21 February, 2009


Classes start next week. It's a horrible mesh of clashes, but I think I have at least worked out my Practicals and Tutorials so they don't clash with each other.
For the lectures...I'm thinking a rotation plan where I switch in between each class. With two lectures for each course a week, I can attend at least one lecture for each class a week. Except Genetics, as it has a third, not-clashing lecture.

The classes look to be challenging, with Human Ecology looking to be very involved and Vegetation Ecology being my weakness. There is also a substantial flora amount in population ecology.

Human Ecology: "principles of evolutionary biology and ecosystems analysis to the study of the human environment". The significance and functions of ecosystems and how humans have affected them in the past and now are listed as the major focus. It appears to branch off into system processes and how ecosystems have affected the human condition.
We are expected to bring our individual thoughts and processes to the course, and there are quite a few suggested readings that I will hopefully not procrastinate on.

There is also a field trip to the Snowy Mountains. It shall be cold.

Vegetation Ecology:
Vegetation Ecology of Australia is an important basis for conservation and sustainable management of our forests and woodlands. A necessary course that will prove to be interesting, even if I'm personally not interested or thrilled about plants.
Classification, geomorphological distribution, reproduction, growth, adaptation, their relationship with with biodiversity and the "taxonomy and biogeography focusing on the major taxa of Corymbia, Symphymyrtus and Monocalyptus".

I should set up a word document for each of these "study sections" so I don't mix anything up incorrectly.

There appears to be one field trip to Kioloa and various field work at Canberra Nature Parks, Namadgi National Park, and the Murramarang National Park. I am currently not aware of how closes these are to Canberra and if they are a day trip or a field trip.

Genetics, an Introduction:
This will be just as tricky as the others. The main point is for me to be taught the "fundamentals of genetics, emphasising the area of population genetics which is central to understanding the evolutionary process." We will also "explore the application of population genetic theory to human forensics and conservation biology."
This class is a prerequisite to some of my later classes and is pretty much necessary to understand my future ecology, behaviour and disease courses.
Genetics is also interesting and useful in it's own right.

As with human ecology, there is a lot of suggested reading but no required books. Looks like I'm free from purchasing more expensive books.

Lastly, Population Ecology: Spoke too soon. I need to purchase M. Begon's Ecology 4th Edition for this course.
There's little information up except for what we will be marked on (3 exams and an essay). All I know is from what is mentioned on the course information page. It's essentially about organism populations and the ways they change over time including species interaction, disease, predation...
It says an important part of the class is "the quantitative methods and approaches used in population ecology to determine the status of populations and predict population behaviour.", however I will wait until more course information is revealed at the first lecture (which I will attend since unlike the other's, the lecturer informed me that it's pretty important and I need to be there to sign up to classes).

Eep, stats.

05 February, 2009

Academic Skills

One of my very weak spots in university is that I am not up to the Distinction* standard of exams or essays. There could be many reasons for this, yet I suspect it has something to do with only one lesson on writing an essay that I can recall. Taught to me in 2003, once, and never had any following lessons or corrections. Reports were never covered and I fuddle my way through exams by trying to put down as much correct information as possible.
This is no longer acceptable for me.

Here I shall list some sites recommended by the ANU and a few other sites I have browsed.

Preparing for Exams:
A page on preparing for exams. This site is highly annoying and changes around a lot, so I hope they don't delete and move this page elsewhere again.

Online Resources in general: The main page for the Academic skills centre. Sadly, a lot of it leads to dead ends or errors.

Courses: Information on courses for helping a person, alas most of the undergraduate ones again lead to dead ends. Hopefully this site will be up and working by the first week of the semester.

This site promises to be very useful. I found the old version to be of great help. I do hope they can finish fixing it up and put all their information up...at least their contact details so I can get into contact about the courses!

UniLearning: This site has the basics on writing essays, reports, effective writing, note taking and a few other helpful titbits. It breaks down the structure of the essays and reports, then explains why each part is needed. An example is the Structure of a Scientific Report.

Past Exam Papers: This is only accessible to members and students of ANU, but it is a collection of past exam papers so that students can get an idea of the type of questions.
Annoyingly, last year none of my classes has past exam papers for us to learn off. Hopefully this year will be different as I find them very useful for practice questions.

Alliance: This is a useful program for very large collaborations between students who may not be able to meet weekly/daily.

Study Guides and Study strategies:
Information on useful study methods, note taking and memory tests.

Harvard Referencing: A site quick listing all that is needed to be known about referencing the Harvard way. Note to self: Different lecturers/tutors live different styles...but mainly they want you to be consistent.

*Distinction: The second highest mark available at ANU. Other marks, in order from lowest to highest are; Pass, Credit, Distinction, High Distinction

I am a credit average, but to be a honours student in 2011 I either need to be a Distinction average, or for the honours supervisor to believe I am suitable and enthusiastic for one of their topics (dasyurid marsupials and ecology!).