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brenden

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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #255 on: November 21, 2014, 12:06:22 pm »
+6
Subject Code/Name: ATS2875 - The Moral Psychology of Evil

Workload:
  • 1x 1-hr lectures
  • 1x 1-hr tutorial
Assessment:
  • Essay 1, 1000 words - 20%
  • Essay 2, 2000 words - 40%
  • Exam - 40%
Recorded Lectures:  Yep, with slides shown.

Past exams available:  Sample exam available.

Textbook Recommendation:

The unit reader isn't HUGELY important. I skipped a LOT of readings for this unit just because I was under the pump... I mean, the first essay  I got through by referencing one article in the reader and then referencing other journal articles etc, the second essay was a similar process - used a lot of external research on virtue ethics (SEP, Hurthouse, Annas). The exam was two short answer questions (choose from 8 or 10 or something), and I'd been a pretty lively member of tutorials so I had a good memory for the conceptual issues behind the questions. So, I got through the unit comfortably only doing three or so readings. That said, it was definitely a pain at times and my personal learning almost certainly suffered, but the unit is structured in a way that you won't be screwed if you don't do them. Obviously they'd be a really great thing to do, though.

Lecturer(s):
  • Dr. Justin Oakley
Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2, 2014

Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA

Comments: Firstly, Justin is a great tutor and I loved tutorials for this unit. I would highly highly highly recommend doing whatever you can to get into his tutorials. He was missing for a few of our tutes, and whilst the replacements were still alright, they simply weren't as enjoyable or effective as Justin's. For this reason I would really do your best to get into Justin's tute. So... Once more... in case you missed it or think I'm joking. Do yourself a favour. Get into his tute. He's pretty jovial, has some really valuable thoughts on the subject (I think he's kinda one of the leading academic in the area? I know he made this unit a few years ago and there's not really too many similar units around in other unis, not that I've done extensive research, but he definitely jets off to all sorts of different countries to give conferences and things of that nature).

Lectures were good, but Justin's a better tutor than he is lecturer. (He's still a good lecturer, though), but often I was less engaged by the lectures than I was by the tutorials... I think he's just stylistically different to the 'deep philosophy' type that I'm used to - Bob Simpson, Toby, Linda etc... I'm used to people isolating one really specific conceptual issue and then breaking it into parts from different angles. Justin sort of told a type of narrative that involved the conceptual issue but it seemed harder to focus on for me, and so the lectures were just a bit harder to really focus on.

Content-wise, the unit material is in a large way concerned with the concept of "character" qua virtue ethics, so if you in some way reject out of hand that people have deep characters, you'd probably be in for a bad time. Some interest questions asked by the unit: are remote scenarios more indicative of someone's "authentic" character than their everyday actions? Are people less evil if they were merely 'unlucky' (shit childhood, bad situations qua Nazis)? Is someone more evil if they recognise it or have a role against it (doctors)? Can psychopaths be thought of as evil? In some ways, many of these questions rely upon certain empirical beliefs about human psychology, so took away from the 'conceptual meat' imo (which is probably represented in the missing 1.5 marks in my rating)... Because of the quasi empirical nature of the discussion and occasionally diluted conceptual idea - along with the somewhat, and merely somewhat, repetitive feel to the theme of 'evil' (well... let's face it... look at the unit name), the unit was at times less gripping than is ideal, but still good. I don't want to give a negative impression, because it really was a good unit, it just wasn't my favourite unit, but that doesn't make it bad.

Assessment was pretty standard. At the same time as this unit I was taking third year Political Philosophy which had a bit more meatiness to it, as well as another third year philosophy subject, so relative to those, this units assessment felt really easy to me (e.g., a 1000 word essay, whilst somewhat challenging, can't really be marked as harshly as a 2200 word essay).

The exam was 2 hours, 1500-2000 words in length. Sample exam was given prior to the exam with the old "the real exam will be very close to this exam" recommendation. To Justin's credit, the questions actually WEREN'T exactly the same, although they were quite similar. One question was outright completely different (as in, one was taken out, another completely new one put in). I'd only prepped for two questions, and one of the ones I prepped for was taken out, so that was a hilarious 10 minutes during reading time xD. So yep - be wary of that, but the exam is pretty easy given you prep well.
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brenden

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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #256 on: November 21, 2014, 12:40:30 pm »
+6
Subject Code/Name: ATS2628 - Power and Poverty: International Development in a Globalised World

Workload:
  • 1x 2-hr lectures
  • 1x 1-hr tutorial
Assessment:
  • Tute participation - 10%
  • Making a quiz, administering it, and marking it - 15%
  • Your score on tutorial quizzes written by other students - 15%
  • Individual Research Output (IRO) - 30%
  • Take home exam - 30%
Recorded Lectures:  Yep, with slides shown.

Past exams available:  Take home exam.

Textbook Recommendation:

Get the textbook they prescribe. You'd probably be a bit screwed without it. You could take a gamble by not doing the weekly readings and trying to 'bullshit' your answers to the quizzes, and just borrow the textbook from the library when you have to make your quiz, but you'd be playing with fire a bit, really. I gambled on like 3 or 4 of the quizzes and it went okay (but they were later in the semester so I'd already grasped the type of things the textbook would have said), but I definitely scored lower on those quizzes.

Lecturer(s):
  • Dr. Craig Thorburn
Year & Semester of completion: Semester 2, 2014

Rating:  4 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA

Comments:

Firstly, I have to mention that the lecture isn't always two hours. For the first three weeks it was close to two hours, but then for the rest it was closer to an hour and ten, an hour and twenty minutes. Further, I had a three hour break after the lecture and before the tutorial (if the lecture went for two hours, so it was normally a four hour break). Like, the lecture was meant to finish at 2pm, usually finished just after 1pm, and my tute was at 5pm. I had the option to change tutorials and I didn't take it. Why? My tute was fucking amazing. I had Tom (Thomas) as my tutor and he is probably the equal best tutor I've ever had if not the outright best. He's a pretty top bloke in general - nice guy etc - but he has an insanely good 'feel' for the mood of the tutorial and modifies the way he goes about things accordingly. He's insanely genuine and straightforward (to the point that, when he made us go around the room saying our names, no one even complained, because he explained it was a necessary evil). I could literally break down this guy's style over the course of an essay, but I'm not going to bother. Safe to say, I noticed particular ways he goes about things and I'll definitely be integrating them in the way I teach my own VCE students. He's just fucking fantastic, so you'd be pretty comprehensively stupid not to get into one of his tute groups. (Also, just by chance, the 5pm tute had a bunch of really good students. Tom said he had other, shitty tutes, so the tutes weren't awesome JUST because of Tom - we just had a great bunch of people).

Lectures were really enlightening. I found them really hard in terms of focussing because this isn't a philosophy unit and I've basically only listened to philosophy lectures for the last two years and this is really empirical in nature. But it's crazy enlightening just as far as, like, "holy shit I had no idea about that". Poverty in parts of the world, misconceptions about poverty in others, economic actions taken by big countries that have failed and sort of succeeded. Just really interesting, crazy bits of information. There's also some pretty fucked parts that make you lose hope in humanity. I'm not sure if that's just me (got wrecked hard by the poverty week in Human Rights 1) but yeah, there are definitely some bits of this unit that should make you really angry and challenge you emotionally.

As far as material goes, if you're politically conservative you're probably going to have a shit time. The name of this unit was so long that I never read it, and thus never really knew what the unit was called, so in my head, I thought of the unit as "How America and neoliberalism fucked the world". As you might now know, how America and neoliberalism fucked the world is one of the main themes of the unit :P. It's quite leftist in that sense - it really challenges the international status quo, which has traditionally/historically been American conservatism. This was also crazy enlightening though. "Free trade" is really great theoretically, but not really when there's a big power imbalance. In that case, it ends up more "Basically trade that's free for America and comes at a great cost to developing countries". (See what I did there?)

The material covers a few different themes, beginning with economics (although this runs throughout the unit), touching on gender, climate change, education, sanitation/structure, etc and how all of these impact upon development. Really, a huge theme throughout all of these topics is, what is development? Wtf is that? Where does the word come from? "Getting better, moving forward?"... Well, forward to what? Industrialisation? Neoliberalism? The Western conception of development? It's a pretty tricky question, and whilst we all took the idea that "developing nations need to develop" for granted at the beginning of the unit, you'll begin to see the way that 'development' has sort of been used by political bodies with agendas and starts to take on many different meanings to the point that it starts to become an empty concept. Prepare to let go of your conception of development :P.

Assessment wise, the unit was kinda weird. Like, you do the readings, then write 4 questions on the readings, then give those questions to everyone else, they do the quiz in 15 minute of class, then give them back to you and your partner, then you grade the quizzes and give them back to the tutor. You do that for one week, and you get marked out of 15 for it. I did mine in the very first week (which I would recommend because it makes the rest of your semester easier. I have no idea why everyone else hesitated to take the first week - it basically meant that this unit had NO in-semester assessment). On top of that quiz, every single week you write your answers to everyone else's quiz, and they grade you out of 4 (with translates to 1.5% for each quiz). It's pretty easy to get full marks, because you either get 0, .5, or 1 for any given answer you write, and people are pretty hesitant to give you a 0 if it seems like you're on track. Some weeks I didn't do the readings (was getting crazy pumped)  and still managed 3.5s etc from writing my answers as confidently as possible. It's kind've annoying to think you're getting assessed by other students, but really, it's just a method to motivate you to do the readings, and for the most part it works and you should comfortable get an 80% average for the quizzes if you can read and write well.

Tutorial participation is probably a big thing from what I can see. It doesn't mean "attendance". It really does mean participation. That's my guess anyway. From what I know of Tom, if you didn't participate, he's not going to give you a 10/10 for participation. If you only attended and never spoke, chances are you'll cop a 5/10 or something. Just do your best to speak up twice or so in every tute and you should score really comfortably if not 10/10.

The IRO is the biggest "wtf". What's an IRO? Good question, I'm not really sure. Basically, they said "pick something to research, research it, and present it to us. You can do this in a power point, in a YouTube video, on a poster, or in whichever way you want. You need 10+ references. By the way, we look more favourably upon these things than essays". And that's basically that. You pick a topic, ANY topic, and do it. That doesn't even mean "research gender in development!". It could be like, one page's worth of information in the textbook within the chapter of gender in development, then you research it. For me, I researched the practice of giving loans/aid to developing countries and argues that loans/aid are inherently self-interested and detrimental to developing countries because of power structures. I made a Camtasia YouTube video (shows a power point slide but also your face... look at the videos on vtextbook.com for an example - because that's where I learnt about the software). They liked this format - Tom sent me an email saying it was a good choice, so I'm glad I didn't go for an essay. The IRO caused a lot of angst amongst the student body because it was a bit ambiguous, but really, all it does is just force you to be independent and think about something rather than just responding to a question/prompt in an essay.

The take home exam - we had like 3 weeks to do it, we picked two questions out of like ten, and wrote 500-1000 word answers for each question. It was relatively easy, due on the first day of the exam period.

Really interesting unit, very valuable, glad I did it. Challenged me a little bit, not being philosophical in any sense of the word, but it was very rewarding.
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spaciiey

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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #257 on: November 23, 2014, 03:32:31 pm »
+5
Subject Code/Name:  ATS3787/ATS4587 Research Methods in Geography, Environment and Sustainability  
Workload:  Weekly 3hr seminar (usually finished about 2.5 hours in). It is not recorded.

Assessment: 
20% Take home exam
20% Initial research project proposal presentation
20% Answers to SAQs based on individual research proposal
40% Full project proposal.
Recorded Lectures:  No

Past exams available:  No final exam, you do a project proposal instead.

Textbook Recommendation:  Clifford, N. French, S. And Valentine, G. (eds) (2010) Key Methods in Geography (2nd edn)
It was recommended but you don't need it. If you're that interested, there is a PDF somewhere.

Lecturer(s): Vanessa Wong, Haripriya Rangan

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 sem 2

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA, probably a D 80

Comments:

First things first: this unit walks you through how to do a full project proposal. You do not have to do the research project that you are proposing! If you are even mildly considering the idea of Honours in Geography for Arts OR Science, this is a good unit to start with in your final year, because it means that by the end of the unit you basically already know what you will be doing next year.

This unit takes you through various methods of research in geography. It covers both qualitative and quantitative methods of research, ethics, why we do research, analysis of qualitative and quantitative data, and other such things. Classes are a mixture of lectures, discussions and various hands-on activities. Priya and Vanessa were pretty good, and are mostly very prompt at responding to emails.

In terms of assessments: the take home exam is a case study, and you have to read it, and come up with a project idea based on it, answering various questions about why you think it's a good idea, how you would answer your research question, etc. It is pretty straight forward.

The 2nd and 3rd assessment tasks are where you start to do your own thing. This unit relies on the fact that you are motivated enough to do your own research and so on. You have to basically pick an are of geography that you care about and come up with a research topic that you could theoretically do over the course of a year (in other words, it's preparation for an Honours year). The 2nd assessment is basically a speech/powerpoint presentation where you show everyone what you're thinking of doing, and the 3rd assessment is a whole heap of short answer questions about your topic.

The final assessment is the final research proposal. It has a max word limit of 4000 words. It's a bit like a research report, without the actual 'results' component. Instead you introduce your topic, give a lit review and talk about why it's an important topic. Then you talk about methodological aspects of your proposed project and what you expect to find. This is easily the most time consuming of the assessment tasks but it isn't too bad.

Your topic doesn't have to be strongly geographically related by the way -- mine was more education-related and it was still acceptable.

It's a pretty decent (but small) unit, not many people take it. Do this unit if you are thinking of an Honours/Masters project in Geography.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 05:38:52 pm by spaciiey »
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spaciiey

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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #258 on: November 23, 2014, 03:55:38 pm »
+5
Subject Code/Name: ATS3552/APG4552 Remote Sensing of the Environment  

Workload:  7 x 3 hour pracs over the semester. I usually finished 1.5-2 hours in, with only one prac taking the full 3 hours.
Weekly 1 hour 'interactive class' (basically a lecture)

Assessment: 50% prac reports
50% exam

Recorded Lectures:  Yes

Past exams available:  No

Textbook Recommendation: From the unit guide --  Lillesand, T.M., Kiefer, R.W. and Chipman, J.W. (2008) Remote Sensing and Image
Interpretation, Sixth Edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
OR
Jensen, J.R. (2007) Remote Sensing of the Environment: An Earth Resource Perspective, Second
Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

TBH I did not do any of the readings.
Lecturer(s): Xuan Zhu

Year & Semester of completion: sem 2 2014

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA, probably a D 78

Comments: Do not do this unit if you are colourblind, because well, I don't think it's possible, really. If you are poor at discriminating between different colours, you are going to have a hard time.

This was a pretty cool unit, for the most part, pretty cruisy. Prac marks are easy to get, and make sure you get them because the exam is on the tougher side. I didn't go to the lectures because I had a clash, but I heard from a reliable source that they are a mixed bag. Sometimes there are in class exercises that Xuan gives out, but you can easily do them at home (I did).

In terms of learning content, you don't do that in the lectures, you are supposed to watch the videos online at home before class. The videos vary in length, sometimes they're an hour, sometimes longer, and I couldn't really watch them in one sitting. Xuan's accent takes getting used to if you haven't listened to him before. If you're stuck with anything he's very helpful though and won't give up on explaining things until you get it. There are weekly quizzes to check your progress with, which is helpful. You mark them yourself so they're not graded.

I liked the pracs. The first few were a bit 'meh', in that you mostly end up staring at pictures of things and saying 'this is an aerial photo of an amusement park, this is a golf course, this is a shopping centre', etc. Really a lot of the pracs involve staring at pictures and figuring out what they are. But afterwards, you get to do some pretty cool stuff on the computer with regards to mapping and so on. Pracs are easy marks, don't waste them.

I guess the exam was mostly pretty fair, but a bit tough. There was a review lecture and an explanation of the format of the exam, with some sample questions. However an entire exam paper would have been nice.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 05:39:54 pm by spaciiey »
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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #259 on: November 23, 2014, 04:27:04 pm »
+5
Subject Code/Name: ATS2672/ATS3672 Computational Linguistics: An Introduction

Workload:  Weekly 2hr seminar

Assessment: 
10% Assignment 1
15% Assignment 2
25% Take home exam
40% Assignment 3
10% Participation/attendance

Recorded Lectures:  No

Past exams available:  N/A

Textbook Recommendation:  None, but there is a reading list online.

Lecturer(s): Simon Musgrave

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 sem 2

Rating: 4 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA, somewhere between D to HD 82

Comments: To be honest, I didn't like this subject at first, but then it grew on me. Sadly this is a very tiny unit. There were barely enough people enrolled to run the unit at the start of semester, and by the end of semester numbers dwindled down to about 8 people. Suffice to say this unit will probably not run again, which is a pity.

That said however, onto the review. As I said before, I didn't like the subject at first, mostly because I had no idea how to do the first assessment. To his credit, Simon was pretty helpful at trying to explain it to me, but I think because it required a bit of programming knowledge I crashed and burned. Having said that, apart from the first assessment, you really don't need any computing knowledge to do well in this unit -- I managed just fine.

This unit takes you through a basic history of computing and why we might need computational linguistics, as well as various other topics like rules and algorithms, parsing, building a corpus, tagging and annotation, using the internet as a corpus and speech recognition. It's pretty interesting stuff, but what made this unit good was that there was also some hands-on activities. The thing I didn't like was I felt that the activities were too rushed and the lectures dragged on a bit though.

Okay, assessments. The first assessment task had to do with phonology, and I HATED it. Mostly because I don't like phonology, but also because I couldn't wrap my head around the program we were meant to use for the assignment. It sort of runs like cmd, so you type in lines and hope they work. But you also had to write a rules file so it DOES work. I somehow managed a credit, even though my code fell flat on its face, but this assignment is only worth 10% so it's no huge deal if you can't work it out.

The 2nd task is much nicer, it's based on corpus analysis, and so you are given data to interpret and analyse, and explain why you think what you do, along with some references to appropriate literature. The take home exam is pretty straight forward, it is just some short questions on the content covered thus far. If you are a 3rd year you have one extra question to answer.

Now, the last project was pretty cool. It's basically a research project. About halfway through the semester Simon posted a list of possible topics that we could do. There was a topic based on the first assignment, a topic where you had to write a lexicon and a set of rules to parse a passage of text, a topic on variation in English, one on lexicography, and one on semantics. I went with lexicography. In other words, I picked 'new' English word and did a whole heap of research on it. I picked 'noob', and did a 2000 word research report about how I collected a whole heap of web data on the word 'noob' and how/where it is used, and discussed various pros and cons of using the internet as your 'data source'.

If you are a 3rd year, you also have to give a short talk about your research project in week 12. But, it's very informal: I just stood up with only a whiteboard marker and no notes, and just drew diagrams and explained what I was doing until I got sick of it.

I doubt this unit will run next year because of lack of interest. If you are interested, you can still ask Simon about it and I'm sure you could do an Honours project based on some of this stuff, because it really is fascinating.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 05:40:18 pm by spaciiey »
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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #260 on: November 23, 2014, 04:46:15 pm »
+6
Subject Code/Name: MTH3110 Differential Geometry

Workload: 3x 1 hour lectures per week
1x 1 hour tute per week

Assessment: 30% Assignments (fortnightly starting from week 3)
10% Participation (just turn up and tick your name off the list)
60% Exam

Recorded Lectures:  For the first time ever, yes. They are videotaped with blackboards and all.

Past exams available:  Yes, there are 2 with answers. If you want an extra practice exam, PM me.

Textbook Recommendation:  Elementary Differential Geometry, Andrew Pressley.

This textbook is your bible. You don't need to buy it though, there is a PDF version online. The course covers chapters 1-10.

Lecturer(s): Daniel Mathews, Enrico Carlini

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 sem 2

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: D

Comments: This is an introduction to differential geometry. The first half of the course is taught by Dan, who talks about geometry of curves. The second half of the course is taught by Enrico, who talks about geometry of surfaces. They have very different lecturing styles from each other -- Dan talks a lot and writes down EVERYTHING but in contrast Enrico is very minimalist. I think I liked Enrico's lectures better because I had a better understanding as to what was 'important' and what was 'less important' to know.

Assignments are easy. They are especially easy if you read the textbook, if you know what I mean... There were some issues with plagiarism because of that, so maybe it'll change next year. But they should still be relatively straightforward questions. Tutes are stock-standard. Just turn up and tick your name off, and walk out the door. I found the exam fair -- there are lots of easy marks but also enough harder questions to separate the strong from the weak students.

When I got to the end of the unit, to be honest, I wasn't really sure what I'd learned. As the name implies there is a lot of differentiation. I guess this unit is okay.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 05:40:59 pm by spaciiey »
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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #261 on: November 23, 2014, 07:51:49 pm »
+7
Subject Code/Name: CHM1052 - Chemistry II Advanced

Workload:
  • 2x1 Hour Lectures
  • 1x1 Hour Workshop
  • 1x4 Hour Lab

Assessment:
  • 4 Pre-Lecture Quizzes (0.5% each)
  • 4 Post-Lecture Tests (2% each)
  • Practical Work (30% - larger break down later)
  • Examination (60%)

Recorded Lectures:  Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available:  No, but there were two CHM1022 sample exams - however, neither were very indicative of the actual exam.

Textbook Recommendation: "Prescribed" text is Blackman, again. However, there was a separate book recommended for the organic section of the unit titled "An Introduction to Organic Chemistry" by William H. Brown. It should be available from the library.

Lecturer(s):
  • Kellie Tuck
  • Phil Andrews

Kellie is an AMAZING lecturer and quite honestly my favourite lecturer ever - of all time. I'm looking into doing a second year research project, and am considering asking her to be my supervisor just because she was that good. She really puts the effort in to make sure you understand everything, and does her best to teach it in a way that is very understandable.

Phil on the other hand wasn't that great (however, I know a lot of people who will argue this). Not to say he's bad at what he does, however his lectures definitely lacked a certain structure that I craved. I didn't feel like I was learning anything with him, and it was after he stepped in that I stopped going to lectures.

Year & Semester of completion: 2014, semester 2

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: 81, HD

Comments: Unlike the first semester where it feels like you've learnt a bunch of crap and will probably have trouble seeing where it relates until the end, this semester everything is structured and makes sense. The unit can be easily broken into 2 topics, organic and inorganic chemistry.

Organic Chemistry
This single chemistry section is going to be the most similar to VCE chemistry. The first three weeks are all about naming organic molecules, what organic molecules look like, how to make them, how to identify them using various methods (namely NMR, Mass spec and IR spectroscopy) and finally about stability and aromaticity.

The next three weeks is a repeat of all the biological chem stuff from VCE (minus biofuels), and some polymerisation tagged on at the end.

There's not really much else to say about this section - you've probably never seen a mechanism before, and might not have heard of carbocation stability - but otherwise, there's not much new stuff.

Inorganic Chemistry
This section revolves entirely around metal complexes, in particular focusing on the 3d metals - that is, the metals where the 3d sub-shell is the outer shell. You learn all about the different kinds of complexes that can form, naming them, and finish it all up with some Crystal Field Theory and applications in biological systems.

This section is a LOT emptier than the previous one, and you might feel like you're often repeating things you already knew. However, this is mainly because of the lack of inorganic chemistry in year 12.

However, something to note is that a lot of what you did last semester will come back into the game this semester - whilst there will be no calculations, thermodynamics will often be mentioned ("more thermodynamically stable" is Phil's favourite phrase), equilibrium constants will be mentioned, MO theory and VSEPR (more MO theory) and all the orbitals/sub-shell diagrams come into the game more often this semester than last semester when you actually learned it.

Practical Work
This semester, the practical work is a LOT more related to what you'll be doing in lectures. Whilst last semester, it was more a case of "here's pretty chemistry stuff" with little reference to lecture material, your labs are split equally into organic and inorganic labs.

On top of this, half of your lab mark is comprised of two extended investigations - one to determine the composition of some unknown chemical and then synthesise it, and the other to determine the percentage composition of two cymbals (Chris is an avid drummer, y'see... There is no real way to explain it. It must be felt in those pre-lab videos). These investigations were my FAVOURITE part of the CHM1052 labs - there was very little guidance from the demonstrator, and the whole prac was very open-ended in how we could do it. There was definitely a direction the demonstrators wanted us to go in, but it was up to us to find and go in the direction. I know quite a few people struggled with these labs, however they were also my highest scoring labs of the semester (probably second highest of the year), because I just found them that interesting and wanted to devote that kind of time to them.

Something else to note - the extended investigations will only really require you for 3 hours (although you can take more time if you wanted - not suggested for the organic ones, though you'll find out why during it), however the other labs are quite intense, and are a real step up. Unlike last semester where you probably very rarely went until 6, expect to use all 4 hours this time round. Unlike last semester, this time the labs are very different to 1022, and you will be tested.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 06:16:20 pm by EulerFan101 »
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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #262 on: November 24, 2014, 02:12:21 pm »
+8
Subject Code/Name: ATS2679/ATS3679 - Psycholinguistics and Child Language Acquisition

Workload:
1x two hour seminar per week

Assessment:
5%: Class attendance
10%: Class preparation
10%: 2nd/3rd year assignment
45%: Research essay
25%: End of year examination

Recorded Lectures: 
Yes. I'm assuming that there was also screen capture, but I never watched the online lectures.

Past exams available: 
No idea.

Textbook Recommendation: 
First Language Acquisition by Eve Clark. I wouldn't say that it is absolutely necessary, but it was helpful for some of the weekly exercises. You could probably get away with borrowing it from the library when needed.

Lecturer(s):
Dr. Anna Margetts. Anna is a very good and engaging lecturer - no complaints, there. Anna is very approachable; I spoke to her a couple of times about various things, and she gave me more of her time than could be reasonably expected of a lecturer. She clearly cares about her students' learning and well-being, which is appreciated. We also had one seminar in which current Honours students came in and talked to us about their present studies.

Year & Semester of completion:
Semester 2, 2014.

Rating: 
3.5 out of 5 (but only due to minor grievances with the organisation of the unit - the actual content is worthy of 4.5/5 at least)

Your Mark/Grade:
N/A

Comments:
Here, I will run through the different assessment tasks.

Class attendance:
I'm assuming you need to attend a particular number of seminars to get the 5%. However, my timetable meant that I attended every seminar, resulting in the ignorance that now sees me speculating as to how many seminars you need to attend. Regardless, it's an easy 5%.

Class preparation:
This comes in the form of weekly exercises, typically consisting of 3-4 (very) short questions. These questions may relate to the textbook readings or other (provided) sources. Again, an easy enough 10%. It's worth noting that accuracy of responses is immaterial; should you make some kind of effort and submit on time, you should get the marks. I think the point of this was simply to get you thinking about the topic of the week before the seminar.

2nd/3rd year assignment:
This is really the only difference between taking the unit at 2nd or 3rd year level. Those taking the unit at 2nd year level needed to make some kind of essay proposal, directly relating to the major essay outlined below. I didn't do this, so I'm not 100% what it involves, but from what I have gleaned, it consists of explaining a potential topic, looking around for potential resources, and discussing potential methodology for your essay. All of the 3rd years would have had to have done this, too, to some extent, in preparation for the major essay (but for no marks).

Comparatively, those taking the unit at 3rd year level were required to make a 'journal'. I'm not really sure why it's labelled as such, because it's nothing like my understanding of journals. Rather, the task required two potential topics of examination related to the content covered in the course to that point, but not directly taken from any material. That is, students had to take inspiration from the content covered and formulate their own research questions. Then, for each of the two questions, students had to explain methodology that could be used to investigate the topic, potential methodological problems and the population used. At least two scientific journals also had to be incorporated. Noteworthy is the fact that you don't actually have to conduct the research; rather, you just need to explain how you would do so. Each question is worth 5%. There was nothing particularly difficult about this task apart from the word limit (200-250 words for each question). I found it very difficult to get all of the required information into such a small word count. I also found the feedback to this task to be a little vague - in fact, I'm still not really sure how I scored.

Research essay:
Anna introduced this essay very early in the piece, which I think was a good idea. She warned us that by the end of the semester, we would probably hate this particular assignment (based on past students' feedback). That was an accurate prediction, I suppose, but it was probably avoidable. In the essay, you need to develop your own research question. A significant part of the essay is that it must be based on data from the CHILDES Database, which makes research question choice fairly crucial. Basically, the essay requires you to compare a particular linguistic topic in regard to two groups (the more specific, the better). For example, my essay investigated utterance type (declarative, imperative, interrogative, exclamative) development in boys with Down syndrome versus girls with Down syndrome.

The assignment is labelled as an essay, and I think this is where a bit of confusion comes in. From what I gathered, there was a little anxiety within the cohort because people didn't really know where to start. That was certainly the case with me, at least. When I discussed this with Anna, it became apparent that what was required was actually more of a scientific write-up than a typical essay. As such, my assignment finished with multiple sub-headings (basically adhering to psychology conventions), graphs and a lot of data. The assignment, I think, would have been less stressful - and it was fairly taxing - had this been made clear from the outset. Regardless, I enjoyed my topic for the most part, and it was probably my favourite part of the unit by the end. The due date for this assessment was (I think) five and a half weeks ago, and we still haven't received our grades. Considering that I misread the due date and finished mine a week and a half early, it feels like an eternity without feedback.

End of year exam:
The exam consisted of five sections. The first two were (very) short answer; the third required slightly lengthier responses; the final two sections were more 'case-study'-esque, giving you transcripts and then asking questions based on those transcripts.

The content and structure of the exam itself was fine. However, the organisation of the exam could have been better. The exam was at Clayton rather than Caulfield, which was fine, except we didn't find out what room the exam was in until well into the examination period. The time of the exam changed the night before, which was very frustrating for me (it changed from 9am to 10.15am). Then, the exam room changed about 15 minutes before the exam was scheduled to begin. This all disrupted my usual exam routines, but perhaps others are more flexible. Lastly - and most annoyingly - the exam was only meant to run for one hour, but it ended up going for about 150% of that, and students could simply keep writing for as long as they wished. The exam was quite long, so I had rushed to get through it in the hour, and finished bang on, so it was frustrating to think that I could have taken my time more. Of course, I used the extra time, but only to go back and fix the errors that I wouldn't have made in the first place if the length of the exam had been made clear.

Overall, I would recommend this unit to anybody interested in (obviously) child language acquisition, but also anybody interested in psychology in general. It's a very interesting unit with a fantastic lecturer, and could be a great stepping stone to careers such as speech pathology.
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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #263 on: November 24, 2014, 08:37:50 pm »
+6
Subject Code/Name: BMS1052 - Human Neurobiology

Workload:
  • 3x 1-hr lectures
  • 1x 3-hr fortnightly lab (commencing in week 3)

Assessment:
  • 2x 10% Mid-semester tests - 20%
  • 4x 10% Labs - 40%
  • Exam (hurdle) - 40%

Recorded Lectures: Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available: Nope! However there were some practice MCQ quizzes available on Moodle covering much of the course, and Prof. Helena Parkington posted 5 or so SAQs on Moodle some time prior to the exam.

Textbook Recommendation:
Prescribed: Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain - Bear, Connors and Paradiso

There are other neuroscience textbooks available (see the references listed on lecture slides), but the prescribed one is generally all you need. I would recommend buying it, it is a great textbook and I referred to it often throughout semester.

Lecturer(s):
  • Dr Nic Price
  • Prof Brian Oldfield
  • Prof Helena Parkington
  • Dr Siew Yeen Chai
  • Guest lecturers: MND Victoria and Di Ashworth (bionic eye recipient)

Year & Semester of completion: Sem 2, 2014

Rating: 3.5-4 out of 5

Comments:

Overview
This is a core first-year biomed unit, and is admittedly surprisingly in-depth for a level-one unit. It is certainly the most content-heavy level-one BMS unit, though fortunately I found it to be one of the more interesting and engaging ones. A big benefit was that BMS1052, despite being a fairly general introductory neuroscience/neurophysiology unit, was more specific in its content and structure than other units - in particular the incredibly hotchpotch BMS1031 (N.B. this may have changed since I took BMS1031 in 2013 - I bloody hope so).


Lectures
As a brief overview, this unit is broken up into several lecture/topic blocks:
  • Foundations - Covering basic neuroanatomy and neurophysiological principles (action potential generation etc.), neuronal cell signalling and neurobiological experimental techniques. The Foundation lectures are delivered by Nic Price.
  • Sensation - Ostensibly looking at sensory organisation and processing in humans. This lecture block looks at the neurophysiological basis of vision, somatosensation, nociception, thermoception and audition. These are also delivered by Nic Price.
  • Movement - Moving on from the sensory-based Sensation lecture block, the Movement lectures look at reflex and voluntary action outputs resulting from external and internal stimuli. These lectures cover muscle anatomy and innervation, proprioception and spinal/reflexive and cortical control of movement. These lectures are also taken by Nic Price.
  • Control - In which the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the influence of the hypothalamus on diet and behaviour is investigated. The ANS lectures are delivered by Helena Parkington, and Brian Oldfield covers the hypothalamus lectures.
  • Vignettes - Basically an assortment of various neuroscience topics that don't fit in any of the previous lecture blocks. The vignette lectures were neurodevelopment, neuroregeneration and repair, and learning and memory (Siew Chai covers these topics); ethics and neural prosthetics by Nic Price, and a couple of guest lectures from Motor Neuron Disease Victoria and Di Ashworth, who was the first Australian bionic eye implant recipient.

The lectures are all very good in terms of content, interest and delivery (in particular, Nic Price is a quality lecturer). The vignettes were particularly personally engaging: I have a strong interest in neurodegeneration, neuroregeneration and general regenerative medicine, so Siew Chai's lectures were extremely interesting to me. It was also great to hear about the practical side of neuroscientific research via Di Ashworth and the MND Victoria Foundation.

However, it did at times feel like the lectures were trying too hard to cram information in for the sake of producing lots of examinable material. In my personal opinion (albeit one shared by several people I have discussed this unit with), the lecture series - and ultimately the unit - would have been better off if the lectures were better spaced. This doesn't necessarily require the cutting of content from the course, but possibly some more direction towards self-directed learning and readings.

A final note: GO TO LECTURES. 'Tis a bit hypocritical of me but this is a given in biomed units, and it's a lesson learned the hard way by me. The examinable content assessed in the MSTs and exam (and to a lesser extent in the labs) is drawn almost completely from lecture content. If you don't keep up to date you're going to have a bad time come SWOTVAC - which I did. For me, SWOTVAC consisted almost solely of 1. Freaking out big time and 2. Noting the lecture content which I missed.

Ladies and Gentlemen: 5 days well spent... unless you are my carpal tunnel.


Labs
On the one hand, I loved the lab timetable structure. More to the point, I loved that there was only a lab every two weeks.

On the other hand, I didn't like the labs themselves very much at all.

There are 4 labs in total, covering (1.) membrane permeability; (2.) Sensation; (3.) Human Electromyogram - Neural Control of Muscle Activity and (4.) Action Potential recordings.

The good stuff: The labs themselves weren't too bad; the lab work was hands on which was a nice break from some of the more boring biomed "labs" (looking at you, BMS1031). The best lab was either the 3rd or 4th one; the Human EMG prac consisted of delivering repeated electric shocks to a poor lab partner (all in the name of SCIENCE), which the fourth was stimulating movement in a disembodied cockroach leg by everyone's favourite mad-scientist trope - electricity! The primary reason that these two labs stand out as superior was that they A) Reflected the lecture content quite closely and/or B) Didn't try to do to much. I'll get to this point in the following section:

The bad stuff: Occasionally it felt as if the labs were trying to cram too damn much into 3 hours. This was most evident in the second lab, which aimed to fit ALL of the vision theory and ALL of the somatosensation theory and ALL of the audition theory into a single lab. Nope, didn't work. The fact that there was so much to do, yet the assessment associated with labs was done via Moodle quizzes, made for a rather jumbled and seemingly pointless three hours. On that note, having none of the lab assessment occur during the labs was annoying. By the time I got onto the Moodle lab quiz I'd forgotten plenty of important lab details, i.e. whatever I hadn't recorded because of the hectic nature of the labs themselves. Also, the first lab was just pointless; if you've done one osmosis/membrane permeability lab, you've done them all. I'd done identical labs in BIO1011, BIO1022, BMS1011 and BMS1031 if I recall correctly. Just once would have been enough, thanks Monash.


Other in-semester assessments
There were two MSTs during the semester; the first covered the Foundations and Sensation lectures, while the second covered Movement and the ANS lectures. These were purely lecture-based MCQ tests, and they're really not so bad if you're up-to-date with lectures (lol). The downside was that unlike in many other units with MSTs, the MST material is still examinable on the final exam. Seems a bit pointless to have an MST then - let alone two.


Exam
The exam was a little bit different. Total 40 marks (i.e. 1 mark = 1% of the unit grade); 26 MCQs work 0.5 marks each and 27 marks worth of SAQs (though truth be told most of the "short-answer questions" were basically long-form responses.

If you know you're course material to a fair degree of detail then you'll be fine; however the difficulty lies in that there is a vast amount of examinable content - basically the whole unit minus labs (and the labs are just reflections of part of the lecture content anyway).

But yeah, I've had worse exams. The good part is that the exam format was disclosed well in advance of the exam so I had a general idea of how to approach everything and study strategically - which is a must for this unit... unless you have an eidetic memory (you lucky bastard).



Overall, a solid unit. Good lectures, great lecturers and a good range of topics. Would benefit from some better organisation and mark allocation to tasks. The labs need a major do-over in terms of structure, content and assessment but they're not bad enough to ruin the unit. One of the best first-year biomed units (though it's not like you have a choice whether or not to do it :P).
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 08:53:10 pm by alondouek »
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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #264 on: November 25, 2014, 02:13:55 pm »
+6
Subject Code/Name: ATS2872/ATS2873 - Topics in Indian Philosophy

Workload:
1x two hour seminar per week

Assessment:
15%: Expository exercise 1
15%: Expository exercise 2
40%: Major essay
30%: End of year examination

Recorded Lectures: 
Yes. However, I tried to access one for revision purposes, and it cut out about halfway through. Further, there is no screen capture because no other materials are used. A handout is provided each week (also available on Moodle), and that's all that you really need.

Past exams available: 
Not sure, but a 'sample exam' was provided in Week 12 (which was handy).

Textbook Recommendation: 
Nothing but the unit reader, which is essential.

Lecturer(s):
Dr. Monima Chadha. I like Monima; she is casual but at the same time very informative. She clearly knows what she is talking about very well, values students' opinions and input, and is more than happy to discuss any concerns. Her classes were easy to follow - I liked the inclusion of the summary handout per week. This unit has a lot of terminology that may be unfamiliar, so the handout certainly helps in that regard.

Year & Semester of completion:
Semester 2, 2014.

Rating: 
4 out of 5 (but only due to minor grievances with the organisation of the unit - the actual content is worthy of 4.5/5 at least)

Your Mark/Grade:
N/A

Comments:
Overall, I must say that I am very glad that I took this unit. I was apprehensive, having never done anything even remotely related to Indian philosophy. But I think that that was part of the appeal, for me - doing something completely new about which I was entirely ignorant. Now, after having finished the unit, I feel a little less ignorant, and a little more open-minded.

This unit was quite small in terms of number of students; a rough estimation would suggest around thirty students, but this varied a little from week to week. Participation is encouraged in class, and some robust debates were had. But what I liked about Monima is that she didn't force interaction; if you just wanted to sit back and listen (like me, for most of the time), you didn't really feel inferior for not contributing much.

The content of the unit is split into a few blocks, focusing first on Hinduism (encompassing numerous schools of Hinduism), then Buddhism, then Carvaka. And there are two main things looked at throughout the semester: whether a persisting 'Self' (soul) persists throughout time, and what it means to be a person. Of course, it's more complicated than this, because each philosophical position has many arguments and counter-arguments for each issue.

The first two assessment tasks were expository, in which you had to choose two out of three questions to write about. The responses were fairly short. The first half of each question tended to be summarising a particular argument, before providing a philosophical commentary or analysis on that position. All of the questions directly related to the content that had been covered to that point in the course. These assessment tasks sound easy, but due to the new concepts and very new terminology, I found these challenging at times, which was good. The feedback provided for the expository exercises was adequate but not in-depth. I would have liked a bit more guidance as to how to improve at times. To Monima's credit, she was good at explaining where I went wrong when I asked her directly.

The major assessment task was in essay form. I think this is where the unit differs for those taking it at second year level and those taking it at third year level. If my memory is accurate (which is unlikely), third years were required to use external sources whilst second years were not. I find writing essays much easier when I am using external sources, so I was more than happy to take the unit at third year level. As there doesn't seem to be much of a difference otherwise, I would encourage others to the same. Another benefit of this unit is that, as it can be taken as part of Religious Studies, Philosophy or International Studies, it can nicely fit into numerous course structures. I was flat-out disappointed with my essay mark, and I thought that the feedback was minimal, but this is probably a reflection of my poor head space when I am disappointed by a mark more than a reflection of the unit itself.

The exam was well structured. The sample exam from Week 12 had sixteen questions from throughout the course. Each question was actually a quotation from one of the readings. It was made clear that the exam would be similar; from the sixteen questions, you choose six, and write about those. Similar to the expository exercises, the first half of each response was a summary of the philosophical position of the author(s)/proponent(s), and the second half was your own opinion (or a feigned opinion) on that position. The exam went for two hours, meaning that you had about twenty minutes to write about each quote. In the end, seven of the quotes from the sample exam appeared on the actual exam.

I was very close to not taking this unit, but I'm glad that I did despite my relatively poor performance in the assessment tasks. I figure that if you have the opportunity to learn something entirely new about which you are interested, you may as well take it. I encourage others to do the same. Moreover, this unit has made me think very seriously about further studies in religion and philosophy - something that I have always wanted to pursue, but have never really known where or how to start.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2014, 02:25:51 pm by Joseph41 »
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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #265 on: November 25, 2014, 05:28:15 pm »
+7
Subject Code/Name: DEV2022 - Principles of Organ and Body Design

Workload:
  • 2x 1-hr lectures
  • 1x 3-hr lab

Assessment:
  • 8x 3.125% labs - 25%
  • MST - 25%
  • Exam - 50%

Recorded Lectures: Yes, with screen capture.

Past exams available: Nope. However, a practice Moodle quiz was available well in advance of the exam.

Textbook Recommendation: Textbooks in this unit were fucking brilliant.
These are the ones that are officially prescribed or recommended for the unit:
  • Functional Histology 2nd Edition - Jeffrey Kerr
  • General Anatomy - Principles and Applications - Eizenberg, Briggs, Adams and Ahern
  • Human Embryology and Developmental Biology 5th Edition - Carlson. You might have a copy of this from DEV2011.

However, on top of these I went and got myself a copy of Gray's Anatomy 40th Edition. I did this because a) I could get it for cheap and b) it is by far the most in-depth, comprehensive anatomy text available. As someone with a keen interest in anatomy, this text was a great reference for when I had questions beyond the scope of lectures, or when I wanted some extra explanations on any topic I didn't fully understand at first (*cough* foetal circulation *cough*).

As always, I find that the best way of getting hard-copy textbooks as cheap as possible (which usually isn't saying much) is to get the ISBN of the book and search for it at booko.com.au, which compares prices for you.

Lecturer(s):
  • Dr Chantal Hoppe (also the unit co-ordinator)
  • A/Prof Norman Eizenberg
  • A/Prof Jane Black
  • Prof Richard Harding
  • Dr Helen Abud
  • Dr Ian Smyth
  • Dr Foula Sozo
  • Dr Oksan Gezmish
  • Dr Matilda Haas
  • Dr Justin Adams
  • Dr Dagmar Wilhelm

Year & Semester of completion: Sem 2, 2014

Rating: 5 out of 5. 10 out of 5! (Yes, I can do that).

Comments:

Overview
This is an absolutely superb unit in every way possible. The unit organisation and coordination was on-point, learning objectives were always clear and unambiguous, the lectures were all incredibly engaging, the labs were brilliant, really informative and fun and the teaching staff were of supremely high quality. I have absolutely no reservation in saying that DEV2022 is the best all-round unit offered by Monash.


Lectures
As above, the lecture series was - to me, anyway - some of the most interesting stuff I have ever studied before. Every lecturer was engaging and the subject material was perfectly aligned with my interests. Put it this way: Even with my very shitty lecture attendance, I was always keen to go to a DEV2022 lecture. In fact, the DEV2022 lectures have made up more than half of the lectures I've attended this year (lol).

One of the first things this unit did to get on my good side was, prior to the start of semester, to cancel one of the lectures scheduled each week. It just so happens that the cancelled lecture would have been my only 8am start. I will be forever grateful for just that :P.

This is at heart an anatomy course, though it integrates a lot of other stuff such as embryology and histology, and the unit has a fairly clinical focus (i.e. a lot of the labs are focused around pathologies and their anatomical basis).

The lecture series is broken up as such:
  • Weeks 1-3: Body Plan and Musculoskeletal Anatomy
  • Weeks 4-5: Respiratory and Cardiac Anatomy
  • Weeks 6-8: Gastrointestinal and Visceral Anatomy
  • Week 9: Nervous System Anatomy
  • Week 10-11: Genito-urninary Anatomy
  • Week 12: Semester review

And each block of lectures has 1-2 associated labs.


Labs
Much like the lectures, the labs were superb. Honestly, the tutors and other teaching staff in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology are the best I've ever had. Every lab was a pleasure, and the lab activities in each lab were varied enough such that it was easy to get involved in discussion with tutors and hard to get bored.

There were 8 labs throughout the semester:
  • Week 1: Intro to Pracs/Intro to Body Plans
  • Week 2: Body Plans
  • Week 3: Musculoskeletal System
  • Week 4: Mid-semester test tips and techniques (not an actual lab, but there was some theory reviewed - especially histology
  • Week 5: Heart Anatomy and Development
  • Week 6: Respiratory Anatomy and Development
  • Week 7: Gastrointestinal Tract Structure and Development
  • Week 8: Mid-semester test
  • Week 9: Nervous System Anatomy and Development
  • Week 10: Reproductive and Endocrine Systems
  • Week 11: Renal Structure and Development (<-- that's what was scheduled anyway. Instead, we did a group-based circuit-like "flag race" using gross anatomy specimens to review semester content. It was really fun :P)
  • Week 12: No lab

Assessed labs are bolded.

The labs were often broken into 2-3 parts; usually a dissection + a tutorial and/or a semi-self-directed learning session. I really enjoyed all of these components; the dissections were really helpful in learning gross anatomy, while the tute/semi-SDL component helped teach some of the course material that would be difficult to do a devoted lab on, e.g. embryology/subcellular developmental biological processes.

As above, the lab tutors were really friendly, helpful and keen to see you do well. You'll know many of them from DEV2011 too, so it's nice to have some familiar non-student faces in the labs.

As well as the formal labs, the teaching staff offered DEV2022 students the opportunity to observe dissected cadavers so as to better understand systems anatomy (as opposed to the gross anatomical approach in most of the labs). If this is still offered when you (the reader) do the unit - which it should, as it was a resounding success - then I highly recommend taking part in some of them. It really helped cement several concepts in my mind.


Other in-semester assessment
The only other piece of in-semester assessment in DEV2022 is the mid-semester test, worth 25%. This is a combination of SAQs and two mini-essay type questions, assessing all course material up to that point. The two long-form questions specifically test the histology component of DEV2022; students are given 1 of 5 histological slides from tissue types looked at throughout the semester, and the two mini-essays required us to write about the histological, structural, pathological and developmental features of the tissue type in the slide.

I had expected the MST to be much harder than it actually was - with some decent study it's not at all hard to do well even though a large volume of course information is tested.


Exam
Given that this is an anatomy course, there is a lot of assessable information. Luckily, the final exam for DEV2022 (50%) is all MCQs, which means that although you do need to know basically all the course content in significant detail, there is the chance for you to use anatomical logic to work out the solution to things you might not know.

As above, the exam is all MCQs, consisting of approx. 85 (if I recall correctly) questions in 3 hours. I finished the exam for the first time in 1.5 hours, even after spending a lot of time thinking about several questions. This is definitely an exam that you'd want time to go over a couple more times (as has been my experience with past MCQ exams).

Some parts of this exam were tricky, but I can't say that it was ever unfair in the amount of detail required. With proper, structured revision you shouldn't have any trouble scoring well.


Final comments
If at some point down the track I end up working in medicine, it will partially have been because of this unit. It was a real eye-opener for me in terms of how I enjoy the clinical side of science most of all.

This really does have all the hallmarks of a fantastic unit. I might be biased because I found it so incredibly interesting, but from a structural and organisational standpoint it was superior to any other unit I've done. This is a core compulsory unit in the Developmental Biology major, so anyone thinking of doing that major is in for a treat!
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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #266 on: November 25, 2014, 08:55:36 pm »
+7
Subject Code/Name: LAW4537 - Public Policy, Regulation and the Law

Workload:  3hrs of lectures a week

Assessment:  40% Research Assignment Essay, 10% for the corresponding speech, and 50% for the Exam.

Recorded Lectures:  No

Past exams available:  Yes, one, the 2012 Paper (no suggested answers)

Textbook Recommendation:  None, all the readings are uploaded to Moodle.

Lecturer(s): Eric Windholz

Year & Semester of completion: S2 2014

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA

Comments:

General Comments: As law students quickly find out, core units are pretty much all about black-letter law, with usually a bit of policy tacked on at the end, or representing itself in optional assignment form. Electives, on the other hand, usually go a bit broader and have time to cover some policy issues. In this unit, as the name suggests, it's nothing but policy. There are weekly readings from academic books (e.g. on regulatory theory), from publications by regulators and government bodies, and some opinion pieces, but no cases/legislation, aside from one admin law case in the 'Law and Regulation' topic. It's a fairly light unit in terms of readings (RG is only 7 pages) and a good one to do alongside some of the tougher intensive black-letter law subjects (corps, trusts etc.). Generally I liked the unit - I think it gives a lot of context to the way in which law is made in its exploration of questions such as 'how does regulation emerge?' and 'how well is the law achieving its aims?' In that sense it could be considered quite a broad, 'artsy' unit, which may not interest some, but I found it to be a good change-up.

Course outline: The unit starts off with an overview of the role of government in public administration, the functions of law, and the general role of regulation, before introducing the policy process/ policy cycle. Each week there is basically a step in the process: 'why do we regulate?' 'who should regulate whom, what and how?', 'evaluating regulatory options' etc. The second half of the course is a bit less structured, but has some interesting topics, such as 'is regulating a science or an art?' and 'explaining regulatory failure'. The latter part of the course had three guest lecturers, all of whom were pretty good. For example, Arie Freiberg (former dean), who specialises in regulatory theory, discussed law as a form of regulation (he has a bit of that old-school 'socratic method' style of teaching where he approaches people individually and asks them questions). In another guest lecture, an employee of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) came in to discuss how the EPA regulates in terms of monitoring and compliance for various environmental issues.

Other than the three 1 hour guest lectures, the course was taken by Eric Windholz (also takes/has taken Corps & Admin). Generally his lecture style was very good. Most lectures only had 40-50 people (60 in the unit) so they ran more like seminars. Usually they started with some discussion of the relevant policy/regulatory issues in the news that week (e.g. the 'baby gammy' issue or the problem of Australians being recruited by ISIS or increased restrictions on smoking in outdoor dining etc. After that, theory (usually drawn from the readings, which was useful for your notes if you hadn't read them or couldn't quite get the gist of them) followed by case study examples and discussion. E.g. for a typical case study example, the way in which smoking is regulated through various methods of altering behaviour - Disincentives (high tax, advertising bans), Assisting (Quit-line), Persuasion (Advertising, publishing of studies), or more subtle 'Nudging' methods (Cigarettes being hidden out of sight at shops, designated smoking points being far away, plain packaging...). At times I thought there could have been more case examples to practically illustrate the theory, but the lectures were on the whole quite good. Eric knows his stuff well, has a good sense of humour, and the classes are fairly well-paced.

Assignment/Oral Presentation: The subject has a compulsory assignment in which (this semester, at least) you had to choose a policy problem, describe its regulatory space (i.e. key players/stakeholders), explain how the problem has been framed, explain the 'regulatory regime' and outline any changes you would make to improve its performance. This is actually quite a lot of stuff, and is hard to fit into 2000 words, so you're going to want to make sure you don't define your topic too broadly (e.g. 'asylum seekers' may be too general). Topics had to be approved by the lecturer (week 5) though anyway, which ensures you'll have something doable that fits the criteria. This assignment could actually be done as a group assignment (2-4) instead of individually, although most people did their own thing, I think because people had their own ideas on topics they were interested in, and because essays aren't very conducive to group work. There were about 40 different topics covered by the individual/groups all-up, which ranged over all sorts of issues - from animal exports to religion in schools to drone privacy to cyber-bullying etc. It was therefore a pretty open assignment, and although it required a fair bit of research (you have to do a fair bit of pre-reading on the issue before you can really form an opinion on regulating it) it was my favourite law assignment yet.

For the 10% assessment, there was a speech on your assignment topic - 10 minutes for groups and 5 minutes for individuals. The time-limit was enforced fairly strictly, and like in the assignment, it was difficult to cover everything. Basically you just had to give a brief outline of your topic, before focussing on 1 or 2 of the more interesting issues at play, and then answer any questions from the lecturer/students at the end. As there were so many groups/individuals, the speeches this semester were all done outside of class hours in weeks 10-11 of semester, so you could attend as many or as little as you liked, as long as you went to the 1hr block in which you were allocated (first come, first serve). I was lazy and only went to my block of a few people, but later regretted not hearing some of the others beforehand, as it would've been useful for structuring my own presentation, and there were many interesting topics being discussed.

Exam: The Exam was open book (c.f. 2012) with 6 essay style questions of which you had to pick four, and answer them in 2hrs, i.e. 30 mins per question. They were fairly broad questions (e.g. 'Is regulation an Art or a Science; or 'Is this exam regulation') covering all parts of the course, and generally required you to integrate different weeks in your discussion. As this isn't an exam with hypotheticals, you don't need a quick step-by-step method of answering a question, but you want to have your notes concisely written out, with the relevant authors names and knowing where the definitions (regulation, policy,) and concepts are so you can quickly structure an argument (the invigilators wouldn't allow any noting during the 10mins reading time, despite the paper saying there was noting time) and plan a response.

Overall, a good unit, and one I'd recommend to anyone interested in policy & regulation, or considering a career in policy-making/politics/government.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2014, 08:57:39 pm by Rohmer »

Joseph41

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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #267 on: November 26, 2014, 05:22:10 pm »
+8
Subject Code/Name: ATS2681 - Structure of English

Workload:
1x two hour seminar per week
1x one hour tutorial per fortnight

Assessment:
10%: Weekly exercises
30%: Assignment 1
30%: Assignment 2
30%: End of year examination

Recorded Lectures: 
Yes. Izzy used slides; Kate did not. I'm not sure if there was screen cap or not, but I would highly recommend actually attending the lectures.

Past exams available: 
Not sure, but a 'sample exam' was provided.

Textbook Recommendation: 
Introducing English Grammar by Kersti Börjars and Kate Burridge. I guess the textbook isn't crucial; it is nicely summarised in the unit booklet that is provided in Week 1. However, it does go into much more depth and provides more examples, so I recommend finding yourself a copy. Further, because this is the kind of book that I would read in my spare time, I had no problem in buying it. The textbook is well written, with clear headings and sub-headings, which were helpful. An advantage of having one of the co-authors as the unit co-ordinator is that the unit is essentially based on the book: each week is based on a particular chapter, making navigation easy and efficient.

Lecturer(s):
  • Prof. Kate Burridge:
I have insufficient abilities to explain how terrifically fantastic Kate is. She is easily the best lecturer I've ever had, and probably the best teacher. My respect for her is just so ridiculously high. Kate is probably the only lecturer who would render me tempted to attend extra classes. I made sure that one of my units next year is run by Kate. Her knowledge in Linguistics is unparalleled, she understands how to explain that knowledge, she is very patient, she wants her students to learn, she is clearly passionate about her area. To summarise: Kate is great, and it's worth doing this unit just to experience her lectures.
  • Izzy Burke:
Izzy is also a good lecturer. I think we had her for two weeks throughout the semester - one lecture on negation was of particular interest. I didn't enjoy her lectures as much as Kate's, but that is certainly not a knock on Izzy; I haven't enjoyed anybody's lectures as much as Kate's.

Year & Semester of completion:
Semester 2, 2014.

Rating: 
5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade:
N/A

Comments:
Firstly, I'd like to point out that I took this unit at third year level, but I have labelled it as a second year unit. This is because the unit was meant to only cater for second years, and this will be the case hereafter. My understanding is that it is now a compulsory cornerstone or capstone or somethingstone unit in Linguistics, but all of that terminology doesn't apply to me. Frankly, I find it intimidating and scary. But the point is, this unit will only be available at second year level in the future.

As I mentioned in the textbook section above, I appreciated the structure of this unit. Each week was based on a chapter of the textbook, and followed a logical progression. The unit caters for all, regardless of linguistic background or ability, and Kate and Izzy are well aware that such backgrounds will be diverse. The weeks progressed as follows (I have bastardised the names for sake of simplicity):

  • Week 1: Standard English
  • Week 2: Constituency
  • Week 3: Words
  • Week 4: Grammatical relations and functions
  • Week 5: Negation
  • Week 6: Types of sentences
  • Week 7: Nouns and verbs
  • Week 8: Clauses
  • Week 9: Discourse structure
  • Week 10: Variation in grammar
  • Week 11: Variation in dialects
  • Week 12: Future of English

Now, if you happened to do EngLang 3/4, some of these topics may seem familiar. But I did EngLang, too, and I certainly learned many new things every week (I especially liked Kate's tangential historical linguistics lessons). Despite my majoring in Linguistics, I was still confused about some fairly basic concepts. Thus, I was able to a) consolidate things that I always thought that I should probably know, and b) learn entirely new concepts.

Tutorials were engaging. I would have actually liked them to run weekly, which is particularly deviant from my usual attitude regarding tutes. Kate is a stupendously encouraging tutor; and, whilst I never experienced her tutes, I have also heard great things about Izzy's teaching style. You can't really go wrong, I don't think.

I will now take this opportunity to run through the assessment tasks, because I think I have made my general views on the unit fairly apparent.

Weekly exercises:
The exercises come from the end of each chapter of the textbook (actually, I guess that this means that the textbook is needed a little more than I made out in earlier sections of this review). Typically, we were required to answer 3-4 questions, some with many (many) parts. The answers to these exercises were actually provided right at the start of the semester. As such, should you be that way inclined, you could easily just look at the answers and not really have to do the exercises at all. But I strongly recommend against this, because they are fantastic revision and in a very similar structure to both the assignments and the exam. Each weekly exercise is worth 1%, for a total of 10%.

Assignment 1:
Both assignments adopted the same kind of structure: short answer with a couple of longer responses thrown in. But, like a lot of Linguistics assignments, I found myself spending longer thinking about each question than (metaphorically) putting pen to paper. The first assignment encompassed questions on word class analysis and constituency analysis (both in various forms). Whilst I did have to think quite a lot about some of the questions, it was a fairly gentle assignment. This would especially have been the case had I completed the weekly exercises in their relevant weeks, rather than leaving them until the end of semester.

Assignment 2:
Assignment 2 had questions on basic clauses and their functions, discourse strategies, subordinate clauses, verb forms, and a longer question on grammar of a particular variety of English. I think the general consensus was that this assignment was easier than the first one, but I actually found it more difficult. I guess it's subjective and depends on your strengths and weaknesses, like most assessment tasks. Feedback for both Assignment 1 and Assignment 2 was fair, helpful and encouraged further thought.

End of year examination:
This was my first exam, and also the one that I studied most for (I was progressively ill throughout the exam period, so it just worked out that way). There was nothing particularly unexpected; however, I felt that the vast majority of content from during the year remained unexamined. I would have preferred a greater range of topics in the exam, but I understand that they were looking for depth of understanding rather than breadth of understanding. I guess the point to take home, though, is to know each topic well, for you may come across a fairly weighted question on any topic.

tl;dr: Radical unit. Take it.

... Did I mention that Kate is great?
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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #268 on: November 26, 2014, 11:02:05 pm »
+6
Subject Code/Name: ATS2698 - Middle East Politics: Continuity, change, conflict, and co-operation

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

Assessment:  Tutorial participation 10%, Major Essay (3000 words) 50%, Exam 40%

Recorded Lectures:  Yes, with screen capture

Past exams available:  None, and no sample exams.

Textbook Recommendation:  Prescribed text is 'An Introduction to Middle East Politics' by Benjamin MacQueen. It is necessary, as each chapter has a week dedicated to it. Handy to follow!

Lecturer(s): Ben MacQueen

Year & Semester of completion: 2014 Semester 2

Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: TBA

Comments:
Middle East Politics is a really fantastic unit. If you're keen to be able to know what the news stories are on about, and wanting to be able to understand their significance and context, then this unit is perfect! Ben MacQueen is a really good lecturer. I have taken a couple of his units, and they have all been well run and his lectures always interesting. I had Alex as a tutor, and she was incredibly engaging and challenged me to understand topics a little deeper than what was covered in the textbook and lectures. I felt like she was a very fair marker (perhaps a too generous, giving me 8/10 for participation when I said like 4 words max. for the entire semester). Alex was also very accessible. She answered emails promptly, and made time to be meet me even when it was outside her consult hour. She really helped me out with my major essay, more so than most other tutors I've had!

Outline of the unit:
Each week generally had a specific theme, but it was obviously hard to cover everything in 12 weeks so a lot of content was crammed into lectures and readings. The first couple of weeks were spent looking at the Ottoman Empire and Colonial Period in order to provide some background and context to more current events. Following that, from week 4 - 11 topics included:

- Superpower rivalry and the Cold War in the Middle East
- Nationalism, Islamism and Ideology
- Authoritarianism in the ME
- Oil, Economy and Development
- The Military, Security and Politics
- US Military Intervention
- Israel, Palestine and the Peace Process
- Democratisation and the Arab Uprisings

Obviously, it was crazy trying to cram in huge topics such as 'democratisation and the Arab Uprisings' into one one-hour lecture, so the readings were relied on quite a bit! I personally felt as though the unit moved on so quickly each week that I was always one step behind and trying to catch up, but by the end everything just started to click into place and I loved it. It's great to be able to read any news article on the Middle Eats now, and know what has happened there, who's involved, what the outcome could be and where it is! Having gone into the unit being mildy interested in the area, yet completely uneducated about it, I really think it was an informative and great unit to learn the basic background to soooo many topics!

The textbook is really good. It was a chapter for each week, so it was very easy to follow and keep track of where you were if, say, you happened to skip a week's reading... Ben MacQueen wrote the book specifically for the unit, so it's all relevant to the subject, unlike other textbooks! It was quite a dense read, but plenty of photos and maps to break things up!

Assessment:
The biggest assessment piece is the major essay, worth 50%. It's basically a standard 3000 word research essay answering one of the 10 questions available to us. I did mine on the characteristics of US military and security engagement in the Middle East since the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. There was a really good variety of topics to choose from, so at least one would be appealing!

The exam, worth 40%, was split into three parts. The first was essentially a blank map, where knowledge of key places was tested. The second section was multiple choice, testing important dates (mostly). The third section was short answer, covering a range of topics from Israel's nuclear program to future challenged for the US in the Middle East. I liked the format of the exam, it was really different to anything I had done before, particularly in Arts.

This would have to be one of the best units I have taken so far... I can't actually think of any others where I felt disappointed that it was over like I did for this one! It was challenging and fast-paced, but very rewarding and eye-opening. Only downsides I can think of includes the tutorial participation marks (I'm never a fan of that), the shitty ancient lecture theatre we had the lectures in, and the inconvenient 9am Monday morning lecture :'(

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Re: Monash University - Subject Reviews & Ratings
« Reply #269 on: November 27, 2014, 02:24:41 pm »
+7
Subject Code/Name: ATS3639 - Poverty, ecology and international justice

Workload:
1x one hour lecture per week
1x one hour tutorial per week

Assessment:
50%: Major essay 1
50%: Major essay 2

Recorded Lectures: 
Yes, with screen capture (I think).

Past exams available: 
That I do not know.

Textbook Recommendation: 
Nothing is needed aside from the unit reader, and even that is questionable. (Well, not really, but I'll expand on that in a bit.)

Lecturer(s):
  • Dr. Linda Barclay:
I have had Linda as a lecturer in some previous units (Human Rights 1, Philosophy 1), and enjoyed her style, so I was glad to see that she was taking this unit. One of Linda's biggest strengths, I think, is her ability to clearly explain concepts in isolation, and then relate them back to the bigger picture. She obviously knows the content very well. Something else I like is that she doesn't tolerate students talking during her lectures. Now, I'm too shy to actually approach other students to ask them to be quiet, but talking through lectures is one of my biggest pet peeves. As such, I like that Linda calls out those being inconsiderate. Linda took us for the first half of the semester. I'm not sure if she will continue to lecture next year, but I very much hope she does.

  • Prof. Neville Nicholls:
We were fortunate enough to have Neville take us for a one-off lecture around the middle of the semester. The unit is broken into two parts, looking firstly at poverty, and then climate change. Neville's lecture was an introduction to climate change for students like me who are horribly ignorant. This lecture was enjoyable, very informative, and a nice change-up from the usual lectures.

  • Toby Handfield:
Toby has been given great reviews in this thread, and deservedly so. He reminds me of a VisCom teacher I had at school; he is respected too much for anybody to misbehave. The reason that he is respected is probably because he's a grouse lecturer. He makes concepts so clear, and even the trickier ones to grasp become less overwhelming thanks to Toby's analogies and numerous examples. He is a fantastic lecturer to have in a unit such as this.

In summary, the lecturers in this unit are terrific.

Year & Semester of completion:
Semester 2, 2014.

Rating: 
4.5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade:
N/A

Comments:
Let me first explain what I meant by suggesting that the unit reader isn't critical. The assessment structure in this unit is rather unusual: simply two essays worth 50% each. Each essay topic focuses primarily on one reading, while other readings may or may not be peripherally relevant. Subsequently, there is really little incentive (in terms of marks, at least) to complete all of the readings. In fact, attendance at the lectures seemed to drop continually throughout the semester, for what I assume were similar issues. Really, you could get by by completing two readings for the semester and attending none of the lectures. Obviously, this isn't at all advised, and one suggests that marks would not be particularly favourable, but I think that it would be possible. But anyway, get the reader: the readings are actually very interesting, and unless you want to feel silly during tutes, it's best to read them.

I like the structure of this unit. Really, it's two mini-units in one. The first six weeks or so focuses on the morality of poverty; then, the second half of the semester relates more to the morality of climate change. Both parts of the unit are particularly interesting. By the end of the semester, it's fairly clear how the two issues intertwine, which is rather thought-provoking.

Based on advice in this thread (I think from Brenden, though I can't seem to find the relevant post), I made sure that I hate Kate as my tutor. That proved to be a good decision. Kate relates well with her students, and is extremely approachable. When I asked her how I could improve on my first essay, she went well out of her way to try to help me for the second one. The tutes themselves varied a bit, depending mostly on the collective mood of the class. Sometimes, discussions were active and lively; other times, they were less so. I didn't contribute a great deal, so I guess I'm not in a position to critique this part of the unit. Regardless, Kate did her best to encourage students to participate without being at all forceful or judgmental. She's a very good tutor.

Here is a brief overview of the assessment tasks:

Essay 1:
Students were required to choose one of five essay topics. Each topic related directly to one of the readings from earlyish in the semester. My essay, for example, was on Peter Singer's (good old Singer - I was surprised that Bentham didn't pop up in this unit, because most of the usual suspects did) suggestion that most of us have very extensive obligations to the poor.

Essay 2:
The structure of the second essay was essentially the same as the first. Again, there were five essay topics from which to choose. My essay was on the alleged conflict between generations in regard to the issue of climate change.

But both of these essays grated me for a couple of reasons. Firstly (and I acknowledge that this is a minor issue), the word count for each essay was 2,250 words. Now, usually that would be fine, but here's the thing: that included all referencing, footnotes, and even the bibliography. I am rather a prolific footnoter, so this knocked me off course, a little. I guess you could treat the essays as 2,000 word essays, which would give you a buffer for referencing and the like. Still, I found it a little frustrating.

Secondly, a ridiculous proportion of the cohort was granted an extension for the first essay (I can't quite remember, but I think it was something like 55/80 students). As a result, a cohort-wide extension was given for the second essay. I guess this isn't really a criticism of this unit so much as a criticism of Monash's extension policy, but I was a little bitter after submitting my first essay (on time).

A final word on the unit: I encourage students to take this unit. However, I think it would be improved should the assessment structure be modified slightly. Making each essay worth 40% and then having a 20% exam, say, would encourage greater consistency throughout the unit. However, the 50% essays did result in less stress during the exam period!
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