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Department of Physics

Your academic adviser

All students taking at least 40 credits in Physics will have an Academic Adviser in the Department (in addition to a Physics Tutor for certain modules, such as PHYS1122 Foundations of Physics 1). The list of academic advisers is expected to the published early in teaching week 1, both online and through a notice posted on the Level 1 notice board. You will be invited by email to an initial individual meeting by your academic adviser shortly after the groups have been allocated. You will retain the same adviser throughout your degree programme, other than in exceptional circumstances, such as if your adviser has a period of research leave.

At Durham, most student welfare advice is provided by the colleges, rather than by departments. Nevertheless your academic adviser is a good personal point of contact in the Department – a friendly face whom you should feel able to approach, in the first instance, if you have a problem.

The core duties of your academic adviser are as follows.

  • To meet with you regularly – three times per year (typically October, February and June) – plus on other occasions as necessary. The full schedule of regular meetings is available below.
  • To be available for consultation outside the standard schedule of meetings.
  • To provide academic support and guidance to you, as described in the University’s Principles for Student Support.
  • To get to know you personally.
  • To participate in the monitoring of your academic progress, including meeting with you if you receive a departmental warning or an Academic Progress Notice.
  • To be available to act as your academic referee for applications for employment or further study, both whilst you are at Durham and after graduation.
  • To provide general feedback on your academic performance at the end of each year, particularly with reference to future module choices (although the official guidance on module choices is given by the Course Director in June).

There are certain areas, such as detailed advice on policies and procedures, which are beyond the remit of your adviser and in such cases your adviser will refer you to the appropriate member of staff instead. It is strongly recommended that you engage with the adviser system, including attending the meetings, but it is not a University requirement. However, bear in mind that your full engagement with the adviser system (including building a relationship) maximises the likelihood that your adviser will be able to write a useful reference for you at a later date. You will be expected to arrange the exact times of the meetings with your adviser, in line with the departmental schedule of regular meetings, using whatever mechanism (s)he tells you. You will be expected to think about a few questions of a reflective nature in advance of each regular meeting, addressing certain topics such as goals for the year, and to enter your thoughts via a short web form. (This form provides a starting point but should not detract from the one-to-one interaction with your adviser.)

Academic advisers: schedule of regular meetings

Year 1:

  • Week 1 (October): Introductory meeting including a brief chat about the course, the student’s module choice (post-registration), academic goals and aspirations for the first year. To introduce students to the Adviser system and to help them to make their transition from school to university.
  • Week 14 or 15 (February): A brief chat about academic progress so far (including results of the Collection examination), any difficulties encountered and academic goals and aspirations for the first year.
  • Week 28 (June): Review of the first year, academic progress made and examination results attained. General discussion of Level 2 modules.

Year 2:

  • Week 1–3 (October): Academic goals and aspirations for the second year. Reflection on study habits during year 1 – do these need to change? Initial thoughts and career plans after University – skills and employability.
  • Week 14–16 (February): A brief chat about academic progress so far, any difficulties encountered and academic goals and aspirations for the second year.
  • Week 28 (June): Review of the second year, academic progress made and examination results attained. General discussion of Level 3 modules.

Year 3:

  • Week 1–3 (October): Academic goals and aspirations for the third year. Reflection on study habits during year 2 – do these need to change? Career plans after University – skills and employability.
  • Week 14–16 (February): A brief chat about academic progress so far, any difficulties encountered and academic goals and aspirations for the third year.
  • Week 28 (June): Review of the third year, academic progress made and examination results attained. General discussion of Level 4 modules (if relevant).

Year 4:

  • Week 1–3 (October): Academic goals and aspirations for the fourth year. Reflection on study habits during year 3 – do these need to change? Career plans after University – skills and employability.
  • Week 14–16 (February): A brief chat about academic progress so far, any difficulties encountered and academic goals and aspirations for the fourth year.
  • Week 28 (June): Review of the fourth year, academic progress made and examination results attained. Future plans.

The Department encourages advisers and advisees, at every meeting, to include a brief discussion of any feedback that the student has received recently, and the student's reflections on it.