I took this course in Semester 1, 2021. This course was a lot more difficult and stressful than I expected, and it’s mainly due COVID which led to a change in exam style, and maybe perhaps the change in course coordinator (Professor Louise Kuchel) since 2020.
At first, I found the content a bit dry but relatively straightforward. It was Professor David Merritt’s first time teaching this course when I took it so I found his lectures extremely disorganised. He even copy and pasted slides from the previous lecturer. He was nice but lecture content was not delivered well - made me very bored.
I think the better lecturer out of the three was Dr Bernt Van Rensburg. He seemed to have taught this course for a couple of years now so his lecture material is quite organised. His lecture content is also relatively more straightforward compared to the other two lecturers, as in you would get what he actually wants you to know. However, sometimes he doesn’t explain well even if you ask him questions and he never checks the discussion board on Blackboard so he is not very reachable.
I thought this was a chill course until I did the midsem - the questions were terribly weird. Some questions i.e. those written by Dr Merritt were so weird because they didn’t focus on any particular learning outcomes. I found myself just bullshitting my way through without actually knowing what they actually want me to write. A question set by Dr Van Rensburg also had an extremely strict mark scheme that led me to lose 5 marks all at once. From then onwards, this became my most stressful course because I barely got a 6 for the midsem, whereas for all my other courses that I took at the same time - CHEM1100, SCIE1000, BIOL1020 - I got 7s very easily.
There are also a lot of small assignments which all require effort but only have a very small weighting, so this adds up to the workload because you have quizzes and assignments after every prac and workshop, not to mention the reports and field trip activity. I feel like the assignments require so much more effort than their relative weighting, but I still put so much effort into them because I knew I need them to pull up my grade for the final and every small percentage counts. The assignments might seem a lot of work and slightly challenging, especially for the workshop assessments and the virtual field trip, but to be fair I think their marking is quite lenient - as long as you show that you paid effort and your work isn’t too bad, you’ll get full marks.
I guess the large workload of these small assignments isn’t that bad afterall because unlike courses like CHEM1100 and BIOL1020, this course doesn’t require constant revision. Since the exam is open book and the questions are often quite vague, you don’t need to remember anything but just need a good understanding. In preparation for the open book exams, it’s also a great idea to make notes at the end of each lecture, specifically those that cover the learning objectives.
Professor Louise Kuchel makes very clear learning objectives and while this is a good thing, she doesn’t cover the lectures in as much detail as it is required to answer the objectives. While preparing for the exam, I found myself having a lot of questions and places that I’m not clear of, but I didn’t get as much help as I anticipated from the discussion board. Professor Kuchel does check the discussion board, but only once in a while. I posted my questions on the Thursday of SWOTVAC (study week) and she said she would keep monitoring the discussion board throughout SWOTVAC but she didn’t answer my questions. I sent her two emails to beg her to answer and at the end I only got very perfunctory replies.
For the practicals, many would say it’s a waste of time especially as I was enrolled externally for this course, but I think my prac experience wasn’t that bad because I had one of the best tutors ever - Cameron. He was so engaging and helpful that even if the external prac sessions were quite meh, I still enjoyed them overall.
Long Long Ago!
This is my favourite course at UQ so far.
I found the topics extremely interesting, however, if you have no interest in ecology you probably would not agree (it should basically be renamed to "Introduction to Ecology"). There is quite a heavy load in terms of what has to be learned, but topics are easy to grasp and it isn't hard to do well if you attend lectures and study the material. No prior biology needed at all. There are also quite a few small assessments throughout the semester so you do need to keep on top of that and there is a fair amount of writing involved (often for only a small percentage of the grade). This course was far easier than BIOL1020 and BIOL1040, the other foundation biology courses.
I also found all three lecturers to be passionate and engaging. They were also very responsive and managed the blackboard well.
I would definitely recommend this course as an engaging and relatively easy first year biology course.
Semester 1 - 2017
If you're into zoology and conservation - this is the course for you! I found the rotation of several different lecturers very interesting and most of them were very engaging. The field trip was fun and easy way to gain marks (if you had didn't have that one strict tutor). The downside is there are many prac writeups that are marked very harshly - but they are a great way to practise! I found the exams challenging but you do receive significant help from the workshops.
Semester 1 - 2015
Great lectures covering a lot of content. Laboratory sessions very dull and poorly presented by tutors who lack commitment. Lots of small assessment pieces. Workshop sessions that are a real waste of time. Overall I would avoid this course, too much assessment lots of contact hours and covers too much content for very little benefit. Blackboard content very confusing and disorganized.
Semester 1 - 2015
I absolutely loved this course being a fan of ecology. The lecturers were incredibly interested and clearly experienced in their field. They also brought humour to the lectures. It was never boring if the find the topics interesting.
I found the practicals quite tricky but the tutors are amazing. The course content was very easy.
Semester 1 - 2015
Not particularly. Can watch online.
Overall I'd have to say I enjoyed this course. While the content was not always my cup of tea (ecology ugh) the pracs were really fascinating and there were plenty of opportunities to see really cool things under microscopes. Also, the online textbook they used was well worth the purchase and a really great resource.
I feel like this would be the best course to start off with for people with limited exposure to biology (although the last module of the course was way more advanced than the rest of it so watch out for that one if you haven't a basic understanding of genetics).
The downside to this course really was the field trip: a whole day of trekking through leech and bug infested rainforest with fairly pointless activities. And I do mean leech infested. Do not expect that you will be able to avoid getting suckered. What really was the worst thing was that there was no official warning (but much backhanded snickering). If seeing blood is unsafe for you, please watch out. While the field trip was easy marks they certainly took a lot of effort to get, and overall it was a fairly terrible day for me.
Semester 1 - 2014