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Author Topic: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings  (Read 1058354 times)  Share 

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CossieG

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #375 on: November 13, 2014, 01:35:51 pm »
+8
Subject Code/Name: COMP10001: Foundations of Computing

Workload:  3 lectures and a 2 hour workshop per week.

Assessment:
  • 3 projects for a total of 30%
  • Mid semester test 10%
  • Weekly IVLE worksheets for a total of 10%
  • 2 hour exam 50%

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available: 
Yes. There were a whole bunch of past mid semester tests and a few practice exams, most with solutions.

Textbook Recommendation:  No textbook required.

Lecturer(s):
Bernie Pope. A great lecturer, he had very detailed slides and his projects and exam were very well written. However, his lectures can get pretty boring from time to time. His advanced lecture on how Python works was very interesting.

At various times throughout the semester, there will also be guest lectures from various companies and institutions.

Guest lectures and advanced lectures aren't assessed (even though they make guest lectures 'examinable' to boost numbers). I normally skipped these lectures.

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 semester 2.

Rating:  5/5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA

Comments:
This subject is an introduction to programming and computation, and is a prerequisite for all other I.T subjects (Unless you sit and pass a programming test, which takes you straight to COMP10002). For the first 8 or so weeks, you are taught a programming language called Python, and for the last few weeks you move into some basic theory of computation such as recursion, algorithmic thinking and program performance.

Note that Tim Baldwin takes the subject in first semester, and thus the course might be slightly different from semester to semester.

Python itself is quite a nice language, and relatively easy to pick up as long as you put in the work during semester. Some of the harder parts of the language aren't taught, such as classes and exception handling, but they aren't too hard to learn once you're familiar with the language. The lectures build up on themselves quite nicely, so if you review the slides after each one you'll pick the language in no time.

The last few weeks are an introduction to computational theory, albeit a very basic one. You learn the basis of algorithmic thinking, and recursion (one of the tougher concepts to learn) and analysis of program performance. By this time of of semester, I had pretty much stopped going to these lectures since the content was pretty hand-wavey and my time was better off used learning more Python.

The projects were very well written, and extremely fun to do. I found myself so absorbed in them that I finished them in the first night that they were assigned! There is something extremely satisfying about writing code and watching it work exactly you want - it becomes almost addictive.

The exam was quite unlike the past papers they gave us, I found it easier. The exam was so well written that I actually enjoyed sitting it lol.

My advice:
  • DO NOT take this subject if you're looking for something you'll be able to breeze through, you do need to put in work throughout the semester to learn Python at a sufficient standard to pass.
  • Review every lecture and tute sheet when you get home, try to write programs based on what you've learnt
  • Jump on CodeAcademy. It has a short course on Python that will keep your skills sharp during semester.
  • Lastly, if you are serious about a degree in computer science, don't stop learning Python when the subject ends. Teach yourself the things that the subject didn't teach. It's worth shipping over to python 3.4 once the subject is done (they teach 2.7). Also, write programs! You want to have something to show a prospective employer once you get that interview.


« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 04:05:56 pm by CossieG »
2013: English | Math Methods | Chemistry | Physics | Psychology |
2014 - 2017: Bachelor of Science at UoM (Computing and Software Systems)

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stolenclay

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #376 on: November 13, 2014, 03:45:24 pm »
+9
Subject code/name: MAST10009 Accelerated Mathematics 2

Workload: Weekly: 4 x 1 hour lectures, 1 x 1 hour practical

Assessment:
2 assignments2 x 5%
45 minute mid-semester test10%
3 hour exam80%

Lectopia enabled: Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available: 5. No answers or solutions were provided.

Textbook recommendation: I do recommend the printed lecture notes from Co-op. They are essentially the lecture slides, which aren't available anywhere else, and you will want copies of the things gone through in lectures.

Lecturer(s): Professor Barry Hughes

Year and semester of completion: 2014 Semester 2

Rating: 4/5

Your mark/grade:

Comments: Yo. Welcome to AM2. Prepare to die.

This subject is pretty much MAST10006 Calculus 2 and MAST20026 Real Analysis combined, with 5/9 of the contact hours, so the pace is fast.

Anyway, I believe AM2 is probably the best taste of pure mathematics you can get in a level 1 subject. This subject is not highly intuitive; at times it seems you are just being thrown abstract facts which together conclude another (perhaps more abstract) fact. I suppose you shouldn't expect any more though, because the results you learn are the fruits of many centuries of work by the brightest of mathematical minds.

Subject content
Real Analysis
For the Real Analysis portion of the subject, a significant underlying concept is being rigorous — if you want to state something, you prove it from basic definitions (most of the time). Granted, doing well in assessments doesn't require being good at this, because you'll probably be reproducing familiar proofs or processes anyway.

Decimal digits... really don't appear much during the first 3 or 4 weeks of Real Analysis lectures. Compared to AM1 where you might have spent a while row-reducing matrices (requiring a lot of number crunching), you'll spend that time trying to get your head around logical yet abstract arguments and processes.

Impressions towards this subject generally become pretty extreme at this point in time — you'll probably either hate it to bits (most people), or absolutely love it (aliens). If you have a true appreciation for the logical framework of mathematical results, you may be an alien.

You will learn about the notion of a limit for a sequence and a real-valued function (and fusion-ha — a sequence of real-valued functions), ways to confirm the existence of a limit of a sequence, continuity of a real-valued function, and the Intermediate Value Theorem.

And the order hierarchy. Yes, you must know the order hierarchy.

Assessment on this part of the subject revolves around establishing whether limits of sequences or real-valued functions and calculating them using the definition of a limit or limit laws (and the order hierarchy). You may be thrown the odd question requiring a proof of one of the simpler limit laws.
Calculus 2
Everyone in the subject breathes a sigh of relief once we begin Calculus 2 content, because a little of this is familiar ground that you would have trod on (whoa, that's the past tense of tread) to bits in Mathematical Methods and Specialist Mathematics.

Essentially the Real Analysis parts before this teach people what a limit actually is, which in Mathematical Methods is not really expanded upon at all. Once you have this idea of what a limit is (hopefully), you can then fully appreciate the origins of differential and integral calculus.

This part of the course is itself split into 5 topics:
  • Differential calculus
    You learn the true meaning of "differentiability" (using the idea of the limit) and some vital theorems, such as the Mean Value Theorem or Taylor's Theorem with Lagrange's Remainder.
  • Integral calculus
    You learn what the integral that you used so much in Mathematical Methods and Specialist Mathematics actually means, and some new techniques to integrate.
  • Differential equations
    You learn and use some new techniques to solve differential equations involving first and second derivatives. There are a few application examples which pop up a lot, such as inflow-outflow questions and electric circuits.
  • Improper integrals
    You learn what an improper integral actually is (the limit of a proper integral). In some ways this is similar to the earlier work on limits — you work heavily with confirming the existence of an improper integral using various tests.
  • Infinite series
    Again this is similar to the work on limits. You will be using various tests to see if a series (a sequence in disguise) has a limit, and of course you apply this not only to series of real numbers, but also to series of real-valued functions.

Any test for existence of the limit that is introduced during work on improper integrals and infinite series needs to be known word for word. Applies for important theorems learnt during any of the 5 topics as well (should be clear which ones are important by the end).

The hardest of the 5 topics are probably improper integrals and infinite series — the hard part being knowing which test to use and how to apply it.

Personally I found learning the Calculus 2 content less interesting than the Real Analysis content, as it was a lot more process oriented in my opinion. But anyway, I'm an alien, so...

Lectures
Not much to say for lectures. Rock up 4 days a week, sit there watching and hearing Barry go through lecture slides and example problems.

AM2 lecture recordings have screen capture, but you won't be able see what's written on the whiteboard if you don't go to lectures.

Should you go to lectures? I think so, because that way you can see Barry doing examples problems in person, and actually copy what he writes from the whiteboard. You miss Barry's spoken comments if you copy them from another person, and sometimes they are quite important to what he is writing.

When Barry writes out solutions to example problems on the whiteboard, generally he is copying it from a sheet he's prepared earlier. He'll still mostly explain whatever he writes on the whiteboard as he writes it though, except in some lectures with so much content that Barry really ends up just copying the solution and slightly neglects the explanation.

Barry has taught this subject for a number of years. You can guarantee he's the best AM2 lecturer there is, because I don't think there are any other AM2 lecturers.

Yes, Barry has his moments of rambling... Generally on things like "third year Complex Analysis", "second year Differential Equations" (a subject he takes), moral, ethical, and philosophical correctness in the context of maths problems, "Calculus 2 students" (lol) and so on... But otherwise Barry is pretty enthusiastic about what he teaches, so if you don't insist that the subject is a piece of crap then you'll probably find lectures bearable at the least.

Practicals
Your practicals involve you doing problems, just like pretty much any maths subject. The questions all come from the post-lecture exercises though (which was kind of disappointing after coming from a maths subject where I got fresh questions in practicals).

If you can do all the selected questions from the practicals, that's a pretty good indication that you are on track. The selected questions generally revolve around the core coursework, rather than some of the other questions in the post-lecture exercises which can be more about investigation of a specific part of the theory, or requiring a proof with a certain amount of innovation.

Practicals begin in the second week.

Assignments
You have 2 assignments for this subject. The first one is purely on Real Analysis content, while the second one covers everything up to differential equations.

Each assignment is marked out of (an astounding) 50, and then scaled to 5% each. Because there are so many marks, the marking scheme is actually quite strict, and tutors try to be more strict in the correction of untimed assessments anyway. For example, in the second assignment, rearranging a differential equation to a certain form described in the lectures was worth 1 mark. It was literally just subtracting a term from both sides of the original equation, but if you didn't write the equation out in the rearranged form, you lost the mark.

The first assignment is noticeably harder, because Real Analysis requires more rigour in general, and also people take a while to get their heads around this part of the course.

Solutions to each assignment go up on the LMS after they are all corrected.

Mid-semester test
The mid-semester test covers the first 5 weeks of lectures, which is all of Real Analysis, and pretty much 1 week of differential calculus (definition of differentiability and Mean Value Theorem, essentially).

There are no past mid-semester tests available, and I feel like Barry doesn't really adhere to any specific structure when he writes the test anyway.

Know all your theorems and definitions (and variations thereof) up until this point word for word. You will be expected to reproduce these, and then apply these.

The mid-semester test is for most people the first piece of timed assessment on something as rigorous as Real Analysis, so while the course content probably induces a lot of panic up until this point, the mid-semester test isn't set at a ridiculously high level of difficulty, relatively speaking. The hardest questions will be proofs of some of the more basic results you have encountered up until this point.

Solutions to the mid-semester test go up on the LMS after they are all corrected.

Exam
Ho ho, a classic 3 hours maths exam.

The hardest parts, as I may have hinted earlier, are Real Analysis content, improper integrals, and infinite series. Everything can be handled quite comfortably with sufficient practice, but with these 3 areas, it will take a lot more practice, and possibly some creativity (with improper integrals and infinite series).

Again, know your main theorems, definitions and tests. You will be expected to reproduce these, and then apply these.

There are plenty of past exams available, but there are no answers or solutions. If you do enough of them, you'll notice some of the questions come from post-lecture exercises almost exactly, and I'm not just talking about "evaluate the limit" questions.

As mentioned, pace is fast. VCE mathematics is nothing compared to this (although you may have realised VCE mathematics was nothing compared to AM1 already, too). Even AM1 might be nothing compared to this. You will definitely need high levels concentration in lectures, and it would be good to attempt the post-lecture exercises that accompany the printed lecture notes, too. Unless you've actually done the subject before, I don't envision you can motivate the proofs or processes of absolutely everything (and most likely hardly anything). You will want the practice on questions in post-lecture exercises. There are answers to some of the post-lecture exercises at the back of the printed notes. No solutions are provided though.

The lecture slides are almost identical to your printed lecture notes, so if you need to look up something in the slides, go to your printed notes. (You'll probably be doing this a lot.) Anything in the slides but not in the notes is not examined.

Everything snowballs very quickly in this subject, so try to be on top of things; it is very hard to catch up when you're behind.

AM2 is compulsory for most commerce students majoring in actuarial studies, so apparently actuarial students make up half the cohort. The other part of the cohort will consist mostly of science students, as all second year maths subjects and some physics and engineering subjects have Calculus 2 or AM2 as a prerequisite, I think. Don't quote me on this.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2015, 01:41:00 am by stolenclay »
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CossieG

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #377 on: November 13, 2014, 04:36:44 pm »
+5
Subject Code/Name: ECON10003: Introductory Macroeconomics

Workload:  Two one hour lectures and one tutorial per week.

Assessment:
  • Tutorial participation and attendance 10%
  • Two assignments 20%
  • Two online multiple-choice tests 10%
  • Two hour exam 60%

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes.

Past exams available:  Yes, tonnes, with very detailed solutions

Textbook Recommendation:  There is one, I suggest buying it (I did - I'll tell you why later)

Lecturer(s):
Graham Richards. Oh Graham, Graham, Graham. His lecture slides were insanely detailed, and he often made some amusing remarks during the lectures. Unfortunately I missed most of these due to his extremely long-winded explanations putting me to sleep.

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 semester 2

Rating:  4/5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA

Comments:
I think a lot of people coming into this subject from Intro Micro were expecting something entirely different. I was too, but to be honest I didn't really know what anybody was expecting. However, despite all the negative comments I heard about this subject, it's actually not all that bad. The content is pretty interesting (and relevant to everyday life), and Graham's extraordinarily long lecture slides turned out to be a blessing for me. His lectures basically consist of him reading the lecture slides off of the projector, occasionally throwing in a looooooong explanation of something, and then skipping a few slides to make up for the time he lost while talking. I swear, I was dead asleep within the first 15 minutes. But the good news is that I could just go home and skim past his lecture slides, read the corresponding textbook pages, and be off on my merry way.

The content itself consists of the concept of GDP and surrounding concepts (calculating, GDP as a measure of living standard), the Keynesian model, the Reserve Bank Australia, the aggregate demand - aggregate supply framework, the Solow-Swan model (and determination of production functions), and the market of Australian currency (and the determination of the exchange rate).

The bits on the exchange rate, and the bits about the overnight cash market were by far the most interesting parts of the course for me personally.

The big hitters on the exam are consistently (and I mean every year): the Solow-Swan model and the market for Australian currency. Another important thing about the exam (and this subject review), is that the questions barely change year by year. By barely I mean that the multiple choice part of the exam is pretty much identical to previous years, and there will ALWAYS be a question on the two concepts I mentioned above. However, every year there will be one curveball question that will throw you off completely. This year it was worth 10 marks and I literally came up with BS to write because never in my wildest nightmares would I have expected it.

They tend to be pretty strict on the marking for this subject, so come exam time I suggest you study the solutions to past exams like the bible - especially the ones on the Solow-Swan model and the market for Australian currency. Yes, I know I've said it three times now but its the one thing I want you to take away from this subject review.

All in all, a pretty good subject, but you will hear a lot of negative comments about the subject and Graham (he's really not that bad). If you stick with it you'll learn some pretty damn interesting things. And don't forget: Solow-Swan model, and the market for Australian currency.
2013: English | Math Methods | Chemistry | Physics | Psychology |
2014 - 2017: Bachelor of Science at UoM (Computing and Software Systems)

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Stick

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #378 on: November 13, 2014, 06:28:18 pm »
+7
Subject Code/Name: PHYC10007: Physics for Biomedicine

Workload:
Contact Hours: 3 x one hour lectures per week; 1 x one hour tutorial per week; 28 hours of practical work (8 x three hour laboratory sessions and up to 30 minutes of pre-laboratory activity) and 10 weekly assignments of 30 minutes each during the semester.
Total Time Commitment: Estimated total time commitment of 120 hours

Assessment:
Ongoing assessment of practical work during the semester (25%); ten weekly assignments (10 x 1.5% = 15%); a 3-hour written examination in the examination period (60%).

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

Lectopia Enabled: Yes, with screen capture. However, Prof Robert Scholten writes on the blackboard a lot, which won't be captured. It's probably best to make the effort to come to his lectures at least.

Past exams available: Yes, all the way back to 2008. However, only answers (not worked solutions) are provided.

Textbook Recommendation: R Knight, B Jones and S Field, College Physics: A Strategic Approach, 2nd edition Addison-Wesley, 2010.

You'll be asked to pre-read before lectures and complete problems from the textbook afterwards, so this textbook is required. If I recall correctly the Physics department may have a copy of this textbook up online somewhere. If not, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding it. I found that it explained the concepts quite well, although it probably goes into more detail than what you need to know.

In addition, you will need to purchase a lab book with all the practicals in it and a logbook to write your reports in.

Lecturer(s):
A/Prof Martin Sevior: Weeks 1-6 - Motion, Fluids, Thermal Physics
Prof Robert Scholten: Weeks 7-12 - Electricity, Magnetism, Electromagnetism, Sound, Light, Radioactivity

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2 2014

Rating: 3.5/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1

Comments:

So many of you know that I absolutely detested Physics during high school and dropped it after Units 1 & 2. I thought I was done with it, until this nasty surprise of a subject came up. I've heard terrible things about Physics for Biomedicine in the past and I was prepared for the absolute worst (I didn't think it could get any worse, but then again I was likely to be wrong). Well, to my surprise, it didn't eventuate, and, if it's humanly possible, may have changed my outlook on Physics just a little bit.

I should probably first explain my prior background in Physics before proceeding because it's going to make a fairly big difference compared to a lot of other people. I came from a fairly advantaged position in that I had done VCE Physics Units 1 & 2 and VCE Specialist Mathematics Units 3 & 4. In other words, I was pretty much in the most advanced position to be taking this subject over Physics 2: Life Sciences and Environment. The only technicality was that I hadn't done VCE Physics Units 3 & 4. Honestly, I had at least touched on 90% of the content covered in this subject before so not a lot of it was new. In comparison, there are students in there with no background in Physics whatsoever, and only completed VCE Mathematical Methods (CAS). So there was quite a distinct gap here. That being said, just because I had seen it before didn't necessarily mean I already understood it - I didn't understand it then, and frankly, I'm not sure if I understand it now. :P But I guess it probably made a difference in some ways anyway. So to sum up, no, Physics for Biomedicine was not my first real taste of Physics as a science (but I sure hope it's my last :P ).

So Physics for Biomedicine is designed to provide an introduction to Physics for those who have not completed the subject at Year 12 level, and is primarily concerned with giving you some preparation for the upcoming GAMSAT. In terms of GAMSAT preparation, the VCE Physics course probably prepares you better - this subject is not sufficient alone and the staff are open to you about that from the beginning. This will get you started off, but you're going to have to learn a lot more on your own during the summer in order to sit the GAMSAT with confidence. Being a Chancellor's Scholar, I'm fairly fortunate that this isn't a concern for me so now that the exam is done I don't need to continue studying. Ultimately this is the reason why you're taking this subject, although they regularly make the effort to show how Physics relates to the rest of life science. Sometimes this was done in a really condescending way (like talking about the velocity of red blood cells in veins <_<) but in many ways I was quite surprised with its relevance to biomedical science and while Physics isn't my absolute favourite (or an absolute necessity given my fortunate position), I'm glad I was made to do this subject anyway.

A/Prof Martin Sevior takes the first six weeks of the course and teaches you about motion, fluids and thermal physics, while Prof Robert Scholten takes the second six weeks and goes over electricity, magnetism, electromagnetism, sound, light and radioactivity. I'm pretty sure both take other first year Physics courses (if I'm not mistaken I think Martin is a lecturer for Physics 1: Fundamentals over in Science) so they're very familiar with the difficulties many face when first introduced to Physics, and they make a real effort to address these right from the beginning. The lecture notes are comprehensive and easy to follow and you'll go through plenty of worked examples and conceptual questions during the lectures (although there was one lecturer - who I won't name - that usually rushed and did a pretty crappy job lol). In addition you also get to witness a lot of demonstrations during the lectures. At times they felt like a waste of time, but a lot of them were interesting. Personally, a lot of the time Physics seems to go against my "common sense" so actually being able to see it in real life helped me significantly in accepting understanding the concepts. :P Overall I thought that both the lecturers were reasonably competent. The subject has undergone a change from previous years in that it was recognised that light and sound (which were previously not part of this course) were actually fairly prominent on the GAMSAT (and amongst some of the most relevant knowledge to biomedical science students) and so Rob substituted them in for relativity and quantum physics. My only qualm though is that these changes were being made as we were going along, rather than prior to the subject's commencement. It meant we were left with constant uncertainty and an unclear sense of direction during the semester.

In terms of studying this subject, Physics for Biomedicine is quite different to the other core subjects you do in first year. There is very little note-taking but quite an emphasis on conceptual understanding to guide your way through all the quantitative problem solving. A lot of people found the content overly difficult - and I often found it difficult as well - but I think it was just that many weren't used to the confusion that tends to come when you study Physics, while I was quite accustomed to it. :P In reality, I could see that a lot of the concepts had been watered down quite a bit for us, which is why you need to go further in your own time once this subject has been completed. Overall, once I had gone over the entire course properly during SWOTVAC, I think fluids was the most difficult topic, but it took me quite a while to grasp many of Rob's topics.

There are eight practicals to complete in this subject and they make up 25% of your grade. Like many I don't really like practicals that much but given my inability to visualise the concepts very well on my own I can appreciate why there are so many of them to do throughout the semester in addition to the demonstrations during lectures. How well you do in this component of the assessment though is largely dependent upon your demonstrator. Mine was pretty crap: most of the time he walked in 15 minutes late and was unaware of what we were doing until he took a lab book and read through the practical himself. Then he mainly just told us when we were doing things wrong and didn't help us out on how to fix it - other than telling us to "think about it." <_< However, he was an incredibly lenient marker - it makes me wonder if he even read our work - so the final result ended up in my favour. I think we were supposed to swap demonstrators and partners half way during the semester, but this never happened for us. I've heard that the practicals get scaled in accordance to your exam score, and that only your best ones contribute to your final grade. I'm not actually sure about these rumours so I can't confirm them with you at this stage. The experiments you do are almost identical to the ones done in Physics 2: Life Sciences and Environment (in fact this subject as a whole ends up very similar) and due to the course changes a couple don't line up with your lecture content at all (and some of the new topics have no practical component to them); however they shouldn't pose you too many problems.

Prior to each practical, there is a pre-lab in the lab book which you should make an attempt at completing (my demonstrator was obsessed with these for some reason), and an online pre-practical test which counts for a small percentage of the practical grade. These tests are much more simple than the ones for Biology and Chemistry so don't stress about them too much. Similar to the Chemistry practicals in semester 1, it is your job to write up a log/report of what's happening during the practical. Plenty of guidance is provided online on the LMS and in the lab book (which poses you questions and tells you where the mark allocations are) and after a few goes you'll eventually get it right. My first entry, like many in my group, was apparently too long and detailed (again, I'm not sure if this is just my demonstrator being lazy or not) but on the second go I was getting them about right. Your logbooks remain in the laboratory so unfortunately you can't prepare beforehand by writing the introduction, aim, equipment and method from home (although my demonstrator let us take them home once by mistake :P ). Most of the practicals aren't exceptionally pressured for time with a couple of exceptions, like perhaps the first practical or when you waste a lot of time trying to assemble rather complicated equipment, so as long as you're diligent you should be able to complete your write-up in the lab. What's most misleading about the Physics practicals is their timetabling: the timetable stipulates that they go for three hours duration when in reality they only go for two and a half - the last half hour is assigned to the demonstrators marking the logbooks. This really caught me out at first. Some demonstrators will ask you to leave when the two and a half hours are up regardless of whether you've finished or not; others (like mine) were more lenient and allowed us to stay on until we were finished.

The other assessment during the semester are the ten assignments, which total up to 15% of your final grade. These are done through the MasteringPhysics program, where you answer all different sorts of conceptual and quantitative questions. They tend to become tedious and a bit of a pain after a while, and they can take a couple of hours to work on each week. They shouldn't pose too many issues, although the internet should be able to help you out if you need any help. If you treat the assignments properly, they can be a good learning tool.

The usefulness of the weekly tutorials is largely dependent on your tutor. In many classes the students were encouraged to get together in groups and work out the problems on the whiteboards, but my tutor insisted that we just watch her write up the worked solutions (consequently we always finished the class really really early). The tutorial sheets themselves are actually quite good, and worked solutions are provided for them at the end of every week. I guess they somewhat render the tutorials a bit pointless, although attendance was taken for each one, even though tutorial attendance is not an assessment or hurdle requirement. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you complete the worksheets and follow up any problems or queries.

The final exam is three hours in duration and worth 60% of your grade. It consists of short answer questions only, with a total of 150 marks. Each major topic gets tested in one question and most questions are quantitative in nature. Our exam was quite different to the other past exams due to all the course changes, but they're still worth doing nonetheless, especially for the parts that are still in the current course. Overall the exam was challenging but not impossible if you had made a good effort over the course of the semester. There was one question on content that we hadn't covered in lectures but was assigned as a textbook reference so don't neglect your readings throughout the semester. Since the MasteringPhysics assignments and the practicals are not difficult to do well in, it's quite likely that you will have a fairly large scope for error on the exam if things don't go to plan. I managed to complete the exam with about 15 minutes to spare and had enough time to check over some problems.

This subject definitely didn't stoop down to the low expectations I had at the start of semester, but there are some ways this subject could be improved. If any changes are made to the course for next year, I hope they're all sorted out prior to the commencement of the semester, and that the practicals are all relevant with more adequately prepared demonstrators. People always find Physics a challenge, and I'm not going to deny that, but with persistence and hard work you should be able to see some progress being made. The general consensus amongst our cohort was that Chemistry for Biomedicine was overall a more painful experience compared to Physics for Biomedicine, if that's any consolation. :S I hope this subject isn't too difficult, provides you with an adequate start to your GAMSAT preparation, and also gives you an appreciation for the role Physics plays in biomedical science. I think that's all I've got to say for now, but if you'd like any extra information or have any questions, please feel free to ask. Good luck! :)
« Last Edit: November 28, 2014, 12:10:03 pm by Stick »
2017-2020: Doctor of Medicine - The University of Melbourne
2014-2016: Bachelor of Biomedicine - The University of Melbourne

notveryasian

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #379 on: November 13, 2014, 08:49:33 pm »
+3
Subject Code/Name: ACTL10001 Introduction to Actuarial Studies

Workload: Two 1 hour lectures a week, 1 hour tutorial per week

Assessment:  2 group assignments worth 10% each, 45 minute mid semester test worth 10%, 2 hour hurdle exam worth 70%

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available:  1 specimen exam with solutions given.

Textbook Recommendation:  The textbook recommended by the lecturer was "An Introduction to Actuarial Studies" by M.E Atkinson and D.C.M Dickson. The textbook isn't necessary but does contain extra problems besides the tutorial questions given. If you want to buy the textbook try looking online as there is only a few copies in the Co-op at any time.

Lecturer(s): Dr Xueyuan Wu

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 Semester 2

Rating: 3/5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA

Comments:

This subject introduces the various techniques and methods used in Actuarial Science. Whilst it does not go into much depth, the content of the subject definitely provides enough material for you to appreciate the way in which actuaries approach and solve problems.

The course is split up into 3 major topics: Financial Maths(4 weeks), Demography(3 weeks) and Actuarial Practice and Contingent Payments(5 weeks). Within the Financial Maths part of the course, you learn about different interest rates that are used in valuing different financial instruments, such as simple interest, simple discount and compound interest. After that the course moves onto to annuities, and the application of them in bonds and housing loans. This part of the course is somewhat simple, but it is important to solidify your knowledge of these basic ideas with the tutorial problems.

After Financial Maths, you briefly study Demography, which is the study of human populations and their changes over time. This is an introduction to the statistical side of Actuarial Science, as you learn about the different demography rates which can found by analysing gender/age groups of human populations. The course also looks at human population pyramids at a basic level. Next you look at ideas of mortality and life tables, which is where the actuarial notation begins to build up, and everything will start looking the same to you. :P Rounding off Demography you study models of population growth and different ways of measuring fertility within populations.

The last topic can really be split into two separate topics, contingent payments and actuarial practice. Contingent payments builds upon your study of financial maths, except it deals with uncertainty that is involved with such payments. These come up in life insurance, where an insurance agency seeks to set the correct level of premium for its various customers, who each have different probabilities of survival. The last part of the course is actuarial practical, and is the most boring topic of them all. I think I fell asleep 5 times in the second last lecture because the content was so dry. There is a lot of theory which is taught ranging from general insurance to superannuation and pensions. Don't be too worried if you don't end up remembering all of it, as much of it is not examinable.

As for the lectures themselves, the lecturer was sometimes hard to understand due to his accent, but overall he was quite  good and delivered a few laughs here and there. I recommend attending the lectures as the lecturer sometimes writes extra notes on a projected screen, which you can not see if you are watching lectures online. Also, printing lecture slides is also a good idea as there are spaces for you to fill in the blanks during class.

In all honestly, my tutorial experience in this subject was quite bad. My tutor simply wrote answers to problems on the board, without any class interaction, even though the solutions were posted on the LMS at the end of week. After a few weeks I questioned myself why I was still going to them and I stopped, finding it much more convenient to just work on problems at home. There is also an Online Tutor for the subject which you can ask questions on.

There are 2 assignments during the semester, one due around week 3 and the other due around week 10-11. They are both group assignments on excel, and you are allowed to choose your group assignment members, provided you email the lecturer your group members before the weekend between week 1 and 2. Otherwise you will be placed in a random group, which was what happened to me. Make sure at least one of your group members know how to use excel to a decent level, as it will save you a lot of time. The assignments themselves weren't difficult at all, and achieving full marks is very possible.

I can't comment too much on the Mid-Semester Test, as I was overseas when it happened. The lecturer may post it on the LMS during SWOTVAC with the solutions.

The exam is what you would expect of a hurdle exam, with enough "easy" questions on the exam and a few trickier ones to separate the cohort. For exam revision, make sure you have a sound knowledge of the mathematical concepts and do the tutorial questions, especially the questions marked "Exam questions." Also be aware that you may be asked for clear definitions on the exam, and are able to clearly explain some of the actuarial notation in words.

Overall, I had a good experience with ACTL10001, whilst tutorials left a lot to be desired, the lectures weren't so bad and the group assignments were quite fun. One of the best parts of this subject is the fact that almost all the people who do ACTL10001 do almost the same subjects, so it is really easy(I found at least) to make friends and form a social group at uni.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 11:44:14 pm by notveryasian »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #380 on: November 14, 2014, 12:57:32 pm »
+4
Subject Code/Name: JAPN10002 Japanese 2

Workload:  1h lecture + 1.5h speaking class + 1.5h writing class. 80% Attendance to the classes (but not the lecture) is a hurdle requirement.
Beyond this, be prepared to put in a few hours a week to keep on top of the vocabulary and kanji that you have to memorise to keep up! I made a heap of quizlet lists based closely on the textbook/required vocab, you can use mine or make your own.

Assessment: 
  • 3 x 5% Writing Task (weeks 4, 7, 10 in writing class).
  • 10% Oral Task with a Partner + 10% Oral task solo (weeks 6, 11 in speaking class).
  • 15% Essay in japanese, due end of semester.
  • 50% 2h exam in exam period.
Lectopia Enabled:  Yep!

Past exams available:  None, and no sample exams, see comments.

Textbook Recommendation:  Genki I Textbook and Workbook, high recommended! Should have them from Japanese 1. They are used heavily in classes and exam texts are based on the reading practice in the kanji section of the textbook.

Lecturer(s): Jun Ohashi

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 Semester 2

Rating: 3 Out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: 87 (H1)

Comments:

Okay it's the end of my first year of Japanese study and I'm quite annoyed at the Japanese department. There's a lot of inconsistency and disorganised-ness going around and it could have been organised way better. Having said that, the excitement of learning japanese and learning about japan somewhat made up for it. The content was certainly fulfilling to study and the improvement I've made from knowing zero japanese at the beginning of the year is very very satisfying. I'll try to give an overview of everything here, though please note I'm not describing the fun and exciting bits, this is just an overview of what you're getting into. You have to decide if it's worth it! (it was definitely worth it for me, and this is a pretty harsh review, so you can imagine how fun and exciting the japanese part must have been :) )

Lectures: I started out attending all but by the end of the semester didn't bother. They're okay if you have read the week's chapter beforehand because you can follow along and they're only one a week. You don't really learn anything in the lectures though, all the learning takes place in the classes and from the textbook and lectures are pretty much just notifications.

Seminars: These are hard and great, if you have a good sensei. I was stuck with a useless guy in Japanese 1 but my japanese 2 seminars were both very helpful. Learned and practiced a lot. I recommend trying to work ahead and be familiar with the week's vocab and grammar before coming in to each seminar, so you're not lost. My seminar 2 sensei was especially great, she spent a few minutes each week going through the kanji with the non-kanji-background students (there were ~3 in my class including me) and that effort really helped me keep up with the dozens of symbols you have to learn.

Written tests: These are weird, you get a sheet of paper and the teacher starts a stop watch and you have to translate, read, write kanji and all sorts of stuff really fast. Then there's a dictation section which is equally fast paced. Be prepared to drop marks for missing strokes and ambiguous true/false questions, but these are otherwise fine if you learn the kanji before the day.

Oral tests: Most dreaded assessment for me. I'm not as strong a speaker as writer in japanese so these were stressful. The first one is in a pair so if you get a partner who isn't lazy, it's not a problem. Just get up a google docs and practice a few times together etc.
The solo one was much harder. We had to write and memorise an essay, in japanese. The topic this year was sport and its influence on culture and for me that was the most boring topic ever. You need to memorise the whole essay in japanese as you're not allowed any prompts during the recitation. Make sure you include some grammar-rich sentences and that your speech is fluent, and you'll get an 8+/10 easy.

Final essay: The essay theme is actually the same theme as the second oral, and the idea is that your response for both is more or less the same. There's a week and a half to write up a good copy after the oral. No problems here.

The Exam: the 2h exam was made up of 20 MC questions (with only 3 possible responses, haha), two short japanese texts followed by japanese true/false questions, a sentence/response matching exercise (hardest and most time consuming in my opinion), some kanji reading and writing questions, a short translation exercise and then finally two short, guided compositions (one 'fill in the blanks' and one guided 'write a letter to your friend. 1) Start with a short greeting. 2) mention that it's getting warmer here in Melbourne' etc)

The reading content from the exam (the two short texts, the fill in the blanks and the letter) all came more-or-less from the kanji section of the textbook, where after each week's kanji there's a written text and some writing exercises. Do these throughout the semester and again before the day and you'll be set. For example, the second text was pretty much verbatim the tanbata festival story from chapter 12 in the textbook.

The exam itself really only requires you to know the stuff in the kanji, vocab and grammar lists from each of the 6 chapters studied. Unfortunately there are a few rogue words in there that aren't on the lists but you can get around them and figure out the answers anyway. The only thing assessed that isn't directly studied was how to sign off the letter at the end with 'look forward to seeing you…' or something along those lines, we were never told to remember the expression but that's it.

The Department: Okay, the lecturer pretty much doesn't respond to emails. If you need anything from him, tough luck. If it's language related, best to email/ask a seminar sensei in class. The LMS has all lecture notes and course information in office file formats and doesn't use PDF. I wrote very angrily about this in the SES and hopefully they change for next year but I wouldn't count on it. Marks are uploaded with a huge delay and sometimes not at all. You get your writing tasks back the week after, with the marks on the paper, but don't expect info on how you went on the final oral and essay until after the exam/if at all. That's why this subject gets a 3/5.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2014, 11:54:59 am by silverpixeli »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #381 on: November 14, 2014, 01:12:14 pm »
+3
Subject Code/Name: JAPN10001 Japanese 1

Workload:  1h lecture + 1.5h speaking class + 1.5h writing class. 80% Attendance to the classes (but not the lecture) is a hurdle requirement.
Beyond this, be prepared to put in a few hours a week to keep on top of the vocabulary and kanji that you have to memorise to keep up! I made a heap of quizlet lists based closely on the textbook/required vocab, you can use mine or make your own. Note mine also has the stuff for Japanese 2.

Assessment: 
  • 3 x 5% Writing Task (weeks 4, 7, 10 in writing class).
  • 10% Oral Task with a Partner + 10% Oral task solo (weeks 6, 11 in speaking class).
  • 15% Essay in japanese, due end of semester.
  • 50% 2h exam in exam period.
Lectopia Enabled:  Yep!

Past exams available:  None, and no sample exams, see comments.

Textbook Recommendation:  Genki I Textbook and Workbook, high recommended! Should have them from Japanese 1. They are used heavily in classes and exam texts are based on the reading practice in the kanji section of the textbook.

Lecturer(s): Jun Ohashi

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 Semester 1

Rating: 3 Out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: 86 (H1)

Comments:

Overall, a cool breadth subject if you're interested in familiarising yourself with Japanese culture and language basics. It's fast paced and maybe the effort required to keep up isn't worth it for some, but I thought it was. See my Japanese 2 review for more depth on all this stuff.

Lectures: Lectures are okay if you have read the week's chapter beforehand because you can follow along and they're only one a week. You don't really learn anything in the lectures though, all the learning takes place in the classes and from the textbook and lectures are pretty much just notifications.

Seminars: These are hard and great, if you have a good sensei. I was stuck with a useless writing sensei, so my kanji vocab and reading skills we're eh by the end, and we missed a lot of grammar subtleties that other classed were shown.
I recommend trying to work ahead and be familiar with the week's vocab and grammar before coming in to each seminar, so you're not lost.

Written tests: These are weird, you get a sheet of paper and the teacher starts a stop watch and you have to translate, read, write kanji and all sorts of stuff really fast. Then there's a dictation section which is equally fast paced. Be prepared to drop marks for missing strokes, but if you learn the kanji and vocab before the day you're set.

Oral tests: Most dreaded assessment for me. I'm not as strong a speaker as writer in japanese so these were stressful. The first one is in a pair so if you get a partner who isn't lazy, it's not a problem. Just get up a google docs and practice a few times together etc.
The solo one was much harder. We had to write and memorise an essay, in japanese. The topic this year was public transport.
You need to memorise the whole essay in japanese as you're not allowed any prompts during the recitation. Make sure you include some grammar-rich sentences and that your speech is fluent, which is possible with enough practice! I wish I practiced more.

Final essay: The essay theme is actually the same theme as the second oral, and the idea is that your response for both is more or less the same. There's a week and a half to write up a good copy after the oral. No problems here.

The Exam: the 2h exam was made up of a mix of multiple choice questions, true/false sections involving questions or text in japanese and the other in english, sentence/response matching exercises (hardest part in my opinion), a kanji test and a very very guided letter composition which is simple translating.

Fortunately the only vocab and kanji you need are the ones in the vocab and kanji pages of the book from chapters 1-6. Unfortunately there are a few rogue words in the exam that aren't on the lists but you can get around them and figure out the answers anyway.

The Department: Okay, the lecturer pretty much doesn't respond to emails. If you need anything from him, tough luck. If it's language related, best to email/ask a seminar sensei in class. The LMS has all lecture notes and course information in office file formats and doesn't use PDF. I wrote very angrily about this in the SES and hopefully they change for next year but I wouldn't count on it. Marks are uploaded with a huge delay and sometimes not at all. You get your writing tasks back the week after, with the marks on the paper, but don't expect info on how you went on the final oral and essay until after the exam/if at all.
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #382 on: November 14, 2014, 02:52:55 pm »
+6
Subject Code/Name: COMP10002 Foundations of Algorithms

Workload:  3 x 1h Lecture + 1 x 2h practical per week. Worth also spending a few hours on exercises if there isn't an assignment to do.

Assessment: 
  • 10% Mid Semester test in week 5 or 6, pretty fast make sure you brush up on handwriting code!
  • 2 x 15% assignment, you're given 2-3 weeks of time for each and they took me about 15 hours each to complete (to full marks standard)
  • 60% 2h exam in exam period.
Lectopia Enabled:  Yep!

Past exams available:  None, but a sample exam and solutions is provided. PM me if you want the 2014 sample exam too, idk how much it changes from year to year though.

Textbook Recommendation:  Programming, Problem Solving and Abstraction with C Textbook written by Alistair, I high recommend!

Lecturer(s): Alistair Moffat (or Ben Rubinstein if you take it in semester 1)

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 Semester 2

Rating: 5 Out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: 94 (H1)

Comments:

Overall, an awesome subject providing a thorough intro to lower level programming (with C) and into algorithmic thinking. Topic covered include: 
  • Writing, compiling and running C programs and all the basic control/data structures associated with learning C from scratch
  • Advanced C stuff like dynamic memory allocation and binary representation of some of the data types
  • Algorithms for searching, sorting stuff, string matching and a few more, with an emphasis on asymptotic costs (Big-Oh stuff)
  • Advanced C structures like Linked Lists, Binary Search Trees and Priority Queues
  • General problem-solving approaches and when they are appropriate
The assignments were challenging and fun, with about 15 hours work needed to complete each to a high standard, possibly more or less depending on how many times you get stuck on an elusive bug. If you can understand all the programs shown in the lectures, you'll have no problem nutting out the assignments over a weekend. Remember, 3 hours debugging saves 15 minutes of planning, so avoid making rough program sketches on paper before you start coding ;)

The mid semester test was a killer, nobody got full marks this semester because it's so easy to screw something up when writing it by hand. Use a pencil and remember to bring an eraser (oops) to save years of re-writing lines. If you've done the exercises up to date you'll have no trouble with the actual content of the test, it's just the writing.

The lectures were awesome and Alistair is really passionate about what he's teaching, and it shows through the care he puts into his explanations. He is prompt to respond to emails and always clear about what is required of students.
We had Ben Rubinstein for 3 lectures near the start of the semester and he seemed alright too.

The workshops were okay, the demonstrators/tutors are really experienced IT students and are more than capable of helping you set anything up or sort out any bugs you're having. I did the exercises/reading of the book at home so I didn't really need the workshop time, but it's a good 2 hour practice block if you don't have the time outside of uni. I found the workshops more interesting because when nobody needed help, me and a few others would just talk about cool computing research stuff with, or get course advice from the demonstrators.

And finally, the exam was fair. Alistair gives a list of things to study if we wanted a good/great mark, and after spending a few days before the exam going over these concepts I was rewarded by an accessible exam that was clear with no surprises. He says he always includes a few marks/60 that are supposed to be only achievable by 2-3 of the 100 or so students. In the sample this was a really tough question out of nowhere, but in the exam, everything was well balanced and there was enough time to have a good think about the hard ones.

Really great subject overall, so glad I decided to take it!
« Last Edit: November 27, 2014, 11:50:00 am by silverpixeli »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #383 on: November 14, 2014, 03:23:23 pm »
+3
Subject Code/Name: PHYC10002 Physics 2: Advanced

Workload:  3 x 1h Lecture + 1 x 1h tutorial per week, plus a 3 hour practical in 8/12 weeks of the semester.

Assessment: 
  • 15% total from 10-12 weekly assignments, completed online through 'mastering physics'
  • 25% from the 8 prac write-ups and their prelabs. write-ups are done during the prac and handed up for assessment at the end of the time.
  • 60% 3h exam in exam period.
Lectopia Enabled:  Yep!

Past exams available:  Plenty, 4 of which are given with numerical solutions on the LMS and more stored online if you're after more questions (can even look in the non-advanced stream and in some of the old first year physics subjects - same stuff, different unit names)

Textbook Recommendation:  I think it's like college physics or something but I never bought/saw a copy. I preferred to do my own research online using hyperphysics, khanacademy, etc.

Lecturer(s): Asc. Prof. Andrew Melatos for electromag and Prof. Geoffrey Taylor for the rest

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 Semester 2

Rating: 5 Out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: 92 (H1)

Comments:

The big question is whether taking advanced physics is worth it. I don't know the answer, I didn't take regular physics 2. But I do know that everything we covered in this subject was covered to a pretty deep standard. I don't have any questions regarding the content, after making notes on all the stuff we were introduced to. The assignments and the exam tested this knowledge deeply and the pracs explored some of the concepts to give us a feel for the physics.
Topic covered were largely the same as the regular stream afaik, but with a focus on problem solving, derivations and the calculus behind things. Topics include: 
  • Electric fields and forces due to electric charges
  • Magnetic fields and forces due to moving charges
  • Tying electromagnetism together in Maxwell's equations
  • A first principles approach to circuits beyond just Kirchhoff's laws covered in VCE, plus capacitors and inductors
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Introductory thermodynamics
  • Historical experiments and physics surrounding the transition from classical to modern physics
  • Finally leading to an introduction to 1D quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle and the shrodinger equation
  • Nuclear physics; nuclear processes including fusion, fission and radioactive decay
  • I think we were meant to do atomic physics and spin but ran out of lectures
The pracs, though a tad disorganised at times, were relatively easy to score well in if you managed to write everything that was asked about even if you didn't fully understand it all. Writing so much made the pracs pretty hectic and rushy, but was worth it for the 10/10's. this would vary by demonstrator, most likely.

The weekly assignments and their accompanying practice assignments actually saved me. Every weekend I would watch the lectures, do the practice assignment and then very slowly answer the questions on the real assignment. By the end I had gone from knowing nothing about the week's content to close to mastery of it. I'd then, over the next week, attempt to solidify that understanding in the form of comprehensive written notes. Some friends said they easily found the answers to most of the assignment questions with a verbatim google search, or at least answers with different numbers in the question, but I highly recommend learning the content even if you then check with a quick google before submitting each answer. The practice was invaluable and the assignment questions were great in guiding my study without the textbook.

The exam was tough, but study paid off. You get a really muddled formula sheet and it has a heck of a lot of unexplained letters and symbols on it so I recommend going through and sorting out what's what BEFORE going into the exam. Identifying all the formulas on the two-page sheet actually took me a whole day, some of them were obscure and used letters I wasn't used to, or no vector notation, etc, and there are zero labels or ordering to the formulas it's literally a free-for-all.
Practice exams only have numerical solutions so it was tough to mark practices since there are always a lot of explanation questions, but I guess going back to the lecture notes or a textbook to see if there was anything you forgot in an explanation would be the way to go here.

Overall, I enjoyed the challenge of the advanced stream and I'm glad I decided to keep it up despite not getting any extra credit. I feel like the derivation/calculus rich approach sets me up for physics subjects next year, and the content was definitely interesting enough to make it worthwhile for me.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2014, 01:54:37 pm by silverpixeli »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #384 on: November 14, 2014, 04:30:52 pm »
+5
Subject Code/Name: ENGR10003 Engineering Systems Design 2

Workload: Contact Hours: 3 x one hour lectures and 1 x three hour workshop per week. Total Time Commitment: 170 hours.

Assessment:

3 hours end of semester written examination: 60% HURDLE, must get 50%+
Weekly workshops (team assignments and projects and individual quizzes): 30%
Online assignments: 5%
Online forum participation: 5%

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture etc.

Past exams available:  Yes, 5, without solutions.

Textbook Recommendation: There is a custom textbook for the subject that is compiled from 4 other textbooks but it is useless since lectures and workshops are excellent.

Lecturer(s):

Digital Circuits: Gavin Buskes
MATLAB: Shanika Karunasekera
Mechanics: Andrew Ooi

Year & Semester of completion: 2014, semester 2.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA

Comments:

This is the best subject I have done at university so far. It is just very well organised and very well taught. The workshops and assignments are excellent and very useful and teach stuff relevant to the final exam. Also I really like the fact that the final exam is only worth 60%. I would prefer if it was worth even less and the assignments/workshops worth more because I believe that continuous assessment throughout the semester is more accurate than just basing the entire assessment on the final.

However, there are some drawbacks to this subject.

The biggest drawback is the groups. Group members can be really boring and lazy but they can also be awesome. Depends on how lucky you are. Luckily the final is a hurdle so those who don't participate in the assignments will not get away with it.

The second biggest drawback is the programming section. It is just very boring and badly taught. They replaced the lecturer due to student feedback last semester and redone the lecture notes but the programming section is still terrible. One reason why the programming section is so bad is that they use MATLAB... anyone who knows any other language knows how bad MATLAB is. I didn't go to most of the programming lectures but went to all other lectures and I didn't even read the lecture notes, that is how useless they are.

One other thing I don't like about this subject is that it covers too many topics such that it is not possible to go into much depth about any one particular topic. Technical universities in the USA unusually have separate introductory subjects for mechanical end electrical engineering. For example, MIT's 6.01 Intro to electrical engineering and computer science I. They also use python instead of MATLAB, which is great. The reason why I prefer separate subjects for mechanical and electrical engineering is that one can go into more depth in a more specialised subject.

This subject isn't easy, it is very demanding, by far the most demanding subject I have done yet but it isn't as difficult as I would like it to be, and that is due to the fact that it covers too many topics so it isn't possible to go into much depth. The lectures are very comprehensive and there are no tricks in this subject, you know exactly what you need to do to get the marks. Getting a H1 is very manageable IMO, unless you are super lazy and don't participate in assignments and workshops.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 04:40:51 pm by Renaissance »

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #385 on: November 14, 2014, 05:55:58 pm »
+4
Subject Code/Name: MAST90011 Modelling: Mathematical Biology

Workload: 1x two-hour lecture, 1x one-hour computer lab / tutorial

Assessment: 3x assignments, 25% each. Two-hour exam, 25%.

Lectopia Enabled: Nope.

Past exams available: Nope.

Textbook Recommendation: There are two recommended textbooks:  "Mathematical Models in Biology", L. Edelstein-Keshet (1987); and "Mathematical Biology", J. D. Murray (2003). No need to buy either of them.

Lecturer(s): Professor Kerry Landman

Year & Semester of completion: 2014, Semester 2

Rating: 5/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1

Comments:
This is a great subject, highly recommended for anyone interested in real-world applications of maths! It's called "Mathematical Biology" but you could argue that it's really a course in modelling scientific problems using maths, where all of the examples just happen to come from biology. This a nice break from most of what's called "applied maths", where the problems come from physics and engineering. There's no biology knowledge assumed, and if you're expecting any highly-specific models of particular biological systems, you're in the wrong place. It's also not a pure maths subject, so if you love theorems and proofs, you're also in the wrong place.

Lectures: Kerry is a great lecturer. She's very enthusiastic and this subject is directly connected to her research interests. The lectures are quite old-school, in that everything important goes on the whiteboard and you have to copy it down. Ideally with multiple colours and a ruler, since the diagrams are an important part of understanding the concepts in the course. At the end of every 2-hour lecture, I emerged with three pages full of maths and pictures and my head spinning with new ideas. (If you've done lots of applied maths before, the general techniques will be slightly less new, but still enough to be interesting and exciting.) This is the only subject I did this semester where I didn't miss a single lecture.

Course content: I feel like this course was teaching "how to be an applied mathematician" on a few levels simultaneously, although the connections didn't really click until I got to the end of the semester. The overarching idea is that you can take a description of a biological system, distill it down into the most important bits and write it out in the form of equations. Usually the equations are nonlinear and have no exact solution, and a numerical/computational solution might not give you the insight you want. But through a bunch of clever tricks, you can still figure out the qualitative behaviour of the system: what are the equilibrium points and long-term behaviour? Is the system stable after small perturbations? What happens when you change parameter values? Sometimes highly simplified mathematical models have inspired biological experiments to prove or disprove particular hypotheses. There was an emphasis on relating properties you'd deduced about the mathematical system back to the real-world problem.

On the maths side, the tools of choice are discrete-time models (two weeks), ordinary differential equations (two weeks), partial differential equations (six weeks), stochastic models (one week) and cellular automata (one week). That's a lot of differential equations. I hope you like them.

On the biology side, it was almost a new topic every week. We covered: simple population models, host-parasitoid systems, insect outbreaks, epidemics and infectious disease models (including the maths behind vaccination and herd immunity), "invasion" processes (on a cell and population level), chemotaxis, morphogenesis and cancer modelling. There were often surprising parallels to the maths describing cell-level and population-level phenomena, which I thought was cool.

Assessment: Unfortunately, I'm not so much of a fan of Kerry's marking. I'm not complaining about any particular marks I got, but it was sometimes hard to know what was expected in assignments. People had marks deducted for being "inelegant", not writing enough or writing too much. Most people's marks improved dramatically after the first assignment. The exam is only worth 25%, and the one this year was ... surprisingly pleasant. No really nasty calculations, lots of sketching diagrams and discussing qualitative aspects of biological systems.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2014, 10:13:27 pm by cameronp »
BSc (Pure Mathematics) @ UWA, '04-'09
Postgraduate Diploma in Science (Mathematics and Statistics) @ UniMelb, '14
Master of Science (Statistics and Stochastic Processes) @ UniMelb, '15-'16

stolenclay

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #386 on: November 14, 2014, 08:23:30 pm »
+5
Subject code/name: ACTL10001 Introduction to Actuarial Studies

Workload: Weekly: 2 x 1 hour lectures, 1 x 1 hour tutorial

Assessment:
2 group assignments2 x 10%
45 minute mid-semester test10%
2 hour exam70%
To pass the subject, you need 50% in the exam as well as 50 overall.

Lectopia enabled: Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available: None, but 1 specimen exam with solutions is available.

Textbook recommendation: Atkinson, M.E. and Dickson, D.C.M. (2011) An Introduction to Actuarial Studies, 2nd Edition. Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc.
The lecture slides on the LMS will suffice, so I don't feel this is highly necessary, unless you want access to some more problems for practice. Also, this book wasn't available in Australia when I had to buy it, I think, so I had to have it shipped from overseas.

Lecturer(s): Dr Shane (Xueyuan) Wu

Year and semester of completion: 2014 Semester 2

Rating: 4/5

Your mark/grade:

Comments: The one and only level 1 actuarial studies subject. Welcome to actuarial studies.

Before I studied this subject, I legitimately still had no idea of the technical side of actuarial studies, so this was truly an introduction to actuarial studies for me.

Subject content
The mathematical flavour is quite heavy for a non-MAST subject. Of course, that shouldn't be a surprise (hopefully). For the mathematical enthusiasts out there, I am inclined to believe this would be one of the few non-MAST subjects where you might actually be expected to produce a mathematical proof.

The handbook lists one of either Linear Algebra and Calculus 2 as a prerequesite, but I don't really think you actually need anything from either of those subjects. The mathematical knowledge you need coming into this subject is basically only:
  • How to algebra (VCE level knowledge will do)
  • How to differentiate (VCE level knowledge)
  • How to integrate (VCE level knowledge)
  • Discrete probability work (Mathematical Methods level knowledge will suffice)
  • Geometric series
    This may actually be one of the things you should learn. It's a topic in General Mathematics Advanced (the precursor to Specialist Mathematics), but not every school does that topic, I think. And not everyone does General Mathematics Advanced before Specialist Mathematics, either.
  • Working with the summation sign
    It comes up a lot. Be comfortable with it.

The subject is divided into 4 topics. Officially it's 3, but I believe the last topic is really 2 topics together.
  • Financial mathematics (weeks 1 to 4)
    You learn how to value financial transactions and financial instruments by incorporating the time value of money (the notion that a payment of $1 now is worth more than a payment of $1 at any time in the future). Often these transactions involve a series of payments at scattered time intervals, rather than a lump sum payment at one point in time.
  • Demography (weeks 5 to 7)
    You investigate when one person might die and when people in a population might die.
    That's basically it.
    There is some stuff on summary statistics about fertility and age distribution as well.
    Oh, and populations pyramids...
  • Contingent payments (weeks 8 and 10)
    How do you value financial transactions in which payments aren't certain to occur?
  • Actuarial practice (weeks 9, 11, and 12)
    What is the actuary's role in insurance? What are the features of insurance policies?

There is an emphasis on familiarity with first principles, general reasoning and conceptual understanding across the whole subject, which for me was quite refreshing, as it wasn't the formulaic work that I expected in a discipline revolving around applied mathematics.

None of the mathematical processes are actually that complicated if you are very familiar with the principles behind it all, and even then, just knowing the "formulas" will do most of the time. The scope of difficulty of proof questions is also quite narrow — you're only required to reproduce proofs he shows in lectures, and there aren't too many. All of them are pretty much showing algebraic relationships between different mathematical expressions. It is quite possible to memorise all of these proofs (which is hardly the point of a proof question, but oh well).

One aspect that may be slightly difficult is timing. By that I mean things like
  • At what point in time does this payment occur?
  • At what point in time does this person die?
  • At what point in time does the interest rate change?
This subject is absolutely riddled with things happening or changing at different points in time, and you need to have a very clear idea of what happens when before you approach problems. It is a good idea to plot stuff on a timeline when there is a lot happening.

(More comments on what to look out for are under the mid-semester test and exam sections.)

Lectures
Lectures are pretty standard. There are 2 a week, and Shane goes through lecture slides, completing example problems along the way.

Each week's lecture slides are posted on the LMS before the start of the week. These have blanks in them, and you can fill them in during the lecture. After each lecture, the full lecture slides for that lecture are posted on the LMS.

It's probably not highly necessary to attend lectures actually, because the vast majority of the content is in the completed slides.

The lecturer was fantastic for me (may or may not be my bias for the subject speaking). Shane is focussed and moves through lecture material efficiently. As for other things like accent, while Shane is obviously not a native English speaker, he is definitely quite fluent, and I had no problem understanding what he was saying at any time. He is actually quite funny and kind as well.

Shane has quite high expectations for the cohort in this subject. I still remember in the first lecture when he said something along the lines of "full marks on the assignments is normal". Personally I think he's being quite reasonable, as the level of complexity in this subject is probably nothing compared to that of actuarial subjects in later years.

Tutorials
From what I've heard, the tutorial experience is generally not so good in this, but, luckily for me, I had an amazing tutor.

You are given problem sets which you must (should) complete before the each tutorial, and in the tutorial the tutor will basically go through solutions to each problem. Problem sets cover the content in the lectures of the week prior, and are the types of questions that appear on the exam, so it is a good idea to do them. There are 13 problem sets altogether (starting at Problem Set 0), so Shane goes through the last one in the last week of lectures.

My tutor also provided a lecture summary, but that's only because he was awesome.

Tutorials begin in the first week.

Assignments
This semester both assignments were Excel assignments, and they were both really easy. Supposedly they are not always both Excel assignments.

Your assignments are done in groups of 3 or 4, and you can email Shane during the first 2 weeks if you have a group in mind. Otherwise you are randomly allocated a group.

The coursework tested in the assignments is really just the basics. You should have no problem completing the assignments if you know the basics taught in the lectures.

The first assignment is only on the first 4 weeks of financial mathematics, and is pretty much basic financial transaction valuation stuff.

The second assignment is on demography and contingent payments. You'll deal with life tables and expected present values of transactions.

As far as technical Excel skills, there is not much required. If you know how to enter formulas (with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and the occasional exponential), reference cells, lock references (to either column or row), and "fill down" (copy the formula to a range of cells), that's basically it. Of course, you can be more efficient if you know some other Excel functions, but they're not essential for these assignments.

And remember:
Quote
Full marks on the assignments is normal.

Mid-semester test
The mid-semester test is difficult. Material assessed is the first 6 weeks i.e. all the financial mathematics, and most of the demography stuff.

You are allowed an approved scientific calculator for this test. This is the official list:
  • Casio FX82 (with or without any suffix)
  • Casio FX83 (with or without any suffix)
  • Casio FX85 (with or without any suffix)
  • Sharp EL531 (with or without any suffix)
  • Texas Instruments BA II Plus (with or without any suffix)
  • Texas Instruments TI-30 (with or without any suffix)
Shane makes it very clear that there is absolutely no leeway with this, so make sure you have one of these.

Personally I found it helpful to have a calculator capable of displaying your 3 or 4 most recent calculations and results at the same time, because often you need to refer to multiple results at a time, both for input onto your calculator, and for writing down on your paper, so I bought the Texas Instruments TI-30 even though I already had one of the other approved calculators.

What makes it hard? Shane puts a lot of questions on the test, and so you are very tight for time for the 45 minutes that you are given. What makes it worse is that although the ideas aren't that complicated, you'll be tapping your calculator a lot, which introduces scope for your calculator weighing you down by being a slow and inconvenient piece of technology, and also you typing the wrong things into your calculator.

The financial mathematics part was mostly valuing financial transactions and instruments. As for the demography section, mostly survival function and life table stuff, with some discrete probability work infused.

One thing which should catch most people out is the sketching of one of the demography graphs or a population pyramid. I think Shane is pretty aware that the other mathematical stuff dominates the course up until this point, so most students pay little attention to the graphs which are shown in lectures. It is a surprise for most students when it appears on the test. Well, it certainly was for our cohort when we had to draw a population pyramid...

I would recommend being familiar with the shapes of graphs for each of the columns in the life table i.e. , , , , , and for a developed country. Luckily they are pretty similar for both genders, so you don't have to remember two sets, although obviously be aware of the major gender differences, such as higher life expectancy for a female than a male of the same age. Some of these graphs are shown in the lectures. Others are in the textbook (you could probably look elsewhere if you don't have the textbook).

Also know the shape of a population pyramid for underdeveloped, developing, and developed countries.

The mid-semester test didn't have any proof questions on it, but, to be honest, proof questions are fair game as well.

Exam
The 2 hour exam was not so bad, and was quite similar in difficulty to the specimen exam which Shane provided. I was certainly less rushed for time than I was in the mid-semester test.

This is what Shane has to say on exam preparation:
Quote
By the end of semester you will have been presented with about 150 problems of varying length and of varying degrees of difficulty. If you understand the solutions to these questions you are adequately prepared for the end of semester examination. If you do not understand the solutions, extra problems will not help you.
He is referring to the problems in the problem sets as well as the designated exercises in the textbook.

The worst topic to prepare for is probably actuarial practice, as the content is really really dry and uninspiring. These questions generally require worded answers, and they test you on your knowledge of various insurance products and the actuary's role within them. I have a feeling Shane doesn't particularly enjoy this section either. The questions that appeared on the exam for actuarial practice were luckily not as intimidating compared to the ones on the problem sets, and even the ones that appeared on the specimen exam were quite superficial. You can answer these questions in dot points, and that's how Shane likes them answered, too.

Overall I think this subject is quite manageable as long as you have some reliable mathematical ability. The amount of algebra might be intimidating at times, but none of the concepts behind it are too complex. If you are looking for a commerce elective or some breadth and have a preference for something mathematical, this should suffice. The financial mathematics side of things might also be useful if you intend to major in Finance, but obviously there are the higher level Finance subjects where you learn the maths, so this isn't essential so to say.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2014, 02:36:51 am by stolenclay »
Thoughts on my journey through university
2014–2016 BCom (Actl), DipMathSc @ UoM
2017–2018 Master of Science (Mathematics and Statistics) @ UoM

bubbles21

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #387 on: November 14, 2014, 08:59:27 pm »
+8
Subject Code/Name: PHRM30003 - Drug Treatment of Disease

Workload:  3 lectures a week, 6 or so tutes and workshops held in lecture times

Assessment:  70% exam, 10% on attendance to workshops, 20% to 3 or so online open book tests.

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes

Past exams available:  Yes, lots.

Textbook Recommendation:  Nothing.

Lecturer(s):
Lots
Year & Semester of completion:
2014 -sem 2
Rating:   3.5/5

Your Mark/Grade: Don't know yet.

Comments:

Alrightyyy, so comments. I guess I'll start with assessment? I'm not really sure who that question is directed at... Maybe its the holiday euphoria... :o

Workshops and tutes are held throughout semester, 3 workshops and probs 3 tutes. They are held in lecture times. Workshops are essentially a lecture but you get given a sheet which has questions on it that you answer throughout the lecture, submit it at the end and that's it. Not really sure if they actually grade it or just check to see if your student number is there and have written something on the page. Either way, just make sure you go and don't forget like I did. Woops... Oh and the workshops aren't assessed on the final exam.
Tutes are in lecture slots too and they just present you with a question and show you how to answer what to include. Pretty useful for the exam.
The 20% is 3 or so quizzes on the LMS, they have maybe 15 questions for you to do in 60 minutes. All multichoice, just have your notes in front of you and that 20% is yours.
And then the exam... 2 hours, 6 questions that are 10 marks each. You choose your 6 questions from 7 though which is nice. The questions may be split into a,b,c or just a question like choose two anti-hypertensives and explain their mechanism of action and their advantages and disadvantages. The questions this year were fair except for 1 question, who knows how fair the marking will be though.

Lecture topics are in the handbook link. The lectures are typically presented in a "here's the disease, here's the problem with the disease, here is how we fix/fixed/will fix the problem"
I didn't enjoy this subject nearly as much as I did last year. Maybe it was because the teaching quality maybe wasn't as good, or maybe because it seemed like a lot of content we had already covered before (I mean christine wrights lectures on hypertension were essentially exactly the same plus learning the mechanism of side effects).
So for the new topics, they are obviously new which means new and interesting stuff to learn. But for the topics that were covered last year that are again covered this year, you basically just learn the mechanism in more detail(if possible) plus learning the mechanism of the side effects. Thats probably why I gave this subject a 3.5. Because while the new stuff was interesting, the old stuff seemed boring(even though i'd forgotten it all from last year) and perhaps the lecturing quality wasn't as good. I don't know, I guess i'm just a bit apathetic about the subject. That said, if i could go back in time I would probably still tell myself to do the subject... maybe..hmmm maybe not.

Pm me for any questions.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2014, 12:15:13 pm by bubbles21 »
2012-14: Bachelor of Biomedicine @ UniMelb

“Try and fail, but don't fail to try.” - Stephen Kaggwa

literally lauren

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #388 on: November 14, 2014, 09:32:42 pm »
+10
Subject Code/Name: LING10001 - The Secret Life of Language

Workload:  2x1 hour lectures, 1x1 hour tute per week

Assessment:  3 Assignments throughout semester (totalling to 50%) 2 hour exam (50%)

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture, but occasionally you'd miss things that the lecturer would explain on the board (eg. writing out certain IPA symbols) but there were repeat lectures if you were busy.

Past exams available:  Yes, just one

Textbook Recommendation:  Introduction to Language by Fromkin et al is "highly recommended," but unnecessary. The lectures go into heaps of detail, and there's an online version available. If you really want to buy it, don't pay the $120 that the co-op demands, there are plenty of 2nd hand versions floating around.
Course manual is a necessity though.

Lecturer(s): Rachel Nordlinger and Jill Vaughan

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 Semester 2

Rating: 5 Out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA

Comments: Wow this was awesome.
Stonecold and El2012 have already reviewed this, but a fair bit has changed since '11/'12, including the actual lecturers, and fair chunk of how the course is structured.

Just some preliminary comments clearing up the many misconceptions regarding 'prerequisites' for this subject:
- English Language is not needed. I hadn't done it, and the people who did said it wasn't a massive advantage.
- Ling10002 - Intercultural Communication (the semester 1 subject) isn't a prereq either. Apparently (I didn't do that one either) it was more about sociolinguistics and practical experiments, whereas this subject only spends a week or two on those areas and is more theory-dominant.
- Knowing a second language is also not compulsory, but this is a definite advantage. You're not memorising vocab from other languages or anything, but if you have a basic understanding of grammar in languages other than english, many of the core concepts will probably make way more sense. Essentially when lecturers bring up things like the passive voice or different lexemes, being familiar with these should save you some googling and initial confusion, but again, it's not a formal prereq.
The split between those who did and didn't speak another language was around about 50/50; you can definitely get by without it though.
- This is also pretty accessible for EAL/ESL students, there were a fair few in my tutorial and the exam caters for those who speak a language other than English, so even that's not a massive advantage.
 
I came into this subject with a few languages under my belt, but absolutely no linguistic experience, and I was absolutely smitten within ~20 minutes. This is a somewhat biased review, but I feel like the subject has earned it :)

Major selling points:
- The breadth of content was really good. This subject is essentially a tasting platter of all the different linguistics fields in later years, and whilst quite a bit to cover, it rarely felt too rushed or vague. More on each of these areas later.
- Lectures were consistently engaging. Plus, lecturers would frequently ask if there was anyone who spoke whatever language we were talking about as an example, and there was almost always someone available (Russian, German, Lithuanian, Malay, Greek etc.)
-The way the tutorial exercises are structured, you can have a sound grasp of basic Icelandic (for example) grammar and pronunciation within minutes. Tutes were very practical, but they didn't slow down for people who missed content in lectures. My tutor would frequently dismiss questions unless he thought they were worth answering. That's not to say the staff are unhelpful - they're lovely! But there's no handholding here. I suppose if you sought out tutors/lecturers out side of class time they'd go over concepts in more depth, but the course is reasonably fast paced for an "artsy" subject and you're expected to keep up.
-Assignments were basically problem solving exercises. If you didn't understand these process in lectures, you'd be in trouble. There were a couple of odd questions that relied on knowledge outside what had been demonstrated, but even these were pretty simple once you got your head around the basics.
-aaaand to continue the pictorial summations of awesome subjects, if you take Secret Life of Language you get to study stuff like this:
note: I haven't taken the exam for this subject yet; will update this when I do
COURSE COMPONENTS:
Morphology
The study of word structure.
In this unit you'll study words like 'abanyawoihwarrgahmarneganjiginjing.' Which the lecturer can say fluently, much to my amazement. Basically this covers all the grammar rules regarding word classes (noun, abstract noun, adverbs) as well as parts of words (prefix, root, suffix.) You'll also cover all the different ways words are altered (eg. why do we drop certain letters, why are some letters silent, etc.) It might sound dry, but it's actually really interesting. This was an excellent intro topic and gave everyone a chance to ask the embarrassing questions like 'what's an adverb' before moving on to bigger and better things.
Syntax
The study of sentence structure.
This was a little more complex, but definitely built off the skillset developed in Morphology. Lots of funny tree diagrams that demonstrate different parts of sentences, and heaps of other languages thrown in for counter points to English grammar. This is where there was a more notable difference between second language learners and others - since grammar isn't taught often or well in primary school, most people I knew only had a grasp on subject/object-focused sentences or aspect markings from whatever other language they'd picked up. Relatively steep learning curve for those who hadn't done any of this, but otherwise okay.
The first assignment was based on these two areas of study.
Semantics and Pragmatics
The study of meaning and context.
There were a lot more definitions to remember in this unit, and fewer application tasks. Most of it was focused on how words and sentences related to one another, eg. exploring the five different types of opposites that can exist --> is the opposite of red green, or is it the absence of red?
2nd assignment was based just on this section, and to me was the hardest of the three.
Phonetics and Phonology
The study of sounds and sound systems.
This was my favourite area and I enjoyed every minute of it. You'll get to learn how to make sounds in languages you never knew existed, and if your main language is English, you'll get to know how weak and lazy your vocal tracts are compared to other languages that have clicks and trills and all sorts of wonderful stuff.
There were also fun experiments to do with language intuition, for example, the lecturer would give us a made up word ('bamity') and we'd have to pluralise it. Obviously you know it's 'bamities,' but when you say it, it sounds like you're ending it with a 'z' not an 's.' Even though we think of pluralisation in English as being a simple addition of 's' to the end of the word, there are actually three different sounds we use:
bet --> bets (s sound)
bag --> bags (z sound)
badge --> badges (ez sound)
^This was one of the many 'omg I never thought of that' moments in lectures :P
All round cool component of the course that I loved learning about; some weird new concepts and definitions, but very manageable. 3rd and final assignment was on this section, the other lectures made up about 30% of the course and were only assessed in the exam.
Sociolinguistics, The Brain and Language, Language Acquisition
I've grouped these together since there were only a few lessons on each. These did feel a little sparse, especially socio and historical linguistics, but since they're not major components in 2nd/3rd year subjects, they were kind of just skimmed over, which was a shame, but understandable.
***
Exam - still to come!

Stick

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #389 on: November 14, 2014, 11:07:17 pm »
+10
Subject Code/Name: MAST10011: Experimental Design and Data Analysis

Workload:
Contact Hours: 3 x one hour lectures per week, 1 x one hour practice class per week, 1 x one hour computer laboratory class per week
Total Time Commitment: Estimated total time commitment of 120 hours

Assessment: One written assignment of up to 10 pages due in the second half of semester (5%), eight to twelve homework quizzes (a combination of written and online) due at regular intervals during semester (10%), one 45-minute written computer laboratory test held during semester (5%), and a 3-hour written examination in the examination period (80%).

Lectopia Enabled: Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available: Yes, all the way back to 2008. However, solutions were only provided for the 2012 and 2013 exams.

Textbook Recommendation: There is a MAST10011: Experimental Design and Data Analysis reader that you will need to buy from the Co-Op book shop. This essentially contains all the notes and questions you need for this subject.

There is a textbook but it's only "recommended" and not "prescribed" - M. M. Triola and M. F. Triola, Biostatistics for the Biological and Health Sciences, Boston, Pearson, 2006. It doesn't get referred to in the lectures so it's not necessary at all. Many past high achievers have never even looked at the book. I personally didn't have it either. A handful of people did bother to get the textbook and said it was quite good and explained the concepts well.

Lecturer(s): Dr Guoqi Qian

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2 2014

Rating: 3.5/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1

Comments:

At the end of Year 12, I was keen to pursue statistics at university. I did all three VCE Maths subjects and my most favourite topics were Data Analysis from Further Mathematics and Probability from Mathematical Methods (CAS). Had I pursued a Science degree, I'm almost certain I would have taken some sort of statistics or probability subject somewhere along the way. I'm glad I took this subject because it's pretty much confirmed to me that had I done so I would've made a terrible mistake. I'm not sure if it's my study technique, but I just don't think I'm geared to studying MAST subjects at university. I found both Mathematics for Biomedicine and Experimental Design and Data Analysis really difficult to learn during the semester and that everything all finally came together only once SWOTVAC had arrived. Once it finally made sense, my soft spot for statistics did return, but given the trouble this subject had caused me during the semester, I don't think I have much of a desire to pursue the study area any further.

Experimental Design and Data Analysis is one of the two core MAST subjects taken in first year Biomedicine along with Mathematics for Biomedicine. This year they made students who had studied Biology at Year 12 level enrol in Mathematics for Biomedicine in semester 1 and this subject in semester 2; those without any Year 12 background in Biology were asked to do the reverse. I think this was just done to get fairly even numbers for the two subjects in both semesters, rather than potentially getting a skew. Anyway, this subject has been a part of Biomedicine for a number of years now and teaches some pretty important skills depending on where you want to take your degree.

There are a few distinct differences compared to Mathematics for Biomedicine: it's been running for quite a few years now so any initial teething issues this subject may have had when it was first rolled out have most likely been well and truly ironed out, and there are a heap of resources in this subject. One of the small negatives of Mathematics for Biomedicine is that you don't go through an exceptional amount of examples, and you only get assignments, exercise sheets and tutorial sheets to practice with, and their questions are not like those on the exam (to compensate you get one sample paper with no solutions). In this subject you go through heaps of worked examples in the lectures, and you get an entire book of notes with worked examples on almost every second page, problem sets at the end of each topic and even exam-like revision problems when you're studying for your exam. You also get a set of summary notes which are provided to you in the exam (these are towards the back of the reader, after the statistical tables - these are also provided for your exam) and past exam papers too (although not all of these have solutions). It's a completely different scenario to Mathematics for Biomedicine and I think most of us were really happy that this was the case. However, the general consensus amongst our cohort was that overall Mathematics for Biomedicine was a more positive experience and that its well-documented teething problems are basically non-existent now.

So let's move onto the lectures. The whole semester was taken by Dr Guoqi Qian; he was a new lecturer to this subject, although I believe he does take other probability and statistics subjects at the university. He seemed like a really nice guy and he definitely knew his stuff, but he had a really strong Chinese accent which often made him difficult to understand. Consequently a lot of people stopped coming to the lectures as a result (attendance of about 35% became the norm, rather than the exception). One of the previous lecturers for this subject was Dr Davide Ferrari - he has a strong Italian accent and so a lot of people found they had a similar problem understanding him, but since I'm Italian I actually had no trouble whatsoever. In fact, he filled in for Guoqi a couple of times during the semester and people looked even more confused when he was taking it, when I personally felt those lectures were the ones I learnt the most. :P Accent barriers aside, it was clear Guoqi was trying his absolute best and while people did find it difficult a lot of the time, we definitely didn't blame him for anything.

During the lectures you will go through the basics of the concepts and work through plenty of worked examples. The lecture notes are provided beforehand on the LMS, but they're just selected sentences copied from the reader so I stopped printing off the lecture slides and instead started following with my reader. The reader contains absolutely everything you need to know, so at times the lectures in this subject feel a little bit redundant. However, sometimes the reader is lacking or contains a mistake, which is why it's important you don't just completely ditch the lectures. The Mathematics and Statistics department just seems to re-use the same lecture slides for this subject, which became apparent through Guoqi's lecturing. It often looked like he was unfamiliar with the notes - for example sometimes a particular concept would pop up and he wanted to explain something else first, so he'd scribble his notes all over the lecture slide only to find that the next slide had the content he wanted to discuss. It was clear he could just look at the notes and it would made sense to him immediately, but obviously that doesn't just translate to all of us students sitting there in the lecture theatre. A lot of people who stopped going to the lectures got access to the lecture recordings from semester 1, when Davide took the subject, and watched those instead. I gave him the benefit of the doubt given that it was his first time taking the subject, and if he takes it next year he will definitely be more familiar with the subject and its content. 

The content in this subject can be rather confusing to understand at first, but once it clicks you start to see that it's not as difficult as it appears. What threw me off is all the notation - get used to seeing a lot of it. Once you get past all of that, you'll see that the maths in this subject is actually quite simple (seriously, you spend 95% of the time calculating a 95% confidence interval :P ). In fact, a lot of the mathematical content follows on pretty nicely from either VCE Further Mathematics or VCE Mathematical Methods (CAS). There are a lot of formulae, but pretty much every single one you need is on the summary sheet provided for you in the exam and most of the time you just need to find the right one and plug in the numbers. What makes this subject difficult is not actually the mathematics, but the statistical theory behind it all. We got emphasised during the semester that data analysis is not actually mathematics - it uses mathematics because it's an integral tool, but the sooner you actually understand the statistical reasoning behind it, the better you'll do. You will be expected to explain concepts during the exam, so manipulation of numbers is not enough.

The weekly tutorial classes for this subject became quite vital for many of us since this was the time we were able to address our conceptual difficulties and follow up with any questions we had found particularly difficult. The questions on the tutorial sheets are good, but there isn't a week's delay in the content which means that if your tutorial is earlier in the week you're likely to get very little out of the questions simply because you haven't learnt the content yet. I'd advise future students to be mindful of this and to try to get a tutorial class towards the end of the week. In the past the tutorial rooms have had whiteboards around the entire room and students would be encouraged to get in groups and work on the tutorial sheet problems together. Unfortunately due to timetabling reasons most of the classrooms this semester only had one whiteboard at the front of the classroom, which meant this wasn't possible for us. Instead, most tutors requested that we completed the tutorial questions prior to the tutorial, so most of the tutorial was just spent going through the answers. Clearing up any mistakes was important, but I don't think the lessons were as useful as they could've been as a result. My tutor was Dr Robert Maillardet - the tutor co-ordinator for this subject - and given the circumstances I thought he did a very good job. He was a really nice person, he knows his stuff very well and he was extremely helpful so I'm glad I ended up in his class. In the past, people have recommended Sharon Gunn but unfortunately she wasn't tutoring this semester.

Immediately after the tutorial you do a one hour computer laboratory class where you are familiarised with the statistical program Minitab. The usefulness of this class ultimately depends on which semester you're taking this subject in - if you take the subject in semester 2 then one of your assessments is a lab test where you get assessed on how well you understand and can use Minitab. There is no lab test if you take this subject in semester 1 and so the computer labs are just designed to aid your understanding as it allows you to experience first hand the key concepts. However, the questions in the exam often provide Minitab output for you to work with, so regardless of which semester you take this subject in you need to have at least a basic understanding of the program. Anyway, I'll talk more about the lab test a little bit later. At first I was freaking out but to tell you the truth Minitab is quite a simple program to use once you get the hang of it. If you're someone who likes coding, you can type in commands if you want - otherwise there are easy-to-use and straightforward dropdown menus you can use to execute whatever you want to do. The biggest issue with the class though is that you get no guidance - you get a worksheet to work through but no one actually teaches you how to use the program. The worksheet contains a lot of the commands but sometimes it doesn't and it's easy to get really confused, give up and just walk out of the class early (as a lot of people do). If you ask for help you will receive it, but I'm not terribly sure if leaving us to our own devices is the most effective way to go about things. There was a bit of confusion - the lab sheets were relevant to Minitab version 16 but this year Minitab version 17 got released and so many people were unknowingly using the later version by mistake. In many respects the two programs operate similarly, but there are a few distinct differences so make sure you use the correct program (particularly if you're going to be doing a lab test). During the computer lab you can also download the program onto a USB for use at home (this comes in handy for your assignment and if you don't finish the lab sheet during the class but want to finish it at home). Mac users: note that the program only works on PC.

In both semesters 10% of your grade comes from the completion of weekly quizzes. There are 11 over the course of the semester but only your best ten count towards your final grade. Additionally, you get three attempts, with your best score taken as your final score for that quiz. These are supposed to be multiple choice questions from past exams so they're good practice, although they can be particularly challenging at times. Given the circumstances though, it shouldn't be too difficult to do very well on these. If you take this subject in semester 1, your other assessments are two assignments, worth 5% each. In semester 2, you complete one assignment worth 5% and one lab test sat during week 12, also worth 5%. In the past people have preferentially enrolled to take this subject in semester 1 to avoid the lab test, but to be honest I much preferred having a lab test to another assignment. The lab test asks you three pretty simple questions and you use some Minitab commands to get an answer. You are allocated 45 minutes for this test, but I saw a lot of people done in some ridiculously short times (like 10 minutes <_<). Even those not the best at Minitab thought it was pretty easy. The assignment(s) consist of eight questions, which I later found out during SWOTVAC were taken from past exams. Apparently our semester was given a "simple" assignment but most of us still found it quite difficult. Eventually we did get it though. Unlike those in Mathematics for Biomedicine, you are allowed to type your assignment up, but whatever you do, you cannot exceed eight pages (excluding your graphs). However, a lot of tutors request that your assignment is sequential; that is, you don't put graph pages at the end and put "see graph number x" in your assignment. You should aim to finish a question at the bottom of the page, and then have the relevant graph on the next page, and then start the next question after that page. You'll need to use Minitab so make sure you download the program during one of your computer lab classes.

The final exam is three hours in duration and is worth 80% of your grade. This is quite a bit, so in the past the department has put either a 10 or 20 mark buffer to compensate (the exam is usually out of 110 or 120). However, this semester they decided to remove it because the cohort results were becoming too negatively skewed. They re-assured us though that if the cohort does exceptionally worse in comparison to previous semesters that a statistical adjustment would be made. The exam consists of 20 multiple choice questions (worth two marks each) and a series of short answer questions worth either 90 or 100 marks. Oddly enough, there is no multiple choice answer sheet given to you in this exam, so you just write your answers on one of the pages in your script book. Most of the questions are similar to what you have been exposed to over the course of the semester, and some were recycled old questions. Despite the difficulties we had faced during the semester, most people thought the exam was fair, with no pressing issues.

The amount of resources that support you in this subject is exceptional and one of the big positives of Experimental Design and Data Analysis. However, changes to the approach of the lectures, tutorials and computer lab classes would be quite welcome. This subject is difficult, but if you persist you'll see that a lot of it is repetition or just building on earlier concepts and it won't be as challenging as it used to be. A bit like Mathematics for Biomedicine, I'm confident the final outcome will be fine for most people - it's just the journey along the way that's a bit of a pain. Despite the fact that it can get boring at times, the theory and skills you learn in this subject are very important. That's all I can think of for now, but if you'd like any extra information or have any questions, please feel free to ask. Good luck! :)
« Last Edit: November 21, 2014, 04:01:50 pm by Stick »
2017-2020: Doctor of Medicine - The University of Melbourne
2014-2016: Bachelor of Biomedicine - The University of Melbourne