Of Unsatisfactory Syllabi and Curricula

Integrated Msc. Chemistry is one of those branches whose syllabus and curriculum has always been an issue as it is still under experimentation.

On a Saturday evening, team MM had a conversation with one of the convenors of the Curriculum development committee, Prof. Priyabrata Dash.

Besides HoD, there are 6 more members, including Prof. Dash. When the committee was started, they took few things into consideration. First, the courses should be compatible with the CSIR UGC NET and GATE syllabus. Second, as there were some complaints about the integrated Msc courses overlapping with the regular Msc courses the concerned faculty members were asked to change the curriculum so that there won’t be much overlapping. Third, besides theory, many laboratory courses were introduced, also some computational chemistry courses were introduced. The CDC had selected experts spanning from academia to R&D to companies and had sent the syllabus to them for approval after compiling it. After a meeting with the experts the curriculum was finalised.

When asked about the comparatively less number of chemistry courses compared to other universities which offer pure science, the professor said that since this is a technical institute, besides regular chemistry the students are also being taught technical courses. Also, due to the open electives the slots become less and hence the course number reduces. The professor agreed that although there are lack of slots but if we choose our professional electives smartly and properly then it is okay and we won’t be lagging behind as such. The professor ascertained that the curriculum was introduced keeping all the courses available in the GATE and NET exams in mind. The Professor also said that by introducing such varied courses which are unrelated to the branch they are widening the scope for the student and that they do not wish to force a student to be a chemistry graduate. He maintained that, considering the unavailability of the slots, the CDC has done their best.

The syllabus has been expanded and it is getting better every year. Also the teachers do encourage in their class to meet them if any doubt. When told that the students are not happy with the syllabus as they feel they are not being prepared well enough for the competitive exams, he said it’s nothing like that and the syllabus was made keeping such exams in mind. He also added that although the students do have to put an extra effort, the teachers are available whenever they want to help clear their doubts.