MURC: Mathematics Undergraduate Representative Committee

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    Wednesday 22 October 1997


  • Juliet Kemp (Chairperson), Terry Boon, Musab Bora, Jim Bowden, Mark Colman, Jon Emberson, Katie Golding, Stephen Gower, Philip Hannay, Ruth Holland, Tom Lancaster, Tom Lorenc, Janet Lucke, Stephen Nichols, Christine Nix, Emma Pointon, Julius Ross and Claire Jones (Secretary). Apologies for absence were received from Josh Bell, Jim Hanson, Camilla Metz, Louise Pickwell, Mike Roberts and Chris Swift.
  • Minutes of Last Meeting

  • Minutes were approved.
  • Finals and Mods 1997

  • On the whole, the first set of Finals for the new coursewas thought to be reasonably fair, although a6 was particularly hardand there were no metric space questions on a4, despite this approachbeing used in lectures. It was felt that less bookwork had beenexamined than in previous years. Specimen questions for section awere reasonably close to the real thing and one finalist hadexpressed his gratitude for the general information sent out by MaryLunn beforehand. It was noted that papers b5 to b8 were scheduledconsecutively which seemed unfair on those specialising in appliedoptions. It was suggested that one pure and one applied b paper couldbe set per day, thus distributing the papers more evenly for asignificant number of candidates. One finalist felt it would havebeen useful if the stickers on desks had shown candidate numbers aswell as names and that this was unlikely to compromiseconfidentiality.
  • In Mods, Papers One (algebra) and Three (non-physicalapplied maths) were felt to be particularly difficult. Someundergraduates thought the exams were markedly different frompractice questions and did not perceive them as a fair test of whatpeople "really knew". A sorting algorithm question on Paper 3 wasfelt to give an unfair advantage to Maths and Computation studentswho study such algorithms in greater detail than othermathematicians.
  • Paper 5 (Hardware and Logic) of Maths and Computation Modshad been found very difficult and bore little resemblance to the workcovered in lectures.
  • Section c

  • It was noted that all colleges represented at the meeting,with the exception of St Hugh's, gave their fourth yearmathematicians joint JCR and MCR status.
  • It was queried how the marks from Parts I and II of finalswould be combined. A request was made for provisional honour classesto be published after Part I as is done in other subjects with splitfinals, as some students had had difficulty in contacting their tutorto find out their results.
  • It was noted that two additional section c courses instatistics had been added in Week 0, resulting in three statisticsoptions in Hilary but only one in Michaelmas. Mark Colman expressedhis dissatisfaction with the Techniques in Applied Mathematics coursewhich has 32 lectures, whereas all other section c courses have 16lectures.
  • The meeting was informed that at least one c course (whichwas also an MSc option) did not have any classes available for it. Agroup of undergraduates had written to the Sub-Faculty asking forclasses to be provided in Hilary, but the outcome of this was not yetknown.
  • Camilla Metz had written to the secretary to voice theanger and frustration of the fourth year mathematicians she hadspoken to. They were finding the classes badly organised and wereunhappy with the lack of mathematical modelling courses in section c.
  • The problems of choosing a and b subjects when theimplications for section c were unknown was once again noted. Thechoices in the fourth year seem to be very restricted as a result ofoptions studied in Part I. It was questioned how much the options insection c were likely to change in future years and whether thecurrent synopses would be a good guide for undergraduates currentlyin their second or third years.
  • It was requested that the reading lists for section c begiven to the RSL so that the relevant books could be moved fromstacks onto open shelves, making them more accessible. Those fourthyears preparing dissertations were having difficulties in obtainingsome of the books they needed, particularly those published outsidethe UK. A solution to this problem would be to grant them access tothe Maths Institute Library, as is done for MSc students.
  • There was confusion over the number of c courses fourthyears were expected to study, particularly those opting for adissertation. It was asked whether specimen questions would beavailable for section c. Juliet Kemp reported that this had alreadybeen discussed at JCCU, but that undergraduates were advised to uselecture notes and problem sheets for revision as each course waslikely to vary considerably from year to year.
  • Bookstall

  • Musab Bora announced that the bookstall would be open9:45am to 1pm on Wednesdays this term and requested more volunteersto help. He reported that business had been good so far this termalthough not many people had sold books to the bookstall. The salesat the Induction Day had totalled £670.
  • Open Day Report

  • Mark Colman distributed a report about the 1997 Open Dayand a provisional timetable for the 1998 event. The main changeplanned for the next Open Day is a later start due to the abolitionof the admissions talk. This will be replaced by a chance to talkinformally to tutors immediately before lunch. Mark drew attention tothe problems experienced with the questionnaire in 1997: thereappeared to have been some misunderstanding as to whether "1" or "5"was the response for "strongly agree". It was suggested that boxesshould be used in future with clear labels at the top of each column,rather than circling numbers as was done last year.
  • Survey of Numbers Taking Optional Courses

  • A questionnaire was distributed to MURC reps, as had beenproposed at the previous meeting. Reps were asked to complete thesurvey by either talking to their colleges' mathematiciansindividually or by speaking to their senior maths tutor.
  • Induction Day

  • Once again, the Induction Day had clashed with Freshers'Fair, despite the discussion about this at JCCU in Michaelmas '96.Alternative times were suggested including 12-2pm on Friday of Week0, Saturday morning of Week 0 or Monday afternoon of Week 1, althoughthis might cause problems with lectures. Another suggestion was tohave one morning and one afternoon session on Friday of noughth week,with freshers allocated by college in order to avoid clashes withFreshers' Fair (which is organised according to college).
  • Any Other Business

  • Claire Jones reminded those present that they needed tofind a new MURC rep for their college before the next meeting.
  • Tom Lorenc will take the vacant place at the next JCCU meeting and Terry Boon will attend instead of Katie Golding.
  • There being no further business, the meeting closed.