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Unit information: International mentoring in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name International mentoring
Unit code PHYS30024
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Schwarzacher
Open unit status Not open

Core Physics I:Mechanics and Matter PHYS10006; Core Physics II: Oscillations, Waves and Fields PHYS10005.



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit will give Bristol undergraduates an opportunity to mentor (and learn from) groups of students studying the same subject overseas. It will be an option for students on the third year of a BSc or MSci Physics programme. Bristol mentors will each work with a small group of overseas students (typically 4-6) who are studying physics at either UK level 3 (A-level) or level 4 (first year undergraduate level). Overseas students will come from carefully selected overseas schools and colleges, who shall identify those of their students who would most benefit from the scheme to participate in the groups.

After receiving a short briefing covering good practice as well as potential cultural sensitivities specific to the overseas country in question, the Bristol mentor would give their group typically 6 x 1-hour tutorials spread over 12 weeks. These would be scheduled at mutually agreed times and delivered via Skype or some alternative mechanism. The topics of the tutorials would usually be suggested by the overseas students and should include the mentor discussing material the group has already encountered in their course, working through exercises with the group, giving the group a taster of more advanced topics and spending some time on more general conversation e.g. about student life in the respective countries. The tutorials would be delivered in English.

The aims of the unit are to give the mentor experience of communicating and explaining material that is familiar to them in a small group environment. This is a valuable transferable skill. At the same time, it will both reinforce and challenge their understanding of key basic concepts in physics. It is well aligned with the Global Citizenship strand of Bristol Futures, as it will give the mentors an opportunity to learn about life in another country, gain the chance to develop teaching skills and apply discipline-specific knowledge in a completely new context. The overseas students will benefit both directly from additional subject-specific teaching and the opportunity to gain a deeper insight into their physics curriculum, and indirectly from the opportunity to work with and ask general questions of a mentor from an initially alien background.

Note that students taking the Physics Education unit PHYS39332 are not permitted to take this unit.

Intended learning outcomes

Student mentors will be confident teaching familiar material in a small group environment. They will develop key skills such as giving clear verbal explanations at a level appropriate to their audience and coming up with appropriate analogies to illustrate important concepts. Their cultural sensitivity will be enhanced.

Teaching details

The key component of the unit will be the practical experience of delivering tutorials. Before commencing these, students will receive a briefing from the unit director or deputy explaining the aims, implementation and assessment of the unit. The briefing will also provide advice as to good practice as well as potential cultural sensitivities specific to the overseas country in question. The unit director or deputy will read the students’ diaries and provide formative assessment at the midpoint of the unit.

Assessment Details

Students will be expected to keep a diary of their tutorials, describing the material covered including any exercises worked through, any particular difficulties encountered by their mentees, and how they resolved these through explanations and examples. They should also describe how they prepared for the tutorial, which would typically involve background reading and preparing exercises. Up to 500 words per tutorial would be appropriate. Two staff members will read the diaries and assign an agreed mark on the 21-point scale on the basis of the diary (50%) and performance in a practical exercise (50%). The latter will include explaining a set topic at the level appropriate for a tutorial.

Reading and References

Physics for Scientists and Engineers, Sixth Edition, Paul A Tipler and Gene Mosca, WH Freeman and Co. New York, 2008, ISBN-10: 0-7167-8964-7