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Author Topic: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings  (Read 1189499 times)  Share 

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #495 on: November 07, 2015, 06:57:59 pm »
Subject Code/Name: MIIM30014: Medical Microbiology: Virology 

Workload:  3 x 1 hr lectures per week.

Assessment:  Two MSTs (worth 20% each). End-of-semester written exam worth 60%.

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture etc.

Past exams available:  No past exam questions given. Damian and Jason go through sample questions during revision lectures.

Textbook Recommendation:  Principles of Virology, but lecture notes suffice.

D. Purcell (Intro to viruses, DNA + reverse transcription replication cycles, Herpesviridae, Hepatitis, HIV, RNA defences)
J. Mackenzie (Virus life cycles, RNA replication cycles, pathogenesis, Norovirus, Vaccines, Vectors, Viral Defences)
L. Brown (Innate Defences, Oncogenic viruses)
L. Wang (Zoonoses)
J. McVernon (Epidemiology)
C. Simmons (Dengue)
B. S. Coulson (Rotavirus)
Guest lecturers (eg. S. Lewin, I. Gust for HIV flip-class)

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2, 2015

Rating:  5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: H1 (87)

Comments: (So I wrote a review earlier but it got sent to oblivion lol)

This subject is the hardest one out of all the 3rd year MIIM subjects in my opinion, but it is the greatest one. There is so much detail to know in this subject that your head is going to hurt, at times you are going to feel it exploding. But it's still taught superbly and clearly. Jason and Damian, the two main lecturers in the subject, do a fantastic job - they are like the dream duo of lecturers. You always have an idea of what you should focus on and what is important. I had a love-hate relationship with this subject - mainly because at times it made me feel overwhelmed, but everything about this subject was just so interesting that it motivated me to just push myself through. In this subject, you are taught about a whole load of important viruses in medicine - you learn about how it causes disease, how to treat it, how we diagnose it, and also how we're trying to cure/eradicate them. Awesome stuff.

The earliest part of the course is definitely the hardest - according to Damian, that is where the real meat of the subject is. They're not kidding. MST1 only examined materials from 10 lectures and to be honest, it already felt like I was being examined on half a full subject. However, this block is definitely the most important as you will refer back to the fundamentals and replication cycle quite a lot. Initially, you learn about virus classification, structure, and cultivation. Definitely listen to these at home because I felt quite a bit lost already. Then you hone in on the really complicated stuff - replication. There are so much complicated molecular gymnastics in this block, so many proteins and molecules to remember, that you will struggle to fully memorise everything until after many cycles of reading. You learn about replication for DNA viruses, viruses that use reverse transcription, +ssRNA, -ssRNA, and dsRNA. Additionally, you also learn about virus entry, assembly and exit. In these lectures, examples are scattered throughout the different lectures - you are not going to spend time on poliovirus or adenovirus for like 10-15 mins - instead, what happens is that you learn a little poliovirus in one lecture, and then a little bit more detail in another lecture, and so on. You will be learning examples from all the different virus families. It is difficult to integrate everything because you will find yourself accidentally mixing details from different examples. but because Damian and Jason are the main lecturers for this block, there is nothing inconsistent in their slides. Despite the amount of content, the median for MST1 was quite high, at 35/45 - one person even achieved 100% (and 40% got H1)

After MST1, the subject gets a bit lighter but it's probably more intense than other subjects you might study. In this block you start honing in on more specific infections. You have three rather straightforward lectures on viral pathogenesis at the beginning. Linfa (from DUKE-NUS, aka the batman) presents an absolutely fantastic lecture on Hendranipah virus, SARS and Melaka virus. Then you learn about general innate defences vs viral evasion (again, lots of proteins you need to know. Finally, you get a number of lectures on specific infections from Herpesviridae (EBV, VZV, HSV), Hepatitis (A, B, C, D, E), and HIV. The block then ends with a difficult lecture on viral vectors and a pretty easy vaccine lecture. While this block was said to be more easy, the MST2 test was arguably harder, with the median of the class falling from 35/45 to 31/45.

Post MST2, you get some flip-classes on Hepatits therapy and HIV cures. Instead of having a conventional lecture, you have to read over lecture slides and papers beforehand and come armed with questions. You'll probably get more out of it if you actually attend (I never did). Again, you dwelve into some more specific infections like Dengue, Norovirus, Oncogenic viruses, Rotavirus and Ebola. There is also a random lecture on general epidemiology and a more intensive one on RNA defence mechanisms (which involves a lot of molecular detail yet again). This is probably the lightest block.

There are weekly quizzes put up on the LMS to help you revise the material, so use them for your MST practise. Before each MST, Damian and Jason will also run a revision lecture which is pretty much just another quiz (the standard of these quetions are a little bit easier than the actual tests). Like almost everything in MIIM, all of the MSTs are fully MCQ - 30 questions will be your standard Type I questions, and 15 will be Type II (ie Statements 1,2,3 are right, or 1,2 are right...etc). Make sure you read the questions carefully because you are bound to get tripped up by some small detail now and then. The end-of-semester exam has MCQs on the last block, a fill in the blanks section and then a SAQ section. The SAQ has four questions (worth 15 marks each), and each part to a question is generally 5 marks. You will need to use diagrams and it is probably best if you integrate different parts of the life cycle for each virus into your questions

As you probably know, this is a VERY intensive subject and you are going to feel overwhelmed now and then. I mean, in the very first lecture, you are shown something like this:

...And you have memorise all of that, because it is something you will need to keep referring back to. But ultimately, this is definitely one of the most interesting subjects I've had the privilege to study. The staff are fantastic and incredibly approachable - I don't have anything negative to say about the lecturers (it's MIIM so there is never anything bad lol). Everyone who I spoke to thoroughly enjoyed this subject even though tbh everyone who studies Virology is probably a masochist. Viruses are such incredibly complicated machines - they make bacteria look that much more boring in comparison, and honestly Bacteriology was already pretty good! If you have any interest in infectious diseases, you would be missing out on a lot if you don't study Virology - don't be deterred by the amount of detail you have to know, because I think there is a pretty high proportions of H1s anyway.

TL;DR: Pls do this subject, viruses are awesome.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2015, 11:39:06 am by Shenz0r »
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2013-2015: Bachelor of Biomedicine (Microbiology/Immunology: Infections and Immunity) at The University of Melbourne
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #496 on: November 07, 2015, 08:12:13 pm »
Subject Code/Name: BIOM30001: Frontiers in Biomedicine 

Workload:          3 x 1hr lectures per week
                           1 x 1hr tutorial occasionally (many are self-directed, so no-one goes)
                           1 x 4 hour practical per semester

Assessment:         Literature and Bioinformatics Assignment (7.5%)
                               Pre-Practical Test (online) (3%)
                               In-tutorial debate (5%)
                               Online MST (10%)
                               Graphical Analysis Assignment (peer marked) (10%)
                               Peer Marking (2.5%)
                               Respiratory Assignment (12%)
                               2hr SAQ exam (50%)

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available:  Past exams from 2010-2013 were available.

Textbook Recommendation:        There is a subject guide that you must purchase solely for the practical notes. It was never used
                                                        outside the prac.

Lecturer(s): Almost a new lecturer for every lecture. Most are skilled and knowledgeable in their field.

Year & Semester of completion: 2015, Semester 2.

Rating: 2 Out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: H1 (86)

Frontiers in Biomedicine is the final core subject of biomedicine, and most likely the most difficult hurdle you face before the end of your degree. It isn't difficult because of the content, but because of the way it is taught and the disorganisation of each of the subject areas. Frontiers seems to have been based off the core successful structure of M2M from the previous semester: it comprises modules taught by lecturers prominent in their fields, and aims to teach and integrate different disciplines such as pharmacology and immunology in the context of particular diseases. However everything seems to be slightly or significantly worse, from the organisation of the lectures to the assessment and the exam.
Lectures are broken into multiple modules. The first is the metabolic syndrome and obesity. This was probably the best taught set of lectures, with an interesting mix of the biology behind obesity and its associated diseases, but also the social and economical reasons for its prevalence in the current day. It does help that there are 12 lectures in this module, making it the most fleshed out.
The second module is on stem cells and tissue engineering, and it is here where the lecture quality begins to drop somewhat. Some of the lecturers, while very knowledgeable, were not particularly clear in explaining points, and the lecture slides are either mismatched or simply missing. The content however, is still not too bad, with the development of stem cell therapies and the challenges involved in developing tissues from stem cells.
The third module talks about airway diseases such as asthma and COPD. The lecture content frequently overlapped, with different lecturers giving slightly different explanations for the same concept. It also has no particular structure, flipping from asthma to COPD then back to asthma for mast cells then to viruses and then back to COPD. Its a common problem with Frontiers in general: the lack of organisation within the modules. I think that the presence of a 'module champion' in M2M who coordinated the lectures and ensured they had a logical flow and no contradictions made that subject so much easier to study for and to understand.
The fourth module is on pain and neuropathic pain. I feel like this was the worst module, since this time the content was bad along with the organisation. Many brain regions are thrown in with no understanding that we'd never encountered them before and didn't understand what they were (sorry neuro majors, this probably doesn’t apply to you). Concepts such as the pathways of pain from the site of pain to the brain and back down are explained multiple times in different, contradictory ways, and each time more unintelligible terminology is added in. Again there is no particular order to the lectures, making it even harder to revise.
The fifth and final (finally) module is based on addictions to various substances. This was a return to somewhat more interesting content, such as the neurological basis behind losing weight (yes, 7 weeks after the original metabolic syndrome module had finished), and addictions to both legal and illegal drugs. Again the lecture order jumps around for no apparent reason however, and there are obvious throwaway lectures such as public policy approaches and a very entertaining but unassessed talk on vaccine controversies.
Overall, the lectures really do suffer from a lack of organisation and not ensuring that the quality of lecturing is kept at a constant, decent standard. Some lecturers can be decent while others were much worse. Not only this, but some of the basics such as uploading lecture slides on time were regularly not done, adding frustration to what could have been a very interesting look into future directions for therapies.
There is one 4hr practical in roughly the middle of the semester. I’d recommend getting it done as early as possible so it doesn’t interfere with any other commitments at the later end of the semester. It’s possible to do it early because it has zero relevance to the lecture material at all. Instead, it’s a rehash of last year’s HSF practical, where you measure certain parameters after exercise. However in this practical you use other techniques such as spirometry to measure respiratory markers, and give a drug to see its effect. These changes do just enough to make the prac not seem like déjà vu, but it is still incredibly boring to sit through.
Tutorials and Assessment:
Tutorials were run about 4 times with an actual tutor. These were generally for getting help with assessment tasks, though these weren’t particularly helpful overall. The tutor was quite nice and happy to answer questions, and it helps that the tutors are all clinicians in some way. In sessions marked as tutor ‘drop-in,’ this actually means a tutor appearing for about a minute before leaving, being entirely useless. Similarly, self-run tutorials consist of a list of questions that no-one ever turns up to do, so you can ignore these as well.
Assessment however, was where the bulk of the frustration in this subject appears. The first literature assignment is one part 1st year biology referencing, and one part frustrating search for obscure information. You need to write about a disease that only a handful of people even have, and the reports written are either case studies on one individual or referencing these case studies. This makes it very hard to even understand what the disease is, especially since the disease is never taught anywhere else and is barely relevant to the lecture material. The second assignment, the debate, is easy enough to do as long as your tutorial group is motivated to do their part and practice the content once before the tute. The pre-prac test was free marks, however it was slightly annoying that you were expected to listen to two additional lecture recordings to answer some of the questions (just google it). Again, the online MST was a nice 10% bonus for marks, simply by referring to lecture slides. The MST certainly does not help in terms of making sure you keep up with the lecture material, since it’s online and no-one actually studies for it. This has severe consequences come exam time.
The graphical assignment isn’t difficult, but is quite tedious getting all the graphs together and talking about it. I’d recommend looking over your assignment from last year to reuse that material in this assignment, because there’s a lot of overlap. Peer marking involves marking your peer’s graphical assignments. This is very quick and easy to do, and these marks are actually used as your marks for the graphical assignment. Everyone in our year level was quite reasonable and tended to mark highly, so don’t expect to get marked low for no reason. The final respiratory assignment is again long and tedious to complete. It also involves researching a disease you’ve never heard of, but at least this one is less obscure and hard to find information on.
I’m going to devote a whole section to feedback here because it’s one of the tenants of how bad the subject is. There is next to no feedback given on what you should be doing or how well you’ve being going throughout the course. All assignments come back with a standard sheet that shows roughly how well you did for each question. The actual written feedback however just consists of ‘well done’ or ‘well written’ even if you’d lost a lot of marks and wanted to know why. The online MST is useless at providing feedback since its online so everyone does it by looking at lecture notes anyway. The tutorials are not related to the content in lectures whatsoever as well, meaning that you have very few avenues to go through if you want to clarify lecture content. In fact, the tutors explicitly say that they will not be able to help with any content. This means that, when SWOTVAC starts, you know absolutely nothing and effectively have to learn the whole course again by the exam.
The exam is two hours long and entirely short answer, where you can pick 6 out of 8 questions to answer. Each answer needs to be at least a page long. Also, the choice is quite illusory unlike M2M. This is as you are forced to answer 4 of them (2015 exam), with choice only available for the last two questions. This means you have to prepare to answer any question, unlike M2M where you could get away with not revising two modules and therefore study more effectively for the remaining ones. Though this would be a nightmare normally, luckily the exams are very similar to the past exams provided. Going through these exams and remembering the points in them will take you a long way towards being able to answer everything on the exam. When revising, if you think a lecture is out of place, irrelevant or unassessable, it probably is. Writing out the answers will take almost all of the 2 hours, so don’t plan on coming back to look over answers at the end.
This subject was a highly frustrating experience that became a lightning rod for the complaints and bitching constantly present in biomed. Since it’s the last subject you’ll ever do in Biomedicine, seeing this subject be so representative of many of the issues that the entire degree has had is incredibly annoying. Its especially bad since M2M showed how it could be done last semester in an engaging and interesting manner. Instead of this however, there is a focus on fulfilling the holy 'graduate attributes,' which are meaningless to almost all the students and serve as some catch all reason why things are done as they are, such as the need for so many assignments targeting each attribute (maybe not giving lecture notes promotes the attribute of self-study?)
Generally, even the worst subject matter can be tolerated if it is presented engagingly and organised correctly so you know what you’re supposed to be learning at any given time (see Maths for Biomedicine). This subject however, buries the interesting content it may have had beneath a ton of small inconveniences and frustrations, leaving you with a bad taste as you get ready to graduate. It does have some redeeming factors, since the content on its own was interesting, and there was a focus on the non-scientific aspects of diseases (social, policy making etc.) which is almost never touched upon in other biomed cores. We've left our feedback in the hopes that future years will be better (the MST was new for this year, its moving in the right direction and at least it gave everyone 10% for free). However the track record of this subject in terms of responding to feedback in the past indicates that it might take a long time and lots of small changes for it to become worth the effort of getting through it.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 06:20:21 pm by danza312 »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #497 on: November 07, 2015, 08:34:46 pm »
Subject Name/Code: MAST10007 - Linear Algebra

Workload:  3 x one hour lectures per week, 1 x one hour tutorial followed by a 1 x one hour computer lab

Assessment:  - 10 Weekly assignments (1% each - 10% in total)
                         - MATLAB test during your scheduled computer lab in week 12 (10%)
                         - 3 hour exam  (80%)

Lectopia Enabled: Yes (10am stream was recorded but towards the end of semester 12am stream was uploaded as well)

Past Exams available: Yes, several years' worth was in the exam library. Only solutions to 2014 (Sem1), 2012 (Sem2) and 2010 (Sem 2) were provided.

Textbook recommendation:
  - Not compulsory (can get it from the library):  Elementary Linear Algebra Applications Version (H. Anton and C. Rorres), 11th edn, Wiley, 2013.

- Lawrence Reeves (10am stream)

Year and Semester of Completion: 2015, Semester 2

Rating: 2.5/5

Your Mark/Grade: Not yet received

Literally the worst maths subject I've ever done in my schooling career, and I really do mean literally. This is a hugely conceptual subject and I feel like NEITHER the notes in the coursebook or the computer labs help you understand or appreciate what's going on in each lecture. I would leave each lecture more confused than the last, and things sort of came together towards the end when I was getting into full-speed exam revision but honestly I think it was too late by then because I was rekt after the exam.

The lecturers are okay. I was in Lawrence's stream who is also the coordinator. He really knew his stuff and was always happy to help anybody who asked him for it, which is a huge bonus. My only negative for him was that I feel like he over-complicates things a bit. Maybe he's just trying to help us get a deeper understanding of the content but quite frankly I could never follow along so I would just zone out and whether he went on to more proofs or not it wouldn't matter because I'd be equally clueless either way. He skips several examples as well, saying it's a homework exercise for you to do which is sort of annoying because if you don't do it there's gonna be blanks in your coursebook but, again, he's happy to help if you approach him first.

Every week in a two hour block you have a tutorial followed by a computer lab. If you've done calc before the tutorial is done in the exact same way: tutorial question sheet, get into groups of threes and work through the questions on the whiteboards. They were a pretty nice way to consolidate your knowledge and was a good resource on how to answer some questions if the examples covered in lectures weren't clear enough. The computer labs were very pointless imo. I think they were supposed to help you visualize the concepts covered in the lectures but I failed to see the correlation between the MATLAB activities and the linear algebra concepts but maybe that's just me. The MATLAB test is pretty straight forward, I was lucky enough to have access to MATLAB from my own laptop thanks to ESD2 but if you're not doing ESD2 then using the university computers might be the only way for you to practice MATLAB for the test.

From week 2 there are assignments due every Monday. They're quite clear and simple enough to do, with the occasional hard question to throw you off. They're each worth 1% which doesn't sound like a lot but they add up to an easy 10% of your final grade so I'd really recommend you do them. About 3 of them are done online and can be accessed via the LMS.

Just like in Calculus, you have access to problem sheets as well. They're good practice so I would strongly recommend you do them. Some of them a pure calculations and others are proof questions which I often skipped because I didn't know how to do them and couldn't be bothered going to consultation hours for. The stated answer at the back of the book always states "Proof as required" which is not helpful at all.
The exam is quite fair - like the reviewer before me said, they definitely could have made the questions harder. It's a long exam and the three hours go by fast so you've got to pace yourself and get as much done as possible. After you do 2 or 3 past exams you'll notice patterns in the questions asked each year so they're pretty good prep for the final exam. Problem sheets and tute questions will also be helpful but honestly I think going over lecture examples will be good enough.
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #498 on: November 09, 2015, 08:00:16 pm »
Subject Code/Name: MECM10006 - Introduction to Media Writing

Workload: One 1 hour lecture and one 2 hour tutorial per week

Assessment: Folio (80%) - Part 1 (35%) due end of semester, Part 2 (45%) due during examination period. Tutorial participation (10%), pitching (10%). The assessments listed in the handbook are actually out of date.

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes

Past exams available: This is Arts bruh, ain't no exams here.

Textbook Recommendation:  The prescribed text is Word Bytes. I only really glanced at it, but it seemed like a pretty decent guide to the different types of pieces you'll have to write. You can find a PDF of it for free pretty easily if you know where to look, so it's probably not worth buying. There's also a reader available from the Co-op which is filled with a bunch of sample pieces - if you find yourself struggling with writing any of the pieces, it'd be a good idea to purchase it as none of them are posted on the LMS.

Lecturer(s): Doug Hendrie is the head lecturer, but it'll change from week to week. All the lecturers had pretty extensive experience writing for the media, but some were more entertaining than others. One (my tutor) got into a fight with Hilary Duff once.

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2, 2015

Rating: 4/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1 (83)

Comments: The only other review of this subject wasn't a positive one, so I thought I might try give a different perspective on it.

Introduction to Media Writing is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. Over the course of the semester, you'll learn how to write for the media in a number of formats, and by the end you'll end up with a neat little folio of all your writing. There are six pieces you'll have to write - a magazine profile, a personal narrative article (PNA), a news story, an op-ed (opinion piece), a travel piece, and a review. Additionally, you'll have to write a 75 word 'pitch' for each of these pieces, where you try sell your piece to an imaginary editor. They're extremely strict about this word limit for some reason - if you go a single word over, you'll get a 0. The logic behind this is that concision is a hallmark of good writing. Yeah, I dunno. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The tutorials are extremely hands-on: after the first few weeks, you'll start bringing in some of your pieces to be workshopped in class. The first draft of your magazine profile will be due in week 3, while your PNA and op-ed drafts are due in weeks 5 and 8 respectively. It's a bit confronting the first time you do it, sitting in a room while everyone else discusses your writing, but you get used to it pretty quickly. Naturally, you have to be open to criticism - there was one girl in my tutorial who got extremely defensive whenever someone would critique her work, and it became exhausting whenever we had to workshop her pieces. Basically, leave your ego at the door. For the most part, though, the tutorials were extremely laid-back. Maybe I was just lucky with the tutor and classmates that I had, but our classes were really enjoyable. Our discussions got off-topic a lot of the time and we were prone to tangents (one time we spent about 20 minutes talking about how PTV officers are dickheads), but even the workshopping itself was interesting. Most people I talked to in my tute said it was easily their favourite subject this semester.

Having a mark for tutorial participation is a bit shitty IMO, but it's there and it means that you'll have to speak up in tutorials pretty often. I'm not sure how hard this is marked, but I tried to voice at least some constructive criticism for every piece that we workshopped and I ended up with 8/10.

The only real negative for this subject is that the marking is definitely extremely harsh. One of my friends told me that no-one in his tute got higher than a H2B for the first PNA draft. Your mark will increase if you workshop your pieces well, but only three of your six pieces will receive this treatment. If you're looking to bump your GPA up, then I'd stay away from this subject unless you're a very strong writer.

The harshness of the marking pulled my rating down a little bit, but overall, Introduction to Media Writing was a thoroughly enjoyable subject. And if you don't enjoy it, you can always submit your pieces to a few newspapers and try earn your subject fee back.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2015, 02:41:01 pm by Paulrus »
2015-2017: Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) at University of Melbourne.

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #499 on: November 10, 2015, 11:51:05 pm »
Major: Neuroscience

Year of completion: 2015

Why a person would/should choose to do neuroscience: a) they are looking for something stimulating, b) they don't mind the occasional challenge, c) they want to learn about many different topics without ever having to conform to a single mode of thinking, and d) they are perspicacious  ;)

Subjects: Handbook

This isn’t a review of the individual subjects. Duh.

I have no idea how to tell this story. I don’t even know how to start it. I guess I could use one of the classic story beginning sentences: It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. But what would that even mean?

Well, neuroscience as a whole is a bit of a strange unit: while it incorporates elements of physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, etc. etc., it is none of these and all of these at the same time. Simply, neuroscience is neuroscience…and maybe that’s a good thing.

Before we go any further, some disclosure: I enjoyed this major—I mean thoroughly. I am biased. Neuroscience is wunderbar.

Semester 1 was a blast: principles of neuroscience and neurophysiology. The two go together like lamb and tuna fish. So your workload is relatively reduced for the first six weeks or so, where the two core subjects mirror each other but approach the content from different perspectives. (I found this sort of learning to be conducive to my understanding.) Post week six, things start to deviate from the status quo. Principles moves into more “philosophical” territory, delving into the depths of consciousness and other things alike. Meanwhile in electrophysiology, I mean neurophysiology, you start to look at a bit of electrophys (don’t fret, it’s not overbearing…), a bit of theoretical modelling of neuronal circuits, and a thorough analysis of autonomic responses elucidated through current research. There are some other things that I haven’t mentioned, such as memory, sexuality, autism, pain, etc., but that is not to say that they are undeserving of mention. It’s just that these topics were all quite intriguing and I don’t want to spoil the fun! Oh, and there’s this vision lecture in principles—make sure you go to uni that day, you’ll see... (Pun intended.)

Assessment entirely revolved around multi choice questions. I’m guessing that most people prefer multi choice. To each their own.

Semester 2 is more of an individual journey, since you, the individual, are afforded a greater sense of autonomy. You get to choose from a whole six subjects, of which you must pick two. Allegedly, some of the subjects aren’t exactly fantastic… I can only speak of the subjects that I took: NEUR30004 and PHRM30002. Sensations was good fun, a delight even. But, despite only having two lectures per week, it is content heavy. Pharmacology turned out to be a really interesting subject, which grew on me week by week. Sensations builds on the principles subject, and pharmacology is a different kettle of fish altogether! Topics range from Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s to addiction to music (yes!) and to glia (double yes!), and then some. This semester had a markedly different approach to the antecedent one, in that the content was either highly theoretical or quite applied. Either way, it made for a challenging yet enjoyable semester.

Assessment…essays (and some multi choice for all you MCQ fanatics out there!).

At times, you might feel the urge to reconsider neuroscience. (Don’t.) We covered lots of different topics, some of which inevitably aren’t going to rock your socks off. Some topics will, however. And they really do make you leave the lecture theatre saying to yourself, “Shit. That was great.” Also, I mean great in the old, proper sense of the word: the great depression, the great recession (not, “that milkshake was great, dude.”).

So when the times get tough (and the tough get going), and you feel the pressure, relish in the comfort of this whimsically apropos colloquialism:
“Don’t cry about spilt milk—it’ll be free yogurt by next Wednesday.”
« Last Edit: November 11, 2015, 12:40:58 am by nino quincampoix »


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #500 on: November 11, 2015, 11:21:44 am »
Subject Code/Name: Introductory Macroeconomics

Workload:  2 one-hour lectures per week, and a 1hour tutorial per week.

Assessment:  2 assignments each worth 10%, 2 online tests each worth 5%, tutorial participation & attendance worth 10% and finally the end of semester exam worth 60%

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available:  Yes, 3 were available with solutions

Textbook Recommendation:  Principles of Macroeconomics (highly suggest you purchase it)

Lecturer(s): Graham Richards..!

Year & Semester of completion: 2015 Semester 2

Rating: 3.9/5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA


First of all, Graham, the lecturer, is quite an interesting fella. I heard that this may be his last semester teaching the subject so you might not have to deal with him but that was just the word on the street. For each one hour lecture be expected to have to read 60-65 lecture slides, each with insanely detailed points. In addition to this, he will often mention small points such as the effect of women entering the labour force, and the effect of the baby boomers which he expects you to remember. Coming from intro micro, I expected macro to be sufficiently similar however it really is a step above in terms of difficulty. I heard intro macro relates a decent amount to VCE economics however I can't confirm or deny since I didn't do it, therefore when I came in, everything was new.

You first begin with understanding GDP and CPI and leading indicators (such as consumer confidence), which also form the basis of the first assignment which is largely a self-research task. At about this time, you are also required to complete an online test worth 5% of your grade, this test is generally quite straight forward if you have the textbook as an aid. As for the assignment, as first year commerce students, we hadn't really had the need to reference prior to this assignment and I think a lot of tutors took note of that and didn't take marks off. It really is crucial to understand the first few weeks of the course as it generally piles on quickly after that. After the foundations are set, you delve into the core aspects of economics....the models. First you begin with the classical model to economic growth, then the Keynesian model, then the Aggregate Demand - Aggregate Supply mode, and finally the Solow-Swan model.

This forms the core of the subject, and the Aggregate Demand - Aggregate Supply model forms the second assignment for our cohort. I believe Graham made the assignment to be generally straight-forward but as with assignments, people look far into it for tricks and it quickly became a hot topic between most people. Ultimately I think 3 responses to the prompt could have been granted full marks so it wasn't too difficult on the whole. After this, you are required to complete the final online test for the course, worth 5%. Generally, this test was shockingly hard, for me personally anyway. It picks 15 questions out of a large pool and you get 30minutes to select the best answer, so you could either get insanely lucky or insanely unlucky or somewhere in the middle. It seemed a lot of people complained they got all the hard questions but that may just be due to not preparing adequately. For this test, I highly suggest studying a ton. After the final assignment and test, you have about 2-3 weeks where you begin to learn Foreign Exchange. It gets quite full on towards the end of semester as teaching doesn't stop and Graham continues to pile on content in week 12.

Despite the overload of information, the core topics to understand are relatively straight forward if you spend the necessary time. At this point, I should probably touch on the tutorials. They were ran pretty identical to Intro micro with a blue and pink sheet each week. One sheet is due before each tutorial and one is done during the tutorial (forgot which is which). Again, the ones done during the tutorial each week are pretty important and I suggest you take copious notes for them as they are pretty similar to exam style questions.

If you stay up to date during the semester, the exam period shouldn't be too bad for you. A lot of people fall behind and forget the sheer amount of content in intro macro and then struggle to catch up and cram. As for the exam, it was a reallllll shocker this semester. Graham included a 10 mark question on the difference between 3 aggregates (Real GDP, RGDI, RGNI) which was touched on really early in the semester over one lecture. In addition, Graham asked us to prove the diminishing returns of the Cobb-Douglas production function using algebra which was quite a shock as my tutor had said 'it's not really necessary, if you want to learn it come to my consult'. However it was included on a few lecture slides so it was fair game. Past exams provided a general look into how this semesters exam may be like, but Graham really changed direction. It was a lot more proving how things work rather than looking at a prompt and explaining using a model (although there was one question on this <3 Graham). It may be because he's leaving (is he really though?) or he just ran out of unique questions to ask so the difficulty rose exceptionally. A lot of people felt their studying had gone to waste as a lot of the subjects weren't touched upon in the exam.

Ultimately, Intro Macro was full on. Do not expect it to be easy like micro.


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #501 on: November 11, 2015, 10:12:49 pm »
Subject Code/Name: MAST20029  Engineering Mathematics

Workload:  3 one hour lectures per week, and a one-hour tutorial per week. One of the lectures took place at 5:15pm on Fridays  :'(

Assessment:  3 assignments worth 5% each, the mid-semester test worth 15%, and the final exam worth 70%.

Lectopia Enabled:  No. This was a great frustration to many students especially due to the lecture times.

Past exams available:  Yes, 9 of them. All with answers but NOT solutions. There were also a few practice mid-semester tests.

Textbook Recommendation: 
The recommended textbook is E Kreysig, Advanced Engineering Mathematics, 10th Edition, Wiley, USA 2011. I found a PDF of it online, didn't really use it much during semester.

However I did use Haberman, Applied Partial Differential Equations: with Fourier Series and Boundary Value Problems, 4th Edition. This book is VERY useful for the latter parts of the course. The ERC has multiple copies.

Lecturer(s): Antoinette Tordesillas.

Year & Semester of completion: 2015, semester 2

Rating: 1.5/5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA


I was originally not going to review this subject, since there are already a few reviews already. However after reading through them and noticing they were mostly positive, I decided that I should review the subject since my review comes from a different perspective.

I did not take this subject because it is a core part of my major. Unlike the other Engineering Systems majors, Engineering Maths isn't required for Comp/Sci. I took this subject as an elective, purely out of interest for higher level and more applied maths than what I was exposed to in Calc1/Calc2 and Linear Algebra. That was a big mistake. More on this later. First, onto the actual subject.

This subject is apparently supposed to introduce the mathematical concepts and methods used by engineers. I say "apparently" because not once were we told how engineers actually use the things we were learning. The concepts and methods in question fell under the following topics:

1. Vector Calculus
2. Systems of ODE's and the Phase Plane
3. Laplace Transforms
4. Sequences and Series inc. Taylor and Maclaurin series
5. Fourier Series
6. Second Order Partial Differential Equations.

I found vector calculus to be most challenging. Mainly because it is such a large topic and the lecturer had to rush through the slides and examples without really stopping to explain the key concepts and ideas. Systems of ODE's was by far the most enjoyable, mainly because I like sketching and the entire topic is basically focused on sketching systems of ODE's. It also gave a new and interesting way of looking at ODE's in general. Laplace transforms I found to be the most straight-forward topic. Everything is there in the formula sheet and as long as you know basic "tricks" like partial fraction decomposition and completing the square, you should be fine. Second Order PDE's, while being touted by the lecturer as the most challenging topic, I actually found to be the easiest. I just rote-learned the technique and was fine with every form of problem.

The assignments throughout the semester were not super hard, but they weren't very easy either. I found it extremely difficult to get full marks on any of them. Some questions were marked quite harshly. Overall they are manageable so you shouldn't worry too much.

The mid-semester test basically destroyed me (and most of my tutorial it seemed - one girl was on the verge of tears after finding her results). It covered the first two topics. Unfortunately for me, my favourite topic was only allocated one question while the rest was on vector calculus. Suffice to say I didn't do very well.

The exam however was the saving grace. I found it to be relatively straight forward (granted I made the decision not to study for vector calculus at all) and I breezed through all the non vector calculus questions pretty easily. This was all made possible by the ample amount of practice exams posted on the LMS.

"So what was wrong with the subject!?" I hear you ask. "The content seems as challenging as expected, and the assessment fair, so what's your problem?". My problem is that this subject is a mess of poor coordination, and tries to cram too much into the semester.

For the first week and a half, we were hit with constant last-minute venue changes, which placed our lectures at the most ungodly times (one was moved to 5:15pm on a friday, another was moved so as to clash with another of my subjects). Even throughout all this, the coordinators refused to record lectures. Wtf? Another thing that personally pissed me off was that the students that passed the midsemester test got their tests back before the students that failed. So essentially, if you failed the test, everyone in your tutorial knew about it. This may not be a big deal to many students but I personally felt it was entirely unnecessary to name and shame students in this way.

I would be happy to forget about these things if the content was better. My biggest regret in my time at the University of Melbourne is taking this subject rather than both of Vector Calculus and Differential Equations. Make no mistake, the content of this subject isn't bad. I'm sure what they taught are used by engineers in ways that elude me, but this subject tries to cram the content of the two aforementioned subjects into one semester, and IMO, it fails to do so in any good way. I feel if I had taken the other two subjects, I would have had more time to do well, and also have gained a deeper understanding.

In summary/my advice:

If you're a Engineering Systems major, you have to take this subject. Might be good to not forget everything the moment you walk out of the exam room just in case (and I hope this is the case) your final year subjects teach you how the concepts are used in engineering.

If you're taking this as an elective/breadth, my advice is to stay away. Don't make the same mistake I did. If you're considering taking this as an elective you obviously have a pretty big interest in math. This is not the subject you're looking for. Take both Vector Calculus and Differential Equations instead. You'll have more time to do well and more time to really understand the concepts and their applications.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2015, 10:15:49 pm by CossieG »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #502 on: November 12, 2015, 11:33:47 pm »
Subject Code/Name: MIIM30003: Medical and Applied Immunology

Workload:  3 x 1 hr lectures per week

Assessment:  Two 45 min MSTs worth 20%. 2 hr end of semester exam worth 60% (as with all MIIM subs)

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture etc.

Past exams available:  No, but feedback quizzes are uploaded on the LMS every week.

Textbook Recommendation:  No textbook needed

B. Heath (Tolerance)
J. A. Villadangos (Antigen Presentation)
I. van Driel (Immune Regulation)
D. Godfrey (Tumour Immunity)
P. Darcy (Cancer Immunotherapy)
T. Gebhardt (Barrier Immunity)
S. Mueller (Viral Immunity)
S. Bedoui (Bacterial Immunity)
G. Westall (Transplantation)
P. Gleeson (Autoimmunity)
K. Quinn (Evolutionary Immunology)
N. La Gruta (Allergies)
A. Brookes (Reproductive Immunology)
D. Fernandez-Ruiz (Parasitic Immunity)
B. Chua (Vaccinations)
L. Mackay (Immunodeficiencies, HIV)

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2, 2015

Rating:  4.25 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: H1 (89)

Comments: Half of this subject is pretty much revision of Principles of Immunology and Molecules to Malady. You focus on diseases of the immune system as well as how it can guard against more specific infections from parasites, viruses and bacteria. There are heaps of lecturers in this subject, each usually presenting for no more than 1-3 lectures. So you do cover lots of fields, occasionally some things will overlap, but I dont't think it really detracted from the experience as all of them were quite good actually. Expect to be presented with familiar concepts from before!

That being said, this subject is pretty deceptive in terms of difficulty. Since a lot of the content is stuff you have sort of learnt before, you might find it quite easy to revise, but assessment is not that forgiving. For some reason me and many of my friends have done slightly worse in the MSTs for MedApplied than we did in Principles! So this subject can get pretty tricky at times - don't make the same mistake we did and assume your prior knowledge is enough to carry you.

MST1 will cover tolerance, antigen presentation, T-regs, as well as tumour and cancer immunotherapy. These build upon things you've learnt in Principles and M2M, but there is nothing that is signficantly difficult about this block of lectures. It's a pretty easy few weeks if you remember your immunology lectures from before. The median for MST1 was 30/40. Half of the MST2 block (barrier immunity to evolutionary immunology) is quite intensive actually. There is a lot of content in the viral immunity lecture especially - it was on par with a normal viral lecture, but don't freak out when you see all the lists of different examples that Scott puts on his lecture slides. Focus on the main pathways that he explains. For the evolutionary immunology lectures, yes you will also have to learn the Drosophila toll pathway and the Imd pathway and compare it to human TLR and TNF. The median for this block dropped to 27/40.

Post MST2 is pretty chill, as the allergies lectures are very similar to the ones used in Principles and the lectures on immunodeficiency, HIV and vaccinations are pretty straightforward. Reproductive immunology however is a major bitch to understand so focus a lot of time on this lecture - it is definitely the hardest lecture to understand in the course and to memorise. In the parasitic lecture you learn about malaria and lymphatic filiaris - if you've done M2M then malaria is no problem!

You also devote two lectures to analysing particular research papers (one on cross-presentation, the other on vaccine design). You probably don't need the specific detail from these lectures, but know what conclusions were made from each experiment (as well as what they generally did). 

As with all the MIIM subjects, weekly feedback quizzes are your best friend for revision! The MSTs are all MCQ and there are typical Type I and Type II questions yet again. I always found the MSTs to be slightly more challenging and harder than waht I expected - I think there is less detail actually examined in the MSTs, what makes it difficult is that they trick you - there are definitely a few oooo snap I didn't see that moments!

Personally, I liked the other MIIM subjects more because half of the content was already kinda familiar for this subject, but this is still fantastic. It truly lives up to its name as you learn about so many diseases that either affect immune system's capacity to fight infections and tmours, or are a consequence of it losing every sense of self-control and going full beserk. While I think maybe there were a bit too many lecturers for my liking, it is only a minor complaint as everything still remained quite consistent and each lecturer seemed to have a clearly defined area to talk about. It is a pretty chill way to end your Immunology major!
« Last Edit: November 27, 2015, 11:37:56 am by Shenz0r »
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2016-2019: Doctor of Medicine (MD4) at The University of Melbourne


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #503 on: November 13, 2015, 01:39:00 am »
Subject Code/Name: FNCE10001 Finance 1

Workload: 2 x 1 hour lectures + 1 x 1 hour tute (no mandatory attendance and lectures are recorded)

Assessment:  Two assignments (10% + 10%), end of semester exam (80%)

Lectopia Enabled:  yeah

Past exams available:  heaps of them and most questions get recycled in one way or another. They only provide one with solutions, and the rest you search up online

Textbook Recommendation:  Financial Instiutitons and Markets (B Hunt and C Terry) 7th edition - didn't buy it and didnt need to. Everything you will need to know is taught pretty well in the lectures and tutes

Lecturer(s): Jordan Neyland the best bloke ever

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2, 2015

Rating: 5/5 if you're interested in finance topics, 1/5 if you're not

Your Mark/Grade: H1

Summary: if you legitimately enjoy commerce stuff, and further maths style financial maths then this subject is awesome and easy.
if you are doing it for any other reason - it will be harder to do well, and even though you might get that H1, if finance isn't your thing you'll die of boredom.

PRO TIP: You can ROTE learn the content if you want, but there is a smarter way. It is so much less effort and more efficient + better for your grades to listen to the lectures, pay attention, and then google around the idea's that are spoken about at home casually. If you conceptually understand what is happening, you can logically conclude SOOO much of the stuff that other people will have to ROTE learn and commit to memory. Im not saying learn the derivations of the formulas (fk that) but if you understand why a company raises money, and how banks earn their profit, and how prices are decided in the share market, then alot of the stuff that other people will have to memorise will be something that you can just say "oh ok, how does the share market efficiently allocate resources well if blah blah happens then i guess it must be such and such?"

OK, me and most of my friends are really interested in finance, and as such we all LOVED this subject. You learn cool shit bout different types of securities, like how to price bonds, shares, how to raise money if you're starting up your own small business, how you should legally set up your business (LLC) etc. This is a great subject for overall learning about the basics of finance (hence the name). You can choose to rote learn or actually learn the subject, and if you actually learn it then it is 100 times easier and much more rewarding. The stuff seriously isn't too complicated, and also quite useful in the financial decisions we are starting to make at this point in our lives (mortgage vs rent, how much/how long to save).

Alot of people do this subject and don't like it, and it has nothing to do with the way it is run, the subject is run very, very well. If you just think it will look good on your resume/want a "real" breadth/need another subject to do/your friends are doing it/you heard its easy, you will probably have a bad time. I knew a couple people who did this subject and said it was dry and boring etc. I dont know what you expect if you have no interest in finance though, and a few kids who found it boring but then started to relisten to lectures and understand stuff eventually came around by exam time and everyone was cracking jokes about bonds and shares and saying it was a good subject.

JORDAN IS AWESOME. His lectures were really fun. He incorporated a "scandal of the week" in every second lecture which talked about some hypothetical or a wall street story that related to what we had just learnt. He would bring props in to the lectures to apply the knowledge we are learning to small scale examples, and just generally teach really well and speak really clearly. He explains it in such a way that you might never have heard of what an annuity is before the lecture, but become an absolute BOSS at them 45 minutes later. He is a top lad and you should do the subject if he is the teacher LOL

Tutes were good. Haven't heard many complaints about them. The kids who complained about the subject stopped going because there is no hurdle requirement and the population drops a few weeks in. I had the head tutor who was an absolute beast and went through everything quickly and clearly.
basically what happens is a bunch of questions get put up each week and in the tute's they walk you through the answers. pretty simple really but its a good time to ask questions and they will generally tell you about variations of questions and how to approach them. if you are behind in the work you won't know whats going on in the tutes but if you are up to date they are great. tute questions are the best exam revision you'll get other than the practice exam because they have solutions.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Finance 1 assignments are generally harder in semester 2.

that being said I thought the assignments were great and very clear. You were given a clear word limit for each question and in answering each part of the question you usually have no words to spare. There will be usually 3-4 marks in the assignment that are just free marks, with 1 calculation question that is usually the main separator, and an "advise your friend"/general finance question which the bulk of kids get most of the marks. If you study for these assignments there is no reason you can't get 100% generally. I  think it's a really fair couple of assignments because you will have to do a fair bit of extra reading to get full marks but its achievable and effort definitely correlates with marks. You want to smash these so that you have a bigger buffer for the 80% exam.
just to highlight the difference in the semesters: semester 1 this years assignment was just a "advise your friend on how they would invest 30K", in semester 2 question 1 made you describe the nuances OF A TRIPLE LEVERAGED ETF. LMAO WE HADN'T EVEN LEARNT WHAT AN ETF WAS IN THE COURSE YET. << those aren't caps locks of anger, because if you did alot of extra reading you eventually learn about all sorts of awesome and different investment vehicles. and it definitely was a do-able assignment.
The exam is a hurdle, but if you put in a semi-decent cram effort for at least a few days, you shouldnt worry about not passing. About 1/3 of the exam is financial maths. They provide a formula sheet which has EVERYTHING you need, and all you have to do is know which formula to use and how to use it. however they usually add some sort of twist to the calculations where the number they really want you to provide might take a bit of conceptual understanding to figure out what they're asking. Meaning that you'll use the formula to calculate something, and then to get to the final answer you might have to deduct it from something in a previous question or scale it in a certain way or whatever. Its VERY reminiscent of the FURTHER MATHS FINANCIAL MODULE so if you liked that youll be fine for finance 1.

There is a fair amount of conceptual stuff too. In recent years, there is more and more conceptual knowledge in the exams, and especially in Semester 2 exams. If you took the time to follow my pro tip above and understand the ideas that jordan lectures (which he explains so well) these questions are basically just logical deduction. I dont think i had to pull anything out from memory in the exam and it was all just stuff that logically makes sense.

All said I'm giving it a 5/5 for a few reasons;
 - The subject is run very well, with great communication from staff to students
 - All the assessment was very fair.
 - All content taught very well.
 - No mandatory attendance

I personally have no complaints but some people complain about boredom, but if you enjoy finance its not boring. If you enjoy bio a bio subject won't be boring, if you enjoy politics a politics subject wont be boring, and if it IS despite your tastes, then it's probably a poor subject. Finance 1 though gets the love of alot of finance lovers as well as converting some science kids into enjoying it. though i will admit alot of the course are science kids who do it for a breadth that seems useful and they heard is easy and they hate it because they aren't interested in the topics.

After finance 1 you won't be the best stay at home investor but you will definitely be able to put your savings to better use than just a bank account!
« Last Edit: November 29, 2015, 10:19:07 am by spectroscopy »


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #504 on: November 14, 2015, 07:07:00 pm »
Subject Code/Name: BIOM30002 Biomedicine: Molecule to Malady 

Workload:  3 x 1 hour lectures, 1 x 1 hour tutorial (used for MST's or for missed lectures - just another lecture)

Assessment:  2 x 45 minute MCQ MSTs (20% each) + Exam (60%). Each MST will test two modules. MCQs for last two modules on the exam.

Lectopia Enabled: Yes.

Past exams available:  No. Some sample SAQs for each module, feedback MCQ quizzes on all modules throughout the semester with feedback given.

Textbook Recommendation: No textbook recommended for this subject, plenty of journal articles provided on the LMS. These aren't essential to read, don't have to read them at all, probably just the topics you struggle with. If you do read them, reading all of them isn't necessary.

Lecturer(s):  Loads of lecturers, many different ones for each module.

Year & Semester of completion:  2015. Semester 1

Rating:  3.5 Out of 5

Your Mark/Grade:  H2A 78

Comments:   This subject is structured well, there are 6 modules that each go for 2 weeks each, you are assessed on all 6 modules through multiple choice questions - modules 1 & 2 on MST #1, modules 3 & 4 on MST #2, then modules 5 & 6 on the final exam. Then in the final exam you are given SAQ's on all six modules, but you only choose 4 of them, so choose the 4 you are most comfortable with.

You start off usually in the first week of the module introducing the disease, how you diagnose it, what causes it, what are the aims of treatment. Then in the second week usually you are presented with therapeutic options, these could be drugs, surgery, or monoclonal antibodies.

Module 1 - Muscular Dystrophies.
Module 2 - Pandemics (Malaria/HIV)
Module 3 - Cystic Fibrosis
Module 4 - Rheumatoid Arthritis
Module 5 - B cells and Disease (Monoclonal antibodies)
Module 6 - Neurodegenration (Alzheimer’s/Parkinson's Disease)

Most of the lectures are delivered by clinicians or researchers and they are high quality, not many lectures would do more than 3 or 4 lectures each at most.
You probably could just cruise along and take the subject lightly and cram for the mid semester exams and average H1 before the final exam, but they aren't a good predictor for the final mark. It goes into a lot of detail, so if you want to go well you need to put in a fair bit of work.
For example, for Rheumatoid arthritis you will need to know osteoclasts, osteoblasts, osteocytes, synovial fibroblasts, synovial macrophages, B cells, T 17 helper cells, T regulatory cells, and the specific cytokines that activate them, and the specific cytokines they release (IL1, IL-6, TNF, RANKL, RANK, GM-CSF, JAK-STAT signalling). Then you will need to know the Name and structure of monoclonal antibodies used against these cytokines, as well as other drugs used (DMARDs). This is just for one module and does not include all you need to know for that module. Doing all six is complex so you would want to give yourself plenty of time to know the relevant detail for the modules you are likely to do for SAQs on the exam. However you should have an extra module known in detail as a back up.

Personally I found the Cystic Fibrosis and Muscular Dystrophy modules the easiest, and the B cell disease one the hardest. But depending on your strengths and major some might be easier than others. I felt like the Neurodegenration module didn't provide enough material to really get it, there is so much still unknown about it.

It's not an easy subject at all, you cannot get away with not knowing the specifics in this subject (as with most in 3rd year), this isn't about principles, its about understanding the specifics of these diseases. But the course is well structured and there is help if you need it, with FAQ's as well provided on the LMS.

Definitely the better of the 3rd year Biomed Core subjects, but you will need to work harder to get a good mark.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2015, 02:21:40 pm by Bacondoesnotcausecancer »

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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #505 on: November 15, 2015, 01:13:45 am »
Subject Code/Name: BCMB30001 Protein Structure and Function

Workload: 3 x 1 hour lecture, 1 hour tute every couple of weeks and 1 x 2 hour computer lab each semester

Assessment:  2 x 7.5% MSTs, 1 x 10% PyMOL assignment, 1 x 5% computer lab and 1 x 70% exam

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, with screen capture

Past exams available: Yes. Every exam for this subject is available on the library website, including the previous year's.

Textbook Recommendation: How Proteins Work? (Williamson) is prescribed but not needed at all. Indeed, for those sections of the course for which you really need the book it is either utterly useless or has sweet FA about the topic.

Lecturer(s): Paul Gooley (Topologies, structural alignments, multidomain proteins, IUPs and NMR)
                    Mike Griffin (enzyme catalysis and kinetics, allostery, X-ray crystallography)
                    Terry Mulhern (SH2 SH3 PH kinase domains, growth hormone, small angle X-ray scattering)
                    Leanne Tilley (membranes, microscopy)
                    Danny Hatters (protein folding, FRET, single molecule experiments)

Year & Semester of completion: 2015 semester 2

Rating:  4 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: H1 (89)


TL;DR: an interesting subject that doesn't warrant its reputation as the most difficult in biochem

The Content

Overall the subject deals with five distinct modules that, surprisingly, don't feed into each other that well. There is a very small degree of overlap, particularly between Terry, Mike and Paul, but otherwise, the modules are quite distinct. As such, I'll talk about each briefly on its own. The bottom line is, however, that most of the content is really interesting and for the most part well taught. You do leave this subject with a sense that you've got special knowledge and haven't just rote learned the shit out of stuff you'll forget the next day.

Paul: Paul is the first lecturer in the course and the coordinator. To me at least, his first few lectures did feel like a baptism of fire. His first few lectures deal with the basics of protein structure. In essence, he presents the idea that helices and sheets pack together in a very limited number of ways and that, overall, protein structure is basically a combination of a few simple motifs. This requires a lot of memory work in order to digest boring details about angles and various motifs. Personally, I'm utterly useless when anything enters three dimensions so this felt a little overwhelming.

He then moves on to discuss multidomain proteins. He presents the idea that having multiple domains appears to be advantageous and provides four examples of such advantages. In this section, the concept of effective concentration is presented. It's fucking awesome and nearly stands alone as a reason to do this subject. With that high behind you, it's straight into NMR. Don't expect to understand this. You won't. For the most part, Paul is quite a good lecturer. He's easy enough to follow and with a little bit of work his lectures do become relatively easy. The exception to the rule is NMR. He's an NMR expert and unsurprisingly struggles to dumb it down. Everyone I spoke to struggled with it, but it turns out ok in the end because he doesn't ever seem to ask questions about how it works, just about what you expect to see (which is easy and explained really well!). Paul then wraps up with a discussion on intrinsically unstructured proteins (IUPs), which is also pretty cool. Overall, he's good. His stuff is really interesting and not too intense. Critically, there is no chemistry at all!

Mike: Mike only takes four lectures. He starts off discussing mechanisms of covalent and non-covalent catalysis. These are quite tedious and it's extremely difficult to predict what he wants you to know. This is also the only time during the course that chemistry rears its ugly head. He then moves on to allostery, which is kind of interesting, and enzyme kinetics, which isn't. Finally, Mike talks about X-ray crystallography. As with NMR, it's a little difficult to follow and Mike does struggle to some extent presenting it on our level; he does, however, do a pretty good job explaining the physics behind it and for that he should be congratulated because it is hard to grasp. Overall, he's fun to listen to because he clearly loves proteins so much but his topics are probably the driest of the course.

Terry: Terry's module, for me at least, felt like the course I expected. He actually goes through structures. Terry's first few lectures examine the structures of the following domains: SH2, SH3, Fn3, Ig-like, kinase and PH. This sounds scary, but it's not. As anyone in a position to take this subject should know from second year, Terry is a wonderful teacher and really does make it easy to digest. Indeed, he uses PyMOL (a modelling program) to show us the structure of these domains. It is really, really gratifying to look at protein structures and see how it all works—it does really feel like you've gained a skill. For this part of the course, I actually got PyMOL and had a play with the structures we were looking at. I'd recommend this 100%, made it very easy to remember and it felt good having developed a skill.

Terry then moves on to growth hormone and the growth hormone receptor. This is pretty similar to his previous lectures and is quite interesting. There's some funky stuff happening with growth hormone so it is quite interesting. Finally, he moves on to small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). Once again, some of the background is hard to grasp but when it becomes clear that he's only looking for certain things it is relatively straightforward. He does have a habit of asking tricky questions about SAXS, so make sure you actually get what everything means and don't just try to rote learn it. Indeed, this is sage advice for all of Terry's stuff—he does ask the trickiest questions and really expects you to understand in detail what he's on about.

Leanne: Leanne is just what you need for the fourth module. It's just after mid-semester, you're feeling tired and are pretty well rundown. The pace of Leanne's lectures is a lot slower than the others and a lot of the content is really straightforward. She starts off with a discussion of biological membranes and then discusses transport processes. 90% of the content in these lectures is pulled straight from VCE biology, so they're a breeze.

After that, she begins to discuss how we isolate membrane proteins and how they're analysed. This leads into a discussion about microscopy, which can become a little dense and does require a lot of thinking. Leanne explains microscopy extremely well, however. Indeed, her technique section of her module is by far the best taught and easiest to understand. We then look at the structures of some membrane proteins and bioinformatic techniques used to analyse such structures. Finally, we move on to two lectures about "membrane and disease". These lectures deal with the mechanisms of entry of Ebola, influenza and HIV. They also discuss malaria in some detail. Leanne is an expert on malaria so the malaria lecture is quite tough. I was lucky enough to come into proteins with quite a good understanding of malaria thanks to M2M; however, Leanne does have a tendency to ask really complicated questions on this area so make sure you know it well. As an aside, she also wears artemisinin earrings, which is just wonderful. Indeed, it was particularly lovely to have a tute with her—someone who works on artemisinin resistance—the day after the Nobel was given to the lady (Tu Youyou) who discovered artemisinin.

Danny: Danny is the final lecturer in the course and his lectures cover folding. Some of the concepts he presents are really tricky to get your head around, but Danny manages to break these down pretty well so it is hard, but not overwhelming. He starts off with the basics of folding, discussing the kinetics of folding and how we measure folding rates etc. He then moves on to more complex systems and begins to discuss misfolding. From misfolding, he moves into mechanisms used by cells to prevent misfolding and also discusses the concept of excluded volume, which is basically the idea that cells are really crowded and this makes folding proteins a bit of a pain in the arse really. Finally, Danny looks into FRET—in a lot of detail, which is wonderful—and single molecule experiments.

Not only is Danny's stuff really interesting and really cool, the way he presents it is fantastic. After his first couple of lectures, Danny had a tendency to explain concepts and then go into the details of experiments that proved it. Moreover, he did it in such a way that it was a) understandable b) really interesting. Quite often he would say that a certain paper or series of experiments was really neat and you couldn't help but agree with him. You really did feel like you were being taken through the science and not just expected to rote learn and it was wonderful. Personally, I really felt as though I left with a good understanding of the concepts he presented but, moreover, a good understanding of the science that led to it. It really felt wonderful and, somewhat incredibly for the past few weeks of my undergrad, I felt really happy to be learning it. Interestingly, his exam question this year really did follow suit. He didn't ask us to regurgitate knowledge, he asked us to interpret results and explain what was going on. It felt so wonderfully fulfilling to look at graphs and look at results and be able to interpret them with my knowledge. Such a fantastic departure from rote!

The Assessment of the Content

Computer lab: you attend a 2 hour session that takes 1 hour if you're quick. You work through a worksheet that teaches you how to use PyMOL and are then asked to make a figure and draw a figure legend. It is quite cool and it sets the foundation well for the upcoming assignment. Moreover, it's very easy to perform well.

Assignment: each lecturer prepares an assignment. Basically, each of these looks at a different protein and you have to draw a structure of the protein (on PyMOL, relax!) and then answer some questions about its structure and the methods used to obtain the structure. This is all relatively straightforward and really doesn't require a lot of effort. Also pretty easy to perform well on. Weirdly, also a bit fun.

MSTs: the first covers Paul and Mike's stuff, the second Terry and Leanne's. Both have an MCQ and SAQ component and last for thirty minutes. The averages weren't overly good but the exams are balanced and fair. Leanne does have a tendency to ask way too much for the time she allocates, something which carries onto the exam. For instance, she did once ask four questions—in an SAQ format—and allocated five minutes to those four questions. Good luck to whoever could manage that, you are truly a God among men.

Exam: three hours and worth a lot. First time it had MCQs was this year; the MST is a really good guide as to how the MCQs will look. I also imagine that this year's will serve as a good reference for coming years' exams.

The SAQs are relatively straightforward. Paul's are nowhere near as difficult as you'd expect; all of it is just simple recall. Mike's are much the same. They both tend to repeat questions. Terry seems to enjoy writing really tricky questions. He tends to split half of his marks into simple recall and the other half into applying knowledge. You really have to know your shit to be able to pull any marks from some of his questions. He'll provide a situation and then ask you to rationalise that situation in the context of what you've learned. It's hard and it spooked a lot of people this year, and no doubt in previous years, but if you know your shit it'll feel somewhat nice to get them.

Leanne's questions appear to be repeated and do centre around the same themes each year. Past exams are a really good guide for hers. As mentioned, she does have a tendency to ask waaaaaay too much for the time she allocates so make sure you save some time elsewhere. She also likes diagrams so prepare for that too! Lastly, Danny's questions are much like Terry's: he doesn't appear to be content with you being able to vomit the knowledge out, he really wants you to use it. He provides a situation and then asks you to explain it with the knowledge you've gained. Really, his and Terry's questions are a masterclass on how exam questions really ought to be written. They are bloody hard, however, so don't slack off!


Overall, this subject appears to have a reputation that it doesn't deserve. People seem to see it as a really hardcore subject only for those obsessed with proteins and biochem. I really don't think that's the case. To do well, it does require someone who can digest difficult concepts but it is certainly no onslaught of terror. Moreover, the amount of work required to keep up-to-date in this subject is quite manageable; there really isn't a huge amount to learn.

Personally, I took a BCMB major because I was most interested in molecular biology. This subject scared the shit out of me. I thought it would be a challenge I wasn't sure I was up to. As it turns out, that was all ridiculous. It is manageable. It's hugely interesting. And the stuff you learn really is quite different to the protein stuff in second year. It's a good subject, do try it!

Is it really as scary as it sounds?

« Last Edit: November 29, 2015, 10:09:03 am by Mr. T-Rav »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #506 on: November 15, 2015, 01:36:50 pm »
Subject Code/Name: EDUC20070: Learning via Sport and Outdoor Education 

Workload:  6 lectures (1-1.5 hours most finish early), 1 Fun Run (on a weekend, finished by lunchtime), 1 Bush Walking Camp (3 days over a weekend and one day during the week), 3 running training sessions (1-1.5 hours).

Assessment:  2 x 750 word autoethnographic journal entries (15% each, both submitted at the same time 30% total) due week 10. 1 x 2500 word autoethnographic report due end of semester (70% of final mark). You won't get your final marks Released until you pay the additional fee for completing this subject as you need to pay for travel and hike instructors for the camp - it would not be more than $200. 80% attendance hurdle requirement.

Lectopia Enabled:  Yes, maybe a bit dodgy though.

Past exams available:  N/A

Textbook Recommendation:  All of the course material is covered in lectures, and the lecturer explicitly tells you to only reference the sources he covers in the lectures, there is no need to find outside sources.

Lecturer(s): John Quay

Year & Semester of completion: 2014, S2.

Rating:  5 Out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: H1 86

Best subject at the university! Pretty much outdoor education from high school, where you get to go for a 3 day camp/hike at Wilson's Promontory National Park. The subject was initially designed for international students so that they could experience the National Park, but it is welcome for anyone, and most are local students.

The first 2 weeks of semester you get introduced to the subject and what you need to do to write an autoethnographic report. An autoethnographic report is a combination of autobiography and ethnography, so you don't need to reference it, you describe your own feelings and thoughts as you complete a fun run, or bush walk.
Then for the next 3 weeks in the lecture slot, you meet at the athletics track and participate in running training, you are split up into groups of ability and the distance you are going to run in (5km, 10km, 15km). These sessions are not hard, and if you are injured you don't have to run, you can do gym rehab work, but everyone needs to complete the fun run. You are encouraged to take autoethnographic notes during training and after the fun run, this is pretty easy, you can just write it down on your phone, or do a voice recording, or take pictures.

The fun run is on a weekend, you need to organise your own transport there, it starts at the Xavier College primary school in Kew, i got a lift in a car, but there is a bus that goes right past it. The fun run fee is included in the additional fee at the start of the subject. This fun run is usually finished by lunchtime.
That completes the first 5 weeks of the course.

The next 3 weeks of the course are dedicated to the Bush walking camps. You are allocated to groups by filling out an online form where you note your previous experience and ability to do a bush walk. So if you want to stay in a group of friends maybe try to put the same answers down, but you may be able to swap with others later but this isn't usually possible, only approved by the coordinator depending on circumstance.
If you chose the week 6 option, you have a lecture where only those who are allocated for week 6 attend, this goes over safety, what to bring, what you are going to do, who is going to share a tend with who. If you need to hire anything its worked out in that session. Everyone else has the week off.
Once you finish your camp you get the other 2 weeks off, i.e. if you camped in week 6, you get week 7, 8 off. Everyone gets week 9 as a week off to compensate you for missing one day during the week, as the camps are 3 days long and span the weekend, so you miss either friday or monday.
These camps are without a doubt the best part of the subject. If you have never hiked before or are injured, you get placed in the base camp group and only go on day trips and don't need to carry all your stuff. If you have hiked before you pair up with your tent buddy and share the responsibility of carrying your tent and food in backpacks during the hike. Once you get back home after the 3 day bush walk, then you take your autoethnographic notes, there is no need to take them when your on the camp. Its awesome, plenty of Wildlife, great views, the beach at Sealer's cove is beautiful.

So after everyone has week 9 off, weeks 10, 11, 12 get into the academic side of the course, and introduce you to the theory behind learning through outdoor education. This may be a bit challenging for some to understand, but the lecturer is great and will really help you if you need it, I didn't seek help from him but if you're stuck it would help. You really don't want to miss these sessions, as mentioned above, all of the material which you will need to reference is provided in these lectures and you only really need to reference a few paragraphs of the essay. A lot of it is introducing your autoethnographic reports from the previous assignment and interpreting your own feelings and how you felt you learned during the experience.

Assessment is very fair, and this subject isn't something you are likely to get ever again in your education, I really regret not doing outdoor education at school!
« Last Edit: November 15, 2015, 04:56:42 pm by Bacondoesnotcausecancer »


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #507 on: November 15, 2015, 02:19:23 pm »
Subject Code/Name: EDUC20068: Sport, Education and the Media 

Workload:  1 x 1 hour lecture per week. 1 x 2 hour tutorial per week.

Assessment:  8 brief summaries of readings provided throughout the semester (10% all up, not marked, just a hurdle)
1600 word case study due mid semester (40%)
2000 word essay on a current issue in sport (50%) due end of semester.
In my year there were quizzes but I think they were taken out.
80% attendance requirement.

Lectopia Enabled:  Maybe, I did but i had a clash, so if you don't have a clash they might not provide them, they get really annoyed if no-one shows up to lectures.

Past exams available:  N/A but sample essays were provided.

Textbook Recommendation:  N/A, most of the material you will end up referencing is covered in the readings you do, but you might need to reference outside material on the essays.

Lecturer(s): Anna Krohn, sometimes a guest lecturer

Year & Semester of completion: 2014, S1

Rating:  4 Out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: H1, 86

At the start of semester you cover why sports education has developed into our society, it didn't exist in the mid 19th century. So this covers the meaning of sport to our society, how it became a part of our education system, and then how sport impacts children and how you teach sport to children. This is the task for the first case study, you are given scenarios, e.g. when are kids ready to start sport? What sport or programme should they take up as a start? You just provide a solution to the case scenario.

Then the subject goes into how sport impacts our social life, and the role it can play in socialisation. We actually had a compulsory Field trip to the Ian Potter Gallery on Swanston street and had to look at a piece of artwork that related to sport and write a reflective essay about it and what it meant to you.
We also had another field trip to the MCG sports museum, which was pretty fun, and you get a free tour of the MCG. You have to pick out an exhibition from the sports museum and reflect on it and hand it in and then you're done.

The final part of the course you cover how social theories apply to sport, social theories covered are; feminism, conflict, capitalism, functionalist theory, interactionist theory. You also cover how sport is portrayed in the media, how women are presented in sport, how the sports section in a newspaper may be directed to a particular sex, how it mostly consists of top level elite sports and not a lot of amateur local sport.

In the final essay you have to spend the first few paragraphs analysing a newspaper and describing how it is made up and the significance of this, e.g. advertisements (esp. betting), News, Finance, Sport, Classifieds, etc. For the sport part you elaborate on how much sport is provided, whether it is mostly male sports, or elite sports, what type of sporting code (Melbourne  vs Sydney paper). This is only a short part of the essay, and isn't where you get most of the mark.
The majority of the mark is attained from the second part where you pick out 2 or 3 social theories and related them to a recent issue you have found in sport and the media. e.g. if it was 2012 you would find an article on Lance Armstrong and relate these social theories to that. You need to provide the article you found when you submit. Relating the article to a social theory is probably the hardest part, I would recommend feminist theory, or capitalist theory as they are a bit easier to understand, and easy to find articles on those issues.

You also do reading circles in this subject where you talk to people in your group about what you read, and you need to create a Facebook page or e-mail so you can send each other your summaries.

I like sport so I found this subject good and would recommend it to anyone who likes sport or did physical education at school. There are no practical sessions, so I did find it a bit boring. If you don't enjoy sport at all I probably wouldn't recommend it, but you don't have to love sport to do it. If you are passionate about how women are represented in sport, or how certain ethnicities are excluded from sport you would go well in this.

It's a fairly easy subject, so definitely give it a go if you want a subject that you can take a bit easy but still be able to grasp it when you need to.


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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #508 on: November 15, 2015, 09:22:08 pm »
Subject Code/Name: BIOM20002: Human Structure and Function


Contact Hours: six x 1 hour lectures, one x 2 hour Computer-aided learning workshop (for 12 weeks) + 3 additional 2 hour sessions and one x 3 hour practical (for 7 weeks) per week

Total Time Commitment: 340hrs


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

Lectopia Enabled: Yes, with screen capture. However, by not attending the lectures you won’t be able to participate in the Personal Response System (PRS) in physiology lectures.

Past exams available: Yes. There are two copies of exam 1 and five copies of exam 2 available in the university library repository. Additionally, you can use the PHYS20008 exams for physiology revision. Some physiology revision questions are also provided on the LMS. Note that the format of these physiology resources are no longer representative of the physiology assessment in this subject though. Unfortunately, no pharmacology questions were provided.

Textbook Recommendation:

Eizenberg, N., C. Briggs, C. Adams & G. Ahern. "General Anatomy: Principles and Applications". Sydney: McGraw-Hill, 2007.

I didn’t really use this book that much, except for the ADSLs from time to time. Other anatomy textbooks are provided through the LMS and are also there to provide support for the ADSLs. Pre-reading wasn't really examinable.

Silverthorn, D.U. "Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach". San Francisco: Pearson, 6 th Ed. 2013.

This textbook is absolutely essential, because pre-reading in physiology is examinable. I generally found it quite useful and easy to read so it’s worth having a copy anyway. Shouldn’t be too difficult to "find" (*cough*).


Anatomy (28 lectures)
Dr Peter Kitchener - Neuroanatomy (2 lectures)
Assoc Prof Colin Anderson - Embryology (2 lectures)
Dr Varsha Pilbrow - Systems anatomy (5 lectures)
Dr Simon Murray - Vertebral column and back; upper and lower limbs (7 lectures)
Dr Junhua Xiao - Visceral systems - gastrointestinal system, cardiovascular system, thoracic walls and diaphragm, lower respiratory tract, urinary system (9 lectures)
Dr Jason Ivanusic - Upper respiratory tract; male and female reproductive systems (3 lectures)

Co-ordinator: Assoc Prof Jenny Hayes

Physiology (26 lectures)
Co-ordinator: Prof David Williams - Neurophysiology, muscle physiology, digestive physiology, cardiovascular physiology, respiratory physiology, reproductive physiology (22 lectures)
Prof Stephen Harrap - Renal physiology (4 lectures)

Pharmacology (11 lectures)
Prof Alastair Stewart - Pharmacodynamics (5 lectures)
Dr Michael Lew - Pharmacokinetics (4 lectures)
Dr Graham Mackay - Autonomic pharmacology (2 lectures)

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2 2015

Rating: 2.5/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1


I'll cut to the chase: this is definitely the worst Biomedicine core subject we'd had to date. So many enter with high hopes because for the first time we actually got to study anatomy and physiology - I went in with low expectations given what I had heard about this subject and somehow still walked out disappointed. The biggest disappointment is that they don’t really need to do that much to fix this subject up, but it seems like people are reporting the same problems every year and they're not really listening. In the end, I've decided to give this subject a pass overall because ultimately the staff are half way there with it. I initially marked the anatomy component out of 1.5, the physiology component out of 1.5, the pharmacology component out of 1 and the assessment out of 1, and found that I had given them all 50%. When one department got something right, the other managed to get it wrong, or half the area of study was taught well at the expense of the other half.

With BIOM20001 done and dusted most students will not find taking another 25 credit point subject like this one difficult or jarring to tackle. You'll have six lectures each week - this time, a morning and afternoon lecture every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This was a welcome change from BIOM20001, and personally I did find it easier to maintain focus and keep on top of my work with the day's gap in-between. There's no regular workshop timeslot unless a lecturer replaces a lecture with a workshop, so in general there were less workshops during the semester - this may be a positive or a negative depending on how you learn. Like last semester, I found the workshops this semester helpful but I'll get into discussing those later. Four anatomy practicals and one physiology practical take the place of the CALs you had in BIOM20001. Overall, BIOM20002 is lighter in workload than BIOM20001 - it is definitely no more than two normal subjects worth in terms of demand (this makes sense if we consider BIOM20002 as a substitute for the equivalent Science subjects ANAT20006 Principles of Human Structure, and PHYS20008 Human Physiology) and so many people choose to (and successfully) study two selective subjects alongside this one during the semester (such as myself).

The way this subject is structured is that you'll generally study a system's anatomy or structure before moving onto its physiology; while pharmacology is sort of dumped in the middle of the subject around the time of the first mid-semester test. This involves very slight re-arrangements of the order of lectures offered in the Science equivalents ANAT20006 and PHYS20008. In that sense, BIOM20002 could make studying anatomy and physiology a bit better but the gain would not be significant. I have a feeling it is for this reason the staff call this subject an "integrated" subject but I think you can start to appreciate that simply re-arranging the lectures is not really integration. I think they finally started to yield on that point this year, although I'd say the level of integration was still insufficient. Anyway, I'll get into that more a bit later. From here on, I'll explore each discipline separately in this review.


I'll be honest: the thought of studying anatomy actually terrified me and it was for this reason that I wasn't looking forward to studying this subject at all. I didn't really know how much anatomy we had to learn, and I was anticipating that I'd have to learn and label all 206 bones and the 400 muscles in the body or something. If it's something concerning you, I'm glad I can reassure you that you won't be expected to know all that detailed information in this subject. If we take a look at the Science equivalent of this subject, the title is "Principles of Human Structure" - the key word there is principles. Of course, you'll still need to know a fair amount of specific details but where possible the staff try to relate that back to more general principles and clinical applications. In that sense, anatomy became much easier to swallow and enjoy. What did catch me off guard though was the fact that we had to learn about different parts of muscles and bones; I guess that was something I had overlooked. Now that I'm at the other side, I can safely say that studying anatomy actually wasn't that bad or difficult at all; while it still wasn't my favourite thing to study I have walked away with a newly found appreciation of anatomy, and I no longer fear subsequent studies in anatomy (perhaps I'm wrong in thinking this though LOL).

Your first anatomy lectures are taken by Dr Peter Kitchener where you'll explore neuroanatomy - more specifically principles of the central nervous system, its protection and fluid supply; and the somatic and autonomic (sympathetic and parasympathetic) peripheral nervous systems. Peter is a good lecturer, but his slides are very light in terms of content and while he doesn't speak particularly fast you'll need to write a lot of information down. I'm not sure if it was because of this but I found neuroanatomy rather confusing initially. What I'll say is that it will make a lot more sense as the subject progresses - a lot of the subsequent anatomy that follows requires a basic understanding of the underlying guiding neuroanatomy (which is why you do it first), and as you start to explore these areas you will become a lot more comfortable with the topics discussed in the first couple of lectures.

Much of this also applies for the embryology lectures, taken by Assoc Prof Colin Anderson. In this block you only get a chance go through an overview of the processes in embryology - the topic is rather complex and there's not a lot of time to get into things at a deeper level. Colin was also a good lecturer and at the time I thought these lectures were actually quite good. What I found over time though was that I was hopeless at memorising all the information. 😝 I'd probably advise regular revision on these two lectures - it's nothing exceptionally difficult but it can get rather tricky at times, making it difficult to remember answers when it comes to the assessment (more on that later). In particular, pay close attention to the diagrams and videos provided. Embryology (like anatomy as a whole, really) is especially visual so it's often only really possible to understand the processes once you understand how it happens visually.

Dr Varsha Pilbrow was up next covering systems anatomy (this includes the muscular, skeletal, articular (joints), vascular and integumental (skin) systems). This part of the subject is definitely the most "principles" grounded in this subject - you don't discuss specific regions of the body at all but rather the general principles of these systems throughout the entire body. There's still some stuff to memorise, but much like the former lectures you've had the goal of this block is to prepare you for the upcoming regional anatomy. Varsha's lectures were probably my favourite anatomy lectures. They're not at all difficult, but I'll warn you that she talks very fast and you'll need to write down a lot, so pay close attention.

Up until this point, all the lectures you've had have largely been grounded in principles. This changes as there is a shift in focus to regional anatomy and studying various systems in the human body. This is probably the area of anatomy most people think of when they hear the word anatomy. Many were looking forward to these lectures - I on the other hand was not, but as I said earlier I wasn't overwhelmed like I had anticipated because there's a lot of detail you don't go into, and where possible, the lecturers try to bring the specific details together into more general principles. At times though this can be difficult - as Peter said to us early on in the journey: "People often ask why something is so in my lectures; in anatomy there often is no why - it is what it is," - and having no underlying framework can make some things much more difficult to memorise due to the lack of context. When it comes to these lectures, I highly recommend changing the way you study. The earlier anatomy lectures can more or less be studied as normal, but these upcoming ones should be studied in a different context. You could take notes as you normally would, but sitting there sticking in the diagrams and writing in the labels is likely to become tedious and probably won't be helpful as you're not practicing your memory for the assessment. Instead, I used an online quiz program which allowed me to upload the images and blank the labels, and I'd regularly practice labelling the diagrams and writing the descriptions on my phone as I was travelling to and from university. Something along these lines - perhaps flashcards, or blanking out the labels and printing out several copies to practice every now and then - would be far more effective (as long as you don't neglect the description - I think some people got too good at just memorising labels and didn't actually understand what they were learning).

Dr Simon Murray teaches the vertebral column and back and the upper and lower limbs (you'll look at the bones and joints, muscles and movements, and nerve and blood supply). Despite being a good lecturer, this was the most difficult part of the course for me as my memory struggled to take in all the information. My advice is to really pay attention and focus on the general principles and then try to progressively build in all the detail. I also advise you to learn the specific detail Simon says is non-examinable - I was a bit annoyed by the fact that muscles of the forearm, dermatomes and myotomes all appeared on both the mid-semester test and exam, despite being told to 'understand the principles' (obviously very confusing to hear).

The bulk of the anatomy lectures are taken by Dr Junhua Xiao, who covers most of the visceral anatomy. She had a strong Chinese accent that was at times difficult for me to understand, but out of all the anatomy staff she was the best at telling us exactly what we had to know for the assessments. Personally, her block of lectures were actually the easiest for me to learn and study (perhaps by this point in time I had grown accustomed to my new mode of study and the things I was initially unsure of had started to click) - maybe the exception was the inguinal canal, but with a bit of persistence even this made sense without too much trouble. To be honest, I thought there were better anatomy lecturers but I regard Junhua as my favourite for a reason I'll get to a little later in this review. A small number of lectures were taken by Dr Jason Ivanusic, covering the upper respiratory tract and the male and female reproductive systems. His lectures were structured much like Junhua's, and he was also a decent lecturer.

To supplement your studies in anatomy, there are four anatomy practicals run during the semester. Going into this subject I didn't really know what to expect of these, and I was a little afraid I wouldn't cope. Thankfully (or perhaps not, depending on your stance) the practicals are purely observational and you don't have to worry about having to physically do anything yourself - samples are prepared beforehand, and you can handle them if you wish. Additionally, these practicals are not at all assessed - they are purely there for you to learn. In that sense, I got a great deal of benefit out of these practical classes. One bit of criticism is that the staff seemed like they always wanted to finish early, and I don't ever recall getting the whole two hours worth of lab time. Generally finishing a class early is a positive, but I felt at times teaching was needlessly rushed as a consequence.

Further supporting resources include access to the anatomy museum (which I can't comment on because I didn't use it), and the ADSL worksheets (ADSL stands for anatomy directed self learning). These worksheets predominantly summarise the content covered during lectures and give you the chance to practice your labelling skills. There will be some parts that seem like they have nothing to do with the lectures (this is especially true of the neuroanatomy ADSL) - even though ADSL content is technically examinable, don't worry about these parts because I never saw them come up again. The questions in the ADSLs tend to have a clinical focus and are probably good practice for some of the questions that may pop up on the anatomy exam. You'll be provided regularly with references to the anatomy textbooks to find the answers - it's this part of the ADSLs that makes them rather time-consuming - they look deceiving so allow yourself some time to work through them.

In terms of the lecture content, anatomy probably is the best taught component in the course. However, this doesn't mean their lectures are perfect. Probably one of the most annoying things about the anatomy lectures was the labelling convention - or lack thereof. Most of the time the structures to be discussed were listed on the side of the diagram, and there was no line to point to where that structure was. Instead, the lecturers usually used their cursor or pointer to point at the structure, which can be a bit ambiguous (especially if it's just a small groove or something) and if you were looking down writing or typing you essentially missed where that part was. Additionally, a lot of the descriptions of body parts and clinical significance was left off the slides (most of the time the slides were just diagrams) leaving you to have to write down copious amounts of information. This is particularly frustrating because as I'll get to a bit later, a significant amount of the anatomy assessment relates not so much to the labelling aspect of the subject but rather the descriptions and clinical significance.

Additionally, I was not impressed with the anatomy department's attitude towards this subject. Out of the three areas, the anatomy staff on the whole were the least willing to integrate their content with content provided as part of the other disciplines. They insisted on having their own end of semester exam, effectively killing any final opportunity to integrate physiology and pharmacology with anatomy. Furthermore, it encouraged us to study anatomy in isolation from the other disciplines - in SWOTVAC I was revising the anatomy of some structures and looking at their physiology only after the anatomy exam was over, and that just doesn't seem right to me. In addition, most of the lecturers just walked in and opened their ANAT20006 lecture slides, giving lectures as if we were in an anatomy-only subject. Sometimes a lecturer would say "this has implications for the physiology of this structure... but you'll hear about that in the physiology lectures" and just leave it hanging there for the other departments to deal with. To me, this was incredibly disappointing. Importantly, I point out that Junhua was the exception - she often went above and beyond to discuss some of the physiology relating to the anatomy she had just discussed (often she'd say "I know I'm only supposed to teach the anatomy but this is an integrated subject so I'm going to talk about the physiology for a moment..." - it almost sounded like the anatomy staff had been instructed not to delve into the physiology at all) and I'm really thankful she did that.

The anatomy department were also not particularly helpful in regards to the mid-semester tests. Rather annoyingly, feedback was vague and questions that were answered poorly in the tests were not handled well by the staff - instead there was an underlying accusatory tone in their review that the content was clearly explained in their lecture series and that it was our fault for not understanding. I understand the anatomy department's wishes to not release practice material for these assessments (and I don't have a problem with that) but things were not handled well when people needed help.

It is for these reasons I have given the anatomy component of this subject a 0.75/1.5. If these problems are to be fixed, I think the co-ordinators need to pay closer attention. I have a feeling many of these problems are borne out of the fact that Assoc Prof Jenny Hayes (the anatomy co-ordinator) doesn't actually take any of our anatomy lectures, and was only present for some of our anatomy practicals. I think this is a shame, because I've heard great things about Jenny from third year students. I hope it's something they'll look into.


In summary, what the anatomy department did right the physiology did wrong, and vice versa. 😛 In fear of promoting breach of copyright and not being objective in my review, I'll just say that I agree with what others have said in their reviews of physiology (especially the lectures) in this subject. I really didn't want to believe them, but rather quickly I came to realise that it was the truth. Perhaps what I will say is that we often got very vague explanations and regularly fell behind (mostly this meant we had to follow up the parts we didn't get to on our own). If I had to pick out some exceptions, it would be neurophysiology and respiratory physiology, as well as renal physiology by Prof Stephen Harrap (although we got a very simplified message). People tried to give feedback regarding the quality of the lectures, but didn't have the heart to exactly be honest, and instead requested in a rather polite fashion that we "have more lecturers so that we gain different perspectives." This left David rather confused, because apparently in previous years this had been suggested and he took this on board but then those year levels complained that they didn't like those lecturers. I guess it's difficult to communicate that sort of message. 😕

On the positive side, the physiology department was by far the best at integrating the three disciplines taught in this subject together. For example, David watched all the anatomy lectures and regularly pulled slides from them in order to highlight certain points - it's a shame the anatomy department failed to reciprocate. Similarly, effort has been made to try and integrate physiology and pharmacology rather closely, although I'd say that they still have a lot of work to do in that area. If you compare the lecture schedules of BIOM20002 and PHYS20008 you'll see that some of the lectures in PHYS20008 are made to make way for the pharmacology lectures - in return, the pharmacology lectures now try to supplement the physiology we effectively missed out on but it wasn't done particularly well (it also means those removed topics do make their way onto the assessments). An integrated physiology/pharmacology question appeared on our exam this year, which was rather difficult but to me, a step in the right direction.

I think it might be worth spending some time talking about how to study physiology, given that like anatomy it requires a bit of a different strategy. Physiology is all about understanding the content - some memory work is necessary but it is secondary. Hence, the physiology department has invested a lot into creating the "flipped classroom" strategy to help the process become more active and rewarding (let's face it, lectures are a pretty passive way of learning). You'll be asked to do some assigned pre-reading before attending the lecture, which is examinable. Now, when I say examinable, I don't mean that some random line in the textbook is going to make its way onto your exam, so don't stress about having to take notes from the readings or anything like that. The reason you need to pre-read before the lectures is that the lectures are framed with the assumption that you have some basic knowledge of the concept to be covered already - basically if you don't pre-read you'll struggle to understand the lecture. For the neurophysiology lectures online pre-reading modules were provided as an alternative to reading the textbook. I usually did both but to be honest I thought the online pre-reading modules were better. Throughout the lectures you'll then be asked some practice questions (they're rather similar in style to the questions you'll see in your assessments) which you respond through your PRS clicker. You can probably appreciate that if you have no clue of the content beforehand you'll probably be guessing these aimlessly, effectively defeating the purpose of this system, which is to provide you with feedback and address any misconceptions as they arise. You are then encouraged to review the lecture afterwards in a way you see fit (the way you usually do it is probably fine). The PRS clicker costs $10 to hire and is a valuable learning tool over the course of the semester. However, it seemed like most people chose not to hire one or stopped bringing it to lectures *shrugs*.

The physiology practical takes place towards the end of the semester and relates to cardiovascular responses to exercise. You'll be asked to write a report (it's actually just answers to ten questions) worth 10% of your grade. My advice, again, is to take heed of the lecture advice (*cough*). People often lose quite a lot of marks in the mid-semester tests, so the report provides you with a good opportunity to boost your grade. As always, taking care when writing your report will prove beneficial. You get a rather silly lecture during the semester on scholarly literacy, which literally provides you with no help for this report at all (the content is largely irrelevant lol).

Concept checks for each topic are provided as revision on the LMS once they are completed in lectures. These are quite useful in testing your understanding, although sometimes you couldn't access the feedback to see where you went wrong. Hence, it's a good idea to take screenshots of your responses prior to submitting the test and then figuring out later with friends where you went wrong. Additionally, there was a tab on the LMS labelled "weekly quizzes" but this remained blank for the whole semester. :S Thankfully, you also have access to plenty of physiology revision material in preparation for assessments. 

Most people tend to do quite poorly in the physiology section of the course, either because of the lecture reason (*ahem*) or due to the fact that they're not taking on board the advice of the staff and trying to learn the content more actively. I, on the other hand, found it to be a strength, and I consequently lost the majority of my marks on the mid-semester tests due to anatomy (damn failing memory XD).

In all, I've also marked physiology 0.75/1.5. While the lectures themselves were rather woeful (similarly reflected in the assessment), I appreciated the effort the physiology department was making in trying to actually integrate the three disciplines together and make up for the unwillingness of the anatomy department to do the same. In addition, the resources and feedback they provided were comprehensive and useful.


The pharmacology component in BIOM20002 is quite small, being only 11 lectures in total. It's designed to cover both the basics of pharmacology so as to cover prerequisites for third year subjects requiring a basic knowledge of pharmacology, and cover some aspects of physiology that are not actually covered in the physiology component. However, as you can probably appreciate you barely get to scratch the surface of pharmacology, so if it's something you think you would like to pursue it's probably best to take PHRM20001 Pharmacology: How Drugs Work. Those studying PHRM20001 were probably at an advantage when it came to this part of the course because it seems like it was essentially repeated their pharmacology subject (and perhaps taught better); that being said as a non-PHRM20001 student I didn't find it overly difficult.

The first half or so of the pharmacology lectures are taken by Prof Alastair Stewart, who predominantly covers pharmacodynamics (the actions of drugs on the body). This is the part of pharmacology that ties in rather well with biochemistry, dealing with drugs binding receptors and their cellular responses. I didn't find it that interesting, and to be honest I felt this topic was needlessly drawn out (apparently in PHRM20001 it's done in just one lecture). The second half explores pharmacokinetics (the actions of the body on drugs) and is taken by Dr Michael Lew. On the other hand, I really enjoyed this part of the course and the connection between physiology and pharmacology became far more explicit. Michael was a very interesting lecturer (if not a bit eccentric) and explains things pretty well. In-between you'll have a couple of lectures dealing with autonomic pharmacology (drugs affecting the nervous system) by Dr Graham Mackay, re-inforcing some neurophysiology that may not have been explicitly covered in physiology. At the time I didn't engage too well with the lecture material, but upon reviewing them I actually did find them interesting. You'll also get some rather random lectures on drug discovery and development - to be honest, these were incredibly confusing and they felt largely unnecessary (in the end, I don't think we ever had a question in a test regarding these lectures).

As you would expect, a number of drugs are brought up in this section of the course (especially in Graham's lectures), but most are not explored in great detail - they're mainly used to highlight a key concept. Hence, the majority never appear in the assessment - the only one that ever came up was digoxin (in just one multiple choice question), which was the drug we covered in the most detail. I'd suggest learning the main drugs (e.g. digoxin, d-tubocurarine and aspirin) but not worrying too much about the rest. Instead, they tend to make up drugs, give you a set of properties about them and then ask you a series of questions. To be honest, I thought it was a pretty effective way of gauging whether or not a student had understood the key principles.

Two pharmacology SDLs (student directed learning tasks - yes, as you can see a variety of acronyms start to come up even though they mean the same thing 😛) are made available during the semester to support your studies in pharmacology: one relating to pharmacodynamics, and the other to pharmacokinetics. The pharmacodynamics program is extremely helpful, and probably explains pharmacodynamics far better than the lecture material does. It's that good that the lecturer himself uses the program during the lecture to help explain the concepts. The pharmacokinetics one, on the other hand, is slightly less useful, but worth your time nonetheless if you have enough time to do it.

With half the study area taught well, I think it's fitting to give this part of the subject 0.5/1. One of the big drawbacks of the pharmacology component is the lack of practice material - the first time I saw a BIOM20002 pharmacology question was in the mid-semester test which we didn't get feedback for, and then similar questions appeared on the exam. It might be worth seeing if the PHRM20001 students have anything that might be of use, if you're not a PHRM20001 student yourself.


In addition to the physiology report, there are two 45 minute mid-semester tests, each worth 10% of your grade. The first test was held in week 6, covering lectures 1-30 (except the pharmacology lectures), and the second test in week 10, examining lectures 31-53 (plus any pharmacology lectures that fell in lectures 1-30). Most people fared alright for these tests, although they weren't as straightforward as they should have been. I initially had a negative and nervous gut feeling towards these tests when I learned in the first lecture this semester that the content and dates of these tests had yet to be decided. In the end this reaction was warranted.

The first mid-semester test is obviously more difficult to study for given the lack of a mid-semester break, but what made it more difficult this year was that the number of lectures examined was suddenly increased from lectures 1-20 for some reason. This test turned out to be really difficult, largely due to the very tight time constraint. Generally speaking assessments at university have marks equal to the number of minutes available - however mid-semester test 1 was out of 55 marks. We were told there were going to be 25 multiple choice questions and two extended matching questions (this appeared in the email just the day before the test) only to find on the day of the test (once we opened it) that there were in fact four extended matching questions. I was really disappointed that the staff weren't on top of this with us beforehand, especially given they had sent an email confirming what would be (or should have been) on the test only the day before. The content itself wasn't overly difficult if you had studied the content effectively, but with people failing to finish many didn't realise their potential on this test. For some reason, a lot of people forgot that normal cell osmolarity is 300mOsm, causing only 16% of students to get a certain series of questions correct. It wasn't discussed in a lot of detail, but it did come up both in lectures and in the pre-reading material, and the questions themselves weren't that demanding, so I was confused as to why so many weren't prepared for them.

Many complained about the lack of clarity about what was to be on the first mid-semester test, so the co-ordinators agreed they'd be more careful and put less questions on the next mid-semester test. However, the second mid-semester test (of the same format as the first mid-semester test) still had 49 marks on offer, making us wonder if they had actually listened to us at all. Due to the reallocation of lectures for the first mid-semester test, the second mid-semester test incorporated some digestive, cardiovascular and respiratory physiology, which had never before appeared on this test. Hence, no mid-semester test practice material was available for physiology. This test was easier than the first mid-semester test (aided by the fact that we had the mid-semester break to study) but again it was disappointing to see supposedly "non-examinable" content appear on the paper (physiology was the culprit this time). Most people did better on the second mid-semester test.

What made these mid-semester tests more confusing was the way in which we had to fill out the answer sheet - we had to use the back of the answer sheet for all questions, including the multiple choice questions. I have a feeling this may have confused some students, possibly adding to the rather poor performances of the cohort. Additionally, the cohort was not split up evenly into two venues like it usually is for these tests - in most cases the majority were placed on one venue with a small number of people then scattered across other venues (this seems to suggest venues were not booked adequately in advance). This was particularly annoying for the individuals placed in lecture theatres, especially those for the first mid-semester test who had to deal with the dimming lights in the Carillo Gantner theatre.

Prior to each mid-semester test was a "formative feedback" workshop class for revision. Before the first test David came in and tested us with a series of PRS questions that turned out to be really helpful. The second class, on the other hand, wasn't anywhere near as helpful. The anatomy lecturers came in to give us their vague feedback on how we performed on the first mid-semester test - I'm confused as to how that was supposed to help us for the second mid-semester test. Rather disappointingly, no physiology or pharmacology was covered in this session at all. This was despite a request for questions to be covered that day. I sent one in and was told that the purpose of the class wasn't to go through questions (highly confusing, I know) and despite the anatomy people finishing their feedback early the lecture was called a day and we did nothing for physiology and pharmacology. Another couple of feedback classes were scheduled on the last day of the semester in preparation for the exam, and these were similarly cancelled on us at the last minute. I wasn't impressed by this.

The anatomy department has a policy of not releasing any revision material (other than a sample question to understand the question style) and the pharmacology department failed to provide any practice questions this year. Physiology provided us with the physiology questions from the 2013 and 2014 mid-semester test 1, but as I said above nothing was available for mid-semester test 2. However, remember that you do have past exams you can work from if you go to the university library exam repository. After the mid-semester tests the physiology department also provided a breakdown of the marks, each individual's responses and the relevant percentages. Sometimes specific feedback on the questions were also provided. It became apparent a couple of physiology questions had been deleted from consideration for some reason.

In the exam period are two 2 hour exams, each worth 35% of your grade. Exam 1 covers only anatomy and contains 30 marks of multiple choice, 30 marks of extended matching questions and 60 marks of short answer written responses. In the end, this exam was not at all difficult. All of the questions were pretty straightforward and timing wasn't an issue. While you obviously needed to know your specifics, this exam had a focus on descriptions and clinical significances, which, in my opinion, are interesting and therefore far easier to remember and answer. The only negative was a question containing a poor quality printout, making the question difficult to answer. I hope this particular question will be reviewed. Other than that, my only other grievance was that supposedly non-examinable content (muscles of the forearm, dermatomes and myotomes) made their way onto this exam, but I think this was something I had semi-anticipated so I wasn't surprised to see it there. For some reason, there was minimal content relating to Peter, Colin and Varsha's lectures. Perhaps this is because they are meant to help you understand the anatomy that follows their lectures, but I think it would be more appropriate to see more of their stuff appear on the exam.

Exam 2 covered both physiology and pharmacology and only consisted of multiple choice/extended matching questions. Hence, much of the exam 2 revision material is no longer of the correct format, although I'd say it's still useful for revision. For some reason, I found the questions on this paper much more representative of what we learnt in lectures compared to what came up on the mid-semester tests, which was nice too see. There was also a (rather difficult) physiology/pharmacology integrated question at the end of the paper. Apparently it was a style of question the PHRM20001 students had been exposed to before, so it was a tad annoying to know that this wasn't extended to everyone in BIOM20002. This final question made the exam a little bit difficult to finish on time, but again it wasn't terribly rushed, and it was nice for them to finally integrate something in this subject assessment-wise.

Just like so many things in this subject, it seems like the assessment was also half way there. The mid-semester tests were a bit of a disaster, but the exams were prepared quite well. And with the exception of having an anatomy-only paper, I felt the physiology/pharmacology paper was starting to reflect the works of an integrated subject. Hence, I have awarded the assessment component of this subject 0.5/1.

General co-ordination, final remarks and tl;dr

As I keep on saying, if I had to sum up this subject, it was a subject that was done by halves - either one department did something right and the other wrong, or one half was taught well, or one half of the assessment was effectively managed. In much the same way, the co-ordination was half way there in getting this subject right.

In the end, BIOM20002 essentially confirmed the negative expectations I had going into this subject. I guess it was fated at our very first lecture, where the staff got the title of the subject wrong (they called it "Human Form and Function" -.-). In all honesty, the content itself is not that bad, but the journey wasn't made especially easy for us with adequate support. Ultimately, I too question the purpose of this subject - at the moment it still stands as a weird mix of ANAT20006, PHYS20008 and PHRM20001. Anatomy, physiology and pharmacology should be able to be combined and integrated effectively, but that just hasn't been achieved here - well, not yet, anyway. The problem is that the staff are coming from Science subjects and they're just trying to bring over as much stuff as possible from their respective courses so that they don't have to completely draw up a new course design, doing a small amount of integration to justify calling it an integrated subject. Biomedicine is set apart from Science in that we get subjects that allow us to get a taste of all the health science disciplines, and therefore keep the majority of majors open. I guess they have met that goal, but at the same time BIOM20002, at this stage, brings very little new stuff to the table, and I'm not convinced that it's enough to justify the unique subject code. It's such a shame, because BIOM20001 is such a unique, wonderful experience - I know Science students sort of don't get it, but truly it's a fantastic subject. On the other hand, I dare say that the Science students, with ANAT20006 and PHYS20008, get the better deal this time around.

With the same problems being reported over and over, I wonder why progress to improve this subject has been so slow. I can only hope that they'll keep edging closer to perfection, and that the journey will improve for the year levels to come. That's all I have to say for now. I wish you the best of luck for this subject. It's not at all difficult in terms of content - it's easier than BIOM20001 - but with the way it's run you'll need some strength to push through.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2016, 06:16:27 pm by Stick »
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Re: University of Melbourne - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #509 on: November 16, 2015, 05:41:08 pm »
Subject Code/Name: MIIM20002: Microbes, Infections and Responses


Contact Hours: 36 hours of lectures and 6 X 3 hour practical classes and 6 X 1 hour on-line computer aided learning associated with each practical class = 60 hours total.

Total Time Commitment: 170 hours

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

Attendance at practical classes is compulsory. Students who miss more than 20% of the practical component of this subject will not be eligible for final assessment.

Lectopia Enabled: Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available: Yes, there are three available on the university library exam repository approximately from the year 2000 - the content is actually still relevant but the format of these exams is not the same as the current exam style. However, multiple choice feedback quizzes are provided each week on the LMS and short answer questions are explored in several review lectures during the semester.

Textbook Recommendation:

Prescribed textbook: "Schaechter's Mechanisms of Microbial Disease" (N C Engleberg, V DiRita and T S Dermody), 5th Edn, 2013
Recommended textbook: "Prescott’s Microbiology", By Willey, Sherwood and Woolverton. Edn 9, 2014

I had both of these textbooks because they weren't difficult to "find" (*cough*) but I never used them during the semester. This was largely due to the fact that the lecturers referenced entire chapters rather than specific page numbers, to "ensure we got the complete picture." I think you can appreciate though that reading five large chapters prior to each lecture just isn't feasible. :P Luckily, only the content presented to us during lectures was examinable.

In addition, references from other textbooks available in the library were also provided.

For the practicals, you will need to purchase the subject's lab book from the bookshop.


- Ms Helen Cain: General bacteriology; tuberculosis (respiratory infections); healthcare associated infections; bacterial causes and epidemiology of sexually transmissible infections (6 lectures)
- Prof Lorena Brown: General virology; influenza (respiratory infections); emerging viral diseases and epidemiology; human papilloma virus (sexually transmissible infections) (5 lectures)
- Dr Odilia Wijburg: General immunology; mucosal immunity; manipulating the immune response; Streptococcus pneumoniae pathogenesis and prevention; the human microbiome (7 lectures)
- Dr Karena Waller: Gastroenteritis (6 lectures)

Other staff:
- Prof Elizabeth Hartland: Legionnaire's disease (1 lecture)
- Prof Cameron Simmons: Dengue and Wolbachia (1 lecture)
- Prof Roy Robins-Browne: Streptococcus pneumoniae treatment (1 lecture)
- Assoc Prof Tim Stinear: Molecular epidemiology of healthcare associated infections (1 lecture)
- Prof Damian Purcell: Herpes; HIV (sexually transmissible infections) (2 lectures)

Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2 2015

Rating: 4.5/5

Your Mark/Grade: H1


Just so you know, I'm being incredibly picky in awarding this subject a 4.5/5 - this is easily the best Science subject I have taken at university so far (in my opinion it was even better than BIOM20001 for the Biomedicine students who have taken it). However, at the same time, it's also the most demanding 12.5 credit point subject I've taken to date. You have the head's up: your work is going to be cut out for you, so you'll need to put in a lot of effort. However, don't let that deter you - with a large number of former BIOM20001 students and many equally hardworking Science students the cohort results for this subject have been exceptional in the past few years, with approximately 40% achieving a H1. I have a feeling the department of microbiology and immunology know just how good their subject is - they were keen to show the near-perfect SES results they have achieved recently. I'm not going to even judge them for that because I agree - I essentially gave them a perfect SES response myself. :P They should be proud of how well they have run this subject, and they put most other departments at the university to shame. My friends and I were joking this semester that the team should get together and run a "how to run your subject" seminar or something for the rest of the university. Finally, a subject has got it so right.

While objectively my views on this subject are absolutely brimming, my personal feelings towards the subject are a bit mixed. As a Biomedicine student I selected to take this subject mainly to keep the microbiology/immunology and genetics majors open, a decision made easier by the highly positive feedback from previous cohorts. In terms of what I was hoping for, I entered this subject mainly to see whether or not I'd enjoy a major in immunology - from BIOM20001 I had started to gather that perhaps microbiology wasn't for me. However, to my disappointment, this subject predominantly deals with microbiology - if I had to quantify it, I'd say that 80% of the course is microbiology and only 20% is immunology. When I checked the handbook for the third year immunology subjects, I realised that this subject wasn't even a prerequisite for the Science students who wanted to major in just immunology. I knew the subject wasn't a prerequisite for the immunology major myself, but I thought there'd be benefit in me taking it anyway. I guess I was wrong, but this is ultimately my fault for not doing my homework properly beforehand (so I'm not criticising this subject at all for that). I just wanted to make everyone aware of this in case there are people in a similar position to that which I was in at the start of the semester. Had I known better, I'm not sure if I would've taken this subject - it is a lot of work, especially if it's in an area you've already established you don't like, but at the same time I have a feeling the amazing reviews would have pulled me over the line anyway. If you have any sort of interest in microbiology or immunology, I'd still highly recommend this subject purely out of its sheer quality. I'd say it's a subject to stay away from if you didn't enjoy the parasite/pathogen life cycles from BIOL10003/BIOL10005 though (which was me, lol).

Despite the difficulty of the content (or rather, the difficulty associated with the volume of content - the content itself is not that difficult) the lectures were of incredibly high quality, with fantastic lecturers and lecture slides. For those who have endured BIOM20001, one of the big positives in this subject is the level of detail on the slides - essentially everything you need to know is actually given to you on the slides, so you don't need to worry about writing down a whole bunch of information (if you do, more often than not it will be to clarify a point on the slides, rather than adding in new information). I never thought I'd say this, but in a sense, the slides were almost a bit too detailed - each one was full of information, which can make the content appear overwhelming. Additionally, the comprehensiveness of the slides means that lecturers don't need to excessively deviate from the notes during lectures, so it can seem like they're reading off the slides in class. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but coupled with the fact that you don't have to write that much down, it's easy to lose focus during lectures. This is one of the reasons I'm not awarding 5/5 - but as you can appreciate, perhaps I'm making a problem out of a non-problem; it's almost like "first world lecture problems" lol. In all honesty, I think that too much on the slides is better than not enough, and I'm probably just being insanely picky here.

Perhaps the biggest problem with this subject was the fact that many lectures ran well overtime - this obviously made things a bit difficult because it forced lecturers to rush at the end or omit slides, and it put students in a bit of an awkward position as the end of the lecture would not be caught in the recording, forcing them to stay behind and potentially be late for a following class. However, to compensate, I don't think these slides were ever examined in great detail. Another, smaller grievance I have has to do with the timetabling of the lectures, although again I have a feeling that this was beyond the control of the co-ordinators. The lectures this year were based in the law building, which is a bit further out from the main university campus. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem, but all the Biomedicine students had a core subject lecture timetabled pretty much before each MIIM20002 lecture, and for the most part we arrived at lectures a bit late. I think both the staff and the Science students found the large trail of students entering the lecture theatre 10 minutes late each class a bit disruptive, so I'd encourage to see if anything could be done about that.

The course is roughly divided into seven main sections: revision of general bacterial and viral pathogenesis and immunity (week 1); gastroenteritis and mucosal immunity (weeks 2 and 3), a rather random (but still good) weeks 4 and 5 of manipulating the immune response, Legionnaire's disease and Dengue/Wolbachia; respiratory infections (weeks 6 and 7); healthcare associated infections (weeks 8 and 9); sexually transmissible infections (weeks 10 and 11); and the human microbiome (week 12). In each block you go through several of the bacterial, viral and parasitic pathogens, exploring their general features and classification, symptoms, source and transmission, virulence determinants, pathogenesis (entry, colonisation, invasion, damage, disease, exit etc.), treatment, laboratory diagnosis and the general immune response and epidemiology to the type of infection being explored. As you can see, there's a lot of pathogens and a lot of details about each one to remember, and at times it does seem a bit much. You won't necessarily go into the same level of detail for each pathogen - some are only discussed as part of one lecture, some have their own lecture, and others (e.g. influenza and Streptococcus pneumoniae) have a whole week of lectures dedicated to them. When more time was spent on a particular pathogen, I found it easier to cope. In a sense, this subject isn't like your studies in first semester microbiology/immunology where you explored general principles and then had a very brief look at a list of pathogens that either exemplified or challenged that principle - rather, you explore individual pathogens in much greater detail. This makes it a bit easier to study, because each pathogen sort of becomes a topic itself. Overall, I found gastroenteritis the most overwhelming block because we covered 3-4 different pathogens in quite a lot of detail during each lecture, and while they were strategically grouped together to make things easier to work with, it was still difficult to swallow (pun not intended). However, once gastroenteritis was over I found that I coped with this subject a lot better - it's definitely the most content heavy part, and it's probably a good idea to get it out of the way first.

In terms of learning the content, the lecturers strongly suggest creating summary tables with headings of some of the things I listed above for revision. I definitely vouch for taking this approach, because it makes the information more organised and therefore easier to learn. My advice is to take the key message about the pathogen first - there will be some distinguishing feature about it that makes it stand out from the other pathogens, and work with that before adding in the extra detail. For example, the key message of Clostridium difficile is that it's a part of the normal microbiota but becomes a problem upon the administration of broad-spectrum antibiotics, due to its ability to sporulate (form spores), survive and then increase in number in the gut, resulting in disease.

Generally in my reviews I go a bit more into detail about each lecturer and their lecture series, but given that they were all fantastic and their slides all comprehensive, I almost feel like I'd be wasting my time. For some reason, each lecture had one lecturer (usually Helen) sitting in the audience - I'm not sure why they did this, but I almost feel it was done as a means of quality control. I'll point out a few key lectures that I have some more direct feedback on. Prof Elizabeth Hartland's lecture of Legionnaire's disease has got to be my favourite lecture at university so far. I don't know how, but somehow she made the pathogen extremely interesting and somehow managed to teach us a lot about it without going into a lot of detail. Based on her introduction at the start of the lecture, it also seems like she has her life in order, having achieved so much in a relatively short period of time. XD Assoc Prof Tim Stinear's lecture is actually an "interactive" lecture where we were encouraged to discuss with the people around us a particular healthcare associated infection problem that occurred a few years ago at the Austin Hospital. In reality it wasn't that interactive but it was a nice change nonetheless. Perhaps the only bad lecture in this subject was the one on HIV by Prof Damian Purcell - he recognised that we had probably looked at HIV in a lot of detail before and so tried to shed light on a new perspective, but I don't think he did it that well. I don't think it was him personally though, because his lecture on Herpes was fine.

Interspersed throughout the lecture series are a handful of review lectures, which are extremely helpful in breaking things up a bit, testing your understanding and getting some feedback. There was one prior to the mid-semester test, one towards the end of the semester reviewing the mid-semester test, and two in week 12 in preparation for the exam. In these lectures the staff would generally refer to the results from the weekly feedback quizzes (more on these later) and go over questions correctly answered by less than 60% of students. In addition, extra multiple choice questions were provided before these lectures and were completed during lecture time, facilitated by quickpoll. Feedback from previous cohorts was that there had been insufficient preparation for short answer questions that appear on the final exam, so this year the staff also provided and covered some past short answer questions, the answers and how we should go about them during these lectures. It was really refreshing to see the staff embrace and take on board constructive criticism from the previous cohort. I always felt these lectures were beneficial in helping me understand the expectations, and made me feel much more confident and prepared for the assessments.

What makes this subject especially demanding is the rather extensive practical component. In second year level you start to approach "lecture only" subjects (perhaps supported by one or two practical classes during the semester) and "practical-only" subjects, which might have one lecture/tutorial per week (in addition to a weekly practical) just to help explain the practicals. This subject is a hybrid, with practicals every second week. The theory behind the practicals is tied in extremely well with the content covered during lectures, especially when we're going through laboratory diagnosis. In general, the lecturer will explain the key principles of the technique to be employed in the upcoming practical: these are predominantly PCR, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and the haemagglutination-inhibition test (with revision of serial dilutions). In that sense, practical content can be examinable, although in my experience only the aforementioned techniques came up on the mid-semester test and exam.

This subject has five practicals: an introductory one to get familiar with the laboratory, general protocol and key techniques; two on gastroenteritis; one on respiratory infections and one on sexually transmissible infections. These are often presented as case studies where it is your job (with the help of a partner, your group and the demonstrator) to help identify the pathogen responsible. For those of you that proved to be hopeless at practicals in first year (like myself), fear not - these practicals, just like the rest of this subject, are run extremely comprehensively. These is a lot of guidance in the lab manual and from the staff, and at no point did I feel especially rushed, overwhelmed or unsure of what I was doing. Of course, getting into the swing of things in the lab can take a bit of time (I spilled infected urine on the table in my first practical lol) but by the end of it I felt much more confident and comfortable. The lab manual itself was also of a very high quality, and contained several summaries and appendices of content covered in the course, making it a useful revision tool during the semester. I often found the practicals very beneficial in re-inforcing the content we covered in lectures.

The introductory practical is not assessed and is only used to allow you to complete an LMS questionnaire regarding safety in the laboratory. For the other four practicals, a pre-practical test (each one worth 1% of your grade, so 4% in total) opens up five days before the practical class, and closes an hour before the practical class. These are in place to ensure you have revised the relevant lecture content and have read the lab manual prior to entering the practical; they are much like the pre-practical tests in first year biology with five multiple choice questions to be completed in 30 minutes, and so are not very difficult (perhaps a little more difficult than first year).

At the end of the introductory practical you are invited (i.e. it is not compulsory) to write up a practice report of the case study investigated for feedback prior to writing your first assessed report for the two gastroenteritis practicals (the second practical is mainly data collection of the experiments you did in the first practical). There are only two assessed practical reports in this subject, each worth 6.5% of your grade - one for gastroenteritis, and the other for respiratory infections. The staff spend plenty of time helping and preparing you for these reports, as they realise that most have not had to go home and formally write practical reports at university so far. In fact, Helen runs a whole lecture during the semester on report writing, and she uses examples of the practice reports to highlight what we should and shouldn't do. The proforma you follow is also highly comprehensive and makes explicit exactly what you must and must not include. Note that there is a word limit in the discussion of 700 words (+/- 10%). It took me a little while to get used to it, but eventually I started to gauge what I was supposed to do. If you're unsure, the staff were always more than happy to answer any questions or handle any concerns. For some reason, we only had one week for the gastroenteritis report whereas we had four weeks for the respiratory infections report. :S A small criticism was that there was slightly less (perhaps insufficient) guidance provided for the second report, and consequently most people's marks fell (another reason for the 4.5/5 rating of this subject). The averages for the reports hovered around the 75% mark. Each report was marked twice by the demonstrators to ensure there was no bias, and written personal feedback (in addition to general cohort feedback on the LMS) was provided on each person's report.

For the sexually transmissible infections practical, a 30 minute post-practical quiz was opened on the LMS, worth 3% of the grade. This was more difficult and longer than the pre-practical quizzes, but it still wasn't overly difficult. Instead of a practical, the healthcare associated infections unit had a 90 minute CAL program on the LMS to be completed at home. A 5 question, 30 minute post-CAL quiz was worth 1% of your grade and was also very straightforward. In total, practical assessment contributes 20% to your grade in this subject.

The other key assessment during the semester is the mid-semester test in week 7, worth 20% of your grade. This is quite a lot for a mid-semester test, which was a bit frightening given we had to know quite a lot from lectures 1-18 for it. In the end, the test was extremely fair and didn't quite go into the level of detail that I expected (which was good because in all honesty I felt underprepared). The test was 40 minutes in duration and contained 40 multiple choice questions, much in the style of the feedback questions on the LMS. I thought the feedback quiz questions and the questions we did in the review lectures were more tricky than the questions that came up on this test. I don't recall the test being difficult to complete on time. The average for the cohort was 30/40. As a nice touch (and in true MIIM20002 style), once the tests were marked we all received a personal email indicating a breakdown of our marks for each topic, encouraging us to revise study areas we hadn't performed well on. In addition, the department explained how they used the scanning program to mark our papers and monitor the quality of their questions to ensure the test was valid. As always, the staff were on top of absolutely everything. ^_^

To support your studies during the semester, weekly non-assessed feedback quizzes are provided in the LMS as basic means of revision. These generally contained around 10-15 multiple choice questions relating to the content covered during the course that week and could be completed as you saw fit. These were actually rather tricky but this was good because they exposed misconceptions and the shock factor usually meant you never made the same mistake again. The feedback for the quizzes always contained a lot of detail to make sure you understood the information.

The final exam is two hours in duration and is worth 60% of your grade. It consists of 50 multiple choice questions (each worth one mark), 30 marks of extended matching questions and 30 marks of short answer written questions. I felt the exam was rather difficult (more difficult than the mid-semester test) but still fair, and was a bit tight in completing on time. The multiple choice has increased weighting of content covered in the second half of the course, due to the fact that the first half was assessed on the mid-semester test. The level of detail required for this exam caught me a bit off-guard actually; I wasn't expecting it given what we had for the mid-semester test. I encourage you to try and get your head around as much as possible, but any or all of it could make its way onto the exam. If you have put in the effort and have studied hard, the exam shouldn't be too much of a problem (remember, approximately 40% of the cohort walk away with a H1 in this subject). While there are no practice exams, I felt that the feedback quizzes, multiple choice review questions and the short answer review questions (which had answers, I might add) provided adequate revision.


This subject was run extremely well - it seems like there was nothing the staff hadn't thought of. It's definitely a challenge, but with all the support you receive there is no reason whatsoever for you not to realise your potential. Provided you have some interest in microbiology, I would highly recommend taking this subject, although be warned that you'll probably never be able to tolerate the co-ordination of other departments ever again. :P That's all I've got to say for now, so I wish you the best of luck in your studies. :)
« Last Edit: November 27, 2015, 10:49:19 am by Stick »
2017-2020: Doctor of Medicine - The University of Melbourne
2014-2016: Bachelor of Biomedicine - The University of Melbourne