In the Department education is given in both physics and theoretical physics. The Department also gives basic education in physics in Swedish. The education of physics teachers belongs to the traditional main tasks of the Department. This includes both education for the Master's degree and further education program for physics teachers and general teachers specializing in physics.
The educational program of the Department is more diverse than that of any other department of physics in Finnish universities. The number of lecture courses given yearly is about 90, 10 of which are given in Swedish and about 7 in English.
The quota of new students in physical sciences approved by the Consistorium Major in 1996 was 180. There were 558 applicants, 441 of whom were accepted and of these 128 entered. Studies in physical sciences were arranged to accommodate the prescribed number of students, 180, when those having postponed the beginning of their studies arrived. The selection method has been changed to favour majoring in physics with arrangement of education for those aiming to major in other subjects in the open university.
At the end of 1996 there were 672 students in physical sciences (physics, theoretical physics, geophysics, meteorology and astronomy). This is 16% of the students of the whole Faculty. About 500 of these are estimated to be students in physics and theoretical physics. The number is only an estimate because it is not compulsory for students to name the main area of studies.
There were 10 foreign students who had come via official exchange programs to pursue studies in physics for one term or two. In addition to these there were 12 post-graduate students coming outside official exchange schemes.
The number of ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) credits taken in the Department has increased during the last five years. The study week concept, commonly used in Finland, is 1.5 ECTS credits.
A list of the M.Sc. theses is given in the Appendix. The median age of those finishing their master's degree has decreased from 27.9 years in the 5-year period of 1987-91 to 26.8 years in 1992-96.
Evaluation of teaching
Critique of lecture courses and other teaching was started in collaboration with the Faculty during the spring term 1995 and continued in 1996. After each course students are given a questionnaire the feedback of which has been analyzed course by course and shown to the departmental board every term.
In order to increase the interest of the personnel in education "the best teacher" chosen by the students has been given a prize. In 1994, docent, senior assistant Raimo Keskinen, in 1995 docent, lecturer Ismo Koponen and in 1996 docent, senior assistant Keijo Hämäläinen was chosen teacher of the year.
The Department of Physics is responsible for post-graduate training in physics, theoretical physics, particle physics and in physics teacher training together with the Department of Teacher Education in the Faculty of Education.
The large size of the Department allows for offering an effective post-graduate training program. On t he basis of the number of post-graduate degrees the Department of Physics is in the top rank in Finland. Collaboration in post-graduate education with the former Research Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Helsinki University of Technology, which has a long tradition, will be continued with the newly formed Helsinki Institute of Physics (HIP) and that with the Helsinki University of Technology. International co-operation is pursued actively and it seems an essential element of post-graduate educati on.
Lists of the students taking their Lic. Phil. and Ph.D. degree in the Department are given in the Appendix.
The median of the age distribution of the graduating doctors in the Department was 33.0 years in the period 1987-91 and 31.5 in the period 1992-96. There will be an effort to still shorten the time needed to accomplish a doctor's degree by increasing the intensity of surveillance.
In order to support and make more effective doctoral education a new so-called research education program has been founded in the Department. At most, 20 undergraduate students with a doctoral perspective will be chosen on that line annually. In the spring 1996 13 students who started their studies in 1994 and 9 who started in 1995 were chosen on the basis of their applications. In the autumn of 1996 20 students were chosen.
The nationwide researcher education programs (GS programs), which were started in the beginning of 1995, form an effective platform for realizing post-graduate education. The Department of Physics is along in four nationwide programs: Materials physics GS (7 persons), Particle and nuclear physics GS (3 persons), Mathematics, physics and chemistry teachers GS (coordination responsibility), and Astrophysics GS (1 person).
The progress of the studies and research work of post-graduate students were encouraged by employing the most successful students in research groups, assistantships which have become vacant and allowing them to take work as locums.