BIOL10002 Biomolecules and Cells

Biomolecules and Cells was reviewed by Travis Lines. He is a second year student undertaking the Bachelor of Biomedicine. He was an SSLC representative for this subject.

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Introduction

You arrive at the University, bright and early, ready the first class of your University life. If you’re studying Biomedicine, that class is at 8am and that class is Biology.

In this post I will attempt to give you a reliable overview of Biomolecules and Cells (which I’m probably going to call Biology here and there) or at very least, give you something to vehemently disagree with once you’ve done it.

So what is this “Biomolecules and Cells” all about?

Biomolecules and Cells is your introduction to Biology. Regardless of whether you have studied Biology at a VCE level (or IB) or not, this will be your entry point to Biology. You’re probably thinking that that sounds a bit unfair; but won’t that make it easy for former Biology students? The simple answer to this question is no. According to all the data that the Biology boffins produce, there really is no difference in the performance of students with either background. It is probably fair to say that if you haven’t studied Biology before, you will have a lot of catch-up to do.

There is a lot of vocabulary to remember in this subject, and that becomes a bit of a struggle for everyone at the end of the day. This comes as a bit of a shock to everyone, because there isn’t anymore of the constant revision that we’ve all become used to in our VCE/IB years.

Biomolecules and Cells deals with the basics of cell biology, biochemistry and then finishes with some physiology. The topics covered are:

  • Cell Biology
  • Biomolecules
  • Homoeostasis
  • Cell to Cell Communication
  • Nervous system
  • Digestive System
  • Renal System
  • Respiratory System
  • Endocrine System
  • Immune system
  • Circulatory System
  • Development/Reproduction
  • Animal Taxa

There were also some “tid-bit” lectures about animals in biomedicine and stem cells. Each area, typically, only took two or three lectures.

Practicals: practically good or practically bad?

That’s right! You have to do pracs in your first year of Biology. In this subject in particular, they’re probably as easy as you’re ever going to get. The pracs aren’t particularly exciting but they do make a large chunk of your mark, so they’re important to go to. Not only for marks though, the pracs were useful as a method of consolidating the material you learn in lectures.

Don’t get caught in the trap though! Extra information presented in pracs is and will be assessed. There’s a bit of it, though not too much. Just beware any conflict between what you’ve learned in lectures and what you’ve learned in pracs. They’re certainly not uncommon. On the SSLC, we think that we got most of them though (and got the subject coordinator really worked up; she was not happy that there were any!).

For a first year subject, the pracs could be pretty poorly organised. The Chem and Physics pracs tended to run like clockwork, whereas the Biology ones were perhaps a little less clock and a little more dogs breakfast. They weren’t too bad though, and compared to what we’ve all heard about 2nd and 3rd year subjects they were brilliant.

So to answer the original question, pracs are practically boring, but practically practical and you should attend them.

How will they know that I’m a top notch Biology kid?

There are a variety of assessments. For details about them, it’s probably better to look at the handbook because it often changes.

Pracs provide about a quarter of all the assessment. For this subject, it’s relatively simple to pull an H1 for all pracs. Just make sure that you prepare a little and know the content. The most frustrating aspect of this assessment was discrepancies between various groups, though these were insignificant compared to semester 2 Biology.

There’s an assignment too. I’m going to leave it as a nice, mid-semester surprise for all of you though!

ILTs are the bane of everyone’s existence. These are completely useless, online activities that everyone has to complete for easy credit.

There’s also an exam. The exam is explained 1000 times over by the Biology staff towards the end of semester. There are four sections. One multiple choice, two with this weird numbering fill-in-the-gaps-like-we’re-still-in-prep sections and one extended essay question. The assessment is pretty lenient and it’s very similar to the kind of stuff you’d expect in VCE, to be honest. The subject coordinator was once the head assessor for VCE Biology, so you can see that coming through. There’s none of that terrible exam horror story that you hear about in this class!

The lecturers, will they be my friends?

You get a whole host of lecturers, which is great! They all tend to spend a little bit of their time talking about their own research, which can be particularly uplifting when your Jaffy energy has been sapped out by assignments.

Geoff McFadden is hands-down the best lecturer you’ll have in first year. Not only is he enthusiastic and funny, but he also teaches really well. You get him first up, which is an absolute godsend and a brilliant way of easing into University. He does give you unrealistic expectations about lecturers at University, though.

David Gardner also deserves a mention. He’s similarly enthusiastic and funny; the perfect candidate for the reproduction lectures! His accent is the best you’ll hear in your life too, so that makes his lectures even better. Personally though, I found his lectures a bit of a struggle because he was very, very scattered. It was worth it though.

The others are all pretty good. Some are pretty boring (I’d venture that one holds the cure to insomnia), but they’re all pretty good. Matthew Digby really cares about his lecturing, and probably actually would be your friend. Laura Parry may have been the name that, perhaps, wasn’t referred to so kindly among the Biomeds though…

TL;DR just tell me what it’s like!

This is a pretty good start to your year. It’s not a particularly difficult subject and as such it should be fairly easy to do well. You get a host of good lecturers and the content is pretty interesting. The one thing that puts people offside is the lack of medicine. Get used to that, because you won’t be seeing any in first year at all.
There does seem to be a lot to learn, and sometimes that is overwhelming, but the Biomeds tend to band together pretty well and help each other. Just pray that you have an Edward Shen in your year, and you’ll be set (he uploaded all of his notes and is probably the reason so many people passed).

All in all, a good subject and a great opportunity to meet your fellow Biomeds!

PS: I almost completely forgot to mention that this class has for eternity had 8am starts three days a week. This is the closest you can get to death without dying. Have fun!

PPS: I also neglected to mention tutorials/workshops because nobody goes to them unless they have nothing else to do. (I went to them all and they were rubbish).

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More about Travis

Travis Lines is currently undertaking his second year of the Bachelor of Biomedicine. He is considering pursuing a career in medicine, public health, politics, teaching, research, academia or public service and cannot decide what to have for breakfast tomorrow either. You can find some of Travis’ thoughts at http://aboyfromdunt.blogspot.com.au/ or follow him on twitter @travislines.

Thanks for the review Travis!

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