We already shared students’ memories of their first year at York. Now, PhysSoc has asked some of the department’s most beloved lecturers to share some thoughts from their perspective.

Prof. Sarah Thompson — Head of Department

Welcome to our new students! The ‘big day’ is nearly here – at last – and you will soon be experiencing the excitement of your first few days at university! The staff are also looking forward to experiencing the buzz of activity and new faces that accompanies the start of a new academic year – it’s far too quiet without you here…

So what can you expect in the first few weeks? It will be a whirlwind – of meeting people – College mates, STYCS, your fellow physics students (proud-to-be-geek-land!), physics staff – and many more besides. One of the most important people you will meet will be your personal academic supervisor. S/he will be with you throughout your time as a student and is usually on the other end of the “if in doubt, ask” type of questions. Very soon, sooner than you might think, it will all settle down – you will be immersed in lectures, attending your tutorials with your group of friends and have learnt all the foibles of your lab partner. You will be an old hand before you know it!

We’re looking forward to sharing physics with you and I encourage you to get stuck in, join Physsoc and Astrosoc and enjoy your time with us!


Dr Phil Lightfoot — Senior Lecturer, Vibrations and Waves

Hi everyone,

I’ll be teaching Vibrations and Waves in term 2 of your first year. Most things vibrate or oscillate and the module provides the foundations both in terms of the physical principles and the mathematics for future modules. The idea that new modules build on the ones that have gone before them and draw on fundamental concepts is one of the most attractive aspects of physics. I enjoy showing you how to break apart a complex problem into simpler parts. How to consider key concepts and apply maths within solutions. It’s all really training for the problems you’ll encounter in your final year project and beyond. It’s staggering how quickly you’ll develop through the years into highly skilled and knowledgeable graduates.

I’m also responsible for career development and it’s particularly satisfying to see so many of our graduates head off into employment and future study. At York we pride ourselves on the personal support we provide to our students, our open door policy and the ways in which our programmes develop employability. I’m very fortunate to be a lecturer at York and look forward very much to working with you.

Best wishes Phil.

Dr Erik Wagenaars — Lecturer, Newtonian Mechanics

Hi everyone,

I hope you are looking forward to start your University studies in York in a few weeks time. I will be teaching Newtonian Mechanics in term 1 so you will see quite a bit of me right from the start. We will start with topics like Newton’s laws, kinematic equations and conservation of energy, with which you will be familiar from your previous studies, but we will go into more detail and also put this in a wider physics context. Later on we will deal with rotating systems and all the complications that come with that, e.g. Coriolis and centrifugal forces. At the end of the module, you will also learn about the limitations of Newtonian Mechanics through an introduction to Special Relativity.

I hope that you will enjoy your time at York and I am looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks.

Best wishes,

Stay tuned, because we’ve got more staff perspectives coming up next week! If you want to make sure you don’t miss that, you can subscribe to the PhysSoc blog by RSS or email.

 Your First Year at York: The Staff Perspective, part 2

Main image by DS Pugh [CC BY SA 2.0], via geograph.org