What To Expect

Assessment for this small-class seminar-style course is carefully designed with two main goals in mind. First, the workload is spread out as evenly as possible over time, to keep the stress burden minimized. Second, the grading scheme measures a variety of skill sets, to give everyone a chance to shine at something and to develop their abilities. The components are weighted as follows:-

The final exam was chosen to be worth as little as regulations allow. Material from the final seminar class, consisting of student oral presentations, will not be on the exam, only material from Weeks 2-11. No algebra will be required, only writing short answers to conceptual questions. I chose a final exam rather than an in-class Test because it is less time pressured.

When To Expect It

Download this handy master calendar for reference.

WeekDateWork dueWork assigned
2Jan.17Essay 1: LHC and Higgs Boson
4Jan.31Essay 1 (10%, rich text)Oral Presentation topics list
5Feb.07Oral Presentation choices (spreadsheet)Essay 2: Black Holes
7Feb.28Essay 2 (10%, rich text)Oral Presentation assignment
9Mar.14Oral Presentation draft notes (7%, rich text) Essay 3: Cosmology
11Mar.28Essay 3 (10%, rich text)[Polish and rehearse Oral Presentation]
12Apr.04Oral Presentation (10%, 4 minutes)
[Exams][Apr.09-30]Final Exam (33%)

Lateness Policy

Essays may be handed in up to three days late without penalty. Any extension beyond that must be requested at least one week before the due date.

Notes from Accessibility Services specifying deadline extensions or other accommodations for particular students will be respected. Just bring me an official Accessibility Services note, and I will figure out how to make the needed accommodations work.

Grading Criteria

I do all the teaching and all the grading in this course myself.

Anyone is welcome to read my essay grading rubric, which is based loosely on a template provided by UofT's Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation (CTSI) at an upskilling seminar I attended when I started teaching this course in 2007.

For oral presentations, I grade on two criteria only: (1) physics accuracy, and (2) quality of pedagogy. Students are encouraged to bring speech notes. This helps make the playing field as level as possible for students with a wide range of spoken English abilities.

Participation Grade

Our course has enrolment limited to two dozen students, making it an unusually conducive environment for learning. In such a small class, each student is a valued and important participant in the course. As the semester progresses, you will find yourself actively learning from other students as well as actively learning from the professor. Therefore, to help ensure the best educational experience for everyone in the course, I ask that you please commit to regularly attending and participating in class seminars.

To help get this educational point across, I assign fully half of the participation grade to attendance. The other half I assess on the basis of how much a student speaks up in class and how much evidence they show of having done the assigned pre-class readings.

Academic Integrity and Turnitin

Normally, students will be required to submit their course essays to for a review of textual similarity and detection of possible plagiarism. In doing so, students will allow their essays to be included as source documents in the reference database, where they will be used solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. The terms that apply to the University's use of the service are described on the web site.

If you do not wish to submit your work in this way, you will need to provide alternative documentation to prove that your work is your own. I require electronic and hard copies of two drafts of each essay in earlier stages of development as well as the final product.

Check out these links for more on academic integrity: