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May 30, 2017, 10:56:18 pm

Author Topic: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings  (Read 272173 times)  Share 

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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #345 on: December 05, 2016, 04:29:47 pm »
Subject Code/Name: BMS2062 - Introduction to Bioinformatics

  • 2x 1 hour lecture
  • 1x 3 hour tut

  • Midsem - 12%
  • Weekly Labs - 33%
  • Professional Development program - 2%
  • Disease Protein Assignment - 15%
  • Revision quiz - 3%
  • Exam - 35%
Recorded Lectures:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available:  Not that I know of.

Textbook Recommendation:  The lectures were good enough to make textbooks redundant. However, Lehninger probably covers everything in the unit.


  • Anna Roujeinikova
  • Terry Kwok
  • Phillip Bird
  • Michelle Dunstone
  • Matthew Wilce
  • Jackie Wilce
  • Martin Stone
  • Craig Morton

Year & Semester of completion: 2016, Sem 2

Rating: 4 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: 87 - HD


This unit was the easiest of the BMS units this semester. Despite this, some students found it incredibly boring during the lectures (me), which made it more difficult to study.

The lectures of this unit, while being well-delivered, were pretty boring. It isn't a fault of the lecturers however that the content they are teaching is try. Most of the many lecturers are able to communicate the information concisely and bring some life into the content. As there are only 2 lectures a week, there are only 23 lectures to study for the exam, which is nice.

Like most BMS and science units, your lab grades depend heavily on the TA marking your labwork. If you TA is a harsh marker, then you're in a bad spot. Despite this, it is not difficult to get high scores (90+) in the labs. The labs are weekly exercises on computers, involving completing scientific analysis of whatever you're studying that week. They will also consolidate the content covered within the lectures. The first 6 or so labs are dry, because they're covering mostly DNA sequences. The rest are enjoyable, involving the observation and interaction of protein tertiary structure, using the program Pymol.

Within the labs are the Disease Protein assignment. Students are allocated a protein randomly. Each protein has an associated disease. For example, mine was Factor IX, relating to the disease Haemophilia B. Like almost all university units, your grades on this report depend on whether the TA marking your work is a harsh marker. While my work was marked nicely, some students had issues with tough markers.

The final exam for the unit was not difficult. Studying the content should guarantee a D or HD on the exam.

Overall, despite the average content, this unit was well-organized, delivered and taught. Plus, getting a high score isn't too difficult.


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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #346 on: December 07, 2016, 12:10:42 pm »
Subject Code/Name:
FIT1008 - Introduction to Computer Science

  • 3x 1 hour lecture
  • 1x 1 hour tut
  • 1 x 3 hour workshop

  • Mid Semester Test- 10%
  • Code review - 5%
  • Weekly quizzes - 5%
  • Assessed pracs - 20%
  • Exam - 60%
Recorded Lectures:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available:  Yes, with solutions.

Textbook Recommendation:  Everything you need to know is in the lectures and Monash's online repository (Alexandria).


  • Phillip Abramson
  • Julian Garcia Gallego

Year & Semester of completion: 2016, Sem 2

Rating: 5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: 75 - D


This was an excellent but tricky unit. There is a lot of content and some of it is quite challenging so it can be easy to fall behind, but if you stay on top of everything week by week you'll have no trouble getting through it.

First week is spent revising content learnt in previous programming units (however it seems to be based mostly on what was taught in FIT1045, but don't worry if you haven't done it) After that, you spend the next 3 weeks on assembly programming using MIPS software. If you've never done assembly before it can definitely be overwhelming at first, but with enough practice anybody can get the hang of it. Both lecturers, especially Phillip are excellent resources and are quick to answer emails regarding any issues you have with the content and were especially useful when learning assembly.

Week 5 onwards is all Python, and the focus is on sorting algorithms, time complexity, recursion, data structures and hashing, none of which is too difficult if you pay attention and keep up with the tutorials and workshops. The quizzes are taken straight from the lectures (with answers) and the code review is 1% for each week over 5 weeks, basically all you need to do is attend the workshops and lectures and you're guaranteed 10% of your total mark.

The assessed pracs are challenging (especially the assembly prac) and time consuming. START EARLY. They run over two weeks, and you must reach a checkpoint by the end of the workshop in the first week in order to be assessed. I got 100% across all my assessed pracs (there are three) but it involved putting in an extensive amount of hours and many late nights. It's also essential that you understand your code, as the workshop tutor marks your prac during the second week and asks questions to ensure you did it yourself.

The mid semester test was relatively straight forward, and is primarily based on the tutorial questions from weeks 1-5. The tutorial questions are the best study resource available for both the mid semester test and the exam, and i found them more challenging than the pracs. the exam was easy, just practice the tut questions and past exams (there are a few) and you'll be fine.

If you don't fall behind and are willing to put the work in, this is an interesting and rewarding unit. It's taught in a way that emphasises why you're learning the things being taught, which makes it easy to engage in the more complex content.


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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #347 on: December 08, 2016, 08:17:00 pm »
Subject Code/Name:
FIT1047 - Introduction to computer systems, networks and security

  • 2x 1 hour lecture
    • 1x 2 hour tutorial

  • Assignment 1 - 17.5%
  • Assignment 2 - 17.5%
  • MARS(lecture) questions - 5%
  • Exam - 60%
Recorded Lectures:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available:  Only one, with solutions.

Textbook Recommendation:  Everything you need to know is in the lectures, but there is some useful information for MARIE assembly found on the internet..


  • Guido Tack
  • Carsten Rudolph

Year & Semester of completion: 2016, Sem 2

Rating: 3 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: 83 - HD


I found this to be a pretty dry but useful unit. There's an extensive amount of stuff taught, ranging from number representation, logical circuits, computer hardware, routing, cryptography etc (far too much to list here). due to so much being taught, none of it is in particularly great detail and you'll find yourself needing only a surface level understanding for the assignments and the exam (however extra individual study is highly encouraged by both lecturers and resources are provided). Carsten and Guido are both excellent and funny lecturers, and do a good job of making a generally boring subject matter more interesting and engaging.

Assignment 1 pretty weird, most of it is pretty basic but the difficulty level jumps significantly for the final questions, completed in MARIE assembly language. i would advise doing as much self study and extra work as you can when learning MARIE in order to prepare yourself for this assignment, otherwise you'll likely find yourself stuck on the final questions. there's an in-class interview which you must attend in order to be marked for the programming part of this assignment, and the questions can be pretty vague (as in, not necessarily directly about your own code but may be the concepts in general). understand what you're doing and why you're doing it and you'll be fine for the assignment/interview, AND COMMENT YOUR CODE. Assignment 2 is extremely easy, its a written report on a security issue you select yourself, in addition to a Wi-Fi analysis of a shopping centre. you need to conduct the analysis yourself by physically travelling to a chosen location and analysing it through software (the analysis can be done in a group, although your report must be individual). everything you need to explain about your collected data is in the lectures. The MARS questions don't need to be answered correctly for the 5%, you just need to provide an answer so go to all your lectures and you'll get full marks.

the exam was 3 hours and 150 marks comprised of both multiple choice questions and around 30-40 short answer questions. if you attend the lectures and tutorials, there's nothing they can ask you that you'll have to really think about. i barely attended the lectures or tutorials and crammed the week before for this exam and got an HD pretty easily (i wouldn't recommend this), but that should give an indication of the difficulty of the exam and the content in general.

the only struggles you're likely to have with this unit are MARIE assembly programming, the rest is pretty easy. i highly recommend getting on top of it as soon as its taught, because you don't want to be learning it one week before assignment 1 is due as some of the questions require a pretty sophisticated understanding. if you've never done any programming before you'll probably find it pretty hard initially, but attend the tutorials, consultations and you'll breeze through MARIE and the unit in general.


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    Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
    « Reply #348 on: December 19, 2016, 02:46:26 pm »
    Subject Code/Name: ATS1314 - Human Rights 1

    Workload: 2x1 hour weekly lectures + 1hour weekly tutorial

    Assessment: 70% internal marks (10x1% Weekly reading quizzes, 1x10% article analysis, 1x10% essay plan, 1x40% essay) and 30% exam

    Recorded Lectures: Yes

    Past exams available: Not needed, since exam questions are given.

    Textbook Recommendation:  No textbook required except for reader, highly needed.

    Lecturer(s): Robbie Arrell

    Year & Semester of completion: Semester 1 2016

    Rating: 3.5/5

    Your Mark/Grade: 81 HD


    As someone who has a passion for business/numbers and objectivity, my first exposure to some form of philosophy was somewhat of a hard pill to swallow at first. Weeks are divided into topics that are rather basic yet informative, such as; Are human rights universal, womens right, cultural rights...

    Arts students are described as pretty liberal and open minded and I can say that a select few are quite radical. Some students really dont give a shit while others nearly have a heart attack if they hear a 'politically incorrect' phrase or term. It's incredibly hard sometimes to have group conversations without offending someone. The week on 'Human Rights & Torture' was quite interesting. There seemed a large number of students that were oblivious to what governments do to keep their citizens safe. Some found it disturbing that terrorists were tortured for information, and one even exclaimed during group discussions that most detainees at Guantanamo Bay should be set free since they were not formally prosecuted by a court of law. However, these types of students are not the majority.

    I went into arts units with the sole purpose of trying to achieve good marks. I achieved that, and I actually cant say much about the learning because i was focused on maximizing efficiency and marks.
    For example:
    Week 1-3 are topics for the first assigment
    Week 4-8 or (4-10) are topics for essays
    Week 9-12 or (11-12)  are the topics for the exam.

    Which means, i only did the readings and looked at the lectures for Week 1, 6, 11, 12 and received a HD mark. The weekly online quizzes which were based on the readings were easy and you could flick through the readings looking for the key words and bang you got the answer you needed.

    Honestly, you are gonna be taught a lot of topics that are all under the broad definition of Human Rights, some shit is interesting, some shit is boring. If you are planning to do an arts degree, most weekly topics convert into an entire unit in 2nd and 3rd year, and you can pick the ones you find interesting in these broad first year units.

    Also, Robbie is good bloke. He engages well and provides alot of feedback for assigments.

    monash arts/business
    rmit accounting/finance


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    Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
    « Reply #349 on: January 20, 2017, 12:21:48 pm »
    Subject Code/Name: MED4301 - Medical science honours research skills

    Workload: completely varies depending on your project, but expect to be doing fairly full-on days for 5 days a week.

    - Progress report (Hurdle)
    - Literature review (75%) (Hurdle)
    - Department oral presentation (25%)

    Recorded Lectures: No. There are some intro lectures only at the start of the unit.

    Past exams available: N/A.

    Textbook and Website Recommendation: None needed, although some choose to peruse statistics books as well as textbooks specific to their field of research as the year progresses.

    Lecturer(s): Many, but only in the first week.

    Year & Semester of completion: Semester 1, 2016

    Rating: 5/5

    Alright, so this unit is code for "Medical Honours year"; it's an optional year available to students of the Monash MBBS(Hons), and in the new Monash MD, as part of the Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours). The degree can be completed any time after second year, provided you have an average above Credit and have a worthy application. Most people do the year after fourth year, but there are also a smattering of people who brave the year after second and third year too. Since 2016 there has been a limit on the number of students who can take a BMedSc(Hons), and the current limit is hovering at around 65 students; this includes both domestic and international students. Therefore, there is a little competition to get a place in this additional degree and people have been missing out. The exact criteria of who gets selected for the degree is not well known, but it's thought that marks from previous years of the medical course play an important role, as well as the strength of the written application.

    Everyone has their own reason(s) for taking a year off med to do a degree like this, but I had several reasons that were important to me:

    1) I had just finished my major exams for med school and I know that pretty much every year forward was going to be progressively more intense with more responsibility. That's something that I look forward to, but I felt a break from all of that was also in order. This seemed like the perfect time.

    2) I hadn't had much opportunity to do research during med school. Often doing research in med school means being in the right place at the right time with the right people - that unfortunately didn't click for me during my first two clinical years. Oh well, that happens, so I decided to do so some more formal research and gain some much-needed experience.

    3) Looking forwards, it seems a PhD could become almost mandatory in the fields I am becoming keen in, and I honestly wanted to test the waters and see if I could handle one research year before jumping into the deep end later in my career with ~3 years of research.

    4) I was really interested in two different fields of medicine and wanted a bit more exposure (research AND clinical) to both, so I found a project that involved that, and now I have a better idea about what I want to do in life. Will that change in 6 months when I'm back in final year? Perhaps, but it's peace of mind right now :)

    5) In the back of my mind was always getting an Intern job for 2018. In Vic we don't have random allocations for intern spots like they do in many other states (eg. NSW), so I thought having some research on my CV can't hurt ;)

    I think it's worth noting, that despite having so many reasons, I was about 0% keen on doing an Hons year for probably 3.25 years of my medical degree. I was lucky to have an awesome mentor during my Obs/Gyn rotation who talked to me a lot about the importance of doing other things. He himself did a BMedSc(Hons) during his medical degree, and even though the subject of his minor thesis was as far from Obs/Gyn as could be possible, he still found it to be a very rewarding and educational experience. It was only really after his inspirational words of wisdom that I also entertained the thought of the degree. As said, there's always a bit of luck involved with opportunities presenting themselves, and I was lucky that this doctor and I had those chats.

    Before launching into the content of the unit, which mainly comprises of the literature review, I think it's worth discussing a few important things one should consider before embarking on an Hons year of any sort (even relevant to the scholarly elective offered in Melbourne and Monash MD programs!). A lot of people get hung up on 'how cool is my project', or 'will I get published', or 'is this too intense' and so forth. While those are all important questions, I believe the most important thing in a successful Hons campaign will be your supervisor.

    Choosing the right supervisor is more important than choosing the right project. When I was told this by a BMedSc(Hons) alumni before I embarked on my supervisor-hunt, I was skeptical, but in hind-sight I am really glad that I heeded that advice because the supervisor can really make or break the year. So here are couple of pointers that I think are really important about finding the right supervisor in the field of your interest.

    1) You don't have to know someone to do a project with them. I stumbled upon my supervisor by luck. Once while I was doing my aforementioned Obs/Gyn rotation, I got to my clinic a little early and ended up googling some of the other doctors on the same floor. I managed to find a Professor, who I had never met before, but who had been involved in some really interesting work and who has supervised students in the past. I decided then and there to start drafting an email. I was perhaps a little too fastidious, maybe to the point of obsessional, with how my email looked and what type of vibe it gave off, so I probably went through 2-3 drafts! But I was lucky to get a quick response and we arranged a face-to-face meeting in his office soon afterwards. For the record, here is a copy (de-identified to name and place) of my email for anyone interested (it almost looks creditworthy as I look back on it now haha):
    Dear Prof <removed>,

    My name is <removed> and I am a current undergraduate fourth year Monash medical student, based primarily around <removed> and <removed> for this year, with an additional week-long stint at <removed>. So far in my studies, I haven’t done any research and hence, have become interested in completing a Bachelor of Medical Science honours year in 2016.

    One of my friends, <removed>, completed a BMedSc under your supervision last year and through conversations with him, I found out about you and the very positive experience he had! Similar positive sentiments were discovered when I read about another student who featured in the '<removed>', <removed>, who also had a very enjoyable year under your supervision. Following in their footsteps, I was wondering if you would be willing to take on a medical student for an Honours year next year?

    Although I realise it is “early days” for my learning and journey through medicine, I have developed a liking and an interest in neurology, especially after a rotation I did last year at <removed> under the guidance of Prof <removed>, among other consultants physicians. Given their stroke unit, I’ve been particularly fascinated by strokes, their symptomology and their management, and would be keen to learn more about and participate in the research that happens behind the clinical scenes regarding this condition. However, I am also very open to part-taking in research in other areas of neurology as well.

    If you would be willing to take on a medical student and have any suggestions for potential projects that might be suitable, I would be very keen to have a chat and learn more. Unfortunately I am currently based at the <removed> (and for another 3 weeks!) so won’t available for any direct face-to-face contact until my term is finished here, due to very strict attendance regimes imposed on us. However, I am contactable via email, and if you have any free time after that 3 week period I would be very keen for a quick chat regarding any possible opportunities for research in 2016 under your supervision.

    Thank-you for taking the time to read this, and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards,


    2) Now that you've found a few people that you think might make good supervisors, you have to think: what actually makes a good supervisor? Here some some important questions you want to be seeking answers to:
    - Have they supervised Hons students before? What did those students think of their years? I found it to be really useful, as per my email, to get in contact and seek the thoughts from previous students. You may have to do a bit of 'stalking' to find these things, but they'll forgive you for being keen in their Hons year experience; people are often very keen to discuss how they went! You want to be knowing not only how they went in terms of grades (obviously H1 is ideal), but also the other things which will be covered in this list. If your prospective supervisor has never supervised before, that's not a deal-breaker imo, everyone has to have a first student to supervise, and you'll often find first-time supervisors tend to err on the side of over-supervision rather than under-supervision, which is good. They'll often also provide a senior researcher/clinician as the co-supervisor, to help them as well as you - again a good thing.
    - How much time will your supervisor have for you? I was lucky to have an amazing supervisor, who I could meet virtually any day, and who I could call or text or email any time. Obviously meeting every day is over-kill, but having that level of support was something that not many of my colleagues had. The more support you have - the better. You should have meetings face-to-face at least once a week, even if it's just to touch-base over lunch or something. Ensuring that you're guaranteed at least one meeting a week is really mandatory for you, and I'd be very wary of choosing a supervisor who couldn't guarantee that.
    - How busy are they? Are they supervising other Hons or PhD students? Will they be on lots of leave? These things are important. Your supervisor needs to be able to actually supervise you, and that implies that they need to be there. While in all honesty, they've got lots of more important things to do with their life than read a draft or listen to an oral presentation, they kinda should be doing that and if they don't seem like they have the time then maybe they've got enough on their plate already. I was lucky to have a supervisor and a co-supervisor who both took an interest in reading my drafts and listening to me practice my oral presentations, and again, I can't thank them enough for that level of support.
    - If you're doing a lab project, what's the lab like? What will your hours be like? Best to know what you're getting yourself into before the year starts and you've signed a year away, rather than coming in Day 1 with a bunch of assumptions and getting a rude shock. Lab work, which wasn't the focus of my project (thankfully!), can be a nightmare in terms of hours and stress, and this can start well before your lit review is due! It can also be incredibly rewarding and interesting, but it's never easy work. Be warned.
    - What's their publication history like? They don't have to be pumping out papers every other month in high-impact journals, but it's probably ideal to have a supervisor who has some publication experience with regular publications in decent journals. This can be checked by sussing them out in Google Scholar or their faculty bio page, rather than asking them about their professional career which can be awkward. Again, not a make or break for the Hons year itself, but might help once the year is done and you're thinking of publishing (if your project persists!).
    - See what resources you'll have access to. Will you have access to a statistician? Will you have a desk and computer? Will you have stats software? I was lucky to have all three, and it made life considerably more comfortable. Again, you don't want the rude shock of coming to Day 1 with no place of your own, get these things organised before you sign the papers.
    - What other things can you do during the year? Will you be able to present a poster or go to a conference? Will you be able to attend teachings? I was fortunate to not only attend clinical teachings in neuroradiology, I was also able to GIVE my own tutes to the local Monash MBBS(Hons) year 3 students and the Melbourne MD year 2 students. This was awesome because these activities really broke up my day, kept things interesting, and was amazing revision for me.

    So now that you've got a supervisor in a field of your interest and filled in the paperwork, the year is starting. And I mean that literally, time to get off your backside and start preparing for this unit in the holidays. No time to slack off. Without giving too much away (for privacy), my project was in the field of neuroradiology (neurology + radiology) and involved interpretation of various brain MRI sequences in patients who had a condition that causes a type of stroke. During medical school, we learn that MRIs are a useful thing - but that's about it. So I took it upon myself to use the holidays to get familiar with all the background "assumed knowledge" so that when I was reading papers that talked about "susceptibility artifact" or "field inhomogenieties" or "time to echo", I'd know exactly what they meant. I found it really useful to do this early, before my year formally started, because once the year did formally start I could easily sift through the literature. I also found using textbooks at this point in time was also ideal, they provided good summaries and overviews, and were also fairly up-to-date without being cutting edge and confusing.

    Being prepared early is important for stress. The year tends to pan out a little like this...
    If you can do a bit to bring that graph down a little, should you? Absolutely! Be a little proactive, sacrifice some time "with the lads", and do some of this basic reading. It's not taxing, and it'll put you in really good stead for the year.

    Once the year starts, start reading more in-depth about your foci of research. Start with reading Review articles from top-notch journals. These often provide amazing overviews and lots of quality references to then sift through depending on your area of interest. I used these references (and references from references!), as well as generic Google Scholar searches, to stumble upon most of the articles I read and cited in my own lit review. What you want to be doing in your readings, and ultimately in your literature review, should resemble an upside-down pyramid. You want to be starting off reading broadly (ie. textbooks to gain assumed knowledge, then Reviews) and then delve deeply into your area of research (ie. individual studies) to see what gaps your study might be able to fill or contribute to. I'll come back to this pyramid later, it's important.

    Keeping up to date with the research in your field is also really important, and there are a few ways to do this:

    1) Sign up to the journal mailing list. Often journals will email their table of contents to your inbox for free, and you'll then need your uni proxy to access the article free of charge. This is useful, but not every journal does this.

    2) Doing regular Google Scholar (or similar) searches with a truncated time element (eg. "since 2016"), this is tedious.

    3) Physically checking each journal, either online or as a hard-copy, to see what's new. Again, incredibly tedious.

    4) Sign up to Twitter. Now you may be asking "has pi finally gone crazy? sign up to social media used by Donald Trump?!?" While I can neither confirm or deny that first question, Twitter is actually a modern gift to academia. Most journals have Twitter accounts and they post many updates about new articles. Not only that, but active researchers in my field also had accounts and posted regular updates. Being involved by following these journals and clinicians was the best way for me to be up-to-date with advances in the field. I also discovered so many other cool educational accounts to follow, but that's a story for another day ;)

    It's useful to download the papers you're looking at, and there are several ways to organise your downloaded studies. My supervisor used a program called Papers which I would probably use if I was to do the year again, but I personally resorted to just an ordinary folder on my hard-drive and having descriptive names of the papers I downloaded. No rights and wrongs here, as long as you're organised and you know where you read something for the purposes of referencing. Papers can also do referencing for you, so it saves you having to use a program like EndNote (which is what I ended up using).

    Once you're doing some reading, make some goals. My supervisor wanted me to have a page of my literature review ready by the first week for him to look over. He later told me that he did this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, he wanted to see if I could write, and luckily my writing was passable! Secondly, he wanted to see if I could meet deadlines. In retrospect, that was a really good plan! Writing bits, regularly, was the key for me. Some people liked to make semi-detailed summaries of studies in an Excel spreadsheet organsied by topic, and then spent a week or two towards the end of the semester writing the literature review, and that's also a fine strategy. I preferred to knock off little bits of the review every day or so. It really depends on your field of research and your own personal preference of how you want to structure the literature review. I was fortunate to have a plan of the review in my head which I could segmentalise really easily, but if your foci of research is a bit more obscure you may need to do a lot more reading before you can start to collect your thoughts. I'd suggest you try doing bits every now and again, and then if that's not working, to then try just reading more to collect your thoughts. Just make sure you have an overall plan before you start writing; your literature review should start off broad, and then should delve in, just like your readings it should resemble an upside-down pyramid. You'll find that this is reflected in the lit review marking sheets too, which you should always have one eye on too.

    I'd strongly recommend you don't leave it until you're 'finished' with the lit review before showing your supervisor. Get their input early on. As said, my supervisor wanted to even see the first page that I wrote. I think showing your supervisor bite-size chunks of work and then the whole thing at the end is ideal because they may have suggestions about improvements and directions your lit review should be taking. Last thing you want is for you to produce this 7,500 word-long piece of work only for your supervisor to think you missed out on discussing some really crucial things. So ensure you keep in touch with your supervisor, regularly show them bits and ask for their general advice. Don't go overboard and get them to read every new paragraph you string together, but regular chunks are probably fine. They'll probably take a greater interest in your work if they know what you've been up to, and correcting or looking over a couple of pages of your writing isn't too onerous either. The other reason I mention this, is because your lit review will often include a summary of your project at the end. For me, this was a strict two-page summary of my aims, hypotheses, and methods. While you will have most likely started your project already at this point (especially if lab-based), you will still need some help to develop this and refine your goals for the next semester. So: show keenness, but be respectful.

    As I mentioned in the previous paragraph - there is a word limit to this beast. 7,500 words, coming out of VCE or even med school, might sound like a mountain, but let me tell you that it is just never enough! Often your uni will give you a +/- 10% leeway, but even that's not enough! Some tips and tricks for getting through the word limit:

    1) Supervisors are excellent at cutting the crap from your work. If you have words that need slaughtering, let them know and they'll draw red all over it! My younger sibling was also very fond of cutting down my words, for which I am very grateful.

    2) Use tables to your advantage. Tables do NOT count towards word counts, so use them a lot if you can. Don't do it for the sake of it and have all these dodgy tables with two or three rows, but be tactful about it and use them when you can. I had a fair few tables in my lit review and didn't get penalised for it.

    3) Use figure and table legends to your advantage. Again, these do NOT count towards word counts, and you can add a lot of detailed information into these. Personally, because I felt I was abusing the table hack, I didn't do this as well. But I know people who did both to great success - power to them!

    4) You can pay for professional editors. I did not do this and I don't know anyone who did, but it was offered as an option on our handbook, so I thought it was worthy of a mention in this list.

    You should aim to show a final draft of your lit review to your supervisors approximately 2 weeks before it's due. This gives them plenty of time to give some last-minute changes, and they'll thank you for not putting them under pressure given they probably have many other important things to do. This also gives you an opportunity to make sure you've ticked all the right boxes in the marking sheet, and to format your lit review into looking a bit nice. Include preface pages such as a Table of Contents (make sure this is automated with MS word!), a signed Declaration of Originality, a Declaration of Contributors, an Acknowledgements page, a List of Abbreviations, a List of Tables, and a List of Figures. These formalities are not only nice gestures to those who helped you along the way, but are also incredibly useful for an assessor who might be reading your lit review in chunks and/or is not overly familiar with the field. For your font, we had to use Arial 11 point with double spacing, although apparently fonts with serifs are inherently more readible. Don't be afraid to add a splash of colour to your subtitles too, nothing breaks up a page full of black text than a nice orange or blue subtitle!  Just regarding these subtitles, some of my colleagues liked to number all their headings, but I found that this often looked a little ridiculous when it got to " Pathogenesis of X", so I preferred to abandon such numbering and stagger the tier of my plethora of subtitles with font size and italics. It looked cleaner imo.

    Once you're done and dusted with the lit review, the ever-tedious process of TurnItIn is back in play. This program... well no one likes it and no one really understands how it works. We were only allowed to submit once, and thankfully my submission was <15% which was fine. You'll often find TurnItIn picks up the most random nonsensical things (eg. your name, or page numbers), and my Faculty didn't bother inspecting a script for plagiarism unless the similarity index was >20%. Most Faculties would likely have similar policies. Once this is done, we have submission, and then freedom?

    Not quite - there is still an oral presentation. Some Hons do this before the lit review is done, other do it afterwards. I did mine beforehand. Basically this oral presentation gives you the chance to talk about the field, what you've learnt, where the gaps are in the literature, and how your project will aid the field. In terms of slide content, the adage is 'less is more', only include the important details and keep your slides neat and tidy. If you haven't done oral presentations before, this may be a bit of a shock because not only do you have to present to a time limit, you also field some questions from an intimidating audience of senior researchers who have been making these presentations since before you were born. The questions can come from anyone and can be about anything. Many of my questions weren't even  directly relevant to my project... But this happens to everyone, and everyone is nervous and has some questions they answer well and others they answer less well. It's even ok to say "I don't know", better to be honest than ramble about like an idiot. The best thing you can do to prepare for this is to practice with your supervisors and ask them to be savage in asking questions, and to practice with fellow students who are going through the same thing. It's a daunting process, but also one I found to be useful in giving me ideas for my actual research project.

    As with previous years, there are still the same old med soc events. For Monash med students, there is a society for research that looks after us (Medical Research Student Society) and we had a couple of boozey get-togethers to de-stress. Highly recommend keeping in touch with fellow students throughout the year, it's really important to not get isolated throughout the year. I was perhaps unlucky to be the only one at my hospital doing a BMedSc(Hons), so I would often either banter with the Melbourne MD (were my age) or Monash MBBS(Hons) students who were there, or travel to a nearby hospital to meet up with my research peers for brunch or something. Keep in touch with others, it's really important to not become a recluse during the year. And this becomes more important as the year goes on.

    The last thing I'll recommend is to do other things during the research day. Research can be is stressful and can be is monotonous at times. We all need a break, and never feel guilty for stepping away for an hour or so to reflect on your progress and take your mind off things. For me, I took time off to attend teachings, teach others, and to just walk around nice Melbourne parks (maybe to also catch Pokemon on Pokemon Go  ::)). Also do things after-hours, but taking good and productive breaks during the day was something I found to be really awesome for my physical and mental well-being.

    This is a tough unit, but is really only the taster for the next unit and the minor thesis :P
    « Last Edit: January 20, 2017, 03:26:48 pm by pi »
    You are not special. You're not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We're all part of the same compost heap.


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    Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
    « Reply #350 on: January 20, 2017, 02:49:57 pm »
    Subject Code/Name: MED4302 - Medical science honours research project

    Workload: completely varies depending on your project, but expect to be doing fairly full-on days for 5 days a week.

    - Department oral presentation (5%)
    - Minor thesis (80%) (Hurdle)
    - Faculty oral presentation (7.5%)
    - Faculty poster presentation (7.5%)

    Recorded Lectures: N/A.

    Past exams available: N/A.

    Textbook and Website Recommendation: None needed, although some choose to peruse statistics books as well as textbooks specific to their field of research as the year progresses.

    Lecturer(s): N/A.

    Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2, 2016

    Rating: 5/5

    This is the other unit as part of the "Medical Honours year" - and it's the big one. This unit is weighted as 75% for the whole BMedSc(Hons) year, while MED4301 was only 25%. So... It's a really big deal and can make or break your final grade. There's a bit less for me to say here, given everyone will have their own unique projects with their own unique challenges, but I'd like to echo some points from my previous post on MED4301, and give some other pointers where I can.

    Being organised is so important. Force yourself to do little bits of the minor thesis every single day. Even if you're slaving away with your experiments or analyses and don't have results yet, you can always be refining your lit review for the 'Background' section of your minor thesis, refining your Aims and Hypotheses, or writing up your Methodology section. There are always bits you can be writing or doing. Doing these little bits will give each day some sort of rudimentary purpose, and will definitely reduce the stress coming towards the end of the semester.

    When doing your experiments or analyses, just be aware that even with your careful and meticulous planning... Sometimes shit just happens. Maybe your results won't turn out they way you expected, maybe someone threw away something super important, maybe you get sick, maybe you find someone who has done your exact study but its better than yours, maybe your computer dies and you can't find your back-ups, etc etc. These things can just happen. Don't expect the unexpected, but keep it in the back of your mind that although it might be smooth sailing now, it might not be smooth sailing in 2 months time. This is why it's so important to do work as you go, because a big setback can really increase the work you have to do before submission, and if you've got large chunks of your minor thesis done and dusted, you'll be thanking yourself a lot.

    If something happens, make sure "official" people are aware early: get your supervisor(s) and the faculty on board as soon as possible. I know people who had their projects completely fall apart, to the point where many of their analyses could not be performed and those that could be were massively under-powered - and that's ok. You can still score an H1 if you explain what happened and why in your minor thesis, and if you let the right "official" people know. The people marking your minor thesis know that this could be your first exposure to research, and they know research is always a bit of a gamble. Stay calm and seek support and you'll be right.

    Jumping into the nitty-gritty of it all, the format of your minor thesis will be a fairly standard one that should be guided by your marking sheets. Mine was:
    - Title page
    - Table of contents
    - Declaration of originality
    - Acknowledgements
    - List of abbreviations
    - List of tables
    - List of figures
    - Abstract
    - Introduction
    - Background (ie. altered lit review)
    - Aims
    - Hypotheses
    - Methodology (including study design, ethics approval, data collection, statistical analysis)
    - Results
    - Discussion (including limitations, strengths, implications for future research)
    - Conclusion
    - Appendix (including actual ethics approval forms)
    - References

    Now some of that should look familiar from your lit review, especially the "Background" section ;) However, I would refrain from copy and pasting your lit review into this section. This is because as you progress through your project, you'll find that some parts just aren't that relevant, and you'll find that the assessors of your lit review provided some feedback. This feedback is important, because it's highly likely the same people will be marking your minor thesis, so not taking into account their feedback is a bit of a bold and arrogant move. Furthermore, you may want to cut back on some parts for the dreaded word limit. Lastly, you may also want to update your literature review with advances in the field that have happened since you submitted it, so make sure you're keeping on top of your Twitter feed or whatever else, to ensure you don't miss anything major.

    The word limit of the minor thesis is set at 15,000 words, again it might have a +/- 10% leeway. Now, as I said in my MED4301 review, the word count is NEVER enough. You can use the same cheeky tactics as from the lit review to combat this word limit, but you can additionally cut from the Background section (it should still be about 40% of the minor thesis imo) and you can add excess info to the Appendix.

    Just a few words of advice on some of the sections. The Aims and Hypotheses might also need updating from your "ideal" ones you had in your lit review. Don't feel bad about chucking some out, or adding some, that's all part of the scientific process. Ensure your Aims and Hypotheses are specific and address what you actually did or tried to do. Some of my colleagues included a "global aim" and a "global hypothesis", I didn't really think that floated my boat, but it's a fair idea if it matches your project.

    Your Methodology section should be so detailed and clear, that someone could literally repeat your project. You may have read over a hundred papers at this point and each has a detailed methodology section, yours needs to be MORE detailed than that. This can take a few thousand words. Use figures and flow-charts to your advantage here to demonstrate pieces of equipment or patient selection protocols, or whatever else. Ensure it's crystal clear. Furthermore, don't forget about ethics and a section on statistics, these little things earn you those hidden marks. 

    The Results section should be concise. I actually got marked down from both my assessors, fortunately not enough to keep me from that sweet H1, for having a verbose and lengthy Results section. Ideally, your tables and figures should be relevant, and there should be a matter-of-fact tone about the section where you're just stating this and that, without delving into what it means at all. Your Results should follow a logical order, and that might be dictated by your Aims and Hypotheses (*hint hint*). You may need some help with the Results section, particularly with the stats, and you should get that organised EARLY. The resident statistician isn't sitting in his/her office waiting for the lowly Hons student to come knocking - they're serving the whole Clinical School and are busy. You need to make an early appointment and be polite and patient. Their advice is very valuable and you're lucky to get it free of charge!

    Your Discussion shouldn't be a surprise for your assessor, it should naturally make sense from reading the the preceding parts of the minor thesis. Having said that, that doesn't mean your Discussion should be bland and boring - this is your chance to really let the assessor know why your project was worth spending a year on. The core of your Discussion should answer "why should I care about this project?" in the assessor's mind. The only way to answer that question for the assessor, is by answering it for yourself first. For some, that might be easier than others, and writing this section is arguably the most important and hardest thing you're going to do in the year. You need to think a LOT about what you're going to write here and how you're going to do it. Remember to think broadly, and don't jump to one conclusion. There are often multiple reasons why something could be what you've found, so explore these things. Think outside the box.

    Some suggest the rule of thumb that the Discussion should be as long as the Background - personally I disagree. I don't think it needs to be that long at all. If your project lends itself to a 3,000-4,000 word discussion naturally, then go for it, but many people I know had a more truncated discussion at around 2,000-3,000 words. The old adage of "quality over quantity" strikes again. Personally I erred on the lengthy side for my Background instead, just because I expected at least one of my assessors to know absolutely nothing about my field of study.

    The Conclusion is pretty self-explanatory. It should answer the Introduction, so much so, that if someone only read those two paragraphs, they'd get the gist of your project. Having this sort of readability is really important, because it's the expected standard.

    Just as with the lit review, the deadlines in this unit always appear far away, but are here before you know it. Hence, I cannot stress enough, do a bit every day. EVERY SINGLE DAY. Keep your supervisor in the loop, while you're working on the Results, maybe they can be giving your feedback on your Methodology, and so forth. Again, chunking it for them to correct is good for you and good for you. It's a win-win. Use your discussions with your supervisor to bounce ideas regarding the actual Discussion section of the thesis - they're the ones who know the overall field well and have the experience, and their thoughts are very valuable. But at the end of the day, the ideas are supposed to come from you, so you really need to be thinking often and deeply about your project during this unit. Like the lit review, you should aim to to be done with it 2 weeks before it's due with one eye on the marking sheet; the same TurnItIn crap still happens too.

    Now let's take a step back. Remember that graph I had in my MED4301 review? Remember where that highest stress peak was? Yup, nearing minor thesis submission. Therefore I cannot emphasise this advice enough:
    The last thing I'll recommend is to do other things during the research day. Research can be is stressful and can be is monotonous at times. We all need a break, and never feel guilty for stepping away for an hour or so to reflect on your progress and take your mind off things. For me, I took time off to attend teachings, teach others, and to just walk around nice Melbourne parks (maybe to also catch Pokemon on Pokemon Go  ::)). Also do things after-hours, but taking good and productive breaks during the day was something I found to be really awesome for my physical and mental well-being.
    You need to be in top physical and mental shape to cope with everything that is happening, and that sort of fitness comes from endeavors away from the project. It's important and you'll thank yourself for it once you've hit that submission button.

    Once your minor thesis is done and dusted (yay, congrats!), there are a few other bits and bobs to take care of. In light of the minor thesis, these are going to seem like child's play, but it's important to still give them your all and end on a high note. There are two more oral presentations, each being very similar to the one you did last semester. Again, you'll get some nice questions and some hard random ones, just be honest and back yourself, and you should be fine. You've done this before, and you can do it again.

    The other bit that's new is the poster. Now they aren't kidding when they say 'poster', this is a big piece of paper - 120cm x 90cm. The poster should outline what you've done in the year. It needs to be concise. I almost copied my Abstract into the poster, and then added some relevant figures and illustrated a few of my points. In retrospect, this worked well, but perhaps I still had a bit too much text. Even at size 31 font, it was probably a little too much, and the assessors made a comment to that effect as well. You won't just be making the poster though, you'll be presenting it. So sacrifice some text on the poster and replace it with spoken words is probably my advice. Again, you can get some questions from the 2-3 assessors that come to see your presentation, but I found these questions to be a lot more general and fairer. This is the last time you'll have to tell someone why what you did matters, so make it count :)

    With all of that said, the unit comes to a close, usually with a few Faculty drinks and a more boozey party later on. Having finished a few months ago now, I've had a good chance to reflect on my year. I've got to say - it's an incredibly rewarding year to be involved in. I was so lucky to have amazing support from my supervisor and co-supervisor, amazing company from the local Melbourne MD2s (thanks for the farewell presentation and gifts!) and Monash MBBS(Hons) Year 3s (thanks for the card and chocolates!), and amazing fun along the way! The process of delving deeply into a certain area of medicine, essentially becoming an expert about something, is a really wonderful and rewarding experience. I definitely had some doubts coming into the year, not knowing what to expect or not knowing how I'd cope, but I'm really glad I did the year because I feel like I gained an incredible amount from it. You'll find most students who complete the BMedSc(Hons) also echo my sentiments, it's quite a remarkable opportunity to have and I am very lucky to have made the cut to be part of it.

    So, what's next? After completing the year, many start to think about publications and maybe future research. I'm working on all of the jazz right now, so can't speak to how difficult that may be until I'm done with it, but it's another unique learning process. I've already presented a poster outside of the course, but maybe I'll be lucky enough to present at a conference too. Some of my colleagues needed to do a few more experiments in order to have results suitable for publication, but most people will find their place in a journal somewhere if they try hard enough. This is the advantage of having a research year over a smaller scholarly elective (from the Melbourne MD or new Monash MD), there's just more time to do things which often results in more meaningful work. But hopefully before you start doing more work, you reward your efforts with a cheeky trip overseas or something, I can confirm Hawaii and South East Asia are still nice this time of the year ;)

    To anyone considering taking a BMedSc(Hons), I can't recommend it enough. You'll have a very different year compared to your other medical years, but it'll be an educational, enjoyable, and rewarding year in any case. Good luck! :)
    « Last Edit: January 20, 2017, 04:18:34 pm by pi »
    You are not special. You're not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We're all part of the same compost heap.