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Author Topic: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings  (Read 1171767 times)  Share 

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #360 on: October 24, 2014, 11:19:59 pm »
Subject Code/Name: MIIM20002: Microbes, Infections and Responses 

Workload:  3x1hr lecture, 5 x 3 hour practical per fortnight, 1x CAL (done at home)

Assessment: Written practical reports throughout semester (15%),
A 45-minute multiple choice question test mid semester (20%),
Online quizzes (pre-practical class) throughout semester (5%)
A 2-hour written exam in the end of the semester examination period (60%).

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available:  No past exams, but the staff put up some sample questions during the two review lectures.

Textbook Recommendation:  I don't even know which textbook you buy so you definitely don't need it.

L. Brown
H. Cain
O. Wijburg
K. Waller
T. Stinear
C. Simmons
R. R. Browne
D. Purcell

Year & Semester of completion: 2014, Semester 2

Rating:  5/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1 (93)

Wow. What a damn good subject. The Department of Microbiology and Immunology definitely knows how to run its subjects. This was my favourite subject throughout the semester - it was very interesting, it was EXTREMELY well taught and the staff take great care in running the subject. They were very approachable, always happy to answer questions, and they kept us informed and updated consistently throughout the semester. They also gave us individualised feedback on our MST (which pretty much just said "you should revise this and that"). The coordination was perfect. They even set up a Facebook study group for all of us!

The practicals were the most enjoyable out of any subject I've done. Each practical revolves around several case studies - you're presented with background information on a patient's history and their symptoms, and it's up to you to test the samples they give you and diagnose them. This actually ties in very nicely with the lecture material, since you're going to be learning about infections and how to diagnose and treat them after all. You'll have to test stuff like live flu samples and faecal samples! And be warned, you will definitely be pipetting a lot, especially in the haemagglutination-inhibition test!

Each practical goes for 3 hours but it's not stressful - you go through everything as a group, with your demonstrator explaining the case study and guiding you along. There is no in-prac assessment either. Firstly, you have to do a pre-prac quiz before each practical, which are fairly easy to do. For two of the case studies you need to write a practical report. The staff give you a proforma which tells you how to set up your report and which questions you should consider answering in it. There was a word limit of 500 words on the discussion though. These are harder to score well in - a lot of it is up to the hands of your demonstrator and some of them can take marks off for the smallest things. They also give you back your reports with a lot of feedback. I never got over 9/10 for my reports so if you do then well done. Two of the case studies were assessed by post-practical quiz, and one of those case studies was a CAL.

I guess what would deter prospective students is the workload. If you've done MCB, you'll probably be used to the amount of information they try to cram in one lecture. Having said that, a lot of the time the lecturers only talk about what's on the slides (apart from Roy), so there's no need to "write down EVERYTHING the lecturer says" either. Lecture notes across the board were of a very high standard - very clear and concise.

The first week is spent revising your basic microbiology and immunology - the course of an infection, bacterial and viral pathogenesis, as well as the immune response. Pretty relaxing here.

In the second week, you begin to learn different types of infections. The first topic is GIT infections, and you will go in depth into laboratory diagnosis, pathogenesis from invasive bacteria, non-invasive bacteria and parasites, and then you also learn a little bit about epidemiology. There is quite a bit of content in these lectures and lots of details to memorise - making tables is definitely helpful here. There's a lot of bacteria they talk about and you need to know features of each one. And you definitely should remember everything, literally everything, on the pathogenesis and laboratory diagnosis slides.

You then move into vaccine responses, mucosal immunity, and the human microbiome. Not much to say here, they were easier to study for though since you could just focus on understanding immunity.

You then look at respiratory infections involving S. pneumoniae, M. tuberculosis and influena, learning about pathogenesis, treatment and epidemiology. There was less to remember than in the GIT infections. You also get a lecture on emerging viral diseases which link up with very recent events such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as well as highly pathogenic bird flu.

You then move into STIs, covering herpes simplex virus, HIV, HPV and epidemiology. We had guest lecturers from the Virology department come in here and lecture, which was really good since these guys are leading researchers as well. This was probably the easiest out of the whole "infections" block.

For the last part of the course, you move to health-care acquired infections. These seem to be much more reliant on common sense rather than brute memorisation. But don't neglect it because you definitely should know about how the chain of infection can be broken etc.

The last two lectures covered Legionella and Dengue fever. A bit more random, since it didn't really come in any of the other themes. But this was pretty much the same as learning about all the other bacteria we had before.

The MST covers Weeks 1-6, and consists of 40 MCQ. Know your stuff well, because it's testing your recall and to a smaller extent your application. There were no ambiguous questions though which was a good thing. The average mark was 30/40. The exam consists of 50 MCQs (the vast majority on the latter part of the course), 3 fill in the blanks questions, and 2 short answer questions. It's very fair and if you've studied everything thoroughly it should be pretty straightforward.

Overall, this subject is amazing for anybody who has any sort of interest in Microbiology and Immunology. While there is quite a bit of material to swallow, it never feels like a drag simply because it's so well taught and intriguing. The subject material isn't even that hard - it's quite simple, but there's just a lot of things to know. If you don't make the effort to learn everything then you will find it difficult. According to previous years data, the amount of people who get H1 tends to hover in the 35-40% range so don't feel deterred from taking this subject! You won't regret it.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2014, 11:47:35 am by Shenz0r »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #361 on: October 25, 2014, 12:12:05 am »
Subject Code/Name: PHRM20001 Pharmacology: How Drugs Work

  • Three lectures a week
  • Five 'Special Topics'
  • Three tutorials
  • Two practicals
  • 20% in assignments and prac reports:
  • 20% mid semester test (40 minutes)
  • 60% two hour final exam
Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture

Past exams available:  Several available from the library website and the LMS.

Textbook Recommendation: A couple of recommended textbooks are given, like most biology subjects, they're only really useful as references.

Lecturers: Too many to list - see other reviews.

Most lectures only take one or two lectures.

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 Semester 2

Rating: 4/5


Pretty good subject. Like all the other reviews, I took this subject to fill in a gap in my study plan (needed a random second/third year subject.) It's very good - better then I was expected, and there's a good diversity in topics.

The semester starts with some fairly basic pharmacology. There's a bit on receptors (trivial if you've done biochemistry,) and fairly basic pharmacological terms (i.e. EC50s,) and pharmacokinetics. There's three lectures on autonomic nervous system pharmacology (basically just physiology,) which is very well taught. The subject then moves onto a series of five or so lectures which wouldn't be out of place in a law subject - lectures on drug regulation, drug discovery and a history of pharmacology. There's a good deal of diversity in the subject, it's not all science, and in the earlier weeks they teach you a lot about the non-scientiffic aspects of pharmacology. I've heard from friends that this is developed a lot more in third year.

After the first few weeks, the subject moves into something more typical of a 'science' subject - each lecture (or two) is devoted to therapeutic strategies to treat certain diseases. For example, there are lectures on:
  • Drugs to treat hypertension/cardiovascular disease
  • Drugs to treat asthma
  • Drugs involving the immune system
  • Contraceptives
  • Drugs for depression
  • Drugs for pain
  • Drugs for obesity
  • Drugs of dependence and addiction
  • Drugs in sport

Of these topics, for me the lectures on cardiovascular pharmacology and analgesics were a (surprising) highlight.

Yes, you do have to memorise a lot of drugs - it's really not as bad as it sounds at the start of the subject. Some drugs you just need to know that it acts on a specific receptor (e.g. propanolol acts as an antagonist on the β adrenoceptors,) some you have to know more detail, side effects, etc (e.g. propanaolol can cause nightmares, tiredness.) I strongly recommend investing in a flash card program for your smartphone/laptop, makes studying a lot easier.

The final two weeks deal with toxicology. There's a couple of lectures on basic toxicology, then a lecture on toxins and the final lectures deal with drugs used to treat bacterial infections, viral infections and cancer.

Generally, lectures are fairly good - although there is some variability in quality with 15 lectures. Most lectures that take multiple lectures are quite good. Like others have said, I'd strongly recommend attending the tutorials, they only give answers to short answers in the tutorials, and they give a good deal of information about the exam and what they expect.

There's two pracs. They're really easy and kind of boring. In the first prac, you generate antagonist/agonist response curves (i.e. add differing concentrations of a drug and look at the tissue response,) in the second prac you use a few drugs to try and figure out the receptors present in a tissue. The pracs are assessed using a prac report form (for the first prac,) and an online quiz (for the second prac.) They're pretty straightforward.

There's also some short assignments ('self-directed' learning tasks.) These are apparently fair game on the exam and MST, although there's usually only one or two MCQs. They shouldn't take too long to do (only a couple of hours,) and are pretty easy marks. Like any science assignment you do, just make sure you're sufficiently anal with units, captions etc. The assignments are introduced in a 'special topic,' which is again, accessible. They pretty much tell you what to do, so it's an easy place to pick up marks before the exam. It'll make your SWOTVAC just that much less stressful.

There's also a 20% 40 minute MST. It's pretty straightforward, and it's a similar style and difficulty to the final exam. Keep in mind that most of the more difficult content in pharmacology comes in the second half of the semester. It's worth 20%, so yeah, study for it. The SDLs and pracs are supposedly accessible, but there's only usually one MCQ. Unlike the reviewer below me, I felt that the MST covered the content across the first half of semester fairly and equally (just that we had only had two therapeutics lectures by that point.) The MST wasn't too demanding - about 30% of the class got a H1 (but about 40% either passed or failed as well.)

This will be the first exposure most people have to pharmacology (it was mine.) It actually involves very little chemistry - the subject is about the effects of drugs, not the organic chemistry of making drugs (so it's not Breaking Bad.) It involves a fair bit of physiology and anatomy, a little bit of biochemistry (mainly drug/receptor interactions.) Most of the physiology is taught at a simple level. There's a bit of chemistry, but it rarely goes beyond high school level (literally just acids and bases.) In terms of difficulty and workload, it's easier then the other second year subjects I did (biochemistry and chemistry.) It's supposedly less hardcore then anatomy and physiology. Only a two hour exam, although unlike most other subjects, there's a substantial MST (20%.)

On the whole, pharmacology is a interesting, fairly well-run subject. You learn a lot of interesting stuff and it's directly relevant (I've had my parents start to quiz me about the drugs they're taking!) The only downsides are the kind of useless pracs (either have six pracs, or none at all,) and the fact that some topics can be touched on superficially (although it does allow a good breadth in topics to be covered.) If you've got a free spot in your study plan in second or third year, I strongly recommend taking it.


Exam was very fair - everything that was assessed was in the lectures/pracs/workshops. As expected, the questions overwhelmingly came from the lectures - only a few multiple choice from the workshops and the pracs (so definitely still worth revising.) They generally didn't test minutiae, and although you had to remember drug names, simply recalling drug names wasn't a major focus of the exam. Many multiple choice gave drug classes 'e.g. an ACE inhibitor,' not drug names 'e.g. captopril' as answers. On the whole, if you'd studied, the exam wasn't too challenging.

The more social sciencey aspects of the course weren't really emphasised in the exam. Do revise them, but focus on the science.

50 of the 110 marks were for 'mixed response' questions, which are more like VCE biology exam questions then longer essay-like questions seen in other biology subjects. You chose five out of six to do.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2014, 03:32:59 pm by mahler004 »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #362 on: October 25, 2014, 01:19:15 am »
Subject Code/Name: BIOM20002: Human Structure & Function

Workload:  6x1hr lecture per week, 4x2hr anatomy pracs per fortnight, 1x2h physiology practical per semester

Written laboratory report (1000 words, 10%);
Two tests during semester (20% total, 10% each); and
Two 2-hr end of semester exams (70% total, 35% each)

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture. I think I only went to a handful of lectures throughout the semester.

Past exams available:  Practise exams of both papers are available from 2009-2010 on the LMS. The 2011 exams were on the UniMelb library page, as well as Paper 2 for 2012. Jenny also put in some sample anatomy "label-the-diagram" pictures throughout the semester. There were no practise materials for Physiology. Practise material for Physiology from past exams were uploaded in SWOTVAC. However, you can find more PHYS20008 questions and get them from the UniMelb library or from people who took the subject last semester. There was also no practise materials for Pharmacology but similarly, you can get questions from PHRM20001 students. There was also some Pharmacology practise questions too.

Textbook Recommendation:
General Anatomy by Chris Biggs is a handy book to get you through the "Principles" lectures in anatomy (so maybe 3-4 weeks). A lot of the lecture slides have diagrams that come out of this book and the slides tend to follow the book as well. It is also useful for your ADSLs.

Anatomedia is useful for the ADSLs but a lot of it just contains text from General Anatomy

The lecturers take off many diagrams from Grey's Anatomy but I don't think you really need to buy it. You can just google image things. In addition, I don't think anatomy is a subject you can really study just by reading text off a book. I never used Netter's Clinical Anatomy apart from a few ADSLs on the upper and lower limbs.

Human Physiology by Silverthorn is set for pre-reading before the physiology lectures. It's a decent book with nice-looking diagrams and the explanations are clear enough to follow. For most of the semester, I never did much pre-reading but before the physiology exam I read through the textbook seriously, using Charles' lectures to help me go through it. Not much pre-reading was assessed in the MST but some parts of it were on the exam.

I don't think the Pharmacology department ever even mentioned their textbook. Not useful anyway.


P. Kitchener [Neuroanatomy] - you need to definitely write down the stuff that's not on the slides.
C. Anderson [Embryology]
V. Pilbrow [Bone, Articular System, Vascular System, Skin] - Varsha talks about examples in her lectures and it's important that you get all this down. This may be gibberish to you at this stage of the course because you haven't actually learnt what she's talking about yet, and she is a bit difficult to understand.
S. Murray [Musculoskeletal System]
J. Xiao [Gastrointestinal, Cardio, Lower Respiratory, Renal, Urinary] - Always tended to finish in around 40 mins
J. Ivanusic [Upper Respiratory, Reproductive]
Note these are the exact same lecturers in Science, with the exact same slides.
The anatomy department was fantastic. All of their slides were very clear.

D. Williams [Neurophysiology, Cardiovascular, Respiratory]
J. Bornstein [Digestive]
S. Harrap [Renal]
M. Wlodek [Reproductive]
+ A few guest doctors who lectured on applied physiology.

A. Stewart [Drugs and Receptors]
G. Mackay [Autonomic Pharmacology]
M. Lew [Pharmacokinetics]

Year & Semester of completion: 2014, Semester 2

Anatomy: 1.75/2
Physiology: 0.5/2
Pharmacology: 0.5/1
Overall: 2.75/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1 (92)

By department:

In line with previous reviews, I think Anatomy was the most well-taught part of the course. It may seem boring in the beginning. Neuroanatomy is taught well and embryology can be a bitch to understand since you have to visualise folding in 3D. Varsha's lectures on Bones etc are a bit dull but necessary, although she did teach bone ossification wrongly in HSF and was much more clearer in ANAT20006, so try watch the ANAT20006 lectures if you need clarification. After this, anatomy became a lot more enjoyable as you move onto identifying important structures in the body. You also do learn some clinical stuff in the musculoskeletal lectures especially (often about fractures, tears, compartment syndrome, endangered structures etc)

Anatomy is very much a visual subject and you should definitely take this into account when you study. I didn't write any summary notes for anatomy and just printed the lecture slides with labels and many annotations. This was quite effective and efficient. I don't believe writing and reading is going to really help you improve your anatomy - it's all about identifying structures and then commenting a little bit about its significance. Writing and reading in my opinion would just be excessive.  Definitely pay attention to the diagrams in the lecture slides, even to the small detail.

You also get ADSL worksheets which complement each lecture series. These are helpful, but you definitely don't need to review these to do well. That being said, apparently the anatomy department likes to use images from the ADSLs in the exam so try go through them if you can. There is no quiz so ADSLs are not assessed in any way. I wish they did though because they are actually good practise. None of the "extension" material in the ADSLs come up in assessment either, so if you want you can skip the more obscure parts.

The anatomy practicals are pretty cool but you should really review the material before. If you don't know what the hell is going on and can't name a lot of things (which was me for like 3/4 practicals) then you're not going to get much out of it since you're just too confused to know what the demonstrator is talking about. They pretty much are just to help your learning and are not assessed. You pretty much just rotate around 5 stations, and at each station you're looking at some specimens with a demonstrator. Some demonstrators will actually explain a lot of stuff to you, others will just sit back, tell you to identify structures, and do nothing.

Assessment was also very fair, always covering the material, and to be honest, was very much on the easy side. Compared to the ANAT20006 MSTs they are exceptionally easy to do well in. Anatomy questions are apparently similar to past exams, so use them. Also try to find any student who is willing to give you questions from their ADSL quizzes.

The best way to learn anatomy is to get involved in identifying things and having quiz-offs. And you also have your own body. Use it. This is very helpful for understanding locomotion and the types of joints involved in each movement.

Lol. If you don't know by now, physiology is the bane of this subject. Teaching quality is not great and I don't think I've seen a cohort this frustrated with something like this since Physics.
To be honest, I never paid any attention to the Neuro, cardio and respiratory lectures in HSF. I just grabbed ALL of Charles' lectures and studied off them, and then I listened to David at 2x speed. They're the exact same lecture slides with the exact same material, but for some reason David falls behind very easily and spends a lot of time digressing. I mean, one time he was stuck on the same slide for like 20 mins. He actually didn't even lecture on Smooth Muscles since he fell behind, and just told us to do the pre-reading for it. Sometimes even the PHRM20001 lectures explained their physiology better.

Later in the semester, we had 4 guest lecturers come in to lecture us on applied physiology. Most of these lectures seemed important and worth studying for the exam. This was relating Cardio and Respiratory physiology to clinical practise, so the lecturers came in to talk about how some diseases arise and what they can lead to (i.e aortic stenosis). 2 of them were decent and actually explained their material quite well. One was a bit nervous and sort of mumbled into the microphone but if you took the time to listen back to it, the material was ok. The last lecture was when our cohort just did not give a shit any more. I don't even know what the hell went on in that lecture after listening to it, but it was advanced respiratory physiology that we had never been exposed to and did not get references for. The lecture slides were also totally different and the lecturer spoke at 1000000x words per minute.

Digestive physiology was only explored in 2 lectures and I felt that the lecture slides were badly written and incoherent. In addition, I don't think it really explored the full picture of digestion as well - it seemed more like I just got a fragment of it. I had to listen to both Charles and Joel and combine the two to make sure I got the whole picture. Joel likes to test the pre-reading too (a lot of which he does not dwell on), so make sure you listen to Charles because he actually goes through it. 

Stephen and Mary were decent physiology lecturers and actually explained the content well. No problems here!

You also get "concept checks" for each system. Basically it's just a short quiz on the LMS that's not assessed, and it's designed to give you feedback. However, we were never notified when the concept checks were added to the LMS, and the brilliant thing was that they disappeared after some time without warning (this was purposely done). So even if you did the quiz you couldn't check over it again. And these concept checks were never put back on the LMS for the whole semester too, so people would often prntscrn their responses. So make sure you save them and look over them in exam time.

Now, there's one style of questions that all students hate. The infamous "increase, decrease, no change, or not enough information" questions. These are annoying. I would rather have short-answer questions than this. I felt that these questions did not let you demonstrate your critical reasoning and detailed knowledge. Sometimes you have to assume something, sometimes you don't. Not many practise questions are put up in HSF so it is imperative to grab practise questions off PHYS20008 students, as many of the questions that actually come up are related. Some of our MST questions were just ripped off those seen in PHYS20008.

The physiology practical takes place at around Week 11 and you have until the end of week 12 to submit it. Again, it's about the cardiovascular response to dynamic and static exercise, which was not addressed in our lectures. Luckily Charles had an entire lecture on exercise so that was immensely helpful. In addition, they do direct you to a relevant textbook so it's not too bad. The report consists of 11 questions. The last question was quite random and in my opinion was chucked in just to justify our lecture in "Scholarly Literacy", and we had to identify appropriate articles that would help us in answering a particular research question. Overall, the practical report is not too hard. Some of your data might not make sense though - if this is the case, email Charles, who runs the practical. He allowed me to use somebody else's data since my data was acting completely opposite. Alternatively he also said that I could talk about expected results and what sort of experimental errors I could've encountered, but with the 1000-1200 word limit I opted for the former.

So, to sum it up, focus on PHYS20008 rather than the physiology component of HSF.

I was a student of PHRM20001 so my opinion is a little biased here, but I felt that Pharmacology was not necessary in HSF. It only skims the basics of Pharmacology and is definitely not integrated enough with physiology to justify it being there. You spend 3 lectures talking about how drugs bind to receptors, 1 on autonomic pharmacology (which is acceptable), 3 or 4 talking about Pharmacokinetics and then 1 on drug development. Seriously, drug development. They couldn't have at least lectured on something that was more physiological, could they?

While Graham and Michael are great lecturers, I thought that Alastair took too much time when he was lecturing on how drugs work. There is not much to know in this part and he does love to digress. It took a whole lecture just to go through affinity. I think this was taught much better in PHRM20001. That being said, although these lectures are bludgy if you're doing PHRM20001, don't neglect them and just add in stuff that's not in PHRM20001, especially Michael's lectures on adverse drug effects.

I gave this component a low score because I felt that it just clogged up space in HSF, which could have otherwise been used for important physiology lectures that were ripped out of the course. It didn't seem to relate very much to anything else we learnt. It would've been a lot better if they talked a little about therapeutics, such as treating asthma or hypertension, but this was not elaborated on.

The Pharmacology questions on the MST are fair though and sometimes they're assessed by "fill-in-the-blanks". There's also a nifty short answer where they give you features of made up drugs and ask you which drug would have the smallest Vd, would be eliminated the fastest, etc.

To me, this subject feels unnecessary. It is pretty much ANAT20006 and PHYS20008 mushed into one subject, with bits being taken out due to the Pharmacology component and other parts  (particularly in Physiology) being taught quite badly. I would rather have done ANAT20006 and PHYS20008 separately than HSF. You get the exact same lecture slides for Anatomy and Physiology, so you're pretty much being tested on the same material. However, you get less resources. A lot less. ANAT20006 students get ADSL quizzes for each topic, you just have the ADSL worksheet and no quiz. We were given some Physiology practise material though (although most of them were just pulled off the past exams in the UniMelb library).

Therefore, you should really contact other students for their resources. Grab anything you can from PHRM20001, ANAT20006 and PHYS20008, because you're not getting any from HSF.

HSF is structured so that you'll have a lecture on the anatomy of one system, followed by its physiology (or the other way around). I didn't mind this, it felt natural. However the lectures aren't integrated. I feel that this may have been purposely done, because the staff have said that it's up to the students to integrate the material themselves. This actually stirred up quite a lot of controversy in our cohort and the coordinator ended up asking if we would like integrated questions in the exam, but the cohort turned it down probably because we didn't feel at all ready to begin answering integrated questions. So the anatomy and physiology/pharmacology remained separated. If the lectures at least guided us on integration, I think the cohort would have been more receptive to the idea of having integrated exams. But they weren't.

The MSTs weren't too difficult but it's very hard to tell where you went wrong. The first MST tested Neurophysiology, Neuroanatomy, Embryology, and Varsha's lectures. It consisted of around 30 questions and two "label-the-diagrams"/"fill-in-the-blanks" questions. The second MST followed a similar format but tested Musculoskeletal, Gastrointestinal, and Pharmacology. It was meant to test Digestive Physiology as well but that didn't come up at all for some reason.

Anatomy is the first exam and it consists of 3 sections.
-Section A has 25 MCQ and is mostly weighted on what wasn't in the MSTs, so Cardio, Respiratory, Renal, Urinary and Repro.
-Section B has "label-the-diagrams" and "fill-in-the-blanks" questions covering the whole course.
-Section C requires you to respond to four long-essay questions covering the whole course.

With the exam, there was a definite emphasis on the latter half of the Anatomy content. Neuroanatomy, embryology and anatomical principles were not featured at all. You could've just studied from Simon's lectures onwards and still do well. A lot of things weren't covered in assessment and it definitely annoyed me seeing as how I spent so much time learning the intricate details of everything and memorising as much as I could. The exam turned out to be much easier than expected.

The second exam assesses physiology and pharmacology and it is ALL MCQ, so don't waste your time doing the short answer and long essay questions from past exams. Unlike Anatomy, this exam is more difficult. It demands a thorough understanding (not just your rote-learning) and there are a few traps that are easy to fall into if you aren't perceptive of small detail. Many of the questions are your "increase/decrease/no change/not enough information" ones as well as some of your more traditional "pick the correct answer" questions. As said, the increase/decrease questions can be a pain in the ass as you're left doubting yourself so much. With those questions it's best to scribble a flowchart of the likely response. Pay attention to the wording too. One of the harder questions on the exam involved the Baroreceptor reflex integrated with your neurophysiology, which I felt was a pretty nice question that really tested how you think, as you needed to be aware of the responses involving both systems. Pharmacokinetics was also assessed through the "increase/decrease" format, where they pretty much have to use the features of 3 made-up drugs to answer the question. A lot of the drugs mentioned in HSF weren't assessed at all (in fact, I don't think any drug was).

Indeed, exam pre-reading is assessable and the physiology department has loved to test small detail on the slides, so always pay attention to any graphs they give you. To do well here, it's imperative that you go beyond the set lectures and read the textbook. Or just watch lectures from PHYS20008, since they will actually go through the material that HSF doesn't have time for with and yes, sometimes they have assessed those things in the past. To prepare for this exam, definitely focus on the MCQ portions of exams, read the textbook, and have a sharp eye for detail. 

So really, this subject is essentially just a poor mis-mash of ANAT20006 and PHYS20008 with basic Pharmacology thrown in. I didn't actually find it hard since I just hoarded resources off Science students, but was just frustrated with how the subject is constructed and the quality of the physiology section.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2014, 05:24:45 pm by Shenz0r »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #363 on: October 25, 2014, 02:10:09 am »
Subject Code/Name: PHRM20001: Pharmacology: How Drugs Work

3x1hr lectures per week
2x3hr practicals per semester
3x1hr tutorials per semester
3x1hr workshops per semester

Continuing assessment of practical and computer-aided learning work during the semester (20%).
Mid-semester assessment (20%).
A 2-hour written examination in the examination period (60%).
This subject has a practical component. Completion of 80% of the practicals, and practical-related exercises, is a hurdle requirement.

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available:  Yes, there are a few in the UniMelb library. The ones on the LMS only give you one section of the exams. Sample questions in the review lectures and the tutorials may be used for practise.

Textbook Recommendation:  Don't even know the textbook, so don't buy it.

J. Bourke
G. Mackay
D. Newgreen
T. Hughes
C. Wright
A. Stewart
P. Crack
C. Laska
M. Hansen
J. Ziogas
J. Fitzgerald
K. Winkel
M. Lew

Year & Semester of completion: 2014, Semester 2

Rating: 4/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1 (92)

This was a well-taught subject that was run smoothly and was interesting. Workload is light compared to anatomy and physiology.

There are three themes. The first few weeks were spent talking about how drugs work. Affinity, efficacy, potency, agonists/antagonists, pharmacokinetics, and autonomic nervous system. Make sure you know your autonomic nervous system damn well because these are very important for understanding therapeutics. There is not much to know in the other parts of this theme.

Then we move onto the second theme which was therapeutics, which was of course my favourite part of the subject since it integrated physiology and was quite clinical too. Other people have already said which topics were mentioned so I won't repeat it. But teaching here was excellent. There is not much anatomy though, I think the most I ever heard about anatomy was for like 5 mins in the autonomic nervous system. All you really need to know is the normal physiology and then you need to manipulate it with drugs to try counteract the disease you're trying to treat (i.e blood pressure is dependent on cardiac output and TPR, and we can use ANGII antagonists and ACE inhibitors that prevent ANGII from constricting the vessels so we decrease TPR in a hypertensive, etc).

The last theme, which was about toxicity, I did not really enjoy, mainly because it was pretty dry compared to therapeutics. You learn about environmental contaminants, venoms, and selective toxicity.

You also get a few random lectures, such as Pharmacogenomics, Drug Development, Drug Regulation and Sociological Drug Use (which was pretty much just a guy telling a story the entire time). These don't tend to be heavily emphasised in the MST or exams so just appreciate them I guess.

There's no good advice I have to just "memorise" all the drugs they talk about. You just have to memorise, use flash-cards or use your traditional summaries and tables. Some drug classes have certain suffixes too (-zosin = alpha1 antagonist, -olol = beta bloker, -pril = ACE inhibitor etc), so that makes life easier too. You should remember what class each drug belongs to, their action, their side-effects and selectivity (i.e whether they bind to alpha1 or beta 2 adrenoceptors, or whether they are selective for the CNS or NMJ). Make sure you actually know their names accurately, because many names can be very similar (Naloxone, Nabilone) and very long to remember, and when you're revising it's easy to mix drugs up. Here's a brief list of some drugs that you're likely to hear in the course, and yes the names can be a bitch.

You have three SDLs to do throughout the semester. You have to download a program which simulates an experiment and work through a worksheet. These aren't very hard to complete and shouldn't take too long but the assessors like to take off marks for tiny things, like making your horizontal axis longer than the data set. The last SDL is assessed by an online quiz.

The first prac is pretty damn boring. You pretty much spend a lot of time just waiting, while you obtain a concentration-response curve for various agonists and antagonists. The second prac is better, your given some pig ileum and you have to work out which receptors are on it by adding different agonists and antagonists. The first prac is assessed by a worksheet you hand in, the second by an online test.

There are only 3 tutorials throughout the semester, and they're often presented either by a lecturer or a PhD student. A tutorial worksheet is uploaded to the LMS and answers are uploaded after the tutorial. You just go through the whole worksheet in one hour. If you've revised, the worksheets are relatively straightforward and most of what the tutor is saying should be stuff you already know about. Because of this I didn't exactly find it very helpful all the time.

Workshops I didn't really pay attention to, they introduced some of the SDLs. They also talked about careers in pharmacology.

The MST was meant to test Weeks 1-6, and was supposed to cover the beginning therapeutics but for some reason didn't, disappointingly. It seemed to have been weighted more to the first few lectures on how drugs worked. Anyway, it's not a hard test. There was two pages of short answer questions (worth 10 marks) on Pharmacokinetics and there were 30 MCQ. Apart from your traditional A, B, C, D style MCQs, the Pharm department looooves to give questions where you have to match the options to a particular drug. Something like:
A) Salbutamol
B) Losartan
C) Captopril
D) Benzodiazepine
E ) Phentolamine

1. Is an allosteric modulator of the GABA receptor
2. Is an alpha blocker
3. Is an ACE inhibitor
4. Is a beta 2 agonist
5. Is an ANGII antagnist

That is often seen in past exam questions, too.

I felt the exam was very fair, it covered almost all of the lectures and if you have made the effort to learn everything then you will probably find the exam straightforward.

A little warning: it's not just the lectures that are assessed, but also the SDLs, practicals, and the workshops. Yes, the workshops. Th MST had a question that was from one of the workshops (which was extending Cholinergic Pharmacology) and you're expected to know drugs that were mentioned in the SDLs even if they weren't in the lectures.

Overall, a great subject which relates to applied physiology extremely well. It was not too demanding and leaning about how drugs could treat disease was definitely the highlight.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2014, 02:54:10 pm by Shenz0r »
2012 ATAR: 99.20
2013-2015: Bachelor of Biomedicine (Microbiology/Immunology: Infections and Immunity) at The University of Melbourne
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #364 on: October 28, 2014, 12:12:52 am »
Subject Code/Name: POLS20008 Public Policy Making

  • One two hour lecture a week for 10 weeks
  • One one hour tutorial a week for 10 week

Must attend 7/10 tutorials.

  • A 40% "Policy Brief," 1500 words, due mid-semester
  • A 60% "Policy Research Paper," 2500 words, due in the exam period

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, but lecturer makes extensive use of videos which aren't recorded for copyright reasons.

Past exams available:  No exam. Lecturer put up good (H1 quality) past assessments.

Textbook Recommendation:  Althaus, C., Bridgman, P. & Davis, G. (2012/13) The Australian Policy Handbook (Fifth edition.) Pretty much all the readings come from the textbook, so you do need to buy it (although it's also available at the library on overnight loan). Fortunately, it's not too expensive ($50.) And yep, you'll be lining our Vice Chancellor's pockets even more.

Lecturer(s): Dr Scott Brenton

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 Semester 2

Rating:  4.5/5

Comments: Oddly enough, this is the first review of a politics subject on ATAR Notes. I guess it shows the audience here. This is apparently one of the more popular politics subjects, and is taken by both arts students doing the politics major, and is a pretty common breadth subject (I took it as a science student.)

Scott, who takes the lectures, is a good, innovative lecturer. Lectures are interactive and Scott makes extensive use of technology (especially videos, news reports, etc.) It's not just him talking for two hours. As a science student, attending arts lectures is unusual - in science, lectures mainly present content which must be thoroughly learned and recalled in exams, in arts, lectures are more about giving context for assessment tasks and tutorials. The lectures do this extremely well. You also get to watch an episode of the Hollowmen, which is almost worth taking the subject for in itself. The lectures cover basic politics (only for about half a lecture,) theories of policy making, policy implementation and the role of various groups in the policy making process (the government, students, lobbyists, the public service, etc.) They are reinforced by the readings, which basically involve working through a public policy textbook.

Of special note are the guest lecturers. Nicholas Reece (who also teaches in the first year subject Australian Politics,) gives a lecture on communication and the role of political staffers. Reece was a senior staffer in Gillard's office and has a lot of stories to tell - his slide on the 'day of the life of a political advisor' almost completely turned me off the role. John Brumby, the former Premier of Victoria, also gives a lecture about the role of political leaders. A former Liberal senator, Prof. Russell Trood gives a lecturer on foreign policy. Again, his stories are worth attending the lecture for.

The tutorials involve discussion of the textbook readings and the lecture content. Scott also uploads some items to act as discussion pieces (often a recent-ish news article.) I won't comment too much here, as your experience will largely depend on your tutor (other then saying my tutor was great.) They're fairly typical Arts tutorials.

Finally, the assessments. The first assessment, the "Policy Brief" involved writing a 1500 word paper on an issue in the Victorian election. You were expected to compare and critique the policies of both major parties, and provide a statement on how important the issue would be in the election. This year it was challenging - the essay was due in mid-September (so well before the election campaign had gotten started,) so finding media and resources was a challenge. Last year (2013) the assignment was to do the same but with the Federal election. I'm not sure how they'll do it next year with no Federal or state election. The writing style here was similar to a newspaper op-ed, but could be formatted as an argumentative essay.

The second assessment, the "Policy Research Paper," involves writing a 2500 word paper on a policy of your choice. You had to prepare a (federal) Cabinet submission, a media release and a literature review. This year, you could choose the policy you wrote on, in previous year the topics were restricted. There's, again, sample assignments on the LMS which should help with formatting the cabinet submission and media release. The literature review is similar to an essay, but not really. You have to use the academic literature to provide evidence for your policy. Both assessments are innovative and relevant - it's much more fun and relevant writing a cabinet submission or an op-ed compared to writing yet another essay...

Like the review below this one, I'd like to address the question, present with any breadth subject, about the value of the subject. A good breadth subject will teach you something new and useful, and the reason I took BA breadths through my degree was to maintain and improve my writing skills, something which I really don't think is emphasised enough in the BSc. Plus, it allowed me to build on my already present interest in politics. I've considered undertaking a carrier in the public service after Honours (probably though one of the absurdly competitive grad programs,) so this was also to get a feel for what that would be like.

The handbook suggests "Politics at Level 1" to take the subject. This isn't entirely necessary if you're doing the subject as a breadth student. If you know your House of Representatives from your Senate, your PM&C from your DFAT, your states from your federal government, and your public service your ministerial staffers, you'll be fine. I've done the first year subject Australian Politics, and the third year subject American Politics. American Politics was a fantastic subject, but a very different subject. Public Policy Making is a great choice if you're looking to go into the public service or into policy analysis, or if you just want to learn more about the way policy is made in Australia.

Highly recommended.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2014, 11:16:38 pm by mahler004 »
BSc (Hons) 2015 Melbourne

PhD 2016-??? Melbourne

I want to be an architect.


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #365 on: October 28, 2014, 03:56:01 am »
Subject Code/Name: SCRN30005 The Digital Screenscape

Workload:  1x 1.5 hour lecture, 1x up to 3 hour screening, 1x 1 hour tutorial (must attend 80% to pass)

40% - 1500 word essay presented though a blogging platform of the student's choice (due ~mid-semester)
60% - 2500 word research essay (due first day of exams)

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture

Past exams available:  N/A (no exam)

Textbook Recommendation:  Just a book of readings. They're all posted online, and as the price of the reader magically jumped from ~$15 to >$40, I'd go the online/DIY route.

Lecturer(s): Dan Golding (and he's only staff member for this subject)

Year & Semester of completion: Sem 2 2014

Rating:  4.9 out of 5 (yeah I'm picky)

Your Mark/Grade: H1

TL;DR: A fascinating subject will appeal to anyone interested in film and media. As a bonus, it is really well taught and constructed.

So if you've come across my reviews of Film Genres or Hollywood you'll know I kind of have a pre-disposition to loving these subjects. While equally fantastic, DigScreen marks a bit of departure in content. Rather than strictly cinema studies, the subject focuses on the study and criticism of Digital Media. Pretty comprehensively too, I might add.

The subject basically consists of three main units: Unit 1 is on Digital Cinema; Unit 2 is on videogames and play; Unit 3 is on "Digital Selves." It's early, but I'll briefly run through what each of these units entails...

Unit 1, as I said, is on digital cinema. The films screened here include Super 8, District 9, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 :(, and Gravity. The main themes through this unit are the death of film (i.e. physical celluloid), remediation, digital aesthetics, and the neo-baroque.

Unit 2 is on videogames. The only film screened in this unit is Indie Game: The Movie. Screening times in other weeks are used for what Dan calls Lab Sessions. Here, the collective class plays (or watches others play, as the case may be) games ranging from mega-studio games such as The Last of Us and Portal to mobile games including Duet and Space Team. These sessions were quite fun and really interesting. In the final week of this unit, the screening time was used for a lab session with the Oculus Rift VR set. This was (obviously) mega-cool. Studying games critically and thinking of them as art forms is initially a process that is quite alien, and, to some, may seem quite odd, or even pointless. Dan really hammers home the value in this though, and this unit was probably the most interesting of the three.

Unit 3 is on what the subject calls "digital selves." This included things like our interactions with social networks, our relationship with technology, the critical implications of AI etc. Films screened here included RoboCop, Her, V for Vendetta, and the documentary Catfish, as well as two episodes of the (distributing but quite interesting) TV show Black Mirror. Though all the lectures in this section were very good, this unit was probably the hardest to get through as some of the readings were quite full on.

Dan is a really good lecturer. Why? Here's why:
  • He's well prepared. He knows what slide is coming next and obviously has a solid list of notes on what he's going to say. This definitely shows, but it never gets to the point where he is simply reading from a script for anything other than the odd quote.
  • He knows the content like the back of his hand. In some subjects you just see a lecturer going through the motions and just reading off the slides as they are presented. Not this one.
  • His lectures are clear and easy to follow in structure and presentation.
  • His lecture slides are really slick and well constructed, especially when integrating video or audio (which you often see lecturers fumble around with).
  • His lectures are always entertaining (or at least never boring or monotonous).
  • The subject obvious stems from his personal interests, but very seldom is the content overly esoteric or alienating (I kind of feel like a depression era housewife after writing that sentence).
  • And, probably the best thing about Dan's lectures is that he carries a really interesting idea or theme through the entire thing.

For many of the same reasons, he's a really good tutor too.

I guess being the lone staff member of the subject kind of makes this Dan's baby. In the hands of someone else I could definitely see this format going haywire, or ending up as some madman's experiment. Dan, however, is dedicated enough to make it work, and the subject really benefits from his presence as it's (benevolent) overlord.

Additionally, the subject is really well constructed. With the split into three inter-related but individually discernible units, it helps to (a) appeal to a greater range of students and their interests, (b) provide a more holistic view of the "screenscape," which is obviously one of the subject's main objectives, and (c) [I forgot what I was going to write for (c)].

The blog essay is a really interesting idea too. Giving students the freedom to present something uniquely is quite brave for a subject, but I found it quite liberating and I found the format very conducive for my style of writing. I wish I could write more essays like that. Here's what I came up with if anyone's interested.

More generally, however, the essays are quite difficult to write. They ask you to engage with some pretty complicated ideas, and you can end up somewhat bogged down in the theory. This was the probably the biggest step-up I noticed between this as a level 3 subject and the previous level 2 SCRN subjects I've done. The approach I took, however – and it wasn't always easy – was come up with an idea. Essays I've written in the past are generally good (IMHO ;D) but when I look at them critically, they really just respond to a set question, and that's about it. I'd like to think the couple of essays I've come up with this semester are a bit more interesting, mainly because I've come up with somewhat of an original idea and concept to build upon. Dan is really good with that too, in that he provides a lot of different topics for each essay, but also allows students to either alter these topics or come up with one of their own (in conjunction with him of course).

The 0.1 point that I've doffed off the rating is because of the readings. Though most are quite interesting, some of the readings are very lengthy, very artsy, very esoteric, and therefore hard to get through, especially during the busy times in semester. This is to be expected however, and doesn't take much away from the subject on a whole.

Again, we get to the question of how valuable a subject like this actually is to someone like me, who is an engineering major. I've kind of come up with a job interview friendly justification of this. These subjects invite you – and, indeed, teach you – to look at seemingly simple concepts in a high degree of depth. They aim for engagement rather than simple recognition, understanding rather than formulaic application; a method of tackling intricate and complex issues critically and with attention to detail. They also requires you to write, and write well. Writing that flows, writing that is concise, writing that is nuanced, writing that allows you to convey a defined and codified message. This is invaluable to communicating ideas, and communicating in general. Further, it’s something I enjoy, and it’s something that provides a distinct disjuncture from my other studies. These are all good things!

Unfortunately, it seems as if the future of this subject is uncertain. It is definitely taking a year off next year (I've speculated that this is for budgetary reasons), and Dan has all but completed completed his PhD, so who knows where he'll be. Regardless, this is a really great subject, so if you're interested in digital media and up for a challenge, don't hesitate in taking it.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2015, 01:55:35 am by chysim »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #366 on: November 04, 2014, 10:15:50 pm »
Subject Code/Name: CVEN30010 Systems Modelling and Design

Workload: I won't even try to describe the labyrinthine structure of this subject here. See the comments.

5% – Geotechnical Lab Report
5% – Hydraulics Lab Report

20% – Geotechnical Design Assignment
20% – Hydraulics Design Assignment

50% – 2-hour exam

Lectopia Enabled: Yes, kind of... (again see the comments).

Past exams available:  On library website

Textbook Recommendation: None

Geotechnical: Stuart Colls
Hydraulics: Roger Hughes

Year & Semester of completion: Sem 2 2014

Rating: Overall: 1.75/5
Geotechnical: 3.5/5
Hydraulics: 0.5/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1

TL;DR: Half of this subject is horribly taught and a constant burden. The other half is mostly okay. Overall it's quite poorly conceived and in need of review.


This subject is a mess. It feels like the structure of this subject has been designed with the aim of making it as confusing as possible. It is basically two subjects amalgamated into one – Geotechnical Engineering and Hydrological Engineering. They are kind of just slapped together though – these aren't just topics, they're completely different subjects. There is basically no cross-over as the two components are taught completely independently, and the order of the lectures is jumbled around. Oh, and in the middle you throw in some pracs and labs somewhere. I'll try to describe the structure of the subject below:

In weeks 1-8 there are two lectures per week that run for two hours each:
  • In weeks 1 & 2 one lecture is dedicated to geotechnical and the other for hydraulics
  • In weeks 3 & 4 both lectures are on geotechnical
  • In weeks 5 & 6 both lectures are on hydraulics
  • In weeks 7 & 8 we're back to having one lecture dedicated to geotechnical and the other to hydraulics

After week 8, the lectures finish. There are no more lectures.

Still with me?

In weeks 3-5 lab classes run. Each student has one two hour geotechnical lab (on soil seepage) and another for hydraulics (on the hydraulic jump). A lab report for these is due week 6 IIRC (maybe 7 actually).

In weeks 6-9 geotechnical computer lab classes run to work on the geotechnical design assignment.

In weeks 9-12 hydraulics computer lab classes run to work on the hydraulics design assignment.

This structure might be okay if the staff bothered to explain to students prior to timetabling. When you register for classes you are smacked in the face by the millions of classes you have to register for just this single subject.

Okay, so the geotechnical component is okay. The lecturer, Stuart Colls, was very good, even if he was working off someone else slides (those of the recently retired Prof Ian Johnston). Ian, as far as I can tell, was Stuart's PhD supervisor, so using his slides really doesn't cause any issues. The geotechnical tutor (and there is only one (for a cohort of >250 students)) was also quite diligent in answering questions on the discussion board and a good tutor overall, although her marking for the final assignment was remorseless (a friend said he got marks taken off for a typo in what is essentially a quantitative assignment).

Okay, this section was the most poorly executed component of a subject I've ever done at UoM.

Roger Hughes, the lecturer for the hydraulics component, was an outright bad lecturer. Rather than slides, he insisted on presenting everything through the document camera, thereby getting students to print out and fill in a large word document, including many diagrams that must be filled out quickly. This requirement for rapid sketching and jotting inhibits any actual absorption or understanding of the content. That said, his explanations of the material weren't that bad, but he had a really weird, disjointed way of speaking which made listening to him a chore.

Hughes also seemed to have complete disregard for the needs of revision or for people who could not make the lecture (which could be expected to be a pretty high % given that the lectures ran from 5:30pm to 7:30pm). Several times he did not wear a microphone (making the recording impossible to listen to) and the wrong document camera was recorded (making it even more impossible to follow). Just complete laziness, lack of regard for students, and embarrassing behaviour for a UoM lecturer. I know the University makes it pretty clear that lecture attendance is compulsory, but it even made the lecture recordings practically useless for going back over material in revision.

Eventually, a completely filled-in version of the notes was only provided during SWOTVAC after many students had complained.

I managed to get access to last year's lecture recordings, when the subject had a different lecturer for the hydraulics component. These were so, so much better. The lecturer actually bothered to construct coherent lecture slides. He explained things much more clearly and provided examples for pretty much everything introduced, which helps you understand what will be on the exam and how you are to go about answering questions. This may be the most monumental downgrades in a subject's quality of teaching ever (although this may be surpassed whenever someone takes over for Charles in Human Phys). The only problem was that the content was slightly different, but most key concepts were the same as this year.

But if the lecturer was bad, the tutor for hydraulics was even worse. Answers to discussion board questions asking for clarification of the (poorly written) assignment briefs were of the form “see the handout…” or “this question has already been answered" – not acceptable. If questions are being re-asked, it's because they are either unclear in the handout or the previous answers have been inadequate (or both). The people doing this course are not stupid (well, for the most part). She couldn't seem to grasp this.

The assignments for this weren't too bad. The labs were quite good and well run (although the hydro tutor spoke pretty much inaudibly which didn't help) and the reports weren't too complicated.

The geotechnical design assignment was pretty good too. This involved investigating a slope and designing some method to stabilise it. Though, as I mentioned earlier, it was marked quite harshly.

The hydraulics design assignment was a little bit worse. The assignment sheet was poorly written and (again, as I mentioned earlier) the tutor wasn't particularly useful in clarification. Once you got your head around it though, it wasn't too hard either.

Both of these assignments were completed individually rather than as a group.

The only available consolation time with tutors for this subject clashed with the 2-hour lecture for Structural Theory and Design, a subject that most if not all students who do this subject would also be enrolled in. I – and I'm sure a few others – informed the staff of these and nothing was done to address it.

Also, it was not until week 12 that we actually got any marks back for an assignment. Even then, feedback consisted solely of ✓s and ⤫s. Very insightful. Also, the exam was today, and we still haven't received our marks for the two design assignments. These are worth a total of 40% – students are going into an exam with 40% of coursework hanging in limbo! (eventually these were received on 25th (a casual 6 weeks to mark a relatively straightforward geotech assignment)).

This subject isn't too difficult. Having only 8 weeks of lectures (one of which is introducing assignments and another of which is revision) means it doesn't really have too much content. I guess I can see why whoever designed the subject thought that they could get away with rolling these two components into one subject.

Overall, the geotechnical component was the subject's saving grace. This section was properly lectured and worked examples were provided for the exam. The hydraulics component, meanwhile, is omnishambles. The lecturer is bad, the tutor is useless, and no worked solutions were provided for the exam revision questions. The subject requires a major overhaul in both structure, quality of teaching, and resource allocation (i.e. more (competent) staff!).
« Last Edit: December 05, 2015, 12:53:45 am by chysim »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #367 on: November 07, 2014, 07:01:46 pm »
Subject Code/Name: BCMB20005 Techniques in Molecular Science

Workload: 1 x 1 hour lecture weekly, 1 x 1 hour tutorial weekly, 1 x 3 hour prac weekly

Assessment: 7.5% MST, 7.5% practical exam, 35% theory exam, 10% class performance, 5% assignment, 35% reports

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes with screen capture

Past exams available:  Yes, four available (more than enough)

Textbook Recommendation: Techniques in Molecular Science Lab Manual (must buy), don't bother with the recommended text

Lecturer(s): Amber Willems-Jones

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2 2014

Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: H1 (80)

Comments: Comments are under each spoiler!

The Pracs
Each semester there are 9 pracs, with the ninth prac taking three weeks to complete. The pracs are:

Prac 1: Use of pipettes and spectrophotometers
Prac 2: Isolation and analysis of plasmid DNA
Prac 3: Restriction enzymes and restriction mapping
Prac 4: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and primer design
Prac 5: Introduction to cell biology/preparing buffers
Prac 6: Kinetic properties of enzymes
Prac 7: Estimation of protein
Prac 8: Exploiting size and charge to separate proteins
Prac 9: Purification of lysozyme

Each of the pracs is scheduled to last three hours, though most will run short. The only one that really put everyone under the pump was prac 6. It wasn’t a particularly difficult prac, it was just long.

Overall, the pracs were really enjoyable. You get the opportunity to use a lot of equipment and learn how to use it properly. We used UV spectrophotometers, PCR machines, micropipettes, some thingamabob called Floid. You’re introduced to a lot of techniques that are relevant to a variety of biological sciences.

Personally, I think the pracs are a perfect introduction to practical work. There’s an enormous breadth of techniques to learn and there’s plenty of support to learn them. With that said, the demonstrators do encourage you to work independently and to use your brain. You’re not molly-coddled, but at the same time you still don’t feel like you’ve been dropped in the deep end.

For each of the pracs, you have to answer a few questions (more about those in assessment), except for pracs 3, 7 and 9, for which you’ll have to write a report.

I’m not one for prac work typically. I hated it in physics, biology and chemistry. This, however, I loved. I was excited to show to the pracs and genuinely interested in what we were doing.

There’s a lot of little pieces of assessment in this subject, and it’d be a lie and a half to say that they’re not time consuming.

After each prac, barring those with reports, you have to complete questions about the prac. Normally these involve some calculations and presentation of data. These can be extremely time consuming, though the good news is that you are granted a pass or fail mark for them and as my demonstrator said to us “it’s pretty fucking hard to fail”.

During each prac, the demonstrators will assess your prac performance. These marks are only worth very little and it is relatively difficult to do poorly. If you do make a mistake, you will be penalised, but it’s not worth worrying about.

There’s also a practical exam. This involves doing an experiment (with plenty of time to do it I might add) and then answering some questions about that experiment. It changes each time, though this semester it was based on experiment six; so we had to do an activity assay for glucose-6-phsophate dehydrogenase. All pretty simple stuff. Indeed, the class average was 78% with more than 100 (out of about 150) students getting an H1. I completely screwed up my results so I wasn’t one of them unfortunately :p

There’s an assignment about pH. This is essentially year 11 chemistry with a little bit extra. It’s not difficult. Everyone in my group got more than 20/25, so it was all fairly straight forward. The extra stuff you’re taught is self-explanatory and none of it is particularly taxing. There’s also a mid-semester test, which for the first time was completely based on calculations. The average was again pretty high and I certainly felt that the test was straight-forward. A little bit frustrating that it was all MCQ though.

The most important pieces of assessment are the exam and the reports. On the reports: these can be a little nerve-wracking. They do require a lot of time, effort and attention-to-detail. There is a hell of a lot of support though and there are always resources available to check what you’re doing. At no point did I feel as though we’d been left high and dry. The prac book has really specific instructions about how to write a report and there is a lecture/tutorial given early on in the piece that explains how to do this. The biggest bonus of the reports, though, is that they’re done at home. The other bonus is that the first is worth less than the second which is worth less than the third. It is really important to pay attention to the detail. A cursory look at the rubric for the reports will reveal that the lion’s share of the marks come from the way you present data and not your discussion. Make sure you do these properly. I felt like I’d produced some really good reports only to be smashed on the marking because I’d made careless error after careless error.

On the exam: it’s tough. There’s no time for a toilet break or to day-dream about that really cute girl sitting in front of you. Amber packs a heap of info into it and you really are expected to remember all the details. That said, I came in relatively underprepared and felt ok with the exam. That there are only 12 lectures in the subject makes it a lot less complicated, so that’s a bonus. Just don’t be like me and underestimate the difficulty of the exam, they are tough and they will take you the full two hours.

Lectures and Tutorials
The lectures deal with the basics of molecular science and the purification of proteins. The content is genuinely quite interesting, so that’s a huge bonus of the lectures. In some cases, the lectures relate quite well to what you’re doing in the pracs, so that’s even better. For the most part, however, they go above and beyond where the pracs go, so they do feel a little bit isolated. Personally, I found it very easy to forget that we had lectures and didn’t really buckle down until the day before the exam, at which point it was far too late to do so. So the top tip there is make sure that you stay on top of the lectures. It’s not a particularly big ask, though with the work you do for the pracs it can feel like a bit of a pain. That said, some of the stuff you learn is pretty cool so it should be ok!

The tutorials were probably not all that helpful. A lot of students didn’t go. Indeed, the attendance was so bad at one of them that Amber just decided to cancel it and wish everyone a happy holidays. Personally, I viewed them as a bit of an optional extra and would only encourage those who are particularly struggling with a topic to go. For that purpose, they are great, otherwise they’re a waste of time.

This subject was brilliantly co-ordinated. The semester went off without a hitch, which is quite a tough ask for a subject that has so much assessment and so many pracs. All of the pracs felt well organised, and there were rarely issues at all. The lab was always set up properly, the demonstrators knew what they were doing. Everything in the labs ran like clock-work.

Amber was extremely helpful when approached. When I had a couple of technical issues this semester, Amber went above and beyond to help me out with them. She even went as far to put my graphs in for me on my questions one week. Another highlight of Amber’s coordination were the occasions when the lecture capture didn’t work. Rather than merely supplying the same lecture from last semester, Amber would actually record the lecture de novo in her office and post the video for it on the LMS.

I cannot stress enough how well this subject is coordinated. Against the backdrop of HSF—which is a shocking subject—this subject was a godsend. Everything ran as it should have. You never felt as though there was no place to go to find your answer and Amber was perhaps the most receptive and helpful coordinator I’ve had.

The Gist
This subject is difficult, but it never feels impossible. You know that you’re expected to work hard, but it really doesn’t feel like hard work. Most importantly, I feel like it’s left me confident in the lab, which was an enormous change from how I felt in Chemistry, for example.

It’s well run, it’s interesting and everyone leaves with a wealth of knowledge that they know will be useful should they find themselves in a lab again. Even better is the fact that the techniques that one learns in this subject are applicable in a number of areas. Personally, I would recommend this subject above other second year prac subjects. I honestly feel as though one could walk into any third year prac and still feel a cut above the rest because they’ve done this subject.

Highly recommend!
« Last Edit: December 03, 2014, 04:58:30 am by Mr. T-Rav »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #368 on: November 07, 2014, 10:35:24 pm »
Subject Code/Name: THTR20021 - Shakespeare in Performance

Workload:  1x1.5 hour lecture (usually closer to 70 mins) and 1x1 hour tute

Assessment:  1x1000 word Short Essay/ Passage Analysis; 1x10 minute performance in tutes with 1000 word write-up; 1x2000 word Research Essay

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, though occasionally some of the videos were under copyright, so weren't included in the lecture capture.

Past exams available:  No exam.

Textbook Recommendation:  No textbook, subject reader is a must. The handbook specifies Oxford editions for all the texts but this isn't necessary.
Texts studied are: (in order)
-The Taming of the Shrew
-Titus Andronicus
-Midsummer Night's Dream
-The Tempest

Lecturer(s): Dr. David McInnis

Year & Semester of completion: 2014, Semester 2

Rating: 6 Out of 5... yes I can do that... shut up, this is English, not maths.

Your Mark/Grade: H1

Comments: I'll try and go through this systematically so this isn't just an extended gushing rant about how wonderful this subject is:

The workload was more than manageable. Chances are you've studied Macbeth or Hamlet before anyway, and if you haven't, this LMS for this subject gives you access to all the BBC performances, alongside a program that scrolls through the text while you're watching (as well as basically every other known Shakespeare adaptation in existence!) Even if you're familiar with the plays, this is probably recommended since this isn't a standard 'here's a book, write what you think' kind of subject. How things are performed is really central to a lot of the lectures, and tutorial discussions, so knowing what the standard BBC version gives you a good starting point for the plethora of other adaptations.

^And I do mean plethora. For each text we would have discussed at least three different adaptations ranging from the bizarre (Macbeth set in gangland Melbourne) to the sardonic (Taming of the Shrew in the London political  sphere) to the grotesque (literally any version of Titus Andronicus.)
You can get by without watching all of them, of course, though whichever texts you're planning on using for assessment, the more alternate views and performative choices you can discuss, the better.

This was what almost put me off this subject at the start of the year; I'm fine with essays, but I am so not a 'theatre-kid.' I have no performance background at all, and I really don't enjoy acting. The tutors were quick to allay fears during the first week, telling us we weren't actually required to perform if we didn't want to; you could join a group and just be a 'backstage' light/sound operator, or the brains behind the operation. Furthermore, you aren't at all judged on your acting abilities, the task is simply an exercise in performance decisions.
There's a lot of freedom here: you can chose any scene in any text, and you're even free to modify, modernise and mutilate the text as you see fit. The actual performance environment is pretty casual, just an open studio room where tutes are held, and everyone was always really supportive.
Being a Theatre Studies subject, it does of course attract some skilled thespians who put many of us to shame, but this subject is more about the thought that goes into the performance than the way it is performed. (Hell, I got a H1 on that section and I was far from the most talented actor in the room.)
After the performance you're asked to explain some of the choices you made, for instance, dialogue, positioning, costuming, sound, modifications to the original text, etc. and then by next week you have to do a 1000 word write up of this process. It's not a formal essay, and following the set formula of subtitles and prompts is pretty easy.
The other assessment is fairly straightforward; just regular English essays with a bigger emphasis on how a text might be performed

Again, I was a bit worried this would consist of a bunch of drama exercises involving finding your spirit animal or passing energy around a circle, but there was none of that. We had the occasional performative or reading exercise, but you could usually opt out or just let others havev their time in the spotlight. Even then, I found myself enjoying a lot of the tasks anyway since it was more about the intent than the delivery.
Tutors are very open to ideas as well, so if you're in a group that would prefer some more performative sessions or more discussions of the readings then they're always willing to work these into the lesson plan where possible. Both tutors (from what I heard, but I can defintely confirm this for mine) were approachable when it came to content/assessment-related questions, and frequently opened up additional office hours when assessment was due.

I saved the best for last. Most people who've taken a first year English subject will know David McInnis. He's widely regarded as one of the best lecturers in the department, and you can tell this is his pet subject. These lectures were the highlight of my week and I often wished they were more frequent. I feel like David probably knows more about Shakespeare than Shakespeare himself did. Although each lecture centred on a certain text, the breadth of concepts and criticism was incredible, and there was just the right balance between information on slides and additional verbal stuff.
He's also the subject co-ordinator and the whole thing was run just as well as his lectures. Everything was clearly set-out, the LMS page wasn't nearly as messy as my other English subjects, and the sheer amount of resources and help available was staggeringly good.

Overall I'd say this is an incredibly fun subject, definitely geared at the English-inclined, but don't be put off by the theatre-studies elements.

Now here's a bunch of amusing images from the lectures to win you over:

« Last Edit: November 27, 2014, 10:07:31 pm by literally lauren »


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #369 on: November 08, 2014, 12:01:22 pm »
Subject Code/Name: MUSI10208 - 19th Century Music and Ideas

Workload: 2x 1 hour lecture and 1x 1 hour tutorial

Lectopia: Yes but without images. Go to the lectures – it’s really important to see the slides/listen to the musical examples/read through the scores with the lecturer.

Past Exams available: none

Textbooks: Norton’s Anthology of Western Music. However, this textbook is REALLY expensive ($100 even when second hand!). Since I was doing this subject for breadth, I decided to use the ones in the music library, even though they’re older editions. There is no problem with doing this. I really suggest you don’t buy the textbook, unless of course you’re doing the Bachelor of Music.

Lecturers: Professor Kerry Murphy (gives most lectures), Rachel Landgren (PhD student who gave a few lectures), Dr Suzanne Cole (gave one lecture)

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2, 2014

Rating: 5/5

Mark/Grade: ‘coming soon’

Assessments: 60% - 2000 word essay; 20% - 2x500 word assignments analysing a piece of music; 20% - 1 hour listening exam


Lectures / Coordination

It really was such a pleasure to do this subject. The lectures, with their mixture of historical/social discussion and musical examples/analysis/videos of performances, are so much fun. Professor Kerry Murphy, who took the majority of the lectures, organised the subject really well, and her enthusiasm for the subject was rather infectious. The other lecturers were equally wonderful. I noticed that there was a lot of humour in the lectures – quite often the whole lecture room would erupt in laughter. Now, it is important to note that this subject is a core requirement for the Bachelor of Music degree, so most of the people doing it are music students; I only met a handful of people doing it for breadth. I feel that you should only do this subject if you have a real interest in Classical/Romantic music and have some knowledge of musical theory – you also need to be able to read music for the assignments, otherwise it would a bit tricky to do well. The subject covers exactly what its name says: it surveys the 19th Century from its very beginning (the influence of Mozart/Haydn and Beethoven), through the middle periods (Liszt, Wagner, et al.), to its very end (Puccini, Mahler).


In tutorials, we discussed the readings and listened to/analysed some musical examples in greater depth. It’s really important to go to the tutorials, because in them you examine all the pieces that could be on the exam and focus on a particular issue (such as women and Lieder in Germany, or the development of the symphony through the 19th Century). I was somewhat surprised how few people turned up each week. In my first tutorial, there were only two other students plus myself. There were never more than six people in any tutorial, even though there were more people on the list! I soon discovered that music students are rather more lax about attendance than even arts students… An amusing moment at the exam was when there weren’t enough seats in the lecture room for all the people who turned up – all through the semester it had only ever been half full!


The readings are quite straightforward. You need to know the important points/facts in the readings. Your tutor will discuss the most important things in the tutorials. You also need to listen to the specified pieces before the tutorials. This is so enjoyable. It hardly feels like studying. For instance, you might listen to a Brahms symphony or an aria by Puccini.


2x500 word assignments (20%): you write 500 words on a question about a particular piece of music. Usually, you have to analyse the music and discuss the harmonic/social/historical issues. But some questions also ask things like ‘What is Romanticism’ – so you can write more broadly in those cases.

Essay (60%): The essay is really important (as you can see). It is also really difficult. Your points should all be substantiated by musical examples (e.g. discussing orchestration/harmony/tonal issues/melodies/chord progressions). So you have to be able to read scores ( so I suggest not doing this subject if you can’t). I spent a long time on my essay, because it is difficult to find some more obscure scores (you have to rummage around in the music library/in databases on the internet) and then you have to make sure your arguments are based on a thoughtful analysis of them. I kind of wish they made the essay 3000 words, especially since it is worth so great a proportion of the mark. That’s the only criticism I have of this subject.

Another thing to note about the essays/assignments is that the tutors/lecturers are really harsh markers. If you make the smallest mistake in your referencing style, they will take marks off. I’m not sure why music makes such a big deal about referencing, but just be aware that you need to make all your references perfect. Be aware that you need to work hard on each assignment to ensure you get H1.

Exam (20%): You listen to four excerpts of music, and have to know what work they are from and then discuss all the aspects of that work, including context (historical/social issues), genre (e.g. chamber music, symphonic music), musical style (realist, Romantic?), and any other important things discussed in tutorials/lectures. You listen to all the pieces in lectures/tutorials. The best way to prepare is to make a set of notes on each piece and constantly listen to all the pieces. In the last week of the semester, they put up a list of the sixteen odd pieces that could be on the exam. This helps to focus your study a bit. I have to say, I was surprised by how underprepared many of the music students were for the exam…some of them were saying afterwards that they only recognised 1 of the 4 pieces. The exam is really quite simple if you prepare adequately for it and bother to revise the pieces beforehand…

In sum, this subject was great! I think I will do other music breadths in the future because they are well run and an absolute pleasure to take part in ☺


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #370 on: November 10, 2014, 05:29:34 pm »
For any of the psych majors here... *crickets*  :'(  :P

Subject Code/Name: PSYC30021 - Psychological Science: Theory & Practice

Note about subject: This subject is the Capstone subject undertaken by all Psychology majors. It basically extends upon the topics that have been introduced in 1st and 2nd year Psych and also introduces a few new topics. That said, 1st/2nd year psych is not a strict prerequisite but I believe the subject is a lot easier if you’ve at least got some psych background (e.g. in lab report writing and statistics).

Workload: 1x 2 hour lecture each week and 6 x 2 hour research seminars across the semester (conducted on alternating weeks, depending on which research topic you choose – you are given a list of research topics and timings before the semester starts and you can choose which one interests you, e.g. my research seminars ran in weeks 2,3,4,6,8,10).

Group poster worked on and completed within the research seminar classes – 10%
Individual lab report based on the poster due late in the semester (1500 words) – 50%
2 hour end-of-semester exam (4 compulsory essay style Qs – you don’t get to choose!) – 40%

Lectopia Enabled: Yes!

Past exams available:  No! But each lecturer provided 1 practice exam question and a brief guide of answering tips e.g. structure, how to discuss studies etc.

Textbook Recommendation: N/A

Lecture 1: Intro to subject. Scientist-Practitioner model & ethical principles – Judi Humberstone & Bob Reeve

Lecture 2,3,4: Social Psychology lecture series –Yoshi Kashima
->Lecture 2: "How does my social environment influence me?" From the thinking man to talking nets & beyond
->Lecture 3: "How can we change social behaviour?" - the role of mass media and public campaigns
->Lecture 4: "Does our culture influence us? Can we influence our culture?" The case of climate change

Lecture 5&6: Cognitive neuropsychology lecture series – Sarah Wilson
->Lecture 5: "What is cognitive control?" The role of the prefrontal cortex in regulating complex human behaviours
->Lecture 6: "Should I let them operate?" Applying knowledge of the prefrontal cortex in clinical neuropsychology

Lecture 7,8,9: Moral, social and political psychology lecture series –Jeremy Ginges
->Lecture 7: Cooperation, markets and morals
->Lecture 8: Devoted actors and intergroup conflict
->Lecture 9: Intergroup perceptions and intergroup conflict

Lecture 10&11: Psychology of Addiction (Gambling, Alcohol, Drugs) - Rob Hester
->Lecture 10: "Can people control their addictive behaviour?" - the role of cognitive neuroscience & public policy in addressing addictive gambling and drugs
->Lecture 11: "Are people in control of their behaviour while intoxicated?" - prevailing issues in alcohol and drug intoxication

Lecture 12: Exam briefing & future pathways discussion –Katherine Johnson

Note: Only lectures 2-11 are examinable. (1 essay question per lecturer)

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2, 2014.

Rating: 4/5

Your Mark/Grade: 92 (H1)

Comments: This was the psychology major's capstone subject so like Research Methods for Human Inquiry, I was required to take this subject. I did enjoy this subject though there was sooooo much content! However, I found that even though I did have to cram a lot for this subject (fell behind during semester), it wasn’t actually that bad! Maybe that’s coz I’m so used to doing psych subjects but the way this subject integrated content and the way the lecturers presented their content was really good and made everything seem a little more manageable and interesting :)

So basically at the start of semester, you are put into a research seminar group (based on your choice and which study most interests you). There are a range of research topics offered, and you’re sure to find something that interests you! Because each seminar represents a different topic, it’s not like previous years where you can just timetable yourself into *any* tutorial – you must make sure you choose the correct tutorial number corresponding to your chosen/desired research study :)

At the start of semester, you form into groups (which usually just means forming a group with whoever you’re sitting with in the first tutorial) and then start thinking about what specific topic you and your group will formulate in relation to your broader research issue. Then you basically work on creating a research study of your chosen research topic/question and create a huge poster with all your lab report details on it (intro, method, discussion etc). The poster is pretty pro (not like the ones you do in grade 6 or anything LOL) so you basically do all your stuff on this powerpoint slide and then send that off to Judi so she prints it off for you on an A1 poster. Then, there’s a poster presentation night where you present your poster for the world to see :P Right after you finish your poster, you need to start working on your individual lab report (the same way you do your lab reports in previous psych subjects) and (for us) that was due roughly 2 weeks before the exam, so it’s good to start it early so you have more time to study for the exam :)

Anyways now that I’ve mentioned the whole research seminar side of things, let me talk about the exam. Basically you get 4 essay Qs and you are expected to write about 4-5 pages for each one, incorporating empirical research (in-text citations were not compulsory but would probably impress your assessor hahah). In terms of timing, I felt that 2 hours had me pressed for time but that’s probably coz I spent 15 mins extra on one of the questions. Writing ~15-20 pages in 2 hours is no easy feat; so use reading time wisely to try and plan your answers in your head or identify which empirical studies/research you could use in each essay Q. The questions they give are fair but can be vague if you haven’t studied the content enough. So as long as you do listen to all the lectures and understand the fundamental point that each lecturer is making, you should be fine for the exam :) Oh and don’t underestimate the power of cramming during swotvac! :P (I’m a bad influence T___T hahah).

All the best! :)
« Last Edit: November 27, 2014, 11:42:19 pm by yearningforsimplicity »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #371 on: November 12, 2014, 04:44:26 pm »
Subject Code/Name: COMP90051 Statistical and Evolutionary Learning (from 2015 onwards: Statistical and Machine Learning)

Workload: 2x one-hour lectures, 1x one-hour computer lab

Assessment: 50% final exam (3 hours), 10% mid-semester test, 2x 20% projects.
The exam and total project marks are hurdles. If your mid-semester mark is lower than your average project mark, the mid-sem mark is dropped.

Lectopia Enabled: Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available: No, but a practice exam was made available. The content of this subject has changed quite a bit in the last few years and is likely to be different again next year.

Textbook Recommendation: There are a couple of recommended texts. "The Elements of Statistical Learning" by Hastie, Tibshirani and Friedman covers most of the course and can be downloaded from the authors' web site.

Lecturer(s): Dr Ben Rubinstein, Dr Justin Bedo, Dr Vinh Nguyen.

Year & Semester of completion: 2014, Semester 2.

Rating: 4/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1

This subject covers a wide variety of techniques used in (choose your preferred buzzword) machine learning, data mining, Big Data, etc. Basically all of the methods of analysing data that don't fit under the traditional banner of "statistics". Because it covers so much, you don't go into very much depth in any of the topics in the lectures, but you do get a good idea of what methods are out there and what circumstances you might want to use them in. This subject is very much a case of "you get out what you put in", and sometimes feels a bit muddled when trying to explain mathematical ideas without using any actual maths, which is why I've only rated it 4/5.

The assessment during semester is in the form of open-ended projects which allow you to explore the methods in more detail and actually apply them to a practical task. The first one was about analysing social network data, trying to predict where users lived based on their friends and the time of day they were active. The second was handwriting recognition. Both projects were fun but challenging - expect to put in a lot of time if you want to do well. The first project had a competition website with a live leaderboard so you could see how well you were doing compared to the rest of the class. The second project was apparently supposed to too but the course coordinator didn't have time to set it up.

There are three lecturers for this course. Ben Rubinstein took the first half of the course in a "topic of the week" format, covering a lot of methods with little depth. Justin Bedo taught neural networks (3 weeks) and Vinh Nguyen taught evolutionary algorithms (3 weeks). Both Ben and Justin have experience working in the industry, Ben at Google and Justin at IBM. Of the three, Ben was my favourite lecturer, although I may be biased because I already knew him before taking the course... I least enjoyed the evolutionary algorithms part of the course, which could be summed up as "hey cool, this trick works in nature and it works when you implement it on a computer too". Other people might love it, though.

There is a prerequisite subject listed, a computer science subject on "Knowledge Technologies". In practice, the most important knowledge to have is programming experience (ideally in a high-level language suited for data analysis, e.g. Matlab, Python or R) and some probability and calculus. The lectures try to avoid going too deep into the maths, and there's an "intro to probability" document handed out at the start of the subject, but to get the most out the course, you'll need a little bit of maths.

The specific topics covered apparently vary a bit from year to year. This year we looked at:
- linear and logistic regression
- ensemble methods: bagging and boosting
- regularisation, model complexity and overfitting
- Support Vector Machines and kernel methods
- Probabilistic Graphical Models and Hidden Markov Models
- neural networks and "large scale learning" (methods for parallel computing etc)
- evolutionary/genetic algorithms for optimisation

Rambling aside: From the perspective of a mathematician, "machine learning" looks a whole lot like "statistics", but the focus is different. In statistics, the data you're dealing with usually has a nicely structured interpretation, and you want to answer specific questions within that framework. It's about understanding the real-world process that generated the data rather as much as it is answering questions about the data itself. In machine learning, the data is usually big, messy and unstructured, and all you care about is being able to make accurate predictions about future observations. Different approaches for different situations!
« Last Edit: November 27, 2014, 10:11:50 pm by cameronp »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #372 on: November 12, 2014, 07:52:17 pm »
Subject Code/Name: HIST20010 The First Centuries of Islam 


Contact Hours: This subject is taught intensively between 13 – 24 July 2015 with a daily 2-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial.
Total Time Commitment:
170 hours



A document exercise 1500 words, 30% (due Monday after end of the teaching period) and a 2500 word project, 70% (due 1 month after the end of the teaching period).

Hurdle requirement: students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day; after five working days, no late assessment will be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes. With screen capture.

Past exams available:  Yes. Past exams available, they were helpful in telling you what kind of questions would be given, but beyond that they weren't super helpful.

Textbook Recommendation:  No need to buy a textbook, lol. It's only for 2 weeks. They do tell you to read tutorial readings, which were quite long etc. I ended up going to Officeworks and getting them printed and bound into a book. I then wrote notes in that book.

Lecturer(s): Richard Pennell, Abdullah Saeed (ugh sorry if I get this wrong)

Year & Semester of completion: Winter, 2014

Did this in the last 2 weeks of my winter holiday. :)

Rating:  3 of 5

Personally I enjoyed my experiences with this subject but I don't know whether I'd recommend it to others.

My grade: H1

Note: I did this subject as a breadth subject, I am a B-Sci student.

Overall, I did this subject because I didn't want to do 4 subjects during my first semester of the year. I would recommend people take this subject if they do 3 subjects in the second semester. The subject takes up 2 weeks of your winter holiday and it's a little depressing how little time you get for your holidays. :P

I also did this subject because I was interested in learning more about Islam, because I have Muslim friends. This subject did teach me a little about Islam, but not as much as I was expecting. One of the two assessments focused on architecture, so we were taught about many Islamic buildings in the lectures (although I didn't find this information particular relevant to the building I ended up doing).

2hr lecture in the morning, 1hr tute in the arvo. Doesn't sound too bad right? However there were also extra mini lectures (that sounded like they were recorded in Richard's lounge room) that Richard recommend people watch before the actual lectures (some days only).

Looking back I wouldn't go to the lectures, we weren't exactly examined on anything in the lectures. It was a bit strange. The lectures really only provided background knowledge to what we were to be taught in tutes. I would just watch the lectures at home at super speed if I were you. (NOTE: Lectures may change, who knows)

The lecturers themselves, Richard and Abdullah, were amazing to listen to. They were great speakers and the content was interesting, however it didn't help that while I was stuck getting to uni at like 10am to listen to this lecture, my friends were out having fun. ):

On the other hand, tutes were amazing. I attribute that to my amazing tutor (Shout out to Eddie). He was 10/10 one of the best tutors I've had at uni. He went through all the content in the tutorials really well, and gave us great background information. I would recommend you go through the readings before you go to the tute, but if you don't have time/don't understand the readings it's fine, your tutor should go over it with you.

I would definitely go to the tutes, because not only are they interesting, but you will also meet other students and be able to complain about the subject with others. By the end of the two weeks I think everyone in my tute kind of new eachother, it was pretty good. The tutorials will go over the readings, and the take home exam has two questions which relate to two of the readings so I would definitely recommend going because without going to the tutorial it would be stupid hard to

However, if you get a crappy tutor you might be a little out of luck. My friend had Richard as his tutor and apparently he tended to ramble a bit.

Best get in early if you want a good tute time slot.. you don't want to have to wait around at uni for 4 hours after your exam for a bad tute time (assuming you also go to the lectures).

Assessment 1:[/b]
"A document exercise 1500 words, 30%" (due Monday after end of the teaching period)<-- From handbook

Assuming they don't change this subject around, this would refer to the take home exam we were given. You were given a choice of answering questions from maybe 3 or 4 of the tutorial readings (which is good, because you can choose the reading you feel the most comfortable with). Each topic had 2 questions you could answer, so a maximum of 750 words per answer.

Luckily I wrote nearly everything my tutor said in the tutes, because I found my notes so useful when I was writing the answers. While it's a take home exam, the readings are often so obscure that the internet won't help you answer the questions. SO GO TO THE TUTES PEOPLE.

Assessment 2:[/b]
"2500 word project, 70% (due 1 month after the end of the teaching period)" <-- From Handbook

This assessment was a 2500 report on an Islamic building. You are supposed to integrate everything you've learnt into this report. You can given a list of projects and you sign up for one of your choosing. Having little to no knowledge of Islamic buildings I YOLO chose a building.

My building was super obscure, there wasn't a Wikipedia page on it but there was one of the person it was built by. I really had to learn how to do research using books and it was a great learning experience. However... you should really start on this project ASAP. By the time the due date rolls by (1 month into the semester), you have assessments from your other subjects due and it gets a little crazy.

It was kind of hard finding information on your building, and my advice is to live at the library and just utelise all the books they provide.

So the subject really wasn't the bludgey winter subject I was looking forward to, it was kind of the opposite. I already had an interest in Islam, but if you don't and you hate buildings and hate writing essays I would definitely do another subject.

However I did put in the hard effort to do well in the assessment and it paid off. I had a great tutor and it definitely helped. If you get a bad tutor the subject might be harder for you.. as for my friend who got the bad tutor, he still did well in the subject. I guess the subject might be hit or miss for many people.

I do have a feeling they might change things around, because Richard was really open to hearing our feedback.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 08:02:03 pm by ReganM »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #373 on: November 12, 2014, 10:30:15 pm »
Subject Code/Name: BIOL10003: Genes and Environment

Contact Hours: 3 x one hour lectures per week, 1 hour per week of tutorials or workshops. 2 hours of practical work per fortnight and 3 hours per week of e-learning including independent learning tasks, pre and post laboratory activities.
Total Time Commitment: Estimated total time commitment of 120 hours

A 45 minute, multiple choice test held mid-semester (10%); a combination of assessment of practical skills within the practical class, completion of up to 5 on-line pre-practical tests, written work within the practical not exceeding 500 words and up to 5 short multiple choice tests (25%); an assignment based on the practical content and not exceeding 1000 words ( 10%); completion of 5 Independent Learning Tasks throughout the semester (5%); a 3 hour examination on theory and practical work in the examination period (50%).

Satisfactory completion of practical work is necessary to pass the subject (i.e. an 80% attendance at the practical classes together with a result for the assessed practical work of at least 50%).

Lectopia Enabled: Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available: One extended sample exam (it has more questions than the real exam) given out at the end of the semester, with solutions.

Textbook Recommendation: D Sadava, D M Hillis, H G Heller, M R Berenbaum, Life. 10th Ed. Sinaver/Freeman, 2013

The textbook wasn't as useful as it was in semester 1. You'll find that less references are provided by the lecturers, and the few references that are provided are often very short and contain superfluous information. Since you've probably got it from semester 1, it's still worth holding on to, and it definitely contains some very interesting and insightful information. It might come in handy if you need a bit of extra help as well.

As in semester 1, you'll also have to buy a practical and tutorial/workshop workbook, containing the practical tasks and the tutorial/workshop worksheets, as well as some additional worksheets to supplement the independent learning tasks.

Dr Alex Idnurm (Botany): Lectures 1-6 - Classification and Parasite Taxa
Assoc Prof Rob Day (Zoology): Lectures 7-14 - Disease and Transmission, Evolution of Resistance, Hominin Evolution
Assoc Prof Dawn Gleeson (Genetics): Lectures 15-36 - Genetics

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2 2014

Rating: 4/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1


In terms of structure and co-ordination, this subject is very similar to its semester 1 counterpart. However, as you'd expect, the content is vastly different, so it's a change from what you've previously been studying. Most people I spoke to seemed to prefer Genes and Environment to Biomolecules and Cells; personally I preferred semester 1 just by a little bit, but this subject was definitely run to a pretty high standard compared to the other subjects I have taken so far. It has quite a different focus in terms of learning skills as well, which suited some people but challenged others. Overall, I thought it was a worthwhile and useful subject to take.

Unfortunately the three 8am starts carry over from semester 1, and it's clear that attendance really starts to drop off over the course of the semester (I think Dawn was a bit shocked to see how many vacant seats there were in the lecture theatre). There was an incident this year where one lecture didn't get captured due to a widespread outage of the lecture capture system, so if you're inclined to stay at home and watch the lecture later, it's important to realise that technology fails at times and that you might be left without anything as a consequence. Oddly enough, when Dawn tried to substitute the lecture that didn't get recorded this year with its equivalent from last year, she remembered that lecture had been interrupted by a fire alarm - in other words, students who missed the lecture had no way to make it up! This was probably just bad luck, but it's worth keeping in mind nonetheless. :P

The first two weeks are taken by Dr Alex Idnurm from the Botany department, who is new to the university. He covers classification and parasite taxa (i.e. viruses, bacteria and archaea, fungi and protists, and their relevance to human disease). I know it sounds awfully similar to the animal taxa component covered in semester 1, but you'll be relieved to know that this unit actually takes a completely different course. A lot of specific details will be thrown at you, and it will seem daunting, but Alex emphasises that he wants you to develop a broader understanding and appreciation of the concepts presented, and worry about all the examples later. The main purpose of all the examples he provides is to help illustrate some of the concepts he is bringing up, or highlight a particular exceptional case. To help us along, he provided a FAQ sheet that explained which examples were quite important and which were largely unnecessary to learn (in this case it was more that we just had to be aware that it existed). His questions on the mid-semester test and exam tended to steer away from memorising specific details, but it is necessary to be aware of at least a few of them so that you can refer to them if need be. That being said, since Alex was new Dawn didn't allocate many questions to him for the mid-semester test or exam, so perhaps in the future you'll need to know about his lectures a little bit more. As long as you're able to integrate all the concepts and examples and highlight the special cases, you should be fine.

The next eight lectures are taken by Assoc Prof Rob Day from the Zoology department. He covers disease and transmission, evolution of resistance and hominin evolution. As the lecturer said himself, these topics are vastly different to most of the biology you've been exposed to before - it has a very strong ecology flavour to it. I'm going to be honest here and say that I found this unit particularly dry and thus didn't engage in the lectures terribly well, and it probably didn't help me when I was trying to learn the content later. You're going to be exposed to a lot of specifics (whether they be species, specific details about them, their life cycles, particular characteristics about various circumstances etc.) and you're expected to learn it all. There are a lot of things that seem completely irrelevant, but they do get assessed, so lean on the safe side and learn anything that appears on a lecture slide (even if it means that you feel like you're learning about history when you look at the agricultural and industrial revolutions). I'm not a fan of mindless rote-learning, but a lot of this part of the course demands it, so if you're like me you're going to just have to accept it and try your best. Most of us drew a line at some point though, and were almost willing to forsake some marks because it was that painful. :P Make sure you attend the lectures as some slides and images are not put up on the LMS (and I discovered that one of these slides was assessed - only after the exam though, when I happened to discover that I had taken a photo of that relevant slide on my phone :P ). These eight lectures are really odd, because it feels like you're going slowly and yet so much information is being thrown at you it's not even funny.

The first 14 lectures weren't really my cup of tea, but this all changed once we started the genetics component with Assoc Prof Dawn Gleeson. Not only did I find genetics fascinating (well, more fascinating than when I was studying it in Unit 4 Biology) but Dawn was an amazing lecturer (if you refer to my semester 1 review, you'll see that my favourite lecturer was Dr Mary Familari - people have noticed that I seem to have this thing for elderly women - don't judge me! :P ). She used to be the chief examiner for VCE Biology and is the current co-ordinator of first year studies in Biology, so she's very mindful of the transition to university and does her best to make it as smooth as possible (which is evident through the BioBytes made available to you on the LMS, which you can refer to before lectures if you think it might help). She's not only passionate about genetics, but education as a whole, and she is very friendly, funny and helpful. Seriously, I don't know how she manages to respond to emails so quickly. <_< Her lecture slides are a bit of a dog's breakfast, but I found that this really forced me to work on how I collaborated my lecture notes. They're generally needlessly long and most of the time she won't get through them all, but it's OK since she doesn't have defined boundaries for her lecture slides like other lecturers do (this is probably because her part of the course is so extended). It might seem like you're falling behind, but most of the time she just tacks extra slides onto the end just in case she moves through more quickly than usual (this rarely happens though). In the past I've heard that the cohort has fallen behind, but we managed to finish all the content on time.

Genetics requires a different mode of learning and a different set of skills compared to most of the other areas of Biology that you have been exposed to so far in that there is an increased focus on problem solving and understanding processes. This was warmly welcomed by most students, particularly after the content-heavy lectures prior to genetics. However, it does get challenging at times, especially since problem solving is difficult to establish and teach in a lecture setting. In addition to the workshops and tutorials, Dawn will provide plenty of questions in her lecture slides and on the LMS and I recommend doing them all. Problem solving in genetics is something you need to sit down with and consolidate in your own time. To guide you along, she will briefly go through some examples in lectures but relying on these is probably insufficient. In particular, note the setting out in the solutions. I think a lot of people dismissed it as unimportant at first and didn't realise the significance until it was too late. For those that did VCE Biology, you'll know that precision and accuracy are absolutely vital to success. Just like last semester though, don't become complacent - yes, a lot of the content will seem very familiar to you, but I can assure you that it gets extended upon a lot this semester, so relying on previous knowledge won't be anywhere near enough. This is particularly relevant to the problem solving component of the genetics unit.

Just like last semester, there are five practicals that make up 25% of your grade. These link in with the lecture content quite well, so they're particularly useful for the hands-on learner. I'm not sure if it was just because we were more used to the expectations by now, but I noticed both in my own results and the results of the cohort that the marks for in-practical assessment (in fact, for the practicals in general) were significantly higher. For some reason though, I kept making silly mistakes in the post-practical tests. :P Anyway, as per usual, good preparation is key in order to get through the practicals without any undue stress. If you can, have a go at answering some of the questions at home before the practical to save some time while you're in there. Dawn actually took my group's genetics practicals, which I found quite handy since she was able to integrate her lectures and the practicals incredibly closely.

The workshops and tutorials are essentially the same as last semester. Most people still found the workshops to be completely pointless, so they tried to pick up attendance by providing hints for the upcoming practical. The few minutes they would go over these hints were actually pretty helpful, but a lot of the time we were just sitting there listening to the tutor, answering questions or filling out a worksheet. That being said, I found the problem solving classes quite helpful since the environment was far more conducive than the lecture theatre. Even if you decide not to attend the workshops, I still highly recommend going through the tutorial questions and worksheets. They generally make for good revision and are an extra source of questions to practice your genetics skills with. I personally felt the tutorials were far better due to the smaller class size, although workshop attendance was often so low that it felt like I was in a tutorial anyway. :P For some reason, a lot of people stopped turning up to the tutorials prior to the practical as well, although I don't recommend this because this is when you get feedback for your mid-semester test and assignment and is the best time to ask for help or address questions. I was very fortunate to end up with Lyn O'Neill as my tutor again this semester - she explains the concepts very thoroughly (this is particularly helpful in practicals where everything often feels so chaotic and rushed) and marks quite fairly (I've heard some horror stories from people with other tutors from the Biology laboratory).

The mid-semester test is run exactly like last semester and is worth 10% of your grade. It covers the content in lectures 1-14 and generally speaking the marks were noticeably lower this semester compared to semester 1. As I've said, this is largely due to the large amount of specific details you'll need to commit to memory, which is only made more difficult by the dry nature of the content. If you start revising for this early, you'll probably find that you'll cope a lot better. I personally found the test fair, but there were quite a few questions that seemed really ambiguous to me. Occasionally a question would be removed from the test because Dawn felt the ambiguity was beyond reasonable, but generally it was really important to read the stem of the question and each option really carefully. The only positive is that this test really does force you to consolidate lectures 1-14 before moving onto genetics, and additionally there is a reduced weighting of these lectures on the exam due to them being covered by the mid-semester test. A practice test will be released for your reference, and you'll find the actual test questions similar to the types of questions that can be asked on the final exam.

The assignment is also quite similar to last semester and is also worth 10% of your grade. There are two parts: the first part revolves around using the university's eFly genetics program, which allows you to generate particular crosses and observe the results. The assignment got released too early this year (we hadn't covered enough of the relevant content yet in lectures) so it got drastically simplified to compensate. That being said, the results for this part were generally poor. This is one of the few times in this subject where you actually get feedback on your written work (if you think about it, the only other time you're assessed on written work is Section D of the exam, which you don't get to see again once you've submitted it) and I think people were quite confronted by all the corrections that had been made on their work. Biology is all about precision and accuracy, and too many people forgot about this when completing their assignment. If you want a good mark, you need to make sure your explanations are watertight. Additionally, take care with how you present your crosses (particularly the notation - although you get warned about this). I lost one mark because my tables didn't have lines in them. :P If you sit down and complete this assignment carefully and properly, then you should have no issues. If you're unsure at any point, do not hesitate to ask for help from the tutors or from Dawn herself. The second part involves developing skills about using the online library resources by finding a particular article related to a given topic. This is then followed up on in a workshop where you get asked some relatively simple questions about what you have learnt. This part of the assignment is not very difficult and most people who lost marks on this section were generally careless.

There are also 5 assessed ILTs that make up 5% of your grade this semester. Additionally, you are also asked to complete some revision ILTs, and although these aren't assessed, they do have a due date, so do complete them. They complement the lectures far better than they did last semester, and the assessment itself should not pose any difficulties.

The final exam is also of the same format as last semester and is worth 50% of your grade. The exam is predominantly focussed on genetics and is significantly more difficult than its semester 1 counterpart, particularly when it came to timing. I complete section D first since I often go overtime here, and I can guess questions from sections A, B and C if I run out of time. I also went overtime for section D last semester, but I made it up on section A, which didn't happen this time around. A lot of people I spoke to had incomplete answers for section D, so keep this in mind. I managed to finish with about 30 seconds to spare, so I had no time whatsoever to look over my answers. In fact, if I wasn't sure about something, I just had to put down an answer and move on - there just wasn't enough time. Two of the section D questions were written by Dawn - one was a problem solving one involving a genetic cross, and the other a theory-based question. The other question was provided by Rob Day, who had very specific instructions on how to complete the question (e.g. 200 word limit, marks deducted for dot points, marks awarded for logical order of arguments, etc.). The questions in sections A, B and C took me longer to complete than expected since a lot of them involved problem solving, but other than Rob Day's content (which I had largely given up on and so found very difficult) I thought the exam was fair in terms of difficulty. Thankfully the smaller weighting of the exam means that you have a lot more scope for error, so hopefully a less than perfect performance won't be particularly damaging to your grade.

This is all I can think of for now, so I guess I'll leave it at that. In some respects, this subject is more difficult than Biomolecules and Cells, particularly if excessive rote learning (lectures 1-14) or problem solving (genetics) isn't your strength. However, I wouldn't say that Genes and Environment was completely impossible either, and there were definitely a lot of parts that were very interesting to learn about. If you'd like any extra information or have any questions, please feel free to ask. Good luck! :)

I thought I'd leave you with the following image. Rob Day will show it to you enough times during the semester that it will become fixed in your brain anyway. Surely some early exposure won't hurt. :P

« Last Edit: November 25, 2014, 04:56:32 pm by Stick »
2017-2020: Doctor of Medicine - The University of Melbourne
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #374 on: November 13, 2014, 12:57:11 pm »
Subject Code/Name: INTS10001: International Politics 

Workload:  2x1 hour lectures, 1 hour tute

Assessment: 25% 1000 word essay, 50% 2000 word essay, 25% 1000 word take home exam.

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available:  One past exam.

Textbook Recommendation:  Personally, I've only used the textbook once. Biggest waste of money so steer clear of it.

Lecturer(s): Avery Poole is the subject coordinator, however there are a few other guest lecturers from other parts of the faculty.

Rating:  0.5/5

Your Mark/Grade: N/A


Well what can I say? This is simply the worst subject I have ever done. You will struggle to stay awake in lectures, lecturers ramble on but lack depth. The level of detail in lectures is a joke, you will struggle to get an H3 on your assessments if you simply went by lecture content. However tutes are actually pretty interesting depending on the tutor if you participate in discussions. The quality of your tutor will make or break your experience in this subject. Personally I had a horrible experience with my first tutor and had to swap tutes. Assessment wise, it's pretty clear cut. 3 take home essays including the exam, comprising of 25%, 50% and 25% of your grade. The marking criteria is fairly obfuscated despite their best attempts to make it transparent. If you are considering this as breadth thinking it would be an easy H1, you cannot be more wrong. Stay away from this subject if you are not in the Arts Faculty.

/end rant
« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 12:58:53 pm by abcdqdxD »