"Particle Physics Design" Group Studies 2014


Introduction - Aims and Objectives
The Elements of the Group Study
Group Working and Student Jobs
Assstudentsignment of Marks
Group Members/Staff Contact
Particle Physics Library and Laptop/Data Projector Loan
Misc, slides/links

Introduction - Aims and Objectives

In this group studies, you will work together in a team of fifteen to twenty students, studying a single design problem from particle physics. In contrast to most teaching you have encountered before, group studies is a student-led activity: this means the group of students collectively will be responsible for organisation of meetings, decisions about the areas and levels of detail of studies to be done, communication between group members, and collation and presentation of findings. Staff are available to provide guidance, but the emphasis is very much on you!

This year there are 18 students participating in the group. Three staff members are available to help (see lists at the end of these notes). During the group studies period, you will develop your skills in group interaction, in oral and written presentation, and in information gathering and IT.

The group studies session starts on 21 January and runs for ten weeks to 28 March. Although ten hours are scheduled for group studies each week in the timetable, the nature of the endeavour means that not just those specific times will be needed or used. However, the module carries a total of 20 credits, so you should arrange your time to spend around 150 hours total on group studies, ie. 15 hours per week.

From the group studies, you should expect to:

  1. learn how to work in a self-motivated and self-directed team: this is an essential feature of research work
  2. acquire an understanding of the physics of electron and proton interactions, accelerator and detector design
  3. acquire a more detailed knowledge of one of these areas
  4. record your studies and deliberations as you go along, and summarise the information you collect into a concise and complete project report


The Elements of the Group Study

There are several components to the group study, as follows.

Organisational Plan

Right at the start of the session, you need to decide collectively how you will attack the design project. You will need to consider how to divide the work into sub-project areas and allocate effort to these areas. You also need to decide on the management of the project, selecting an overall group leader, for example. You also need to consider how to ensure effective communication between group members. You should think about the timescales of the project work, and set up some milestones.

A short organisational project plan should be produced by the whole group and handed in by Wednesday 29 January.


The worksheet will be given out at the first meeting. It introduces a selection of topics relevant to the work you will be doing in group studies. The sheet requires you to research the topics introduced by investigating the suggested reference works, either textbooks, review articles in scientific journals, or web sites. You will also need to follow up further references.

The worksheet also contains some probing questions to which you are expected to provide written answers. Since the topics in the worksheet will be new to you in most cases, you are strongly encouraged to investigate the physics behind the questions in collaboration with the other group members: you are not expected to work on the physics behind the worksheet entirely on your own. The weekly group meetings provide a forum to discuss physics topics relevant to the worksheet.

Note that the written answers, including numerical answers to questions, MUST be your own work - copying, and joint calculations of numerical solutions, are not acceptable.

The worksheet provides a grounding in the basic common topics of the group study, and must therefore be worked on early in the session. The deadline for the answers to the questions to be handed in is Monday 10 February. Please hand in your answers with each answer on a separate sheet, and your name on every page.

Design Work

The design work is the main part of group studies. You will need to consider many different aspects of the design: what the physics goals of the project will be, and how those goals may best be met in practice. You will most likely want to divide yourselves up into several smaller teams, perhaps considering accelerator issues; tracking detectors; and calorimeter detector subsystems: but the details are up to you. Each area of study has implications for the others: you will need to think about these, and have a group structure which provides efficient identification and discussion of such items.

At the start, you will need to consider how best to work together as a group: this should be crystallised into the initial organisational plan.

The main part of the design work will be carried out through research into the relevant literature, using both the library and the web as resources, and consulting with staff members within, and perhaps also outside, the group. Discussions between sub-project teams and the whole group will be essential to keep the design consistent and coherent.

The final design that results from your studies will be presented both by final oral presentations near the end of term, and in a single report summarising the whole work of the group, to be handed in by the end of the group studies session.

Individually, you must each keep a project notebook/diary up-to-date right through the group studies session, as you work on the project. This should contain reasonable notes of your research studies, with dates, and should include any failed avenues of work. It must be handed in at the end of the group studies session along with the project report. You should also get a staff member to sign your project notebook/diary at intervals during the group studies session - it is your responsibility to get this done.

You should also each individually hand in a two-page summary of your contributions to the group work, a week before the end of the group studies period (by the time of the project seminar). This will be used to help in the subdivision of marks on the project work and final written report. It is an appropriate place also to mention those specific responsibilities you have taken on, if any.

Furthermore, you will also need to grade the work of the other members of the sub-group you work in, via a peer-review process. We expect you to work out the details of the peer review, in consultation with the staff members of the group - but the peer review marks you hand in for the other members of your sub-group should not be known by the other people in your team. The peer-review needs to be taken seriously: if you all rank each other equally, we will ignore the information. As part of the peer review, you should also separately mention any work done by members of your sub-group in overall group duties.

Group Meetings

You should hold weekly group meetings on Tuesday afternoons. The meeting start time is up to you. Once you have decided the start time, a room can be booked via the staff members of the group, or directly via the teaching office. Group meetings should involve the whole group, and we suggest each team working on a design issue should make short verbal reports of their work at alternate group meetings, with longer presentations scheduled at the midpoint of the group study period. The organisation and contents of the group meetings is your responsibility: they might also be used for discussion of topics raised in the worksheet, or other relevant discussion. You might also invite staff members from inside or outside the group for consultation on specific topics, if that seems useful. Staff members will usually attend the start of the group meetings to discuss current issues and to help with the project, and will typically stay for the first hour, unless you wish to invite them to stay longer. The staff members of the group are here to provide guidance and expertise: but you will need to request it!

All student group members are expected to attend the weekly group meetings. Further rooms may be booked for additional meetings, but you will need to decide if/when you want such meetings and arrange room bookings via staff and/or the teaching office.

In addition to meetings of the whole group, individual teams meeting on design topics will also need informal discussions - these should be arranged informally by the appropriate team members. The open area on the 2nd floor of Physics West is often available for small group discussions. Staff members may be invited to attend small sub-group discussions, but it is up to you to invite them.

Progress Talks

During the group studies session, the individual subgroups will need to give progress talks/seminars, to which staff should be invited: these will not be assessed. These are invaluable in informing the whole group of the work of subgroups, and in identifying areas of common interest. They also provide a useful forum for feedback from staff on the work in progress, and are good practice for the final project seminar.

Final Project Seminar

Near the end of the Group Studies period (Tuesday 18 March) the group will describe and discuss the design project in presentations to the other group members and to the staff. In order to keep the presentation short and coherent, one or two speakers should present the work of each subgroup. These talks are assessed: marks will be given for:

The same project seminar mark will be allocated to all members of a specific subgroup: it is thus in the interests of everyone in the subgroup to make sure that the best possible presentation is given. You may all contribute to the answers to questions, as appropriate.

The project seminar should be a maximum of 20 minutes long for each subgroup (excluding questions): you will have to work to keep it concise!

The particle physics group have weekly seminars during term time. You may want to attend some of them to see how typical(high standard) talks in the field are given. There may also be a talk on your project! The programme can be found here

Individual Vivas

In the last couple of weeks of the group studies session, we will hold short (approximately ten minute) vivas with each of you individually. This will take place after you have handed in your summary of contributions, so that we can assess how things went, and also clarify areas of overlap between the work of different students. The schedule will be discussed closer to the time. The vivas will be marked.

Written Project Report

The group will prepare a combined project report. This should discuss the physics goals and design of the new accelerator and detector, together with relevant background information. The report should be a maximum of 100 pages long, including figures and appendices.

It is expected that all group members will contribute to the written report, but one person might be selected to act as the overall editor-in-chief, for example. The report should give a coherent account of the work of the group, not just be a collection of reports from different people. Each chapter and subsection of the report should, however, have the contributing authors of that respective section indicated.

Marks will be given for:

In addition, each student should hand in their project notebook/diary.


Group Working and Student Jobs

As part of effective group working, effort will need to be divided amongst different tasks. Here we provide some suggestions how you might do this, but it is up to you.

For the complete group, several functions that might be needed are:

  1. Chairperson
  2. Meeting organiser
  3. Communications between teams working on different design areas - you may need several people involved to do this well
  4. Web-site responsible
  5. Communications with staff
  6. Report editor-in-chief

The whole group is too large for most design issues to be studied by everyone. Broad areas (eg. accelerator issues, physics goals, tracking detectors, calorimetry) can be identified which are largely separate: it would make sense to subdivide the whole group into specialist teams looking into these areas. Within the teams, it may also be appropriate for smaller subteams (perhaps involving only a couple of students) to specialise in the details of a topic. Findings should be reported back to the whole group in a group meeting for further discussion. Within design teams, some of the above-listed functions may need to be duplicated, for example for communications with other teams in the group, and editing of chapters of the final report.


Assignment of Marks

Group studies counts for 20 credits, which is a lot of marks. We would therefore like to make a few general comments on the marking process, so that you understand how we go about making it as fair as possible

  1. All work is double or triple marked, and may be further moderated by the Head of Year and by the external examiners.
  2. In our experience almost all students work hard and enthusiastically on their Group Study project, and understandably expect to be appropriately rewarded. Since not all students take Group Studies, there is obviously a limit on how high the marks can be allowed to go. Please do not feel too disappointed if you don't all get first class marks!
  3. At the end of term you are required to fill in a form in which you assess the relative contributions from your colleagues. We use this as guidance in determining the effort mark, along with a number of other factors.
  4. Extra marks (no more than 10%) may be awarded to students who have made the most effective and substantial contributions to the functioning of the group as a whole, at the discretion of staff. It should be noted that:
  5. You will receive feedback on all items of assessed work (apart from the vivas) during the term, with the exception of the final report, which you can get back after the final examiners meeting. In order to provide guidance for the Seminar, your Group Studies Handout, includes a statement of the factors we will be taking into account when giving a mark. For further guidance on talks and on report writing, you should look at the relevant sections of the School's Skills web page on http://www.sr.bham.ac.uk/skills/skillshelp.html#SCHD. Do please remember, however, that this is a group activity, and your final report must reflect this.

The breakdown of the overall marks is as follows:

Management Plan: 5%

Worksheet: 15%

Project work/effort: 20%

Final project talk: 10%

Individual viva: 10%

Project report: 40%

Subdivision of marks within a subgroup for the project work/effort will use as input student peer review: you will need to work out the details of how to operate this. The overall level of the project work marks for a subgroup will be set by staff, based on the report, talk and viva assessments for that subgroup. The peer review needs to be honest: you must not all rank yourselves equally - in that case no notice will be taken of the peer review marks.

In addition, when the peer review information is given in, a note should be made of your assessment of the group-level work of any members of your sub-group who took on group-level responsibilities.

Subdivision of marks for the project report will be based partly on the two page description of your contribution to the activities, as clarified in the individual viva, and partly on the authorship of the different sections of the report.


Group studies runs in Weeks 2-11 of this term (22-31): the first session is Tuesday 21 January, and all work will be completed by Friday 28 March.

Weekly timetabled sessions: Tuesday afternoon 14h-18h, Thursday afternoon 16-18h and Friday afternoons 14h-18h are formally timetabled for group studies. Try to concentrate design work, especially meetings, within these times as you will all be available.

Group meetings: We suggest a couple of hours are allocated to group meetings each week. This must be on Tuesday afternoons, we suggest from 14h, but you may prefer a different start time. Please keep staff informed of the times of these meetings: and use the freedom to invite staff to stay beyond the first hour of the meeting, or to lead specialised discussions, if appropriate.

The Tuesday session in the last-but-one week of term (18 March) will be used for the final project seminar.



  1. The organisational plan must be handed in by 4pm on Wednesday 29 January, to the teaching office (Feedback due Tuesday 4 February)

  2. Worksheet answers must be handed in by 4pm on Monday 10 February, to the teaching office (Feedback due week starting 17th February)

  3. The 2-page document detailing your contributions to the group work should ideally be handed in at the time of the project seminar, i.e. Tuesday 18 March, to staff at the seminar. The TSO document says Thursday 20 March but we usually hold the vivas on the Thursday and/or Friday of that week, and need to look at your statements beforehand

  4. The peer review sheets, project report and your notebooks must be handed in by 3pm on Friday 28 March at the very latest


Group Members/Staff Contact

Dr Paul Thompson (Room West 213, 44570, pdt@hep.ph.bham.ac.uk)
Dr Nigel Watson (Room West 215, 44699, Nigel.Watson@cern.ch)
Dr Juraj Bracinik (Room West 322, 58317, jb@hep.ph.bham.ac.uk)
Lennart Adam
Christoph Bergmeister
Daniel Chambers
Ross Cooper
Ryan Fairley
Abigail Francis
Rishi Gandhi
Parinaz Ijakipour
James Kendrick
Juliet Polkey
Emma Pratt
Qureshi Zurain
David Sedlak
Nicholas Smalley
Ross Strong
George Talbot
Alexander Wernick
Kristian Zarebski



Particle Physics Library and Laptop/Data Projector Loan

There are a number of particle physics textbooks which are available to borrow during the group studies and can be obtained from the group secretary Maria Hobbs (W211). The books will need to be signed out by you so when returning them make sure this is recorded else they will still be your responsibility if they later go missing!

If you need to borrow a laptop and/or a data projector for presentations of your work during the group study then please contact staff who can book the equipment for you.

Miscellaneous Transparencies/Links

Year 3 Group Studies Computing.
Year 3 Particle Physics Lecture Course Material.


You can also find this information on the Web at http://www.ep.ph.bham.ac.uk/user/thompson/gs/gs.html