional) This is really to pick up any serious concerns issues: interruptions, wellbeing, etc. around the summer exams and assessment. It is important that students know that they can access their academic tutor for advice and guidance at this time if necessary. Use email, phone or Skype if face-to-face meetings are not convenient.
T3:06-07Farewell Meeting (optional) Future focus, maintaining links/contacts. Gathering info on next steps/employment, future study, etc.

Following these meetings it is the responsibility of the student to email their tutor with a summary of what was discussed and any actions, which the Tutor will keep as a record. (Email will be used as the main mechanism for keeping a record of meetings until IT have completed work on a bespoke tile on the iExeter app.)

Personal Development Planning

The Personal Development Planning system is accessed via the iExeter portal or Student Records System (SRS). The purpose of PDP is for students to improve their capacity to understand what and how they are learning, and to review, plan and take responsibility for their own learning.

All students are encouraged to use the structure provided by Exeter's ePDP system and construct a 'Progress File'. Undergraduates are supported in this process by, and have an annual appraisal meeting with, their personal tutor.

University guides describe how to navigate the web-based ePDP system:

These are rather short on specifics, so here are some suggestions for appropriate things to to consider/discuss:

Students should develop and update their Progress File continually throughout their programmes. The annual appraisal meetings start with the student reflecting on their progress to date, and constructing an action plan by the end of week T2:03. Tutors must invite their tutees to annual appraisal meetings. These are normally held instead of the tutorials during Week T2:04 and/or T2:05.

After the meeting, tutors should use both the Tutorial Record Sheet (above) and the ePDP system 'Tutor/Supervisor View' to record the date the PDP meeting took place. (A link to facilitate this appears once the student submits their action plan to the tutor for comment.)

Students with Individual Learning Plans

Individual Learning Plans are issued by the Disability Resource Centre. A form 'Making and reviewing reasonable adjustments' sometimes accompanies ILPs. It should not be interpreted as meaning that tutors have responsibility for reviewing, monitoring, or modifying adjustments specified by the DRC. This form should be used in the event that a student requests a meeting to discuss the effectiveness of the adjustments specified in their ILP. It should be used to record factual information (not opinion) and to ensure that an accurate description of the issue is reported back to the DRC so that the ILP can be reviewed by their experts.

The University Data Protection Officer has ruled that the content of ILPs, and even the fact that a student has an ILP, is to be treated as 'sensitive personal data' a term defined by the Data Protection Act (1998). Refer to JISC:

for guidance on handling this type of data. In particular, note the advice about writing references for students with disabilities.

Students on Report

Students whose performance is falling below the standards required by the Department's Code of Practice for Teaching and Learning, e.g. those who

will be put 'On Report', normally for the rest of the academic year, by their Stage Coordinator. Students on report must use the 'My Timetable' link from the University timetable system to print a personalised report form. Each week this must be signed by an instructor at each lecture, tutorial, etc.. The sheet will be checked each week by the tutor who will notify the Director of Education (via an email to the Senior Administrator) of any non-attendance by the student on report. A copy of the email should also be sent to the Stage Co-ordinator and the student. Unless evidence of good reason for the absence is provided, a Formal College Warning about Academic Progress will be issued informing the student that their place at University is under threat of withdrawal if no improvement is made. Any further concern over their participation in the programme will result in a Final College Warning from, and a requirement to meet with, the Director of Education. In event of failure to attend this meeting, or a further lapse they will be reported to the Dean of the Undergraduate Faculty for lack of attendance and as a result are likely to be required to withdraw from the University.

See also: Code of Good Practice - Unsatisfactory Academic Progress

Students Repeating a Failed Stage or Modules

Students undertaking repeat study because of poor academic performance can expect to be required to withdraw if they fail to adhere to the standards specified in the 'Students Guidelines' of the Code of Practice for Teaching and Learning.

Assistance with Assessed Work

Many modules now involve a substantial component of 'continuous assessment' so tutors must be careful not give their students unfair advantage. For example, tutors may provide some general help to tutees who are attempting to solve assessed problems, particularly in terms of pointers as to how to start a problem. However, tutors must not attempt to solve problems. Obviously, once the Problems Class has met any remaining problems can be discussed.

For reports, essays or case-based reports, tutors may provide some general advice but will not read drafts of such work. Tutors may offer advice on plans or frameworks (typically a summary on a single side of A4) but will not review work in a more advanced stage of development.

Procedure for Changing Tutors

Tutors within the Department normally combine the roles of 'Academic Tutor' and 'Personal Tutor'. A student who wishes to be re-assigned to a different member of staff to cover the 'Personal Tutor' role should ask the Education Support Office to facilitate this, no reason needs to be given for such a request.

A student who wishes to change their Academic Tutor should, if they feel able, discuss the matter with their tutor and then approach the appropriate Student Co-ordinator who will facilitate a change if s/he agrees that the reason is appropriate. Examples of appropriate reasons to change include:

Tutorial Support for Flexible Combined Honours Students

Tutorial arrangements for Flexible Combined Honours students are made on a case-by-case basis by the FCH Programme Director in consultation with the Physics FCH Subject Co-ordinator. It will be decided whether a student is required to attend some or all of the academic tutorials (as described above), which member of the Physics staff will be responsible for pastoral matters and PDP.

University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)