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August 13, 2020, 09:00:55 pm

Author Topic: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings  (Read 1205690 times)  Share 

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #525 on: November 25, 2015, 07:55:16 pm »
Subject Code/Name: ACCT20002: Intermediate Financial Accounting 

Workload: 1 x 2hr lecture and 1 x 1hr tutorial a week

Assessment: 1hr mid sem test (20%), tutorial participation (10%), 3hr exam (70%)

Lectopia Enabled: Yes, with screen capture

Past exams available: They posted four with solutions on LMS

Textbook Recommendation:  Financial Reporting 1st edition, the ebook is recommended since its way cheaper especially if you buy online from the publisher which is what I did

Lecturer(s): Jagjit Kaur

Year & Semester of completion: 2015, semester 2

Rating: 3 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA

Comments: Another semester = another accounting subject review by yours truly. And for the first time on Atarnotes, here’s a review for IFA2 yay.

So where oh where do I even begin with IFA2? I would think the lecturer, who is also the subject coordinator, asked herself the exact same question before teaching the subject. There are so many separate topics in the subject but they all focus on every student’s favourite part about accounting: debits and credits, yep that’s right double entry accounting from IFA1 is back with a bang. If you thought IFA1 was hard, or even if you thought it was easy, IFA2 will make you want to pull your hair out.

IFA2 is a subject that proves you don’t get tested much on how well you understand something, but how well you’ve memorised something. Particularly when you get to deferred tax worksheets and consolidations, you can reach the end of the semester and you’ll only know which entries to do because you’ve done it repeatedly so many times, not because you actually know what you’re doing.

The lecturer Jagjit, she does the best she can with a subject that students don’t tend to enjoy. She clearly is passionate about accounting and also has a sense of humour that makes listening to lectures somewhat bearable. Be sure to listen attentively and take notes when she goes through lecture examples, understanding those examples along with tute questions are essential as exam questions will be similar.

IFA2 is generally accepted as the hardest accounting subject at the undergrad level, and while I cannot accurately confirm that since I haven’t taken any third year accounting subjects yet, my tutor did tell us that IFA2 is normally the subject that decides for students whether accounting is for them or not. Hence I would recommend this subject for anyone seriously considering a career in accounting (especially audit), because the ‘boring’ side of accounting and understanding accounting standards is basically this subject.

I don’t want to make this subject seem like a completely terrible subject because it’s not, it’s just a bit exhausting on the brain with all the entries you need to remember, which I guess is why this review hasn’t been as lively as my past reviews... my brain is still sleepy zzz.


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #526 on: November 28, 2015, 01:33:35 pm »
Subject Code/Name: COMP30026 Models of Computation

This subject is a combination of two discontinued subjects (Discrete Structures and Theory of Computation) and is now part of the Computing and Software Systems major. The first half of the subject covers the logic results from Discrete Structures without the programming aspect, and the second half covered most of Theory of Computation, but we didn't get time to cover complexity theory (P=NP etc).

Workload: 2x 1h lecture, 1x 2h tutorial (a lot like a maths tutorial - you work through problems in groups and the tutor helps out)

10% - Assignment 1
10% - Mid-semester test
10% - Assignment 2
70% - 2h exam in exam period

Lectopia Enabled:  Yep! worked like a charm.

Past exams available:
Since 2015 was the first year this subject was run, there were no past papers for this subject. However, there was 1 Discrete Structures exam available in the archives, and many (like 6+) Theory of Computation exams available.

Textbook Recommendation:
At all points through the material the lectures and slides are more than sufficient content wise.

It's not on the official recommendations list, but I read the first chapter of A Tour Through Mathematical Logic by Robert Wolf before the start of the semester and that really got me into the formal logic mindset needed from day one in this subject.

On Harald's list is for background reading is a small textbook on discrete maths called Sets, Logic and Mathematics for Computing by David Makinson. This covers more than enough for the discrete math part of the course and reading it fully was not required at all, but it really strengthened my foundational discrete maths skills (not really something I had from all the calculus in high school and uni so far -- gave me a good grasp of the basic definitions and ideas)

There is a slightly larger textbook on theory of computation which is pretty much the standard worldwide as far as I can tell, called Introduction to the Theory of Computation by Michael Sipser. This book goes into a lot of detail, is nicely organised, and is good as a reference and for finding proofs. For a more slow paced introduction that really just gets the ideas moving in your head, I read Introduction to Theory of Computation by Michiel Smid, which motivates each idea with some simple examples and is great for starting out. In particular I got a lot from the second chapter on Finite Automata.

Not a textbook but another invaluable resource for the second half of the subject (the theory of computation half) is the Theory of Computation lecture series by Shai Simonson from ADUni. These are basically very example-oriented classes on the kinds of problems you face in this part of the course, and I found them immensely fun to watch and think about the problems as I went.

Lecturer(s): Harald Søndergaard

Year & Semester of completion: 2015 Semester 2

Rating: 5/5

Your Mark/Grade: 100



As mentioned, this subject is a combination of Discrete Structures and Theory of Computation.

The first 4 weeks covered formal logic all the way from AND and OR to 'mechanised reasoning' - algorithms for proving results from a set of assumptions. There's a lot to pick up here which is why I recommend checking out some basic textbooks before you go in, to let the ideas settle before you actually need to run with them.
Formal logic can get a little out of hand at times but there's always a logical interpretation of whatever is going on, grounding everything in intuitive terms. If you always search for the intuition underlying a definition or theorem, you'll see how nicely this all fits together. Harald doesn't always present that intuition for you in the lecture, but it's worth searching for it!

Next up is 3ish weeks on some discrete maths topics, from sets to relations and functions to 'orders' and 'well-foundedness'. There are a lot of definitions going on in this part of the course, and they're mostly all framed in formal logic notation, so it's important to keep up or at least spend the time to break things down and find out what they are really saying.

The final 5 weeks are a tour through the theoretical underpinnings of computer science using all of the material covered so far. More than anything previously, these topics are quite conceptually heavy AND the presentation through big symbolic definitions also betrays how natural and intuitive these concepts really are, so it's worth working at them to find the intuition underneath all of that. This may require either preparing extensively beforehand by pre-reading either computing textbook, or spending adequate time afterwards slowly developing understanding of the concepts.
In particular, the lecture series I linked in the textbook section was really really great for developing the intuition behind this part of the course.


Unlike other COMP subjects, there is no programming in this subject [edit: I think that's changing for future semesters! Haskell is being introduced]. Instead, tutorial/assignment/test/exam questions are all maths/logic based problems, with a simple proof thrown in here (but proofs are typically allowed to be more conversational than in maths subjects like MAST20026 Real Analysis). Also, you learn a few 'algorithms' that you need to know how to carry out by hand on simple examples (e.g. mechanically proving simple results from assumptions), but there is zero implementation.

Some assignment questions are quite tough and require real creativity, but others are straightforward applications of an algorithm from lectures/tutorials. Overall, a good spread of difficulty.

The particularly mathematical nature of the content of the assignments made it worth writing up solutions nicely using LaTeX; harald provides source code examples for those willing to try it. This is optional though, and it's fine to scan and submit neat written solutions.

Questions on the actual exam were very similar to questions on the assignments and MST, questions from the tutorials, and to questions on the past exams from the old subjects (though these past exams contain a fair amount of non-assessable content because they were from different subjects). Overall the exam was fair, some questions requiring a bit of creativity and on the spot ingenuity and others straight forward applications like many of the tutorial questions.


I've spent most of this review describing the subject content, which I personally found to be incredibly interesting, and the problems challenging and rewarding. However, the way the subject was coordinated was also worthy of praise, Harald has done a fantastic job of presenting the material and conducting the subject. If all university subjects were run this seamlessly I'd never want to leave!

Overall, this was exactly what I came to university for. From before day one I knew exactly what was expected of me and had all the resources available to meet the challenges of this subject. Add to that the engaging and evocative nature of the content, and this has been the best subject I have studied to date.

This subject does a great job of presenting the intersection between maths and computing, and if you're into logic puzzles and testing the limits of computability, you'll find this subject worthwhile. Above all, there's a really satisfying and intuitive idea behind every piece of this puzzle and if you spend the time to search for those little insights I think you'll really get a lot out of this subject.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2016, 04:29:57 pm by silverpixeli »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #527 on: November 30, 2015, 11:34:56 am »
Subject Name/Code: DASC20013 Topics in Animal Health

Workload: Weekly 1 x2 Hour Lecture, 6 x 3 Hour Practicals (4 Separate pracs and an excursion)

Assessment: 2 Practical reports (750 words- 35%), Mid Semester Test (15%), 2 hour Exam (50%)

Lectopia Enabled: Yes

Past Exams Available: Yes, for the past 4 years. Only answers to multiple choice are given, but a forum is set up for students to discuss answers.

Textbook Recommendations: None

Lecturers: Dr.Peter Cakebread and Dr.Ian Bland do half the course each. Peter takes you for all your pracs.

Year & Semester of completion: 2015 Semester 2

Rating: 4/5

Your Mark/Grade: 80

Comments: I really enjoyed this subject, even though I’m pretty sure not everyone felt the same way!! As a first year who wants to end up in the DVM, I thought this was a really good ‘introductory’ subject into animal health (it may have been a bit different if you were in second year and had already done Foundations in Animal Health).
You start off looking at animal health and disease more generally, then cover topics including immunology, epidemiology, biosecurity, zoonoses, different categories of disease, neonatal immunity, and then you look in more detail at pathogens including bacteria, viruses and parasites.

I found both Peter and Ian to be great lecturers. Ian’s lectures are succinct, but very thorough, and we often finished 20-30 minutes early (which is always a bonus!!). Peter does tend to ramble a bit and would often go slightly overtime, but I still found him very easy to listen to. However, I know a lot of students found this frustrating and weren’t his biggest fans, but as someone who also rambles I thought he was great!!

The pracs themselves were really interesting and apply to ‘real life’ scenarios, but the write ups were pretty stressful. The first prac is spread over 2 sessions and involves using different techniques to determine the type of bacteria causing mastitis in cows. This prac is assessed along with the 3rd prac, which investigates the (mostly uncontrolled) spread of a virus. I think everyone struggled with the word limit for both these pracs (750 words) as we were expected to cover a lot of detail, but it was almost impossible to do this and stick to the limit. The virus spread prac was, for me, by far the most difficult. The prac itself was hectic and required a lot of teamwork and decision making under pressure (which was really the point of the prac- to show what happens when a disease outbreak occurs and no-one’s prepared!!), and the write-up was awful!! You get data from the prac to analyse, but there were heaps of mistakes and even though they set up a forum to discuss the mistakes, not all of them get fixed and it makes life VERY difficult. The pracs are worth 17.5% each, so it’s quite frustrating to do them and know you’re losing marks because you haven’t gone into enough detail, but you can’t really do anything about it.

The other two pracs were assessing passive immunity transfer in foals and doing faecal egg counts on sheep, which were really interesting. Our final prac is a visit to a horse breeding facility where they also prepare horses for export- by far my favourite part of the course!! Each of these pracs have a question about them on the exam, but they’re not too detailed and tend to ask the same things as previous years.

The mid semester test was fair, although it did go into a little bit more detail that a lot of us were expecting (the class average was 74%). The exam was also fair and if you’ve done the previous exams you should be fine. It consists of multiple choice questions, but the bulk is short-answer questions. They tend to stick to the same themes by the looks of things, so there’s not too many surprises.

Overall, I really enjoyed this subject, and the only reason it’s not 5/5 is because of the prac reports (which I felt weren’t an accurate representation of my knowledge/work/understanding, and when they’re worth 35% that’s a bit of an issue!!), but I'm probably just whinging! Given the other subjects most science students take in first year, this subject was refreshing and I’d definitely recommend it for any vet-hopefuls who want to start actually learning about animals and get their hands a bit dirty!! Most people who take the subject seem to be second years, but there were a few first years and I didn’t really find it any more difficult than my level 1 subjects.


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #528 on: November 30, 2015, 01:27:09 pm »
Subject Name/Code: DASC10002 Animals in Society 1: Introduction

Workload: Weekly 2 x1 Hour Lecture, Weekly 1 x1 Tutorial, 2 Hour Seminars through the semester.

Assessment: For 2015- x2 short oral presentations (10%), 1 excursion report (15%), 1 Research essay (25%), 2 Hour exam (50%)
For 2016- x1, 5 min oral presentation with 300 word synopsis (25%), 1200 word excursion report (25%), 2 hour exam (50%)

Lectopia Enabled: Yes, seminars are also recorded

Past Exams Available: No, but some short answer and multiple choice questions provided

Textbook Recommendations: None

Lecturers: Bronwyn Stevens takes the majority as well as Rebecca Doyle, Ian Bland, Paul Hemsworth and others.

Year & Semester of completion: 2015 Semester 2

Rating: 4/5

Your Mark/Grade: 88

Comments: This subject focuses on the welfare and ethics behind how we interact with and use animals in many different aspects of society. You start off looking at domestication of animals and the many ways we use animals today (research, agriculture, pets,etc) and how this developed. We then looked at things like animal cognition, behaviour and emotion as well as assessing animal welfare and looking at some welfare/ethical issues in more detail. I found it interesting for the most part, and you consider a lot of interesting topics from many different angles. The lecture sizes weren’t huge, so we also had a bit of a chance to discuss things and ask questions, and there was lots of discussion in the tutes.

As well as the lectures, there are also a number of seminars that focused more closely on specific topics, including laying hen welfare, greyhound racing, conservation and pest control. The speakers are experts and incredibly knowledgeable, and I found them really engaging. There is a chance for questions and discussions at the end of their presentations.

Looking at the handbook, it seems the assessment is changing next year, so I’ll only talk about our assessment briefly! The oral presentations were a fairly easy 10%- you just had to pick an article about animal welfare/ethics that you could discuss for a few minutes. This was done in tutes and really wasn’t that bad, so if you hate oral presentations don’t stress too much!! The excursion report involved going to either the zoo, the aquarium or the children’s farm (where I went) and just writing about the role the animals play and how they look after them. You’re given a choice of 2 questions for the research essay, and Bronwyn (who ran all the tutes) dedicates a whole tute to showing you how to write the essay and what they expect  because she knew a lot of us had never written a proper essay!! Because there were no past exams available, it was hard to tell exactly what would be on the exam and in how much detail, but there weren’t really any surprises and I thought it was extremely fair. The exam had a small number of multiple choice questions, short answer questions and an extended response question. All material is examinable, but most comes from the lectures and seminars (the tutes and readings are as well, but for the most part these just support the lectures and seminars).

I took this subject as a breadth and found it really enjoyable. It’s definitely not an ‘easy’ breadth by any means, but it’s not ridiculously hard and is pretty thought provoking. I think if you have any interest in animals, this subject is worth taking a look at.


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #529 on: November 30, 2015, 03:11:06 pm »
Subject Code/Name: ENGR10003 Engineering Systems Design 2

Workload:  Weekly: 3 x 1 hour lectures, 1 x 3 hour workshop

Assessment:  Digital Systems- three written group assignments, Programming- two individual programming assignments (MATLAB), Mechanics- three written group assignments. In-class multiple choice testing at the end of every module in workshops, pre-lab quiz's that count for attendance marks in workshops. Practice exam that was compulsory and ended up being 5% of that 40%. All of above totalling 40% of final mark. End of Semester Exam- 3 hours - 60% of final grade- EXAM IS HURDLE- which means in order to pass the subject you need to pass the exam.

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available:  Yes, a graded online practice exam was made available, but was all multiple choice. About 5/6 past papers were provided but no answers were given, forcing students to go to consults to work through solutions. However i managed to find a Facebook group of very dedicated people who had written suggested solutions to past exams.

Textbook Recommendation:  The textbook suggested is a university compiled resource from a number of different texts. I did buy it and when i used it, i found it very useful for extra practice questions, however, the lecture material is enough to pass.

Lecturer(s): Dr Gavin Buskes- Digital Systems, Professor Andrew Ooi- Mechanics, Associate Professor Shanika Karunasekera- Programming

Year & Semester of completion: 2015, Semester 2

Rating:  1/5

Your Mark/Grade: H2

Comments: I did not like this subject at all. Having said that, i do completely understand that this subject just may not have been for me and will suit other people better.

Digital Systems:- The course started off with Digital Systems, a nice and easy introduction into binary numbers, number conversions and Boolean Algebra. I enjoyed this and this section was assisted well by the textbook. Gavin Buskes in my opinion is a fantastic lecturer, his lectures were interesting and informative and easy to understand. The combinational circuit design did go at quite a fast pace, so as long as you keep up with this you should be fine. Workshops in this sections were reasonably straightforward, but the final assignment of making a circuit to program an Altera Board, i would not have had any idea, but thankfully i had some very smart people in my group.

Programming: I have only just finished my first year, but out of the 8 subjects i have completed, this lectures section was by miles the worst i have come across. There is no way, someone who has no previous knowledge of MATLAB, can possibly complete to a high standard the assignments that they set. The assignments are all individual, EXTREMELY time consuming, mostly because programming may look easy, but is not. The lectures only take you through very basic MATLAB operations, and nothing in assignments actually relates to them. You do not learn anything in the lectures that will help your assignment. Having said that i do not want to scare people away from doing this subject as i know it is a pre-requisite for further engineering subjects at the university. If you manage to have some friends or know people or have previous knowledge of MATLAB yourself, you should be fine.

Mechanics: The final module of the course was Mechanics- by far my favourite section. Andrew Ooi is in my opinion a fantastic lecturer. His lectures were always entertaining, filled with jokes and more light hearted, which personally i found made it much easier to learn. My only warning is that if you have not done any high school physics or an sort of computing in your life, you will be set back a little, as the mechanics section doesn't assume previous knowledge but you will find it a lot easier if you have some background knowledge. However, as someone with no physics background at all, i managed to keep up with the set work, by doing a few extra questions here and there. Again in this section the three assignments are group assignments, they are not easy, but with a good group should be fine. The workshops are more entertaining in this section as you are physically measuring things, weights and calculating catapult distances.

The final exam: I was terrified by the thought of this exam. I had done reasonably well throughout the semester on assignments but i had a number of very smart people that i was lucky to be grouped with. However, the exam was very fair, the practice exam questions were very similar to those on the actual exam, one question on the exam was exactly the same as three years before, one programming question was from a previous assignment and the layout was as expected.

Overall the subject was alright. But if you are doing this to fill a gap, i don't recommend it purely because of the amount of time and work and number of group assignments.

Also please keep in mind that this is purely my opinion, but it is my honest opinion and i am sure many people will tell you otherwise.


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #530 on: December 02, 2015, 06:50:40 pm »
Subject Code/Name: MIIM30014 Medical Microbiology: Virology 

Workload:  3 x 1hr lectures per week

Assessment: 45 min MSE #1 (20%), 45 min MSE #2 (20%), 2hr Final Exam (60%)

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture

Past exams available:  No. No sample exam. Some sample exam style questions, minimal (2) sample questions.

Textbook Recommendation:  Recommended Flint Principles of Virology textbook. Not essential but would be really helpful, I wish i had it at times, but didn't need it.

Lecturer(s): Damian Purcell, Jason MacKenzie, Lorena Brown, Some guest lecturers.

Year & Semester of completion: 2015, S2

Rating:  4.5 Out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: H1 80

Comments: Enjoyed this subject way more than Bacteriology, but others may be different. Really well coordinated, and really interesting, but it is still hard and there is a lot of work you need to do if you want to go well.
Subject covers all the medically relevant virus families (18 of them) which you are expected to know plus some important examples within some of these families.
The first part of the course covers the principles of virology, including adhesion, attachment, entry, replication, processing, maturation, assembly, exit. This first part of the course covers in a lot of detail the replication strategies, and control of translation of dsDNA, ssDNA, dsRNA, (+)ssRNA, (-)ssRNA viruses. The lecturers really stress to you to knuckle down and really know this part of the course well, because if you can memorise all 18 families of viruses and their replication strategies the rest of the course is smooth sailing. Interestingly though however, the class performed better on MSE #1 compared to MSE #2. Just do whatever you can to memorise the name, genome size, and structural characteristics of the 18 families of viruses, its not that hard as you are given a good summary table with all the viruses on it. Once you know these names, a lot of the replication strategies are shared between these families, so you don't need to know specifically all 18 replication cycles, just a couple for dsDNA, (+)ssRNA, (-)ssRNA, and one for dsRNA and ssDNA.

MSE #1 has 45 questions and 45 minutes to complete them, personally i needed all the time that was available, however the lecturers said most of us would finish really early with heaps of time. you have about 30 questions of your usual multiple choice style with 5 options, only one correct - they call this Type I style questions. Then you have 15 Type II style questions, where you are given 4 statements; A, B, C, D. Then you are asked to answer on the exam sheet (A) if statements A, B, C are correct, or (B) if A and C are correct, or (C) if B and D are correct, or (D) if only D is correct. This may be a bit confusing, but basically you have to think harder than Type I questions, which is why a lot of students don't like them or perform a little poorer in them. Personally I didn't mind them because they can sometimes really help during a process of elimination, some statement just can't pair up so you are left with only one or two alternatives anyway. We are given practice style questions in a revision tutorial before both MSE's so make sure you attend those.

After MSE #1 the course moves into principles of pathogenesis and innate and adaptive immune evasion by viruses which forms the bulk of the content for MSE #2 along with HIV, Herpes, and Hepatitis specific lectures plus viral vectors and vaccines. Students performed poorer in MSE #2 compared to the first one, and i think its because it was actually harder, you not only have to know principles, but you have to know lots of specific examples, and many specific proteins that have similar names. So i would recommend not to gloss over important proteins that are stressed in lectures, because they came up in the mid sen exam. Knowing the first part of the course well helps with these topics because it is where it is brought together and incorporated. You will come across many specific examples and it would be a good idea at this stage to start remembering those examples and comparing different viruses to each other in terms of their methods of pathogenesis. When lecturers do a lecture on a certain principle of pathogenesis, they will usually use a specific virus as an example, so its not like you will have to know this detail for all 18 families, just one.

After MSE #2 most of the lecturers are delivered by guest speakers, and focus on one specific virus from a certain family. These lecturers are often quite interesting, and they are assessed on the final exam in the multiple choice section and in some short answer questions. If you prepared well for the first 2 mid semester exams, this part of the course is a nice way to finish, however if you haven't been keeping up, you might struggle to really appreciate them. In these lectures you won't need to know every lecture in as much detail as the first part of the course, but in certain lectures you will really need to learn it.

Throughout the course we have 2 flip classes, where the lecture turns into a seminar, where we are provided with articles and reading materials before the class, and are then asked to address some key issues relating to drug treatment of HIV and Hepatitis. there are about 3 or 4 experts in the fields of HIV and Hepatitis at these classes and the class gets to chat to them and asks questions. These 2 classes are absolutely examinable and a specific question will come up in the exam. However you ail be well equipped to deal with the question if you show up to this class and actually participate. Personally I would have preferred a lecturer to just deliver the content in a lecture, but it looks like these classes are here to stay.

I personally felt they marked pretty hard on the final exam, but the actual end of semester exam was really good, every question could be answered. It had some Type I and Type II multiple choice questions to address the last series of lecture, with 4 short answer questions worth 15 marks split up into sub parts. With a third fill in the blanks section, which is pretty hard to prepare for because it is usually pretty hard. The short answer questions are the bulk of the course, so make sure you manage your time to answer those well, maybe get the fill in the blanks and some multiple choice questions worked out in the reading time to gain some extra time, but make sure to read all the short answer questions first thing in your reading time.

It may seem hard or a lot of work, but regardless it is a great subject, and isn't that bad if you commit to your study and get a lot of it done early in the semester, rather than cramming at the end. I loved the lecture content, it was really stimulating, and was usually explained really well.
Off the top of my head some viruses to know would be; HIV, HBV, HCV, HAV, HEV, Poliovirus, SV40 virus, HSV, CMV, VZV, Rhinovirus, Rotavirus, Norovirus, Rabies virus, HPV, EBV, WNV, Influenza, SARS-CoV, Poxvirus, Ebola, Measles, Mumps, Vaccinia, Dengue. There are more, but basically, once you know the 18 families of viruses, and the replication cycles that many of these share, and 5 or 6 viruses in detail that are stressed in the lectures, all you are really doing is remembering names of specific viruses and grouping these into their families.

Don't get thrown off if all this seems hard or complicated, it is an awesome subject, and the satisfaction you will get by keeping up and doing all the work is definitely worth it!! The subject does have principles in it, so you get taught principles of viruses and apply them, at the end of the course things really do make sense and the lecturers really do a good job at helping you understand it. If you are doing the microbiology major this subject is compulsory, however other people in different majors can do it as a selective, in my opinion there may be easier ones to do, but this would be the more interesting one by far!
« Last Edit: January 19, 2016, 01:11:37 am by Bacondoesnotcausecancer »


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #531 on: December 03, 2015, 04:02:56 am »
Subject Code/Name: PHRM20001 Pharmacology: How Drugs Work  

Workload:  Contact Hours:
-Lectures, 3x weekly;
-Tutorials / workshops (1 hr) 6 / semester;
-Practicals (3hr) 2 / semester
(total contact hours: 48)
Total Time Commitment:
170 hours

-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, Lots. No answers though (except one).

Textbook Recommendation: 

-Harvey: Pharmacology, 4th edition. Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins
-Rang, Dale, Ritter, Flower and Henderson, Pharmacology, 7th edition. Churchill Livingstone
-Katzung, Basic and Clinical Pharmacology, 12th edition. Lange
-Golan, Principles of Pharmacology, (3rd edition). Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.
-Neal, Medical Pharmacology at a Glance (7th edition). Blackwell. (revision purposes)

Never opened them, so they're not required.

Lecturer(s): Lots. Too many to name.

Year & Semester of completion: 2015, Semester 2.

Rating: 4.0 Out of 5

Comments: Okay, so there's a few reviews on here so I won't repeat the same info again.
This was a good subject, would highly recommend.

The reason I gave it a 4 out of 5 is because I found the pracs to be very long and boring. Lots of sitting around and writing down numbers. I feel like the pharmacology department could do more to engage the students. Nonetheless, the pracs were extremely well run and taught, just really boring, so be prepared. I also thought that the exam MCQs were significantly harder than the tute questions that were provided to us. The tute questions were supposed to give us an indication of how the questions were supposed to be in the exam. Barring a few questions, it did not unfortunately. The SAQ questions on the tute sheets though were harder compared to the exam, so I guess you could say it balances out?

Okay, to do well in this subject. Firstly, to science students, I would highly recommend doing this with PHYS20008, lots of overlap. If you've done it last sem than it should be fine. But if you haven't done phys than this subject will be more difficult, you may have to put in more hours on this subject. For biomed students, you have to do HSF in sem 2 lol which has PHYS in it, so nws for you guys.

Review stuff often, don't leave things to the last minute (like me lol). Study for the MST (worth 20% m8), its pretty straightforward if you review your stuff, no trick questions.

For the drugs, highly recommend flashcards and reviewing them often (as stated in previous reviews), don't leave the flashcards till SWOTVAC, start ASAP, it'll mean less stress during SWOTVAC so you can focus on your other subjects as well. Whenever a new drug comes up in the lecture, make a flashcard for it. Some of my friends also made my a table and found it effective. Depends on what you like. (I've still got my flashcards, if you want em, shoot me a PM and I'll hand em over, but highly recommend making your own lol).

Aiight, that's all, everything else is pretty much the same as written in previous reviews. If you have questions, feel free to PM me m8.


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #532 on: December 04, 2015, 04:29:26 am »
Subject Code/Name: PSYC30022 Trends in Personality & Social Psychology

Workload: 1 X 2 hours of lectures each week and 6 X 2 hours of tutorials (as a hurdle requirement, you can only miss one) across the semester.

Assessment: 15% short paper, 35% lab report and 50% exam.

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available: Nope, but sample short answer and MCQ questions provided closer to exam.

Textbook Recommendation:  None.

Lecturer(s): Nick Haslam, Luke Smillie, Jennifer Boldero, Elise Holland and IIona McNeill

Year & Semester of completion: 2015, Semester 2

Rating:  5 of 5

Your Mark/Grade: H1 (87)

Comments: I'd say this is the second most difficult subject I've done in completing my psych major. Nick Haslam (coordinator) mentioned how he's changed the name of the subject before in a bid to increase the number of students signing up for it but still, it remains the least popular 3rd year psych elective (approx. 50 students!). Not sure if it has anything to do with the perceived difficulty, but I know someone who swapped to Applications of Psychology after failing to understand the first two lectures. That said, it's a highly enjoyable subject that covers very interesting (and downright odd) concepts. I'd definitely not recommend it for those after a relaxing breadth though. Applications in Psychology is an easier alternative.  ;)

Nick Haslam takes the first three lectures. He covers personality disorders and their various conceptions as mapped onto different sorts of models (categorical vs dimensional vs prototypical), psychological essentialism and its implications for prejudice in various domains, and dehumanization, as captured in various forms (animalistic vs mechanistic, experience vs agency denial etc). I found his part easily the most interesting, especially since I've long recognized the validity of having animal/robot forms of dehumanization and it's nice that his research provides an empirical basis for my rather absurd theory.  :P

Elise Holland takes the fourth lecture. She does research on objectification, and her lecture covers what is meant and denied by objectifying women. It's a fairly new area that's informed by work done in other aspects of social psychology.

For the fifth lecture, we had IIona McNeill, who covered human decision making as involving cognitive biases/processes and emotions. She also went on to describe unconscious thought theory, the idea that thinking without attention on the decision at hand results in more satisfactory outcomes. So yeah, cool stuff.

Jennifer Boldero takes the sixth lecture. You learn about how standards and goals govern self-regulation and also, get a more in-depth understanding of regulatory focus/mode that builds on the second year social/personality psych stuff.

Finally, Luke Smillie is in charge of all the personality part of the subject, thus, the last six lectures. He has an excellent sense of humour and you'll soon forgive the 4.15-6.15pm lecture timing. In general, you'll learn all about the Big 5 trait model in describing personality, its various forms of stability (ipsative, individual, mean-level and rank order), the neurobiological substrates/mechanisms of these traits and how motivation and emotions work together in determining goal progress through feedback loops. His lectures definitely require quite a bit of effort to 'get' the cohesive big picture, so I'd recommend attending and understanding every segment well.

Our 750 words short paper was on comparing and contrasting two approaches in conceptualizing personality disorders. This was due quite early in the semester and quite manageable overall. There's a slight challenge of having to use (a maximum of) five references, which requires you to suss out only the good stuff for referencing.

The 1750 words lab report was extremely challenging, nightmarish even. Very little guidance was provided, even though the method and results section were already written up for us (thank god!). We were required to understand 8 ethnic/racial group stereotypes in terms of a list of descriptors and their relationships as mapped onto the Stereotype Content Model and to see if the animalistic and mechanistic forms of dehumanization offered incremental validity beyond the SCM. Also, there was an Ascent scale measure of blatant dehumanization that we were required to interpret in tandem with our findings. The real challenge was in making sense of the (very puzzling) correlation and multiple regression statistics and then deriving suitable hypotheses from them! If not for the fact we didn't have to do the typical method/results sections, I'd say this is too challenging as a third year assignment.

The 2 hours exam consisted of 48 MCQs (4 from each week) and 2 compulsory short answer questions (set by Nick and Luke). As if to make up for the difficult subject matter and atrocious lab report, the exam questions were reasonably straightforward. There were much worse that could have come up but did not, and I'm thankful for that. Know the major concepts/theories well and do the practice questions and you should have no problem here.

Overall, a very interesting but difficult subject, and definitely worth it if you're after learning some pretty novel/cool stuff that expands on what's covered in 2nd year personality/social psych. Steer clear if you're after an easy breadth or easy elective as a psych major!


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #533 on: December 04, 2015, 07:08:26 pm »
Subject Code/Name: PSYC30017 Perception, Memory and Cognition

Workload:  1 X 2 hours of lectures each week and 6 X 2 hours of tutorials (as a hurdle requirement, you can only miss one) across the semester.

Assessment:  25% essay, 25% lab report and 50% exam. Three hurdle MCQ quizzes (ungraded) for each of the lecturers' section.

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available: Nope, but practice short answer questions released closer to the exam. Also, there were 2 mock exam sessions held during tutorials (do not miss either!).

Textbook Recommendation: None.

Lecturer(s): Piers Howe, Daniel Little and Philip Smith

Year & Semester of completion: 2015, Semester 1

Rating: 5 of 5

Your Mark/Grade: H1 (99)

Comments: Ah yes, PMC, my favourite subject in uni. No idea why I didn't review it right after semester 1, but here it's anyway. I've mentioned how Trends in Personality & Social Psychology was the second most difficult subject I've done, well, PMC claims the title for being the most difficult! It's a highly rigorous subject, with fast paced lectures and plenty of abstract concepts introduced at times, and also requires an interest in mathematical and theoretical models underpinning the human cognitive processes. Don't get me wrong, I love every bit of this subject (it's also when I discovered Unimelb 'curves' grades for sure), but that's because I'm planning to complete a PhD in this area of psychology. I strongly recommend not to take this subject as either a psych elective or a breadth unless you're highly interested in more in-depth understanding of concepts related to second year cognitive psychology. I've had to help a few people extensively throughout the semester owing to the complex nature of the subject. The SES feedback for PMC year after year is that it's too challenging for a 3rd year subject. Again, know what you're getting into.

"When two aligned contours undergo a discontinuous change in the magnitude of contrast, but preserve contrast polarity, the lower contrast region is decomposed into two layers."
If you don't mind reading statements like these all the time, and also wish to gain renewed insight towards simple everyday human cognitive processes, then this subject's for you!  :D

The first four lectures are taken by Piers Howe. Right from the beginning, the pace is extremely fast, with almost 100/more than 100 slides being quite common. Lecture 1 is on how we perceive lightness as a function of illumination and reflectance, with the anchoring theory of lightness perception and scission theory explored thoroughly in terms of their pros and cons of being an exhaustive explanation for luminance phenomena like transparency, shadows and light-related illusions. Things like the weighting of global/local frameworks and the role of T-junctions can become very confusing very fast, no surprise then that many people leave the first lecture with a puzzled look on their faces. Lecture 2 explores how we track multiple moving objects, with serial, parallel, resource-limited and grouping models being introduced. As you'll soon find out, part of what makes this subject difficult is the necessary capability of holding multiple disjunctive explanations for a single phenomenon, and the flexibility to call to mind what's relevant at the time in point. Lecture 3 introduces the interplay of attention and visual awareness in the visual search for targets among distractors. Stuff like illusory conjuctions, Feature Integration Theory and the serial/parallel mechanisms come up a lot. Finally, Piers concludes with a hefty 125 slides on the three types of visual memory: iconic, short term and long term. You'll learn things like if object memory can be differentiated into select features, memory capacity and how it's estimated, perceptual vs conceptual similarities etc.

Daniel Little takes the middle four lectures. The concepts he introduces are the most complex and will likely take up a lot of your time in understanding them thoroughly. Lecture 5 is on how various theoretical accounts could be used to understand Sternberg's information processing paradigm. Multiple serial/parallel/strength-based models are reviewed in terms of their suitability with respect to graphs and their slopes and the consistency of findings. Lecture 6 covers the multiple forms of memory and if they're simply artefacts of methodological confounds (i.e. single memory system only). It goes back and forth between the two positions like a debate unfolding and becomes quite difficult to follow. Signal detection theory (you'll get a lot more of this later in the semester) is briefly explored as the basis for various experimental conditions (remembering vs knowing, categorization vs recognition) and their dissociative outcomes. Lecture 7 is all about the differences between experts and novices in acquiring knowledge and learning, with explanations like ACT* and Instance Theory of Automatization offered, and also, exploring the composite face effect. Finally, lecture 8 contrasts rule-based and information integration categorization of objects. Again, it takes the form of a 'debate', with functional dissociations provided through experiments in the first half of the lecture revisited in the second half, except they disappear when various methodological confounds are controlled for.

Philip Smith is in charge of the last four lectures, and his slides are anywhere from one-third to half of those of previous lectures. Don't be fooled though, the subject matter he covers is quite mathematical in nature and can be very dry if you're not interested in the more abstract mechanisms underlying the various phenomena. You learn about Fechner's law, speed-accuracy trade-off, the basis of the phi-gamma hypothesis in understanding psychometric functions etc with regard to decision making. Lecture 10 explores the delightful signal detection theory in depth, with yes/no decision tasks providing a suitable platform for the understanding of response criterion, and how false alarms/hits/misses/correct rejections are derived. The receiver operating characteristic curve is introduced as well as an alternative to yes/no decisions, with confidence ratings used instead. Lecture 11 covers diffusion models and random walk models in terms of reaction time in decision making. These are understood in relation to various experimental findings and their graphical outputs. Finally, the semester concludes with a lecture that's more theoretical in nature. Various cognitive biases/heuristics and subjective utility in terms of probability and value are explored with regard to decisions and choices.

The 1500 words essay was on exploring either the Anchoring Theory of Lightness Perception or scission theory in depth and explaining how it provides an advantage over the other. It was quite straightforward and so long as you understood what the authors of the theories were trying to convey, you shouldn't struggle here.

The 1500 words lab report was on a modified Sternberg's paradigm, which used inverted faces instead of numbers. You're then required to cover the three theoretical accounts (serial/parallel/strength-based) and derive hypotheses according to the suitability of the models. This was an extremely difficult assignment that might require a more 'sciencey' background. The word count was insanely limiting, and since the experimental conditions we employed were novel, coupled with a need to also define lag functions as suggested by the linear ballistic accumulator model, it could appear as if you're writing gibberish at times in order to make sense of the assignment.

The exam consisted entirely of short answer questions and can be daunting if you're used to pure MCQ or mixed exams. You do a total of 9 questions, selecting 3 of 5 from each lecturer's pool of questions. You do get rewarded for getting citations right, which only makes it worse, since there's already so much to remember. Fortunately, there were two tutorial sessions dedicated to completing a mini mock exam under timed condition, and these do help you get a sense of what's expected. The actual exam asked fair questions with comprehensive coverage, so technically you could get away with skipping a lecture or two during revision. I'd advise that you understand the broader concepts thoroughly instead of dedicating every last bit of detail to memory, since there will be too much to memorize. Also, I'm not sure how many tutors there were, but mine (Maggie) was really nice and funny and helped me a lot in deciding and preparing for my future studies pathway, so yeah, pick her classes if possible.  :)

In summary, a really difficult but engaging subject for those interested in cognitive psychology, and definitely worth picking if you're up for a challenge. 


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #534 on: December 10, 2015, 05:08:42 pm »
Subject Code/Name: CVEN90016 Concrete Design and Technology

Workload: 1x two-hour lecture and 1x two-hour swing class (used for tutes, workshops, lectures)

Group Assignment (10%)
Prac Attendance (2%)
MST (8%)
Individual Assignment (10%)
3-hour exam (70%)

Lectopia Enabled: Yes

Past exams available: Yes, with numerical solutions

Textbook Recommendation: Ol' mate AS3600. There's also a few recommended texts but I got by without them.

Lecturer(s): Mainly Helen Goldsworthy

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2, 2015

Rating: 2/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1

TL;DR: It’s a subject called Concrete Design and Technology, but Helen doesn’t subscribe to the technology part – one of the more needlessly archaic subjects I’ve done.

This is an elective subject with maybe 80-100 students enrolled, mostly Structural Eng majors. It’s one of two electives that are “highly recommended” if you’re doing Structural, and I guess I can kind of see why.

I’ll go into more detail below, but this is a subject that really should be better than it is and could be with a few slight adjustments to make it more amendable to students in the context of 2015.

Going into this, students will already have a good grasp on the basics of concrete design through subjects like Eng Materials, and Structural Theory and Design 1 and 2. This subject introduces prestressed concrete, which acts as it’s main focus. For interests sake (on the off chance you’re interested in concrete), prestressed concrete is concrete made stronger by applying some kind of axial force below the middle of the concrete cross-section, causing a beam to camber up. This then opposes the tendency for the concrete to deflect downwards due to normal loading. You’ll find prestressed concrete in pretty much every major concrete-based structure; bridges, high rise buildings etc. Hence the subject’s importance for structural majors.

Lectures and Tutes
I don’t want to have a go at Helen Goldsworthy because she’s a nice and enthusiastic lady, but she’s a bit of a frump and I don’t think she’s a good lecturer. Her slides literally have the ugliest colour scheme ever, and, for some reason, none of the lectures are titled. This means that the lectures have the tendency to blend into each other, and sometimes it’s hard to figure out her reasoning behind when and why she’s introducing certain concepts.

Helen tends to use the document camera sparingly, and often her explanations leave you more confused than enlightened. She also relies on the textbook quite a bit, especially when giving examples. Unlike ST&D, where Elisa will generally go through at least a few of the examples by hand, Helen tends to just scroll through horribly scanned textbook excerpts and hopes you somehow soak up the content through osmosis or something.

You also get some lectures from Massoud Sofi, who pretty much everyone should be familiar with from some other subject in their 3+ years of uni to this point. His lectures are mainly on the chemistry of concrete, which students coming from Bachelor’s at the UoM would’ve already covered back in Eng Materials. Massoud is as clear and concise as ever so these are some of the better lectures of the subject.

Nelson Lam also chips in with a few lectures on deformation modelling towards the end of semester. He’s a hell of a guy but I’ll get to why these weren’t that valuable in the assessment section.

There was also a pretty poorly delivered lecture on strut and tie models with Priyan Mendis of High Rise Structures fame. Luckily, this is only given about 15/180 marks on the final exam and the questions don’t get too complicated.

But probably the best thing about the lectures of this subject is when they get some people from the industry in. You have Shan Kumar run you through some design stuff, Simon Hughes give you some info on precast concrete and floor plans, and Will Ferrell lookalike and top bloke Martin Hewitt go through a section design exercise.

As for tutes, they run on a fairly irregular schedule. My tutor Anita Amirsardari was really good and the tutes materials themselves were fine. However, the answers are handwritten on the school of eng computation sheets; these sheets are gridded and – when scanned in black and white – they can be quite hard to read.

Assessment and Exam
The assignments in this subject are somewhat pointless to be honest.

The first one is a prac report of sorts, except that the prac is in the form of a video from 1998. In 1998 I was in grade prep. So yeah.

Overall it’s a decent assignment, but you can answer it quite easily by following the cues and clues that Helen gives in the notes. So you can pretty much just plug, chug, and end up with a pretty good result. Most people I know got over 90%.

This assignment is done in staff-allocated groups of 2-4, and to allocate groups, Helen literally writes down a sequence of numbers on a printed out list of the students enrolled in the subject in week 1. This is dumb for quite a few reasons, but mainly because having people drop out or enrolled late into a subject is not uncommon and this weird method of group allocation doesn’t account for that at all. This unnecessarily caused issues in terms of non-existent group members and uneven groups. I mean, it’s masters: most students are in either their third-last or final semester by this point – I think we can sort out our own groups.

This assignment was originally given a due date that largely overlapped with the ST&D3 Steel Design Week. Most students doing one of those subjects will be doing the other concurrently, so it’s lucky that Helen allowed some extra time after realising this. However, I think the ST&D folks are more to blame for this as Steel Week was a week later than usual.

The second assignment is on the deformation modelling component taught by Nelson Lam. This assignment also has big issues; it basically involves designing a concrete section and using moment-curvature relationships to calculate it’s capacity. That sounds like a bit of a challenge, right, and it would be if you weren’t given a spreadsheet that pretty much does it for you. Again, you can just plug in the numbers, rearrange some formulas, press enter, and get a good result despite having no idea what you’re doing.

Both of the assignments needlessly require physical submission.

But the worst part of this subject was the exam. It’s a hurdle, worth 70%, and a three-hour concrete marathon. It’s one of those exams where you can never really be sure how many marks you’re going to get for a question. A lot of it is derivative, and you’re given past exams with numerical answers, but I prepared for it like a maniac and still came out of it feeling somewhat defeated. Weirdly, I must’ve gone a lot better than I thought I did to end up with a H1. Flashbacks to Eng Mech.

This subject had the most labyrinthine LMS page I have ever encountered. Say I want to find a supplementary note for one of the lectures, here what I’d have to do:
→Log on to LMS
→Click on Concrete Design and Technology
→Click on “Documents” link
→Try to remember what specific week these notes were from (made more difficult by the “content blending together” issue I spoke about earlier)
→Click “week x”
→Click on “Supplemental Notes”
→Realise this is the wrong week, press back twice
→Click “week y”
→Click on “Supplemental Notes”
→Try to find which of the several documents you are actually looking for
→Yay right week!

Yeah, it’s an iterative process, and it’s pretty much the Bermuda triangle of LMSes.

The content and ideas behind this subject aren’t too bad. And with a top notch lecturer, some more thought behind the assessment, an update in the subject materials and a more streamlined student experience, it could be really good. Let’s hope they make some changes, because I mentioned all of these issues in the SES (except the exam, because for some reason SESes seem to be oblivious to the most crucial part of a subject) and I’m sure others did too.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2016, 08:37:09 am by chysim »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #535 on: December 11, 2015, 02:28:55 pm »
Subject Code/Name: CVEN90016 Structural Theory and Design 3

Workload: 1x two-hour lecture, 1 x one-hour lecture per week, irregular tutorials/computer labs, 1x life consuming steel design week

Steel Design Week (30%)
Bridge Design Assignment (10%)
3-hour Exam (60%)

Lectopia Enabled: Yes

Past exams available: Yes, with fully worked solutions for numerical questions

Textbook Recommendation: You’ll need the copy of HB48 that you would’ve had for ST&D2, and you’ll probably have to print out some pages from the Timber standard for the exam, but AS3600 stays on the shelf.

Lecturer(s): Elisa Lumantarna, Massoud Sofi, Emad Gad, plus a couple of industry guest lecturers

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2, 2015

Rating: 4/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1

TL;DR: Other than the conspicuous lack of tutorials, this subject is much like it’s predecessors, and Steel Design Week acts as good capstone to the three ST&D subjects.

Well, well, well, another Structural Theory and Design review. I’m going to keep it pretty short, because – in most facets – there’s little difference to ST&D 1 and 2. Major difference is that if you’re a civil major, you don’t need to do it; though its a core subject for structural majors, it’s just an elective for civil swivels like me.

Elisa Lumantarna is at the helm again, but takes a smaller proportion of the lectures compared to the previous subjects. As a coordinator, she’s as good as ever – plenty of consultation hours, creepily quick to answer emails, and also pretty quick to fix any issues that may crop up.

The content of the subject really just expands on ST&D 2, and you’re expected to bring your knowledge from that subject into this one – though it’s not taught specifically in this course, there will be times where you’ll have to know things like calculating steel section and connection capacities. You’ll go into further detail on the direct stiffness stuff (learning how to account for deflection within your models and dealing with trusses and frames), you’ll learn some stuff about the fundamentals of finite element modelling, you’ll have some Eng Materials flashbacks as Emad Gad covers cold-form steel (in a little more detail this time), and you’ll also have some lectures on more practical stuff like conceptual design and composite members. Oh, and timber design – which featured in ST&D1 but was left out of ST&D2 – is back, and you’ll go into some detail on modification factors and the like.

Like the other Structural subjects, most of the content is relatively easy once you get your head around it. But as always, there’s plenty to remember.

Basically, you can refer to previous reviews – the lectures are given by the same people and aren’t much different.

However, I found the set of lectures on Finite Element stuff given by Massoud Sofi to be pretty poor. There was about 6 hours or so of them, and they just kind of ran around in circles, and I don’t know exactly what we are meant to take out of them or what was assessable. Hopefully they’ll fix this up and make it a bit more concise and provide proper examples, because it did end up on the exam.

Steel Design Week
Steel Design Week is the selling point of the subject and probably the thing you’re meant to take out of it.

The assignment itself is split into two phases, and is completed in self-formed groups of 6. You’re expected to work in your group pretty much all day every day for the week, and you’ll have Phase A of the assignment due mid-week and Phase B due the Monday after.

The week starts with a reveal of what structure is to be designed. This year it was a steel VMS gantry (in layman’s terms, a thing that holds up road signs over a highway or the like), but in the past it’s been things like a steel platform, catwalk, basically any framed or trussed steel structure.

Phase A of the assignment is a conceptual design. You have to work out gravity, wind and earthquake loading for the structure, provide a few approximate calculations for member forces, and assess the required member sizes to ensure that it will stand up (we hope). You’re given about a day and a half to do this – it’s a rush, but you should be fine if you can live with a multitude of typos and niggly errors within your report (proofreading be damned).

Phase B is a detailed design. For this, you’re actually given the dimensions of the structure (i.e. its height and width (but not that of the members)) and once again you’ll have to come up with appropriate section sizes for the members as well as connections for them.

This doesn’t sound too bad, but your also going to have to create a direct stiffness model using excel to solve for the forces in the members. And if your structure is anything like our one was, your going to end up with a matrix that would be at home in Brobdingnag (killer literary reference right there that a good 0.01% of those reading are going to get). So, yeah, this can be a bit of a fiddly and frustrating process.

Phase A is worth 6% of your final mark for the subject whilst Phase B is worth 24%.

So though it can be a little overbearing and life consuming at times, steel week was the best thing about the subject and one of the best parts of any subject I’ve done in masters so far, but it helps that I was part of a really good group.

During the Student-Staff Liaison Committee meeting run by the infrastructure eng department, me and a couple of others brought up the issue I mentioned back in my review of ST&D2: the exam was way, way too long. This feedback was obviously listened to, because this semester’s exam was far more reasonable. Well, it was actually possible to finish it within the allotted time anyway. So yeah, really nice to see that the staff are receptive to the concerns of students.

The exam itself was exactly what you’d expect – it followed the format of past exams pretty closely, and Elisa pretty much told us what to expect and how many marks each section would be allocated in the subject’s final lecture. Putting the FEM stuff on there was a little rough though; as I mentioned, this section wasn’t particularly well taught, and it was the first year that it was part of this subject so it wasn’t to be found in past exams. Luckily, the lone FEM question was pretty easy.

It’s also nice that the exam for ST&D3 is only worth 60%, far less than for the previous subjects. This takes a bit of pressure off, and – as most groups tend to do pretty well on the assignments and the exam isn’t a hurdle – you shouldn’t need to do all that much for a pass.

ST&D 3 pretty much does away with tutes. While you do have some computer lab classes, the traditional weekly tutes don’t feature in the subject. This is a bit of a let down in some ways, as it would be nice to go through some questions for some of the numerical stuff, but – for the most part – the lectures themselves provide ample examples (#rhymez) that should give you a pretty good idea of how to answer questions and what you’re expected to be able to do in an exam (the FEM section being the noticeable exception for this).

This review has ended up longer than I intended so I’ll keep this as short as my natural tendency towards verbosity allows me. ST&D 3 is a quality subject that is well taught, well coordinated, and well conceived. Like its sister subjects, there’s plenty to learn and plenty to remember, but – other than the FEM stuff – it never gets overly complex or obfuscated. Doors plus, no fuss.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2015, 06:23:42 pm by chysim »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #536 on: December 20, 2015, 01:57:44 pm »
Subject Code/Name: ENGL20022: Modernism and Avant Garde

Workload: 1 x 90 minute lecture; 1 x 1 hour tute each week

Assessment: 1x1500 essay (worth 40%) and 1x2000 word essay (worth 60%) and 80% tute attendence is a hurdle

Lectopia enabled: Yes, but quality was iffy and were always slow to upload.

Past exams available: No exam for this subject

Textbook Recommendation: No textbook; texts studied were mainly anthologies or collections which means purchasing the exact copies was usually impossible unless you got them from the co-op, but everything in this course is in public domain and pretty well-known, so you could easily get by with online resources

Lecturer(s): Sarah Balkin et al. Full disclosure- I stopped attending after about Week 4 :/

Year & Semester of completion: 2015, Semester 1

Rating: 1.3/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1


Where my review of Modern and Contemporary Literature from first year was mixed but optimistic, I really don't have many positive comments to make about this subject. I'll break this up like I did with ModCon:

I have this theory: half of the people in the English Department wish they were in Art History. I'd estimate that around 60% of lectures all up was spent analysing paintings. I wouldn't mind if this was for the sake of contextualising the time period, or if the art was a little more directly related to the texts we were studying, but in reality the lectures were a mix of sociology and art analysis masquerading as a Literature subject.

Perhaps some of this muddling can be attributed to how ill-defined 'Modernism' is. Admittedly when studying a whole movement, I also find it useful to look at surrounding culture, events, people, works, etc. But dear lord was there a lot of freakin painting analysis in this subject. In one of the Ulysses lectures - a text which I love and was half the reason why I chose this subject - about 5 minutes in the lecturer said words to the effect of 'Ulysses was written in 1922, and here is a painting from that same year.' That was the only substantial reference to the text for the whole 90 minutes; everything from that point onwards was about various sketches and prints from Dublin circa 1920's -.-

By Week 4 I was skipping parts of, if not whole lectures and just x2ing them online. By the midsem break I'd even given up on that. I was told by a friend in my tute that lecture attendance dwindled significantly, though this is a natural decline that's happened in most of my subjects over the course of each semester, so make of that what you will. At some point around Week 10 I went back to see what I was missing, and weirdly the lecturer kept asking really close-ended questions (eg. What year did ____ happen? Where was ____ born?) and no one was answering... because it's a lecture... because we're there to sit and listen as opposed to the tutes where we all participate. Then we were all told to stand up, and couldn't sit down until we'd each answered a question or volunteered a comment, and at that point I just left and went home. Maybe this is a common occurrence in smaller cohorts where 'lectures' are more like seminars where participation is encouraged, but in that context it just felt so puerile and pointless that I realised I wasn't just noticing small gripes and grievances anymore; I was simply not enjoying any part of the subject.

Fortunately, there were a bunch of intelligent people in my tutorial who had some really interesting things to say about some of the texts we were studying. Unfortunately, most of the discussions ended up coming back to 'wow this text is really complicated and hard to read,' especially Ulysses - which again, I was so looking forward to discussing. We did that text for two or three weeks, and yet there was never any substantial conversation beyond the fact that the text was really long and difficult to get through. Granted, that's something that can be interesting to talk about with books like that, but it seemed like we were only ever dancing around the texts without ever addressing their core.

It was pretty much a standard English tutorial with most weeks being taken up by group discussions facilitated by the tutor and generally the same four or five people offering their contributions. Occasionally we'd be split into groups of two or three to talk about things and then report back, but I never found it particularly beneficial beyond some of the interesting tangents we'd go down when given the chance. Studying the same text over the course of two or three weeks could've been an opportunity for some carry-over discussions, but it ended up just making things seem all the more disjointed. For all the time we spent talking about superfluous stuff surrounding the texts, I don't recall anything substantial that linked the texts together, and certainly nothing that aided our understanding of what 'Modernism' and 'Avant Garde' were.

I'm also really not a fan of an attitude I've noticed crop up in more and more English subjects, and that is what I like to call the 'for those who read the book' caveat. You'd think that at a tertiary level, it's assumed (nay, required!?) that you read the texts that you're studying. And I know some of them were hard to get through, and that there were people doing this subject who had substantial amounts of reading to deal with in other courses, AND that there were some people who weren't even majoring in English that took this on a whim, but even so... for a fair amount of the tutorial discussions to begin with the tutor asking 'who read ____ for this week?' or 'how many of you managed to read the whole thing?' was kind of disheartening.

Assessment/ Feedback:
*aggressively rolls up sleeves*
At this point I think I should admit that if I had done this review at the end of Semester 1 after finishing the subject and not after Semester 2, my review would probably be more favourable. However, having done an English subject in this most recent semester that was really well run and interesting, I'm now inclined to look back on this one and be a tad harsher since I now know how good things could've been. So whilst I'll try and make this as objective as I can, I'm well aware that my opinions have been somewhat tainted by my having put this off and that this part of the review is going to be much more critical than it would have otherwise been.

There are only two essays for this subject, which I gather is the norm for 2nd and 3rd Year English subjects (give or take a tute presentation/ group exercise, etc.) and that means there's usually a 40/60 split in assessment weightings. Personally I think more frequent, less weighted assignments would be a better idea, especially because the word limits are kind of frustrating. Your whole grade comes down to 3500 words, the first 1500 of which are spent on a single text and a hugely broad essay question, most of which were about Modernism as a whole. *Note: I've since learned that you're better off writing your own essay topics in English subjects. Your writing will be more interesting and original, and it's way easier to showcase your knowledge when you pave your own focus.* The second 2000 words comprise a comparative piece which is also based on a generic 'Discuss >some concept< in relation to Modernism using two texts' kind of prompt. Unfortunately, the minimal assessment makes it really difficult to do well because for the first one, you have no way of knowing what kind of writing your tutor wants from you. To date, I've done six subjects in the English department, and every tutor I've had has told me at least one thing that has been contradicted by something another tutor has told me. Some of this advice has included:
  • Don't have a quote in the final sentence of a body paragraph. // Quotes are fine wherever, so long as they're used well.
  • When quoting the set text, just use the title once and then only use page numbers. // Have the author/title in your in-text citations every time.
    • Don't be too critical of a famous theory/theorist. // Critically engage with the theories/theorists and don't be afraid to disagree with them.
    • You should have more of other people's opinions than your own. // Your own contention is more important than other criticism.
    • You need at least four sources, and don't go into double digits. // No good essay was ever written that didn't cite at least 10 other essays.
    • Don't argue anything you can't support with textual evidence. // You should use the criticism to back yourself up; not the set text.
    • Paraphrase as much as possible to avoid over-citation. // Use direct quotes; paraphrasing is lazy and a form of covert plagarism.
    • Don't cite the author's other works or essays - develop your arguments independent from their intentions. // The author should be your primary source, not the text. Quote them instead of other theorists because they know what they're talking about.

    ... so you can see why it'd be frustrating to have 40% of your grade for a subject being a product of your own speculation as to what's expected. It got to the point where, because I was doing multiple English subjects at once, I'd spend a lot of time in tutes and lectures just writing down all the bits and pieces of advice I heard and made a game of matching them up by finding all the contradictions. I would love for there to be just a tiny, 5% or 10% piece of 1000 words or so due within the first two weeks where you could just to a bit of passage analysis, get some feedback, and then write your first major essay with a clearer understanding of some of your tutor's idiosyncrasies. As it stands, you just have to guess and hope you're lucky. The tutors aren't allowed to read drafts of your work (which is fair, I suppose, but still frustrating) and whenever I asked questions about criteria like the ones listed above, I'd get non-committal answers like 'Do whatever you think works' :/ - an admirably open approach to assessment, but if you're going to deduct marks because what I think works isn't what you think works, then it'd be nice to have a bit more guidance.

    That said, I did get lucky in this subject. We're never given numerical scores for reasons I'll go into later, but I got a H1 and nothing but positive comments. Still, I went to my tutor the lesson after we'd gotten the essays back and asked if there was anything in particular I should work on, or any potential weaknesses to avoid, and she said 'Nope, I'm really happy with where you're at; just keep doing what you're doing.' So I figured it was a fairly safe H1 and that I'd just have to replicate the same standard of writing next time. The 60% essay rolls around at the end of semester, and I submit a piece that is ostensibly the same calibre as the previous one - by my estimate, at least - and based on the comments, my tutor agreed with me. Again, I got nothing but positive feedback and compliments about my writing, and yet was given a low H1 for the subject overall.

    I don't want this review to come across as sheer bitterness over my mark because I'm aware it's still a good result and it isn't even having much of an effect on my GPA/WAM anyway, but before I get into the specifics of the numbers and scoring system, let me just have a pre-rant rant about how this reflects on the qualitative feedback itself. When I was in Year 8, I had an awesome English teacher who was a big fan of the 'pass it to the left' method of marking essays. We'd all get a chance to give one another feedback, and then read what our peers had provided for us, and to avoid some students simply writing 'It's good' or 'needs work; you total spud' he encouraged us to write what he called a 'Feedback Sandwich' where you say good things about their work at the start and end (like bread) and constructive criticism in the middle (like filler.) This stops people from feeling immediately upset when the first thing they read is a negative point, or when the last thing that sticks with them is about what they failed to do, but -AND THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART- it still gave us the opportunity to point out weaknesses and ways of improvement to the benefit of our writing as a whole. What I got doled out in this subject was like a loaf of sliced bread that had no substance and nothing beneficial in it... and only after eating it did I realise it was exceptionally mouldy.

    The mould in this metaphor is something that was told to me by a member of the department in a different English subject after someone asked about the marking process (ie. words to the effect of 'Do you purposefully give out a certain number of H1s, H2s etc. or do you just mark them objectively with no standardisation?') to which they replied 'oh no, we just give you all letter grades so that we can bell curve you later and change the marks around.' So that happened. And that kind of made me reevaluate my choices and is at least partially responsible for why I've abandoned the (mostly) rotten loaf of English and affixed myself to the beautifully constructed pastry tower of Linguistics, but it also explained a lot of the weirdness and numerical inconsistencies I'd heard about from my fellow Lit brethren but had previously dismissed as them being melodramatic or lying about their marks.

    In short, I can't recommend this subject, but I do believe it has the potential to be worthwhile if changes were made. There were some damn good books on the reading list, and I even enjoyed a lot of the secondary criticism which I normally don't, but tl;dr: I learned nothing from this, and it's not a great thing when a tertiary course makes one pine for the standards of a Year 8 English class.

literally lauren

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #537 on: December 20, 2015, 04:44:32 pm »
Subject Code/Name: LING20005: Phonetics

Workload: 2 x 1 hour lectures with one repeat each (ie. one lecture at 11:00, one at 4:15 on both Tuesday and Thursday for our cohort) + 1 x 1 hour practical session - explained below.

Assessment: 2 x transcription assignments - one using a foreign language dataset, the other using foreign words + English sentences; 1 x oral production test; 1 x listening test; 1 x two hour exam

Lectopia enabled: Yes, but lecturer would occasionally draw on the board & more importantly, would often do physical demonstrations of sound production, so attending the lectures is a good idea.

Past exams available: Yes, one, and it was easier than the actual exam but still gave a good general overview of the subject matter.

Textbook Recommendation: The Ladefoged & Johnson textbook was surprisingly expensive for relatively little content (~I think it was under 200 pages but over $100 :/ though according to the lecturers it's the best, most concise summation of all of Phonetics, and admittedly was pretty great if you wanted to learn beyond the overviews given in the lectures.) Baillieu has some old editions in the high use section, so I'd recommend just reading through that over an afternoon or two and make notes. It's not a necessity, but it does aid in theoretical understanding.
There were also a few groups (one of which I joined) who pitched $15-$20 each and got a shared copy that they passed throughout the Semester around depending on whoever needed it - most would just borrow it for a week, photocopy or take notes on whatever they needed, and handed it on to the next person - then sold it at the end of semester and gave whatever they got back to a relevant charity so that's a really good option as well.

Lecturer(s): Mainly Janet Fletcher, but there was someone else who came in to talk about the physics and physiognomy of speech sound in Week 10 or so.

Year & Semester of completion: 2015, Semester 1

Rating: 4.5/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1

I'll start with what is most likely to put people off this subject: by the end of this course, you will (or should :P) be able to produce every single sound and combination of sounds on this chart from memory:

To me, that is incredibly exciting and challenging, but when this was made clear in the first or second lecture, there was a noticeable drop in attendees. However, this subject is very well-paced, and it rarely felt overwhelming.

The fact that I'm really interested in this subject matter is going to prejudice this review a smidge, so I'll focus on the details surrounding assessment first and talk about general pros and cons afterwards. The two major assignments throughout the semester are listening or transcription exercises whereby you're given a series of audio files with three second sound bites of someone saying 'mfarnglchth' in another language, and then you have to write down that sound using the appropriate symbols from the above IPA chart (which incidentally, would be [ɱɐŋɬθ].) Luckily, we were given a fairly simply language (Korean) and told to just focus on the consonants, since by that point in the semester we hadn't yet explored vowels in full. It was fairly straightforward, and you were told which possible symbols might come up. Plus, because this was a take-home exercise, you could play the sounds as many times as you wanted to... and there was a slight cheat to working things out (hint: don't listen to the files in order ;) ) This was probably the easiest exercise, and there was a pretty high average according to the lecturers.

The second assessment involved transcribing 20 Burmese words, which was a little trickier since you had to get the vowels right this time too, but like the first assignment, we were given a table of ~40 relevant symbols from that language. There were also two English sentences that we had to transcribe using the Australian English symbols ( -a real struggle for the two American girls in our tute who were constantly getting vowels 'wrong' since they were going by their accents instead of ours.) You also had to describe the tone targets which I'll talk more about later.

Then, towards the end of semester, you had to pick an allocated time slot for the oral production test, which consisted of a 5 minute mini-exam where you're given six random IPA symbols and you have to state their full name (eg. voiced post-alveolar fricative; open mid-front unrounded vowel; dental ejective, etc.) then produce the sound, plus three 'nonsense words' like [nøʔɶɮ] that you're given about five minutes before the test. You're given heaps of practice with this in all the practical session, and it's really easy to test yourself just be going through the chart. I ended up taking a whole stack of sticky notes and making a wall size IPA chart at home with symbols on the front and names on the back, and I saw a lot of other people practicing with cue cards or online flash card programs in lectures too. There's no way of knowing which symbols or combinations of symbols (eg. devoiced alveolar nasal, lowered close back vowel, etc.) though just through conferring with the people I knew, it seemed like everyone got at least two vowels and one non-pulmonic consonant. The tutors were really good about providing ample opportunity to hone your skills though, and apparently you could even seek them out in their office hours and they'd do a practice run-through with you. They're also really good in the actual assessment if you stuff up one of the symbols and then realise five seconds later... I got the stupid freaking velar approximant mixed up with the stupid freaking palatal lateral approximant... it's not my fault that whole class of phonemes sound the same... but they let me correct myself which was super nice of them :'D

The final bit of assessment before the exam was the listening test where Janet would produce a bunch of sounds (from memory it was 20 IPA symbols + a full symbol and tonal transcription of two English sentences, but I could be wrong) and we'd do the notations. This is going to sound like an odd compliment, but Janet is very good at... making sounds. As in, her articulation was really unambiguous if you knew your stuff, and she even stressed certain features both visually and aurally to help people who were struggling. The whole thing only took about twenty minutes, and you get to choose one of three sessions across three days to do it. I'd highly recommend sitting close to the front though, since you've got a slight advantage if you get a chance to observe Janet's facial movements and enunciation. She also had to do a bilabial trill (like blowing a raspberry, basically) for the session I was in, and we were giggling like a pack of three year olds  ;D

Finally the exam... which I don't remember much about. There was a fair bit of 'this is a symbol, write what it is' and vice versa, as well as a few multi-choice and short answer questions about sound production and airstream mechanics (eg. describe the various process involved in the production of the phoneme [ð] or whatever) There were also some tricky diagram sections like this:

but you will have seen these in lectures and possible pracs, plus the readings for those who bother to do them :P

There was also some spectrogram analysis which I really struggled with since physics is not my forte, but more on that later.

In general the exam seemed like a pretty apt condensed version of everything that had been covered in the lectures. There were no 'omg what the hell is this' moments, nor were there any 'damn, I memorised everything to do with ___ and it wasn't even on there' thoughts that I had afterwards, so it seemed well organised overall.

General good things about this subject:
The lectures and pracs line up nicely so that you'll learn about a sound production mechanism on Tuesday and then practice producing it yourself on Wednesday. They worked in tandem up until about Week 8 when things started to shift around a bit for assessment, but in general there was a lot of synergy between the different classes which is the sign of good subject coordination, in my book.

Also, you get to be part of a cohort that goes from shyly not wanting to make silly noises in week one to a group of nerds with wildly gesticulating tongues that shamelessly practiced their uvular implosives on the train and made others think they were choking to death. Janet warned us in the first week that she took one step into the world of phonetics and before she knew it she was practicing tongue root movements and laryngeal lowering in the car while waiting for traffic lights to change, and occasionally someone next to her would look over and see this crazy lady with a spasmodic jaw and be like, wow, that crazy lady sure does have a spasmodic jaw.

The pracs really were immensely useful once we all got over the collective weirdness of being in a room of people humming or buzzing or trying to roll their 'r's. There was one especially great class where we were learning about all the different sibilant sounds, and the tutor told us to all produce an 's' which we'd then turn into a ʃ or whatever, and some poor construction worker came in to tell us to leave via the side door, only to discover twenty young adults hissing at the tutor like it was the most normal thing in the world.

On a more serious note, this subject was also really considerate when it came to second language, or even just non-Australian English speaking students. A lot of us were worried that the assessment would be very AusE heavy, especially the two phonetics friends I had, one of whom was Polish and the other Tamil. There were also certain symbols (like [ʀ]) which were near impossible for certain speakers to pronounce just because of their physical oral tract shape, but not only did the tutors work closely with students that didn't have native intuitions or accents, but they also took off various really-really-hard-to-produce sounds from the oral exam, which was lovely of them.

The LMS was well stocked with readings, resources, and links to helpful things like this and this, as well as recordings and lecture slides that were always uploaded promptly.

I'm starting to really value well-coordinated subjects even more so than interesting content matter, so the efficiency and clear communication was a real strength.

General bad things:
I was really really confused by the acoustic phonetics and more physics-y elements of the course that got brought in at around Week 9 or 10, and as such found it tough to wrap my head around things like tone contours and tone targets in Week 11. The secondary readings were a little too far removed from the purview of the subject, and it was really tough to get a basic, working definition of what 'pitch' and 'formants' were. I kind of got there by the exam, but I ended up operating on a need-to-know basic rote learned understanding of how to handle the exam style questions, and I much prefer having a stable conceptual understanding regardless of what I'm studying.

I know I wasn't the only one that struggled with this either; the guest lecturer that came in to talk to us about spectrograms and such was pretty interesting, but it felt kind of divorced from the stuff we'd been focusing on so by the time Janet came back the week after, she was using a lot of terminology that I guess she assumed we had gone through the previous week, which let to a lot of us taking our confusion out on our tutors. They still did their best to clarify the basics, but almost all the new content from the last three weeks of semester was pretty challenging and I still don't think I fully understand it.

It might have also been valuable to provide more sample data sets for us to practice with in the lead up to assessment. There were a few on the LMS, and when it came to the English sentence transcription you could just refer to anything you heard around you, but in terms of the foreign language exercises, the resources were a little sparse.

I'm really struggling to think of anything else though, which is a good thing considering this is a core unit for a Linguistics major. It's not the sort of thing I'd recommend to an outside elective-seeker (unlike Secret Life or Grammar of English which are much more accessible to the non-Linguistics lot) unless you're especially interested in speech and noise pronunciation. There were a couple of people who weren't there for the major - like one lady who was a professional opera singer and wanted to beef up her knowledge of sound production. As fun as it was, I can't see it being wholly relevant unless you want to go into a field like phonetics or speech pathology, so it's certainly a lot narrower than the other Linguistics units I've done. Nevertheless, it was really well-run and had a great combination of engaging staff and interesting content, and this was definitely one of the more enjoyable subjects I took this year.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2016, 09:34:16 pm by literally lauren »

literally lauren

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #538 on: December 20, 2015, 05:40:39 pm »
Subject Code/Name: EDUC20076: Auslan and Visual Communication

Workload: 5 days, 9:00-4:30 with a lecture in the morning, workshops till 3:30, and then a tutorial in the afternoon that reflected on everything from that day.

Assessment: 1 x 'Practical Project' equivalent to 1500 words + a 500 word written explanation; 1 x Essay (2000 words) based on one of three topics

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, just audio which was unfortunate because you missed out on the live interpreting that accompanied each lecture, but was still a useful resource when prepping for assessment.

Past exams available:  No exam for this subject.

Textbook Recommendation: None, officially, but Johnston & Schembri's book is worth a read, and the LMS had a bunch of pdfs that were useful for the second essay. You'll also be using this a lot :)

Lecturer(s): Various.

Year & Semester of completion: July 2015

Rating: 4.1 Out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: H1

Comments: First of all, this is a winter intensive that runs over the course of one week with the two assessment pieces due (two weeks and seven weeks, respectively) after the end of that week. It was kind of a pain to come in five days a week when you live as far away as I do, and I was totally exhausted by the end for reason's I'll go into later, but it was still very enjoyable.

I'd also like to note that this is only the second time this subject has been run, so most of my major gripes can be chalked up to teething problems regarding assessment and coordination. Also, just based off an earlier review as well as what I heard from the tutors, this subject has already changed substantially for the better, and they really value student input. Aside from the regular SES feedback, we were also encouraged to fill in other surveys and written evaluations, and a lot of the tutors were very open about receiving constructive criticism for future cohorts. Given how much they've already improved, I have no doubt it'll only get better since there's a team of highly intelligent and highly committed, interesting people behind this subject.

On to details... I'll explain the days' schedule first, and then go into assessment later.

The first day we had two lectures in the morning, though the first was mostly admin and outlining what the week would entail, so the second was where we learned about the basics of signed communication. A huge plus in the lectures was that, because most of the workshop leaders and staff were deaf and only a few could lip read, every lecture was interpreted live by a signer at the front of the room, so we all got to watch the process of interpretation unfold. This went in both directions too; sometimes the lecturer would be deaf and would sign to an interpreter sitting in the front row, and the interpreter would have a mic that'd be broadcast throughout the room. Other times the lecturer would speak, and the interpreter would face the audience while signing.

Spoiler: I find translation to be incredibly fascinating, so my enjoyment of this subject was significantly bolstered by being submerged in all this interpretation  ;D

After that we would be split into our tute groups for the rest of the day. The whole cohort was made up of 175 people with about 25 people in each tute. Most of the afternoon would comprise of 'workshops' where one person would come in and go through a concept like 'deaf culture' or 'deaf protocols.' There were a heap of interesting things that took a while to get used to, like if someone is signing to you through an interpreter, you are supposed to look at the person who's signing to be polite, not the actual interpreter. The same goes for questions, so if I'm communicating with a deaf person via an interpreter, I would just say aloud 'what would you like for dinner' instead of directing my speech at the interpreter like: 'can you ask him what he wants for dinner?' Even simple things like using the word 'deaf' instead of 'hearing impaired;' a lot of us thought the latter was more respectful, but apparently 'deaf' is a lot more inclusive than the negative connotations of the word 'impaired.'

Anyway, we'd have three workshops per day, but they'd alternate between the different tute groups so although everyone would have completed the same tasks by the end of each day, you wouldn't have done them in the same order as everyone else. The most interesting thing about the workshops though was that they were almost all run by a deaf person, and there's only occasionally be an interpreter in the room. This wasn't explained to us at all really, so our first session was super confusing, but a seriously effective way of teaching.

One of the things you'll learn quite quickly about deaf communication is that it's not about memorising hundreds of hand signs and just spelling everything out - much of it comes from contextual clues, facial expressions, and body language (which is why, if you've ever seen an interpreter on TV during an emergency broadcast or anything, they're always highly expressive and gestural. Simply making the hand signal for 'there is a fire nearby' with no other bodily movement whatsoever would actually be really confusing for a deaf person, since things like emotion, urgency, and necessity are most effectively communicated through the whole face and upper body.) Going into the subject, I didn't know many signs beyond some basic Makaton, and most of the people in our course had little to no experience interacting with deaf people either. But you'd be surprised how much can be communicated without sound.

Our first workshop was about politeness protocols, which was mainly based on the different ways of attracting the attention of a deaf person. We'd all just wandered into the class and our workshop leader waved and invited us all to stand in a circle. Then, he wrote the word 'sports equipment' on the board, turned to us, and pretended to mould an invisible ball of clay into a golf club, then mimed hitting a golf ball. He then moulded the club back into an invisible ball, and handed it on to the next person in the circle. They had to follow suit (which took us a few moments to work out) by presenting their own gesture (eg. stretching out the clay to form a long, thin rope, then pretending to skip, or flattening the thing into a discus and pretending to toss it to someone on the other side of the circle.) By the time it went all the way around, the topic changed to something like 'children's toys' or 'kitchen utensils' and the game carried on. All of this occurred in total silence, and the only way we worked out what was happening was through purely visual means. There were a few kids who didn't get it, and admittedly there were a few drop outs after that morning who just found the whole experience too weird, but I was completely fascinated by how it all unfolded.

So we soon worked out that the whole workshop would be delivered in a combination of gesturing and signing, since many signs in Auslan are fairly intuitive (eg. bus looks like someone turning a bus' steering wheel; forget is like taking an idea from your mind and throwing it away, etc.) If there was anything particularly difficult to get across, the workshop leader would signal for one of the interpreters to come in and help us out for five minutes, but aside from that, we had to make do on our own. For instance, we had another activity where we had to silently converse with others on our table and find out their names (we had finger-spelling guides like this one) ages, majors, and interests all without any spoken communication. Our workshop leader for that activity happened to only be partially deaf, so he could make out a low murmur when people spoke even though he couldn't hear exact words, meaning we couldn't get away with just muttering to one another :P

Other workshops included a 'useful phrases' seminar where we got a crash course in about 50 key expressions; modifying signs to express adjectives (eg. if you make the sign for 'apple' while wrinkling your nose, it means the apple is disgusting, whereas if you make the sign with exaggerated hand gestures and blown up cheeks, it means it's really big;) and considering what barriers there are for deaf people in society, the workforce, relationships etc. A highlight here was that at some time in each workshop, an interpreter would come in and the workshop leader would spend about ten minutes telling us about their lives, so we got to hear about the experiences of people who had become deaf in late childhood but were surrounded by hearing friends and family, so often felt isolated and alone, as well as others who were deaf from birth and born to deaf parents, so felt at home in deaf culture but often found it difficult to communicate with new people. There were also quite a few interesting and rather tragic stories of discrimination and bullying; the one that surprised me most was in relation to hearing aids and how deaf children who don't want to learn to speak or have their hearing partially restored are considered failures by mainstream education systems. We spent a lot of time hearing about and later discussing how deaf children are raised and how technology can aid deaf people.

We also had the chance to ask questions through an interpreter, which was a bizarre experience because you're not just communicating automatically like you would with anyone else, but instead start to try and reconfigure your speech so it's as logical as possible and so that the interpreter can communicate it as easily and unambiguously as possible.

The personal experiences really do open your eyes to just how reliant our world is on sounds though. Like, one of our workshop leaders told us about being on the London Underground when there was a terrorist incident, and because he was alone and didn't have anyone to sign/explain what was happening, all he could do was watch people listening to the intercom and then freaking out or running away.

This was made all the more apparent in a later workshop that simulated what it was like to be deaf in a hearing world by placing us in situations where complex signing was taking place and we had no idea how to react. For instance, one of the exercises involved a group of five of us being ushered to various stations around a room with actors playing different roles, one of which was a man sitting at a table who promptly launched into rapid signing, then looked to us for a response. We all just kind of sat there perplexed, shrugging, or trying to make the sign for 'could you repeat that please?' which we'd only learnt the previous day. Then another one of the workshop leaders would come around and start conversing with the man, and we could infer from the gestures that he was frustrated with us and telling her that we were dumb. She nodded, and then signed something to us which was too quick for us to interpret, so we all just sat there wanting to understand and yet being so unable to.

Other stations involved us trying to take out a bank loan, trying to book a table and order food and drinks, and being called into what I think was a principal's office where we were being disciplined for doing... something wrong. Then at one or two random intervals all the leaders would stand up and start freaking the hell out, wildly gesturing in different directions standing at different corners of the room and signing things with panicked expressions. Some of them would occasionally make a sign that seemed like a beckoning gesture, so some people would hesitantly move towards them while the rest of us just stood around dumbfounded.

It was later explained that this was the equivalent of a fire drill, so on one side of the room, people would be making signs like 'fire,' 'danger,' and 'run away; don't come here' while the others would be signing 'safety,' 'escape,' 'clean air' and 'firetruck,' but in our confusion, a couple of people meandered into the 'fire' zone since none of us knew what was going on  ::)

Obviously this was all for the purposes of demonstrating the isolation and confusion that many deaf people face, and most of us worked out quite quickly that we weren't meant to understand what they were saying. But after all this was over and we got to communicate with the leaders through interpreters, it was clear that this really affected some people. There was a guy in our group who said words to the effect of 'it really scared me to be so confused and have no way of knowing how to ask for help.'

For me, the immersion was amazing, though I could understand how it would put some people off the subject, so don't be fooled! You won't just sit around learning signs in a hearing environment for a week - there's a whole lot of content crammed into this subject and it's presented in heaps of different and creative ways.

Finally, at the end of each day there'd be a one hour session with your groups tutor that would be a regular vocal discussion (to the relief of many!) where you'd talk about everything that had happened that day and get a chance to clear up any uncertainties or questions that we had. Maybe it was just because we had a great tutor, but I always found this to be a valuable conclusion after all the activities since almost every workshop would leave me with a list of several questions that we wouldn't have the time or the ability to ask in those sessions, but could bring up at the end of the day. This led to some really interesting conversations about what deaf people do when they need to call 000 (see below,) whether deaf people have words to describe non-binary genders and sexualities, and whether they can comprehend the idea of rhyming and poetry. (~that last one ended up being the basis of an essay I wrote in another subject, and is a really interesting debate if you're curious.)

Some of the workshops involved incursions and guest speakers too, like a deaf contestant from a reality TV dance show who talked about the performing arts and how deaf people can enjoy music and theatre. There was also a spokesperson from the National Relay Service (which is a really cool organisation that allow for communication between deaf and mute people via phone) who spoke to us about technological advancements like deaf-friendly smoke alarms and doorbells.

The point I'm getting at is that this subject really isn't restricted to Auslan as a language tool, but rather looks at deafness from a broader perspective and incorporates many modes of visual communication.

The best part, for me, was the second lecture delivered by Adam Schembri who's an Auslan expert and part of La Trobe's Linguistics Department. He went through a whole bunch of misapprehensions people have about deaf languages (like the fact that they're mutually intelligible, or that they were invented by hearing people - neither of which are true) and took us through things from a slightly more analytic perspective. Linguistics isn't a prereq for this course, so he obviously couldn't go into much detail with the terminology, but having spoken to him afterwards and read some of his stuff, there are a heap of really interesting questions surrounding Auslan that he's looked into. I'm quite partial to this kind of thing, so I'd continued to research the analytic side of things more than the socio-cultural stuff, but the assessment allowed you to focus on whatever you preferred which was pretty generous.

I think the sheer breadth of the course is probably the most attractive thing though. It felt hectic, but not disorganised, though thinking back on that week now, I have no idea how they crammed in so much learning so efficiently, and again, given this is such a new subject with people coming at it from so many different degrees and levels of ability, the staff really do deserve all the commendation in the world for being able to pull this off.

Downsides: I'm going to talk about the assessment here even though it wasn't all bad, but I believe that's the main area that would need improvement before I give this subject my wholehearted recommendation.

The first task is due two weeks after the intensive week - a big improvement over having it due at the end of the intensive week like it was last year, apparently - and was by far the most vague thing we had to do. It was described as a 'Record of Learning' where we had to document the things we'd learned in a form that suited our learning style, and then write a rationale as to why we did so (??) I gathered they wanted us to make a poster or ten minute video or something, but after three or four days of fielding questions in the afternoon tute, our tutor just basically said we could write an essay if we wanted to, and to my knowledge, that's what everyone in our class did.

I figured this would be a fairly reflective piece, though we were advised to avoid the first person as a formality, but the feedback I got from that essay was mainly about how I needed more citations to strengthen my piece, especially in the written explanation where we were apparently meant to make references to 'learning theories' to justify ourselves (eg. 'Professor Soandso argues that verbal learners understand concepts best when they have to articulate them in written form; I am a verbal learner, hence I have written an essay.') This wasn't made too clear, but the marking was fairly lenient provided you expressed the points clearly and accurately. Try to incorporate as much as you can from your week's experiences though, since those who just picked a narrow focus were apparently penalised a bit.

The second essay was strictly academic with a BIG emphasis on referencing. It ended up being the most citation-heavy piece I've ever written, and I was still told to use more sources and go into more detail (despite already being over the word count ::)) but all things considered, it was much more straightforward than the previous one. Topics we got were:
1) Discuss some of the different ways meaning is created in Auslan including at least one area of sign linguistics in your discussion.
2) Discuss the cultural perspective of deafness and how this relates to the community and its language.
3) Compare spoken and signed languages, describing the similarities and differences.
I went with the third one since that offered the most by way of linguistic-y discussion, but as you can see they're all pretty flexible. It wasn't due until seven weeks after the week had finished though, which ended up being the fourth week of Semester 2 or so, meaning that it's best to finish this early while you still remember things than try and come back to it while you're busy with the first major round of assessment with your other subjects.

Finally, there was a hurdle requirement that wasn't marked, but was due at the end of the week, and that was a performative exercise. Now, I've always hated drama classes and being forced to "act" in front of people, but even I didn't mind this activity. Basically we got into groups and were given a fairytale (eg. ours was Cinderella) and between the ~5 of us, we had to find a way to tell this story visually. There's a whole list of things we had to try to include, like an example of a deaf character struggling to communicate, or an example of technology helping/hindering the communication process, and we had a lot of freedom in our staging. Some groups assigned each person a role and then acted out the story using occasional signing, others (like us) took it in turns to tell a fifth of the story before handing over to the next person. You don't really get credit for dramatic ability, and they advised against just getting up and signing a memorised speech; instead you have to 'establish' characters visually and doing what's called 'role switching.' For instance, my chunk of the story involved Cinderella meeting the Prince at the ball, so I'd first make the sign for 'dress' and 'pretty' and then mime walking in a really dainty way, and then have to 'switch' to the prince by altering my body language, signing 'crown' and then doing a manly-walk. Another person in my group had to portray the ugly step sisters in her part, so she'd put on a really horrific facial expression and a hunchback while making signs like 'mean' and 'big nose.' Creativity was encouraged, but so was clarity, and the idea was that we'd be performing this to some of the deaf workshop leaders as well as the rest of our class, so we had to strike a balance between incorporating the requisite amount of signing and other aspects, and the general understanding of the audience.

I got a special mention for my depiction of the pumpkin growing into a carriage, which takes me back to my primary school days of being cast as the hay in the manger for the nativity play. If I, with my hay-like acting ability can get a special mention for a performance, that tells you they're sure as hell not favouring the dramatically gifted :P

Also, there were a bunch of shy science/arts kids in my group who weren't super keen on either group work or drama, but you're given about two hours of class time (which comes out of the afternoon tutes) as well as optional time during the lunch break to sort out your performance, and everyone was willing to do their bit. We ended up making a google doc and trading email addresses so we could just assign bits of the story and then work on our stuff separately for time's sake, and that worked pretty well for us. The groups that were doing one big simultaneous performance had a tougher time, but everyone in our class did surprisingly well for a bunch of non-actors/non-fluent-signers/people-who'd-only-known-each-other-for-four-days.

The only other downside for me was that the final day was mostly taken up with sports exercises. This was interesting to a lot of people, especially when we were hearing from deaf athletes who told us about how sports like swimming and basketball are modified to suit the Deaf, but my feelings towards sport in general are lukewarm at best. (See: this) I think by that time the winter chill and long days + commute had just worn me down to the point of just wanting to nap... so much so that when I looked over all the notes I had for this subject review, I realise I'd given it a 2 overall which really wasn't fair in hindsight. Just be warned that this is a deceptively demanding subject and you will be hella tired once it's over.

I never realised how exhausting it is to just be watching all day. You'd think, because you're always looking at something that it wouldn't be that tiring, but when your auditory input is just cut off for most of the workshop hours, suddenly your brain has to compensate through other senses, so you're gaze has to transition from intently watching a lecturer or interpreter to one another or to something they're gesturing to and back again. That, coupled with the fact that you're essentially immersed in a foreign language environment albeit with a bit of English input means you'll probably be mentally zonked even if you've experienced learning second or third languages before.

All in all though, this was one of the most interesting subjects I've done so far, and aside from a few issues with the clarity surrounding assessment, I'd still say it's worth it if you've got a free week in mid-July, and the intelligence and competency of everyone involved leaves me in no doubt that they'll continue to improve this for future cohorts.

it's ASL not Auslan but cool nonetheless.
Also someone pointed out that this girl looks a lot like me; now I can't unsee it and it kinda freaks me out O.o

« Last Edit: April 17, 2016, 09:27:13 pm by literally lauren »

literally lauren

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #539 on: January 26, 2016, 08:16:12 pm »
Subject Code/Name: LING20011: Grammar of English

Workload: 2 x 1 hour lectures and 1 x 1 hour tute

Assessment:  10 tutorial exercises (10% total, 1% each); 2 assignments with short answer questions and sentence mapping (50% total, 25% each); Open-book exam (40%)

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, but Lesley would write on the board occasionally and that wouldn't be picked up, so you're better off attending unless you want to miss valuable demonstrations

Past exams available:  Yes, one. Much shorter and quite a bit easier than the real exam, but still touched on all the basic concepts that came up.

Textbook Recommendation:  Student's Introduction to Grammar by Huddleston & Pullum - really beneficial but don't buy it, it's expensive :s
The Google Books versions here and here are kida dodgy quality but should suffice. There's also a bunch of other totally legal pdf versions if you google hard enough. This was the one I used, but that was only after another copy was taken down mid-semester, so you may have to find a backup at some stage.

Lecturer(s): Prof. Lesley Stirling, World's Cuddliest Linguist. I believe this is changing in 2016 though.

Year & Semester of completion: 2015, Semester 1

Rating: 5 Out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: H1

Comments: 5/5 is starting to be my default for Linguistics subjects... GofE was definitely worth it though.
A few quick notes on background knowledge and prerequisites: Secret Life (1st year core unit) is not assumed knowledge, and unlike other Linguistics subjects, this one could be picked up with no prior exposure. The first two weeks are a crash course in the absolute basics (how do you know a word is a noun? And how do you know a word is a word, for that matter?) so that people are pretty much on equal playing field by week 3 when the tutorial exercises start. Lesley also tended to hang around after lectures for questions, so that was good for anyone who was struggling. There were a few kids in our cohort from non-English-speaking backgrounds too, and while I can't speak for all of them, the ones I knew in my tute group seemed like they could handle it. In fact, some of them had a bit of an advantage over the kids who only knew English  :P If you can come at this subject with at least a second language under your belt, you should be fine, and anyone who's done Secret Life, Syntax, or any other theory-heavy Linguistics grammar subject will find it pretty relaxing.

GofE is a lot more descriptive than I thought it'd be. Where other subjects will be more application-based with (mostly foreign) data sets and problem solving exercises, a great deal of the tute exercises and assignments just involved describing how language behaves. For instance, you'd be given a sentence like 'The mechanic was certainly knowledgeable.' and told to analyse the adjectival phrase, which you have to identify [certainly knowledgeable enough] and then dissect ['certainly' = pre-head modifier, 'knowledgeable' = head adjective]. Other key components involved having to argue for something being what it was, ie. 'What tests could be conducted to suggest that 'student' is a noun in the sentence 'The student went to the beach'?' coupled with the ol' 'here is a sentence, describe its bits' exercises.

'We all had breakfast in a cafe'     = copulative sentence type
'we all' = Subject & Noun Phrase
'had' = Predicate & Verbal Element
'breakfast' = Subject Predicate Complement & Noun Phrase
'in a cafe' = Adjunct & Prepositional Phrase

^That was the standard we were at by about Week 5, but it never felt overwhelming because we always had the comfort of plenty of examples to use as reference material. Rarely were we given anything that hadn't already been shown in some form in the lectures or readings, and most weeks the tute exercises could be completed just by looking over the most recent lecture slides and applying that knowledge to the given questions. Towards the end of semester, things got a bit more problem-solvey for the last few tute exercises and the exam, but again, this was all very manageable given the fact that we'd been through both theoretical explanations and practical demonstrations before, and that there was never a time when you couldn't open up to look at these (even in the exam).

I've never actually sat an open-book exam before - we were allowed to take in any number of books and pages so long as nothing was electronic (obvs) so a bunch of people printed off all the lecture slides and took them in along with the textbook and everything else. I found it way more helpful to compile everything into a couple of pages and then just bring in my lecture notes in case, but I rarely referred to it anyway. It was nice not to have to cram/ rote-learn a bunch of definition questions like 'What is a preposition?' as most of the exam was just an extension of the tute exercises anyway.

Lectures were really helpful for succinctly and effectively covering the content, though the first few weeks were basically revision for those who had done Secret Life. There were some key differences in terminology though (eg. determiners vs. determinatives... shut up, it's an important distinction -.-) and a lot of the phrase structure tree drawing rules were quite new to me.

Tutorials tended to just involve running through the tutorial exercises from that week (ie. they'd be due on Monday and marked by the tutes on Tuesday or Wednesday so we could go through any difficult questions together) but I believe there was talk of extending it to two tutes per week for future years. One hour didn't leave much time for questions, and I think it'd be great if they had one tute dedicated to the exercises and then one based on concepts in the lectures and readings. Then again, I do tend to geek out over this stuff and wouldn't complain if my entire timetable involved discussing amusing ambiguities and general silliness.

Lesley was what took this subject from good to great, though. She's an amazing lecturer, was always readily available in office hours or via email, and has done really interesting work on switch reference (which admittedly I could only really understand after having done Syntax in second semester.) Plus her semantic-y way of explaining things gave rise to interesting moments, like that time she said 'In this sentence, I am faced with the evidence of a disappointing lack of cabbages' or 'We're not talking about degrees of train-ness here' which I swear made perfect sense at the time. I believe she actually takes Semantics as a 3rd year subject, so I might come back to this later and edit in any relevant info, but suffice it to say I'm definitely doing Semantics because of her.
I've heard conflicting information, but I was lead to believe Peter Hurst was taking Grammar of English from 2016 onwards - the handbook page has got both he and Lesley listed now - but that's like being told you'll either get one amazing person or another; they're on par for excellent teaching ability, so you can't go wrong either way.

By way of advice for anyone picking this subject up: it's all about justifyability! A lot of answers, even in the exam, relied heavily on your ability to argue your case. So whilst you might get one mark for correctly identifying which prepositional phrase was a complement and which was an adjunct, the other three marks in a four mark question would be devoted to how convincingly you were able to justify your analysis. Know all of the different characteristics and tests, and you should be fine.

For those doing a Linguistics major/minor, this is a good subject to do before the core 2nd year Syntax unit if you want to make that one easier. Alternatively, you can do it afterwards and be assured of an easy H1 since Syntax is significantly harder, but be careful with the variations in terminology and tree drawing. I'll talk more about the specific differences in my Syntax review though.

For those with no Linguistics background whatsoever, if you don't understand something, clarify it instantly, or it will spiral into a hellish vortex of un-knowledge in a couple of weeks time. Everything in this subject builds on what comes before, so if you're not entirely sure what the hell the 'mood' of verbs refers to, or how the different types of predicate complements work, ASK!
The tutorial exercises were also very good ways of keeping up to date and practising for assignments and the exam. They're only 1% each, and you'll get a mark out of 3 based on effort, not accuracy, but they're worth doing nonetheless.

If you need any more convincing, just know that studying English grammar will make you super romantic...