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Oxford University Student Union Teaching Awards 2012

Dr Michael Spivey: Nomination

Most Acclaimed Lecturer in the Mathemtics and Physical Sciences Division: Shortlisted

I am nominating Dr. Mike Spivey as I have had him as a lecturer on two courses so far and he has done amazingly on both of them and he engages in "The old art of lecturin'" (if I've quoted him correctly). He almost never uses slides which in my opinion works a lot better. Nevertheless, he provides us with draft of what he's going to write on the board (the bullet points). Moreover, what you will find out is that he has made lecture notes for various courses that are still being used by other lecturers - you can find all that detail and all of his materials on his Teaching Wiki

This is a web-page that he has created to support the courses that he has taught/teaches and is constantly being updated with the material that you require for your courses. There are various other amusing topics (related and unrelated to computer science) on it as well. You can confirm that he also has sense of humour just by going to the bottom of that web-page and reading the material about Spivey's corner or attending one of his lectures.

What I find to be really important and great about him is that he knows the subjects that he teaches from the inside out and thus gives us interesting and important questions to think about during the lectures. He tries to engage the audience and doesn't just go to the lectures to recite what he has already planned to say.

Some other vital details that have to be taken into account is that he has written a book on Compilers (one of the courses that CS students can choose) which helps you to grasp the subject much more easily than all other books I have tried to read. He is using that as part of the course and has also provided other titles that could help you with the reading (that is to say that he has not limited the choice for reference just to his book).

It is hard to summarise all the benefits of picking a course that he teaches but I'll mention only one more. The problem sheets that he provides for tutorials usually are not easy with questions that have various degrees of difficulty but that really give you insight into some practical problems that you might experience while working on it in reality.

In short, even though my answer is not too coherent and well-written I do hope that you will recognise the quality of teaching that Dr. Spivey provides. Having my first course with him and seeing how well he teaches it was an easy choice to pick Compilers this year and I'm definitely going to do a third one with him next year. And that doesn't mean that I actually had any interest in the subjects that he lectures on but rather that all of those courses are worth taking just because of him. If you didn’t like the subject before - you will when he goes with you through it.

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