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The University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council acknowledges the traditional owners of this land, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. We stand on this land today as beneficiaries of an uncompensated and unreconciled dispossession which occurred over 200 years ago. Many of the descendants of those dispossessed live just down the road in abject poverty, and as young people it is important to recognise how this history of dislocation and disenfranchisement has contributed to the inequity we observe in contemporary society, particularly in the area of education. We acknowledge both our privilege and our obligation to redress the situation at best we can: to remember the mistakes of the past, act on the problems of today, and build for a future for everyone who will not call this place home, striving always for practical and meaningful reconciliation. If you are reading this, you are standing on Aboriginal land. Please recognise and respect this.



Political Economy................................................33

Students take on the Liberals ���������������������������������3


2014 Education Department ���������������������������������4


Uni 101.......................................................................6


Staff Cuts Campaign.............................................10

Accounting & Finance.......................................35

Sydney Uni Strikes...................................................11


Free Education.......................................................14


Explaining SSAF.......................................................15

Social Work.............................................................37

Student Activism in Australia.................................17


International Student Struggles ���������������������������18


Tips for International Students ������������������������������20








Ancient History.....................................................22



Health Science.......................................................41

Art History.............................................................23

Music (The Con).....................................................42





Gender Studies....................................................24






Indigenous Studies..............................................26


International & Global Studies ��������������������������27






Ancient Languages............................................29



Vet Science............................................................49


United States Studies Centre................................50


Welfare Page..........................................................53


Thank You!...............................................................55

Performance Studies..........................................32

Join the EAG...........................................................56


Editorial BY RIDAH & ELEANOR, SRC EDUCATION OFFICERS Welcome to the counter course handbook, the PR and bullshit free guide to Sydney University. This year the counter course was thought up and put together by a collective of students across university faculties who wanted to share their experiences and reflections on their Sydney university education so far. Where the counter course lacks the glossy pages and endless photos of blonde smiling students found in official university propaganda, it makes up in honesty and insight. This handbook is the product of hundreds of student survey responses, and current and past Sydney Uni students who volunteered to write out of a passion in their subject areas and an interest in a quality education system. Given how underfunded and under-resourced the higher education system we operate in, it is no surprise that many students today can point to what’s wrong with their degrees. In their responses, students commented on large class sizes, expensive textbooks, unfair assessment and examination procedure, and staff run off their feet, trying to manage their admin, teaching and research loads. It’s important to say that we blame university management and successive governments who have attacked higher education for the shitty state it’s in today, and not university staff. We’ve seen decades of course cutting, the undermining of staff working conditions, and universities crammed to over-


capacity, with no extra funding given to meet the increased demand. It’s no wonder that the system is in shambles. Somehow the government has billions of dollars for the military and refugee detention centres but not for education. Similarly, Vice Chancellors like Michael Spence here at Sydney Uni rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, while simultaneously attacking workers’ rights on campus and cutting our courses. The staff of Sydney university are actually the people who make this place run, and the education department stands in full solidarity with staff in their struggles.

want to defend their education and fight the cuts need to be there! In the meantime, get involved in the Education Action Group; the education collective of the SRC that meets weekly to discuss education issues and plan our fight back. We need as many students as possible involved if we’re going to beat back the Liberal scum in government. So enjoy the read, and see you on the streets! Ridah & Eleanor, members of Socialst Alternative

But despite the negatives, this years’ counter course also sought to highlight the good parts of our university. The teachers that create interesting and constructive learning environments and the subjects on offer that challenge the way we think about the world around us. The counter course handbook isn’t just a critique of the status-quo, but in part a glimpse, and an argument to what the education system should be like. Though the discussion and fight for a better education system doesn’t end here. With Abbott and Pyne in government, the struggle for a quality education system is going to be had on the streets. The National Union of Students has called a National Day of Protest for education on Wednesday March 26th. In NSW a rally has been organised, starting at 1pm at UTS. All students who

THANKS: To everyone who contributed an article or subject review! Your efforts were super impressive and massively appreciated. We hope the collective production of this handbook is a sign of a successful year of collaboration to come.

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Students take on the Liberals BY SARAH GARNHAM, NUS EDUCATON OFFICER Education minister Christopher Pyne wants to attack students. He has a plan to dramatically cut funding and privatise higher education. He has also made student unions a target, letting it slip late last year that he had made plans to revoke their funding. Student activists intend to confirm the suspicions that motivate this proposal from Pyne. We intend to show that student unions are bastions of the left and are key to opposing the government’s agenda. Given the attacks in store this year, some of the most important positions in the student unions are the education offices. This year the education officers around the country will use their positions to further a campaign that began last year in response to the Labor government’s announcement of funding cuts of $2.3 billion. Last year’s campaign included the biggest student demonstrations in almost 10 years.This year we will need more street

demonstrations, more collective action, and more people involved in the grassroots campaign. But the campaign needs to have a broader focus than the funding cuts. We have called the campaign “Abbott and Pyne, get your hands off our education” in anticipation of other attacks on students throughout the year. The Liberals are toying with the idea of privatising HECS debt, a move that would open the door to massive fee increases and would increase the already appalling level of student poverty. They have also talked about introducing measures to exclude more working class and poor students from universities. Students on many campuses also face severe cuts from administrations. Jessica Lenehan, who has been elected as the Latrobe student union education officer, comes from a campus all too familiar with savage cuts.

“Latrobe is currently experiencing the biggest sweep of cuts to any university in Australia’s history. Whole faculties are being eradicated, student services are being hollowed out, hundreds of jobs are on the line, and students are being prevented from concluding the degrees they began. “It’s really important that the student union be used to mobilise students to fight these savage cuts. In response to the last round of cuts two years ago, students launched a protest campaign and were able to reinstate some subjects that the university had planned to axe. “The stakes are higher this time. Students need to be given a strong lead from the student union.” Student unions at every level need to work together to combat attacks from the universities and the government. We have to be prepared to disrupt business as usual and put pressure on those in power who are so blithely destroying our education system for the sake of profits. We intend to make Pyne’s term a nightmare and to take him on at every turn. But without grassroots involvement and activism, we won’t get anywhere. More students need to get involved in the campaign collectives on their campus or in their state. The first national education protest for the year will be held on Wednesday 26 March. Sarah Garnham, member of Socialist Alternative

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BY ELEANOR MORLEY AND RIDAH HASSAN During his time at our very own Sydney University, Tony Abbott once said that the “The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) is unnecessary and superfluous”. A right-wing, anti-union bastard from the very beginning of his political career, he was an enemy of student rights then, and remains so to this day. With Abbott and the rest of the Liberal party in power, students need to be ready to fight in 2014. Abbott and Pyne are committed to rolling out the $2.3 billion in cuts, which will further strain the already underfunded tertiary education system. Sydney Uni alone is predicted to see $50 million slashed, which will result in in ever expanding class sizes, deteriorating staff conditions and the undermining of diverse and quality education with further course cuts. Abbott has also launched an inquiry into higher education, which will only be used as an excuse to go on the attack. Already there has been talk of privatizing HECS. Along with undermining of student welfare, the gates of places like Sydney University will effectively become shut to working class students. Universities today are already run like businesses, and education treated like a commodity. What motivates university management and the government is not ensuring a decent education system, but defending their cushy lifestyles. In 2012 Sydney Uni Vice Chancellor Michael Spence “earned” a cool $744,143 along with a “performance” bonus of $167,432, while simultaneously attempting to cut hundreds of jobs (from SMH).


These job cuts, course cuts, and undermining of staff wages and conditions have become commonalities of university life today. Unsurprisingly, Michael Spence’s bonuses don’t seem to be under threat. The most recent cuts are a neoliberal’s fantasy, and will turn higher education into a user pays system only accessible to those who have enough money. The privatization of HECS moves the university further away from being a public amenity

“To successfully take on Abbott, we’re going to need all students who want to defend their education to join the campaign.” accessible to all, to a private business transaction between individuals and corporations. But it’s not all bad news. The past two years at Sydney University have seen a fighting response to numerous attacks on staff and students by university management. After Spence announced the axing of 360 jobs in 2012, the National Tertiary Education Union led a serious campaign of mass oncampus rallies, supported by the SRC and Education Action Group (EAG), which managed to save a large portion of these jobs. In 2013, in response to attacks on staff wages,

conditions and union rights the NTEU struck for seven days, and with the solidarity of students organised by the SRC and EAG, managed a decisive victory. 2013 also saw a vibrant national student campaign led by the National Union of Students (NUS) against the $2.3 billion in cuts to universities. Rallies were held in every capital city across the country; the biggest mobilisations since the anti-VSU campaign in 2005. The campaign was a success, turning higher education into an election issue, and forcing the ALP to vote against the cuts (the ones it initially introduced) in the Senate last year. At Sydney Uni, Abbott also spoke also wearily of the “Marxists…that are operating in the universities.” We’re proud to say that we are the Marxists that Abbott warned you about. We are the student activists who not only fight for education, but against all the injustices that capitalism produces. Our SRC is a political body that should actively and proudly campaign around left-wing issues. After all, the same people attacking our education are attacking refugees, Indigenous rights and the working class. We want to use our position to show solidarity with, and link up the struggles waged by all groups that are fucked over by our disgusting conservative governments, because our movements are stronger when united. Among others, we are involved in the campaigns for refugee rights, equal marriage rights, abortion rights, Indigenous rights and in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Apartheid Israel.

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We are also involved in organising Australia’s biggest left wing conference Marxism 2014, which will be held in Melbourne over the Easter break. The conference will see radicals and activists of all stripes in discussions of history, theory and ideas to challenge the system today. For more information see But the only way we will win anything, from a decent education system to social justice, is through mass action. In 2014 we need more students involved in activism and out on the streets. NUS has already announced their major campaign for the year

ahead: “Abbott and Pyne: Get Your Hands Off our Education” and the first national day of action has been called for March 26th. To successfully take on Abbott, we’re going to need all students who want to defend their education to join the campaign. Here’s how to get involved:

The NSW Education Action Network exists to link up EAGs from all campuses across Sydney to discuss and plan education activism at a state wide level. In 2013 the EAN was responsible for the Sydney NDAs, which throughout the year drew hundreds of students into education activism.

At Sydney Uni we’ll be organising this campaign through the Education Action Group, which is the central activist collective on campus. The EAG holds weekly meetings, where students get together to discuss education issues both on campus and nationally, and organises around fighting the cuts.

• Contact the education officers Eleanor and Ridah at • Attend the weekly EAG meetings (check the facebook page for time and place) • Like the Sydney Uni EAG page - https://www.facebook. com/SydneyUniversityEducation •Get inolved in the NSW EAN by visiting: https://www.

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Textbooks Uni is fucking expensive. You’ve signed away your fees to HECS, realised that op shopping is cool because it is cheap and discovered that a packet of Mi Goreng and a can of tuna can make one hell of a meal. Then there are textbooks. Your lecturers will insist that every single page of the five kilogram slab that they’ve assigned is integral to your education and you won’t pass without it. A textbook or reader for each subject and all of a sudden you’re looking at several hundred dollars every semester. The truth is you don’t need to buy most text books to survive! Our advice is to wait until the first few lectures of the subjects have passed and see what you actually need. It also pays to try and hunt down someone who has done the subject before to see which texts they found useful. Also bear in mind that you may change which courses you’re taking (you can do this as many times as you like within the first 2 weeks of each semester) so be sure not to buy something you then won’t need! Now you know which book to get, the next step is finding where to get them. The Co-Op, whilst convenient, is guaranteed to be your most expensive option and is definitely a last resort. The SRC Second Hand Bookstore (Level 5 in the rabbit warren of Wentworth) is much cheaper, though the selection is not as exhaustive, though for subjects with big cohorts (psych,


chemistry, law, philosophy etc.) you can probably find what you need. A lot of students will also sell their textbooks independently, so keep your eyes on the noticeboards on Eastern Ave and look for notices in faculty offices and around campus. If you’re buying new, head online. The Book Depository does free shipping though you may wait several weeks for a shipment to arrive. Companies like Zookal (you’ll probably spot them at a stall on campus during O Week) also buy and sell textbooks online. Remember, if the books you do need are just too expensive, all textbooks are available in the 2 Hour Loan section of the Library. However these can be in high demand, especially during assessment periods so don’t rely on them too heavily. Changing Your Timetable The university website will tell you that you can’t change the timetable you’ve been given or switch tuts because how dare you even THINK about commitments other than uni, geez. This isn’t true. You can attend any of the lecture streams that a subject provides – subjects with big cohorts will run the same lecture multiple times, usually on the same day. For example, last year PHIL1011 ran the same lecture at 11am, 3pm and 6pm and you could attend any of them, regardless of which one was on your timetable. However, be aware that lectures at popular times (11am, in the case of

philosophy) can fill up, and you may find yourself without a seat if you run late. You can also use the online timetable unit to switch between any tuts that haven’t completely filled up. Generally the tutorial closest to the lecture is the most popular (e.g. if there is a 2pm tut straight after the 1pm lecture), so if you’re really rooting for these tuts then it helps to get in early. If they fill up straight away, try again another day – availability for classes fluctuates as students change their minds and therefore their timetables. The best way to nail down that three-day week is to try to plan your subjects early and get onto the timetable system as soon as possible. Just blank out all of the times you would rather be in Hermann’s or Manning, see if it fits, rinse and repeat until everything suits. If you’re super organised, you can find out when all lectures and tutorials for your classes run through the university website, plan your timetable manually, and then try and get the timetable server to give it to you. Research When that first big assignment comes around and you are asked to research the sociological impacts of Richard Feynman’s quantum theory on the fisherman of a small African nation or some similarly ridiculous question, knowing where to start becomes a tricky business. Our tip? Always start with quizzing your tutor,

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the Cross Search on the library websites front page and Google Scholar. Just copy and paste the keywords and they should rustle you up some good material to get you going. Being a student at USyd also gives you access to lots of web journals like JSTOR – you can access this through the library website. Also, the library has one Librarian per faculty whose job is to know exactly what they do and do not have about particular subject areas. They will be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to research. Tutorial Participation Welcome to the gladiatorial arena of the tutorial where two or three egos battle it out for their participation marks and the rest of us fearfully watch on. That 10% for contributing in tuts can be some of the easiest marks to grab in a subject and really don’t require you to verbally assault your fellow students. Tutors normally decide participation marks towards the end of semester, so turning up and having an opinion in the last few weeks should have you laughing. Some tutors will take a unique approach to tutorial participation (because, let’s be honest, the current criteria are pretty dumb), such as setting you a small presentation or making you do a summary of a reading to earn that 10%. If so, they should tell you this in their first tutorial.

entitled to an extension or some other form of special consideration. The process of getting this varies between each faculty, the Science faculty, for example, requires applications for consideration to be made within 5 days either side of the due date. As a general rule, if you miss an assessment due to illness you will need a doctor’s certificate for the day of the assessment (not the day before or after). It’s best to check your faculty websites to be completely sure. Arts students listen up! You guys are in luck. The Arts faculty, being the hero of all procrastinators, grants something known as a ‘simple extension’. This gives up to five working days of extension by simply completing an online application. You don’t need anything other than a half decent sounding excuse (the words “debilitating back pain” have worked for me) and in almost all cases they automatically give you the extra time. An extra tip: the misadventure category is usually more successful than the illness category as the university is unlikely to ask you to provide further evidence. That being said, be careful not to abuse the simple extension process – if you apply on the grounds of computer problems eight times in one semester the staff will know something’s up. A final tip for you Arts kids: for most subjects you only lose 2% for every business day your assignment is late, so a whole weekend of extra time might be worth the small set back.

Extensions The all-powerful above us would love you to believe that wrestling an extension from their hands requires the loss of a limb (as well as a doctor’s certificate to prove loss of said limb). In actual fact, if you are sick or unable to complete an assignment for some other reason, you are perfectly

Choosing subjects Often the most difficult decision for students is actually choosing which subjects to take. Have no fear! Here are our top tips: - First and foremost, pick subjects that interest you. Aside from the compulsory units of study that some degrees

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include, do not be afraid to pick subjects you love rather than ones that seem relevant to your vocational aspirations. University isn’t easy: it requires some degree of dedication and study so do yourself a favour and actually pick subjects you will like and therefore be more likely to do well in! - Your faculty handbook will be your best friend, use it! The easiest way to find it is to simply Google “University of Sydney Science Faculty (or whatever Faculty or School you are after) Handbook”. The 2014 version should be the top link. You will be able to browse different degrees, subject areas and specific units of study. Be sure to look at your degree as it will tell you all degree and progression requirements. Under the “Sample Study Timetable” link you will be able to easily see what your degree looks like and whether you have specific compulsory units of study (very common in most degrees with a long name)! - Be sure to check out the SRC Counter Course Handbook for up-to-date student feedback on individual departments, as well as tips of specific courses. Switching Subjects We know you have already completed your enrolment for this academic year, but it’s not too late for you to add or remove one or more subjects! The procedure can vary from faculty to faculty but as a general rule you can vary your enrolment by either logging on to MyUni or coming into your Faculty Office. If you do not want to receive any academic or financial penalty remember these two dates: • Friday 14th March is the last day to ADD a unit of study • Monday 31st March is the last day to WITHDRAW from a unit of study without it affecting your PAGE 7

academic transcript (you may be rewarded a ‘discontinue fail’ if you withdraw after this date) and without you having to pay for it on HECS Appealing Marks Most markers will tell you that your mark is FINAL thank you have a nice day. In reality, you can appeal individual assessments as well as your overall course mark. You can normally appeal in two ways – the legit, official way, which involves paperwork and being pretty sure of yourself. Normally a second/different teacher will re-mark your assessment, but if this lands you with an even worse mark you can’t then appeal again. Alternatively, you can unofficially ‘appeal’ by speaking to your tutor or lecturer. They may re-read your essay and should be able to at least give you some useful feedback, if not necessarily a new mark, or in the case of an exam they can check that they have added up your marks correctly or that they didn’t miss a page or booklet of your answer. If you want to appeal your entire course mark, you should first contact your lecturer or the course coordinator to find out a breakdown of your grade. They should be able to tell you what you got for the final and for class participation (normally you won’t be told this), and you can decide if the mark is still worth appealing. I once got a final course mark which didn’t quite seem right, so I asked for my mark in the final exam, which I then appealed and ended up getting an extra ten marks because they’d forgotten to mark the back page of my paper. Usually this process will involve sending a couple of emails to the coordinator and going into the office to review


your exam, which is really not a big commitment when it could earn you one, two, five or more final marks. What’s more, you don’t really have anything to lose – at worst you’ll find out that you just totally bombed the exam and your overall mark will stay the same.

“Our biggest tip is never be afraid to ask! It might be hard to find in the sprawl of a massive university but help is out there and you don’t need to wrestle with the problems and oddities of uni life alone. ” Where to seek help Finally, we know that this is all pretty daunting and there’s a chance of running into some problems throughout the year. The good news is there are plenty of people around to help you out with any sort of issue you might be having. Academically, we’ve talked a bit about not being afraid to have a chat with your tutor or lecturer as a first point of assistance – this is worthwhile. There are normally scheduled consultation times for each academic where you can ask questions and clarify anything you might be struggling with. The Learning Centre also holds a wide variety of open

workshops on everything from research to essay writing that are worth checking out. Help with academic appeals and showing cause for special consideration can be found with the SRC Caseworkers. University life and the stress that it sometimes involves isn’t always smooth sailing. CAPS (the Counselling and Psychological Services) can help you in working through mental health or wellbeing concerns. They offer free oneon-one counselling and advice to all students and are happy to assist with any issue, whether or not it is university related. Lawyers are expensive, right? Wrong. The SRC Legal Service gives you access to solicitors who can provide legal advice, representation in court and a referral service all for free. They will help you with everything from share house agreements to criminal matters. Head down to the basement of Wentworth to get in touch. Speaking of the SRC, those legends in the dungeon (okay, we are biased) are in the business of making your undergraduate life as easy as possible. We have caseworkers who are happy to assist you with navigating the mystery of Centrelink, lodging academic appeals, emergency loans and any other issue you run into as an undergrad student. Our biggest tip is never be afraid to ask! It might be hard to find in the sprawl of a massive university but help is out there and you don’t need to wrestle with the problems and oddities of uni life alone. Searching for any of the services we mention above should set you on the right path.

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Before 2012, the Education Action Group (EAG) was an organisation on hiatus. Education activism centred on student bureaucrats lobbying management with postcards and days where people ate noodles to highlight student poverty. In 2012, however, after the Left increased its influence in the student union, taking power away from Liberals and right-wing Independents, things changed, particularly as a response to the prospect of massive job losses at the university. Anarchists, Trotskyists, and Greens, as well as Education Officer David Pink, were at the first meeting of the EAG, and there we discussed how to fight the planned 340 job losses – 150 academic and 190 general – the University was attempting to push through. While the workers were represented by the National Tertiary Education Union, we knew it would be negligent and immoral of us to not fight with the staff and mobilise students against the management. It became clear that fighting the cuts was an act of solidarity: knowing that the fate of the staff would affect us as students. PAGE 10

The EAG grew, with many students from around campus joining, interested in fighting. Students were disgusted that the job cuts were based on arbitrary performance standards brought in spontaneously to cut academics primarily from ‘low revenue’ subjects such as the Arts. Academics were required to have written three publications in a certain time period or they would be up for ‘review’. This targeted academics that were working on large works as opposed to small but regular contributions to their field. Students were also disgusted that the University was happy to spend more money on private initiatives, building refurbishments, and marketing, but cut staff and increase tutorial sizes. Some students immediately felt the impact as they lost supervisors halfway through their thesis. We first knew we had to build the movement. This involved leafleting, lecture bashing, printing shirts, and so on. But it had to be a democratic movement, and so we invited more people to be involved in the EAG; some activists moved motions in lecture

theatres, gaining up to 70 lecture theatres to vote against the staff cuts; other students organised a referendum where 5000 students from across campus voted on how they felt about the staff cuts, the referendum winning with a resounding 97% ‘NO’ against the cuts. Our rallies against the cuts were huge – up to 2000 at one point – as a result of our engagement with the campus. These rallies would gain momentum as they marched through Eastern Avenue, often ending in speak outs and democratic forums for students to speak their mind. Rallies, chants, marches and ‘stunts’ (for example, the die-in we did early that year) were the bulk of tactics students typically used in education campaigns. However, many of us knew we needed to do more to win the struggle. Rallies can only do so much. As Michael Spence, the Vice Chancellor himself, said to Honi: “Rallies have long been an accepted part of the campus experience, and spirited debate and well reasoned arguments are to be applauded.” Spence

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was a skilled businessman that knew fighting back against rallies would send the wrong message; instead, he appeared as the wizened academic, proud of Sydney University’s activist history and its contemporary debates. That’s why we knew that we had to employ direct action. In April, after our biggest rally, a group of about hundred or so students occupied the office of the Dean of Arts, Duncan Ivison, where the majority of the cuts were happening, and refused to leave until management agreed to our terms. Many other students were hanging around the entrance, not being able to fit into the small office space. We had democratised the space, asking Ivison to wait until his turn to speak. The police were called, but quickly backed off, as the situation was not one of violence, but of radical empowerment of students. Another tactic we used throughout were walkouts, urging students to simply leave their lectures in a show of boycott of a poorly funded education system. We also attempted to occupy again, this time a Senate meeting, but the cops had already

been called, and arrested three students without charge. We all knew that the police existed to protect capital and management, but this was the first time we saw it on campus. It was foreboding of the brutal and disgraceful tactics of the riot police the year after at the strikes. The power of physical and direct activism, and the extent to which this frightened and provoked the establishment, was to shape the trajectories of most Sydney University activists. Although we were victorious in saving the majority of staff, with only around 40 taking voluntary redundancies, the staff cuts was more a lesson for the future and about our university in general. It told us that direct action was the most effective form of activism: not just rallying and lobbying, but stopping the university from being able to function normally until they began to treat us and staff with respect. It also taught some, and reminded others, that the university is not just a neutral place of learning, but a corporation under neoliberalism, and that the Vice-Chancellor is the boss. As a function of bourgeois capitalism, designed

to produce Australia’s next workers, it was no wonder that the University would attempt to debilitate union activity by trying to disintegrate the staff and smash student activism with the violence of police. Mainly, it made it abundantly clear that students must be activist and left wing to win these struggles. It was not good enough for apolitical student bureaucrats in the SRC to break ranks and condemn our actions while doing nothing on the side, or worse, sometimes siding with management; it was horrendous for the rightwing forces on that year’s Honi Soit to give a platform to the Vice-Chancellor and eventually cease reporting on student activism. Ultimately, a good education system is dependent on the Left maintaining control over the student union and student newspaper – or at least, persuading those with control about the importance of persistent activism. The alternative is to stand apart and buckle at our knees when the might of the university corporation stands above you, backed by the bourgeois capitalist state. That’s why you should join the Education Action Group.

SYDNEY UNI STRIKES BY APRIL HOLCOMBE In 2013, business as usual got a healthy shock at Sydney University as teachers and general staff in the National Tertiary Education Union [NTEU] engaged in seven days of striking. The university calendar, typically peppered with corporate events and managerial love-ins, was also

punctuated with militant action from workers who demanded a better deal. The bigwigs of the administration – Vice Chancellor Michael Spence, Deputy VC’s Stephen Garton & Ann Brewer and their sycophantic ilk – tried to wage war against hard-earned

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conditions and pay deals. They wanted to revoke the union’s anti-discrimination clause, slash sick leave by 60 percent, cut workers’ pay and generally steamroll forward with their agenda of casualisation, restricting academic freedom and trying to kick the union off campus.

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USyd workers didn’t take this crap lying down. The union demanded a seven percent pay rise and threatened industrial action. VC Spence, who took a cool $911,575 in 2012, cried poor and emailed every student at the university to explain why they simply couldn’t afford the union’s demand (though they can spend countless millions on dead-end infrastructure projects). The strikes went ahead: Militant picket lines surrounded the campus on March 7, March 25 and 26, May 14, June 5, August 20 and a roaming picket shook things up at Open Day on August 31. Striking IT workers shut off campus Wi-fi. Administrative staff deleted emails received on strike days. Teachers cancelled classes. On these days, campus was a shadow of its former self, populated only by a pathetic trickle of self-entitled scab students. Bikes, cars, buses, trucks were all turned away by pickets bolstered with supportive students and community members. Workers who struck and picketed felt the power in their

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hands. If they choose to, they can cut off the flow of profits that management grow fat on, strike right at the heart of capitalist logic. Students acting in solidarity with their teachers and staff were also engaged in a fight against billions of dollars in cuts to higher education pushed forward by the Labor government. We understand the common enemy we faced: Neoliberal governments and their best mates in university management. As is expected, police swamped the pickets to intimidate and assault. On March 26, a number of supportive students were brutalised and arrested for interrupting a lecture, whilst scabs who slammed through picketers were given a thumbs up. The June 5 strike saw police attack completely peaceful pickets and arrest a further 11 students, threating anyone else who so much as watched their arrest with the same. Another student was arrested on August 20. Management denied their complicity with the police’s brutality, but leaked emails revealed both the Vice Chancellor and the head

of USyd security gave their heartfelt thanks to the police for bashing their students, and offered them a “milkshake next time you’re free”. Management finally caved in when looking down the barrel of a planned three-day strike. The NTEU won all of the conditions it had demanded, with the new enterprise bargaining agreement including domestic violence leave, an equitable quota for Indigenous staff, maintaining 50 sick days per year and a pay rise of 14.5% over five years, compared to management’s original offer of 8% over five years. Hundreds of staff joined the NTEU over the course of the strike campaign and have learned important lessons in their activity about who their friends are and what power they have if they choose to wield it. Scumbag Spence will think twice next time he tries to rip up workers’ conditions or kick the NTEU off campus. The workers united will never be defeated!

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FREE EDUCATION BY EDWARD MCMAHON The university was born as a free association of thinkers, freely exchanging ideas and knowledge. As the institution developed, it was subject to the power of monarchs and churches. However, it was the nation-state that ultimately appropriated the institution for its own purposes. It became, and remains, a powerful tool of social manipulation. Since the University of Sydney was established in 1850 as Australia’s first, successive governments have used tertiary education policy to both respond to, and create, social change. The Australian University has a long history as an elitist institution. At federation, about 0.0007% of the population was enrolled. By the start of the Great War, this figure was about 0.1%. This changed following the Second World War, when the Commonwealth Government, treating tertiary education as a stimulant of economic growth, increasingly financed it. This was commonly done by way of financial grants to the States. Throughout the 1950s, enrollment rates doubled. In the latter years of the decade, there was a greater than 10% annual increase in enrollments. This was paralleled by an increasing number of new universities. By the 1970s there were strong social movements agitating for greater accessibility. This led to the Whitlam Government’s 1973 abolition of university fees. The Commonwealth assumed full responsibility for funding of tertiary education. The participation rate increased dramatically. Although this

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was the stated goal, increased participation prompted the reintroduction of student fees by the Hawke-Keating Government. However, it engineered a system known as the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) that we know today. Under this model, the Commonwealth financed tertiary study, and recovered a proportion, known as the “student contribution”, when the student earned a certain income. The HECS model has been subject to a number of reforms. It initially mandated a flat student contribution for all courses. In 1996, the Howard Government introduced a “three-tier” student contribution model, in which one of three amounts was charged according to the predicted income-earning capacity of graduates in a course. In 2005/06, the same government further deregulated fees, allowing universities to increase the amount charged by up to 25%. Most universities increased fees to the maximum amount allowable. Previously, each university was given a certain number of “commonwealth supported places”. However, the Rudd-Gillard government deregulated university places, meaning that each university could choose to admit an unlimited number of students. This has had the particularly lamentable effect of encouraging universities, equipped with corporate marketing and infrastructure departments, to focus on maximizing enrollments through

superficial appearances, rather than by prioritising the working and learning environment. Today, myopic politicians of both major parties routinely cut university funding with a view to short-term cost benefits, with scant regard to the long-term (often intangible) societal and individual benefits generated by a rigorous education. Indeed, this myopia is endemic in the parlance of

“the once sacrosanct experience of education has been reduced to a tool of economic growth by a neoliberal agenda.” tertiary education policy. This is particularly demonstrated by the practice of assessing the “value” of a course according to the income that it may one day generate. In short, the once sacrosanct experience of education has been reduced to a tool of economic growth by a neoliberal agenda. This approach has given rise to a corporate university model that treats the student as a consumer of its product. This model does not exist in a vacuum, but rather in a society permeated by soulless neoliberalism. University is too

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often treated as a means of social advancement. In this context, our teachers are coerced into delivering the university’s product: a degree that ostensibly holds the key to social advancement, rather than pursuing their intellectual passions. Yet, it was in the free pursuit of his interests that Newton formulated his most significant ideas, such as his

law of gravity, namely during the years in which the bubonic plague caused the closure of Cambridge.

unequal society. This trend is of particular concern in the face of an Abbott Government that may seek to completely deregulate university fees, exposing our education to a simplistic calculus of supplydemand, without regard to individual needs and equity.

The neoliberalisation of the university diminishes education as a social good per se. Rather than making education universally available, it links it with polarised economic classes in an increasingly

EXPLAINING SSAF BY AMY KNOX The Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) has been big in the news recently, as one of the many things Education Minister Christopher Pyne and his Liberal cronies plan on cutting from Higher Education, but what exactly is the ‘SSAF’? To give a simple explanation: SSAF helps fund a variety of support services for students and co-curricular experiences of student life. Basically all the stuff that your already ridiculously expensive university fees do not cover, the nonacademic stuff, the SSAF does. The SSAF actually started being charged only very recently and it is important to know why it was created to know why it is actually quite significant. Prior to 2005, all students were

expected to join their student unions and payment to do so was included in fees for every semester. If a student really did not want to be part of the student union then they had to ‘opt out’, but they still paid the fees, so there really was no benefit to opting out. This was called Universal Student Unionism (or USU). In 2005, the Howard Government argued for Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) and passed the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Upfront Student Union Fees) Bill 2005 which abolished these compulsory fees. Student unions across the country suffered without said fees, and while some universities did have the option to fund these

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services themselves, a lot of universities could not afford to do so. In 2011, the Labor government became aware of the negative effect VSU was having on student organisations and introduced the SSAF as a response to this, with SA-Help which allows students to put off paying for their SSAF alike the HECS scheme for fees. The SSAF does come with its own problems, however. The SSAF, while intended to go towards non-academic services, is in the hands of campus administration to allocate, and these allocations can be unfair and nonrepresentative of what the majority of students actually use. An Honi Soit (that’s our student newspaper, pro-tip:


learn how to pronounce it correctly before saying it out loud) article this year revealed to students that while largely used student services such as the University of Sydney Union received $3.1m and the Student Representatives’ Council received $1.4m, the Sydney University Sport and Fitness (SUSF) topped the list of SSAF recipients this year receiving $3.7m, or 31% of total SSAF received by the university. This is despite the fact that they charge ridiculous fees to join, making it an inaccessible service for most students. The amount of SSAF allocated to SUSF is said to be used to subside scholarships for the Elite Athlete Program but a portion, about 15-20%, of these scholarship recipients are not even students. So the fee which we as students are required to pay and what we expect to get back through our students services and amenities are instead going to people who do not go here or have to

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pay this fee, which sucks. A lot. However, without the SSAF we wouldn’t be able to fund the amazing work that the SRC does including the Free Legal Service, the Second Hand Book Shop and the Case Workers who assist students who are struggling with both academic and non-academic issues. These are services which are vital for the welfare and experience of students through university. SSAF is also important as it also assists in funding the fun stuff on campus, including the clubs and societies, parties, bars and food, which are run by the University of Sydney Union. Robby Magyar, one of the student board directors of the USU, had this to say about the importance and relevance of SSAF for the Union and for university life more generally, “…USU Board of Directors and the organisation itself are constitutionally bound to support Compulsory Student Unionism and while this is no

longer in place, we are obliged to support and engage with discussions surrounding SSAF because it is an alternate form of government funding which can allow us to maintain and extend our offerings to students. SSAF is misunderstood, just as CSU was. Both allow student organisations to engage all students, not just a select few.” Plans to get rid of SSAF by the Liberal Government are one of many reasons why this government is not student friendly. Yes, the SSAF has its flaws and it is a pesky addition to our already gargantuan fees we are required to pay but in the meantime it is better than the alternative this government is offering, nothing. The counter course team encourages every student beginning university in 2014 to join the fight against Christopher Pyne and his Liberal mates and make sure that they keep their grubby little hands away from our student services.

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STUDENT ACTIVISM IN AUSTRALIA BY LIAM CARRIGAN The history of student activism in Australia is complex, changing alongside the broader political climate. Yet by constructing a coherent narrative of the student movement we can see that students have always dissented. Students at Sydney University particularly have a unique opportunity to add their voices to this proud legacy, as our campus has and hopefully will continue to be the heart of student protest, collaboration and activism. Any recount of the student movement really picks up around the 1960-1970s, often described as the ‘Golden Era’. This was the halcyon era of student activism, involving unprecedented swathes of students active in campaigns against the war, for workers’ rights and against oppression. This groundswell of action did not take place in a vacuum, but alongside international movements. Student revolt actually surprised many commenters – who generally perceived Australian Students as conservative and passive. The Vietnam War proved a key catalyst, becoming the focal issue of the student activism, with students having an obvious stake. Moratorium marches; draft resistance and uprisings were ubiquitous. These momentous events have traditionally allowed the broader movement to unite – with great successes eventuating - something many activists at USYD are advised to consider! The civil rights movement of the early to mid 1960s also contributed to a swing to radicalism, with mass protests peaking in 1967. Campuses were occupied; ideologies contested, factions formed and resounding

social change achieved and entrenched. Efforts continued past the 1970s, though sweeping claims on the death of student activism and the heightened conservatism of generation X and Y were commonplace. The National Union of Students formed in 1987, replacing earlier conceptions. The economic and social catastrophes of the 1990s inspired the re-emergence of radicalism under the Howard Government, with national strikes and occupations. It was during this period that the threat of Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) emerged. The ideological attack eventual implementation of VSU by the Howard Government in 2006 proved the singularly most devastating act against student life and activity ever seen. Countless organizations folded, political activity and radicalization crippled and the vibrant culture across universities desecrated. This period marked a period of incredible unity across the student body, with students from all political persuasions uniting in mass protest against Howard’s neoliberal agenda. Irrespective of their slashed funding, many student organisations fought to remain above water and relevant – Sydney University arguably remains the last true bastion of something resembling the era of Universal Student Unionism. Where then are we today? Labor’s implementation of the Student Services and Amenities Fee was seen by many as a return to student unionism via the back door, but sadly placed the power of distribution over to management. But once again we have an opportunity to revive the student movement –

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the accession of an extremely conservative government, lead by perhaps the most notorious graduate this university has ever produced demands action. Higher education cuts, the destruction of SSAF and the neoliberal agenda have attained power once again. In this climate of heightened social tensions the field is crowded, as various factions vie for power over the movement. We are wise to remember that division is death – if we truly want to protect the quality of our education and independence of our student organisations we must work together. This history is by no means exhaustive but I hope it has in some way convinced you to get involved, as our predecessors did. The student movement is a flawed albeit wonderful beast. You might not see the relevance of activism but you have a personal stake – the Conservatives are hell bent on destroying quality tertiary education and they have already done so much damage. Dissent and Revolt. This is something bigger than yourself – an old SRC saying proclaims “It’s our future, lets fight for it.” Join the Education Action Group and also involve yourself in the other amazing collectives: Queer, Womens, Environment and Anti Racism. Collective action remains our greatest tool against the regressive impulses that erode our education. One needs only read the subject reviews in this very book to realise that when you look past the prestige and flashy marketing, the ‘world class education’ offered by these hallowed halls is not what it used to be. Don’t forget: Study. Be Silent.Die.

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INTERNATIONAL STUDENT STRUGGLES BY DANIEL ATTWOOD The neoliberal assault upon public education has been going on internationally for decades. User pays, fee increases, course cuts, privatisation, undermining staff conditions and attacking unionism has become an essential part of the education agenda for governments and university management across the world. Thankfully though there has also been resistance. Over the last few years student movements have revived across a number of countries, though the two epicentres are undoubtedly Quebec and Chile. In these two countries mass, radical student movements have erupted challenging the neoliberal agenda and drawing behind them wider layers of society in the struggle for social justice and equality. In 2012 Quebec students faced a 75 percent hike in tuition fees to be implemented over several years. This increase was in the context of a dramatic spike in income inequality in Quebec due to a host of austerity measures and economic


expansion only benefiting the rich. The students managed to build a mass movement around demands rejecting the neoliberal agenda not only for education but for society more generally. The demonstrations grew into the tens of thousands and then the hundreds of thousands. Student strikes shut down all the major universities. As the students protested workers, the unemployed and indigenous groups started to organise with them. Talk of a ‘’social strike’’ to shut down all of society began to gain ground and a spokesperson for the student movement made their intentions clear when they said ‘’It’s more than a student strike, we want it to become a struggle of the people.’’ As the government responded with police crackdowns the struggle both radicalised and grew even larger. Bill 78 was rushed through parliament. It viciously criminalised protests and sought to issues fines of up to $5000 for individuals or $125,000 per day

for student organisations that protested without a permit from the government. The response was simply staggering. Three hundred thousand people protested the day after the bill was passed. Over a thousand people were arrested and fined– the largest act of civil disobedience in Quebec’s history. The bill was soon removed, the budget cuts overturned and although the fight continues in Quebec they won an important victory that inspired activists around the world. But it didn’t come from nowhere, it took years to build up from relatively small student campaigns and organisations the layers of activists who could build a mass militant movement. And there was an understanding built up that in order to have the most effect upon society the movement would not only have to be willing to challenge the powers that be but also to draw in as many students as possible. In Chile there was a similar combination of militancy and mass struggle. Here a layer of student activists involved in indigenous land rights campaigning and trade union support groups started to organise around education issues. Their campaigning intersecting with growing anger with the state of education. Thanks to decades of severe neoliberalism, first introduced by the dictator Pinochet, Chile has the most privatised education system in the world. At the core of the campaign was the demand that corporations

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should pay more tax in order to increase education funding and access. The movement drew tens of thousands onto the streets. For over a year strikes and occupations rocked universities and high schools. Slogans such as ‘’Education is not for profit; our dreams are no one’s property’’ were painted across the walls of public buildings. Students clashed with police and similar to Quebec large swathes of the population were won to supporting them.

The struggles in Quebec and Chile should be the inspiration for education activists here in Australia. While we can’t recreate mass militant movements out of thin air there is plenty to learn from these important fights for education. In particular what stood out in both Quebec and Chile was that the movement brought together large numbers of students in militant action. It didn’t wait around for saviours on high – or in parliamentbut nor did it retreat into the

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isolated enclaves of seasoned activist circles. They drew in wide layers of people to struggle against the attacks upon education. Students have already been hit with a $2.3 billion cut to university funding, and with Abbott in power things are only going to get worse. The best homage we can pay to the students of Quebec and Chile is learn from them and start organising our own fight back here.

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TIPS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS BY SHERRY, JAMES, CHEN & EMMA Hello! Welcome (back) to a brand new semester at the University of Sydney. Our names are Sherry, James, Chen and Emma and we are your International Student Officer at the Student Representative Council (SRC) in 2014. If this is your first semester here, don’t panic, because we are here to help. We firmly believe in equality - international students, representing over 20% of student population, should be treated equally like every other student regardless of our nationalities - and this what we will be striving for. Who are the International Student Officers? We are elected by the SRC to represent international students on campus. We have a few jobs: •

Make your voices heard: from big issues such as travel concession to concerns like academic problems and housing. Ensure that you are wellinformed: we will host regular seminar on hot topics.

Create a safe and fun environment at our fortnightly collective meeting for you!

So, what is the International Student Collective(ISC)? The Collective is a place for you to raise and discuss your concerns. Or swing by to make some new friends! We host collective meetings every two weeks (food provided!). Bring your friend along as we welcome everyone, local or International. We will also host seminars on hot topics such as safety, visa and campus elections during collective meetings. Come along to our seminars and be the most updated amongst your friends! This year, we would like to work with other collectives in the SRC and some national International students organizations. You will find them later in this booklet. So, make sure you get involved because this is all about YOU! Need help with English? For most of us, English is our

second or even third language. It is ok to admit that we need help mastering the language at time. So, here are places we go to when we need help (ALL OF THEM ARE FOR FREE): - Learning Centre (http:// learning_centre/): enroll yourself in a academic writing or presentation skill course , they will become incredibly helpful when it comes to assessment season - The Write Site (http://writesite. step to step online tutorial to academic writing. It consists of 3 modules, targeting grammar, structure and sources in academic writing. - PASS ( business/learning/students/ pass): unfortunately this program is only available for some business and law subjects. However, if your subject is offered in PASS, we highly recommend you to register for it. Not only does it help you with academic content, but it also assist in a smooth transformation from High School style learning/ whatever learning style you are accustomed to in your own country to University style.

How to join the International Students Collective: • Sign up at our O-Week stall for newsletters

• Swing by our bi-weekly meetings (details TBA)

• Email us at

• Find us on Facebook: USYD Students’ Representative Council (SRC) International Students Officers • Tumblr: usydinternational • Weibo: SYDinternational PAGE 2 0

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AGRICULTURE There was a lot of positive things said about agriculture. It’s a small department generally which “fosters a sense of community” and its small lecture sizes mean that classes are interactive and inclusive, with students being given space to ask questions and discuss content out with their peers. Agriculture combines theoretical course work and practical field trips. “The units AFNR1001 - The Rural Environment and and ANFR1002- Climate and the Environment are excellent. They provide a broad general introduction to the agriculture

sector in Australia. The problem based learning assignment in each course are excellent as they are in the form of a consultancy report, meaning that you can develop skills that will be used directly in fields once finishing uni. Dan Tan and Peter Ampt are the greatest lectures known to man. They are both very knowledgeable in their fields and easily approachable if you have any issues.” For later year subjects: “AGRO3004 [was recommended as it teaches] really practical knowledge, good overview of Agriculture

in Australia. HORT3004 was a fantastic unit. Great staff (Robyn McConchie especially), very small cohort so it was easy to approach the lecturers. Covered a broad range of content, particularly interesting were the lectures on the differences between horticulture in Australia and in parts of the developing world. PPAT3003 Some of the content repeats from MICR2004 (a second year prereq) which is helpful as there is a lot of content. AGEC3025 Lecture notes had all the info you need on them, exam questions similar from year to year.”

ARCHITECTURE Long nights, hard work and heartbreak – in short, the most rewarding, fun, creative community you could be part of. If you are ready for a challenge, then we wholeheartedly welcome you to a world of dreams, creativity and passionate people, as well as endless amounts of balsa, glue and coffee. Words of warning. You will always be short on time. Most of your ‘social’ life will take place in a studio. The cost of materials will make you cringe. No exams mean long, weighty and high standard assignments. And no matter how much work you do, you will always be told that it could be better. But ultimately, what would you rather be doing? Researching facts for a lengthy essay, memorising

details you will forget as soon as the exam is over, or drawing, crafting and messing about on modelling programs? It has to be a hard degree, or else we would all be doing it! To top it off, you will be supported by both friends and staff who want you to excel. There are some complaints that in first year there is no official teaching of modelling software, when to do well on assignments there appears to be a preference for people who have used (some) computer modelling. However, not only did several tutors go outside of tutorial time to teach these basic skills, as a year group we then taught each other – so if you’re willing to spend some time gaining valuable skills, not only will it pay off, but

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you will make good friends in the process. Most people are more than willing to share their knowledge, feedback and compassion. One key piece of advice: frequently, assignment briefs and guidelines will be rather vague as to what you actually need to do. Often, even if you ask tutors more specifically what they want, you will get vague answers. Keep asking. Rephrase the question, give them ten or more ideas and ask what they prefer, or ask a million small-step questions to get a better picture. Chances are your tutor will appreciate your interest, enthusiasm and determination – and if they don’t, they are definitely an exception, not the rule. PAGE 21


ANCIENT HISTORY Ancient History has overwhelming enthusiasm from its devotees. You will very rarely encounter a department so loved that students strain to find something wrong with their course. Both lecturers and tutors are generally held in high regard for their knowledge, enthusiasm and the added entertainment factor. If you love delving into the wonderful ancient world, then these guys have got you covered. Ancient Greek and Roman Myth (ANHS1602), continues to receive rave reports about its tutors, and most of

all its lecturers. It’s reported to deliver a high level of entertainment for students, with the enjoyable delivery of lectures, and the engaging ‘myth appropriations’. If you enjoy reading myths and legends then this is the course to do, and when every past lecture has ended with a round of applause you are sure to be in for an adventure of Homeric proportions. While the first year units are of a broad and introductory nature, it must be noted that senior units allow for unprecedented specialisation. Ancient History is

of an exceptional standard at Sydney Uni. We have shortlisted a few staff whose names have continued to pop up again and again. Shout out goes to Ben Brown who teaches ANHS2616 “as if [he is] a God”; Dr. Kint for her ability to weave together a great deal of varying subject matter; Bob Cohen for his enthusiastic “acting out” of entire scenes with total dedication, and in particular his positively Classical “Comedy and the Ancient World; and Paul Roche, for being a generally well liked and patient lecturer.

ARCHAEOLOGY So you’re sitting on your couch completely blazed and you turn to your friend and say “hey man,let’s study archaeology… like, you know, digging up rocks and statues and shit, man.” God only knows why you’d actually go ahead and enrol in Archaeology, but if you do decide to spend your time at university studying crumbling statues and making terrible jokes about Ozymandias, here’s what you need to know. Archaeology is the study of human history through the lens of the material remains of past societies and the analysis of artefacts and other physical remnants. The survey responses were almost entirely positive (the few courses that were poorly rated no longer exist) so it seems that if Archaeology is your thing, then Sydney University caters to you well. To major in Archaeology or


take any senior units, you need to enrol in ARCA 1000 Early Humans: Hunters and Farmers in first semester (a new course) and ARCA1001 Ancient Civilisations in second semester (this used to be run in first semester). We don’t have any information on ARCA1000 but ARCA1001 is reportedly a decent enough course: the readings are necessary but not particularly dense, and the assessments are not too demanding – a manageable essay, multiple choice in-class tests and a presentation. Once you get to your senior units, you get a wider range of subjects from which to choose. ARCA2602 - Field Methods is recommended as a gentle but thorough introduction to the hands-on ‘fun’ bits of archaeology – it includes a workshop component and you get examined on your ability to

use archaeological equipment (which is normally provided). Most courses tend to focus on theory and readings as opposed to fieldwork but you might have the option of doing more fieldwork if you take honours in Archaeology. The survey responses suggest that the faculty’s staff members are all competent teachers and archaeologists, though not all of them are exactly engaging or exciting people. Based on the survey responses, Martin Gibbs is the most amazing human being ever – in fact, he’s probably God or Jesus or something. He was described as “a champion”, “absolutely fantastic”, “very informative, entertaining, lighthearted, and friendly”, and reportedly made students look forward to their classes and a career in archaeology.

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ART HISTORY Art History: quintessential Arts. Ideal for elevating one’s social standing at a bourgeois dinner party but will render you largely unemployable. Pairs well with a Philosophy or English major. Not recommended to Commerce and/or Science enthusiasts. For first years, Art and Experience (1001) and Modern Times: Art and Film (1002) are your initiation - two semesters of weeding out the pseudo intellectuals from the more committed pseudo intellectuals. Although the 2-hour lectures and broad course structure was too much to stop some from succumbing to the pull of Hermann’s some 100 metres away, others battled on to see the glass half full in the staff and assessment structure. Jamie Tsai was recommended as an unequivocally good tutor, as was Robert Wellington. Vicky Carruthers and Catriona

Moore appealing to a more niche market, both described as “entertaining” yet “deeply philosophical”. For those in the throes of picking senior units, students recommended Art, Travel and Empires (2671) or anything co-ordinated or involving Mary Roberts. One student was particularly emphatic describing Mary as “AN EXCELLENT LECTURER” with a further 3 sentences to elaborate, also in capital letters. For those counter-culture aficionado’s in the house, Expand Your Mind: Pollock to Psychedelia (2614) was also commended for its engaging content, even if poorly organised. Featuring the likes of Yoko Ono and Jackson Pollock, ARHT2614 is appropriate for those desiring a +1 on the hip scale and the ability to empty babble to MoMA’s Rothko collection.

Bonus advice and endorsement: let Schaeffer library be your second home (only because the openings hours won’t let it be your first). The staff are extremely useful and the resources plentiful. Students need not fear the tutor’s pet taking out every relevant book the hour essay questions are released, as all books are reference only. Even for those uninterested or too rational for the pithy relativism of Art History (looking at you Med Science), provided you are willing to don an old Christmas jumper (during Easter) and some battered brogues, Schaeffer library is an ideal study space. Although increasingly populated by college and law students, the dead silence and scholarly surrounds makes for High Distinctions galore.

ANTHROPOLOGY Anthropology is one of those topics which is divisive in terms of it’s popularity and perceived relevance. In past years, counter course handbooks have been wary to recommend it, but the responses from this year’s cohort were overwhelmingly positive. Students found that the subject was useful for engaging with social sciences and humanities more broadly and good for understanding important concepts that would emerge in studies in the future. Anthropology is really useful when paired with other humanities subjects in providing an holistic understanding of topics and ideas.

Staff is also a strong suit of the anthropology department- of particular mention is consistent student favourites Gaynor McDonald, Terry Woronov and Emma Young. Gaynor is often said to be one of the reasons student’s become passionate about anthropology, and her senior units are often interesting and well taught. More generally, students agree that the department staff are incredibly helpful and willing to answer questions. With regards to specific topics, ANTH1002 was said to be very engaging and relevant. ANTH1001 elicited a mixed bag of responses- some said it was a great introductory topic for a first year humanities student

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and others said it was too complex or unengaging. Another recurring issue with anthropology to be aware of is it’s inconvenient scheduling – especially in first year. Overall, the topic is worth taking, at least the introductory units. You will know pretty swiftly whether it is something that suits you.

“Anthropology is really useful when paired with other humanities subjects in providing an holistic understanding of topics and ideas.” PAGE 23

ENGLISH The English department’s ability to pull a wide variety of students in from dusty bookshelves and avant-garde theatres is well represented in its polarizing student criticisms. Not every student will appreciate courses on classic poetry with comprehensive reading every week whilst some will thrive as long as the subject’s taught by a lecturer they respect. New students are advised to look at the prescribed texts of all subjects before taking them, as it was often remarked that boring lectures were saved by engaging material. Senior students on the other hand are encouraged to observe academic staff when choosing courses as well. There were too many subjects to count criticized of assigning students subject matter described as ‘dry’ and ‘boring’ with many complaining of being ‘overwhelmed’ with the workload in both junior and senior subjects. While a book a week is a little excessive (looking at you Love and Desire in Early Modern England), there was still satisfactory feedback from those who had learned to balance their workloads against

each other. Luckily there were a few courses such as Revolutionary Writing, in which dull readings were brightened by lectures and tutes. Flexible course structures experienced in subjects such as ENGL 1011 (Intro to Film Studies) with its fluctuating lecturers appealed to those who enjoy comprehensive visual texts without an exam, whilst it was criticized by others for being prone to uneven information delivery. American Lit: Reading the Nation was criticized for lacking course structure and not having enough contemporary literature. Those who aren’t in it for the history lesson: Beware. This commentary doesn’t follow on to ENGL 1009 (Reading English Texts) however. The course structure was praised, as was the content of many of the texts as it provided a good background on English Lit for those pursuing an English major. Assessment structure is an incredibly important aspect of university courses and is praised in many English subjects (ENGL 1026, 1001, 1009) however it really depends on the student. Some responded well to ENGL

2656’s (Metaphysics to Milton) 50%/50% assessment whilst others regarded it as ‘cutthroat’ and ‘unfair’. Lecturer and tutor feedback was interesting, with much of it being focused on teaching style rather than personality. The age-old tradition of some ENGL 2662 and the Honors Prereq subject ENGL 3650 were both described as moving too fast for students to fully comprehend complex theories and concepts. Huw Griffiths was praised for his lecturing style and ‘engaging’ subjects ‘Shakespeare’ and ‘Drama: Classical to Renaissance’ and Jane Shaw, Nicola Parsons, Peter Kirkpatrick, Vic Burrows and David Kelly were also applauded for their passion and choice of assigned texts. Recommended Units: 1. ENGL1026 2. ENGL1023 3. ENGL1008 4. ENGL1009 5. ENGL3658

GENDER STUDIES If you are critical about society’s value on ‘gender’, are interested in feminist theory, queer theory and intersectionality, amongst many other critical theories, then Gender Studies is the major for you. Introduction to Gender Studies, offered second semester of first year, got a lot of positive feedback in the CC survey for both its content and its tutors and lecturer. The course offers a lot of interesting theories as a foundation for pursuing a major in either Gender or Cultural Studies, and is run by the ever engaging and approachable Fiona ProbynRapsey. GS senior units also got a lot of positive feedback PAGE 24

in the CC Survey. One of the most frequently mentioned positives was the way that the courses are often about linking different theories of gender to cultural references. This means that lectures will often be filled with music clips, TV shows and if you are lucky, a movie. Essays are also encouraged to include cultural references, which are a life saver when you are running out of things to say and you are 500 words off the 2000 word requirement. Gender studies lecturers, being so “hip” and “down with it”, are also amongst the most tech-savvy university staff here, this means more often than not lectures are recorded and some readings are online, Counter course handbook 2 014

making courses both accessible and cheap. And a final positive listed by students in the survey, just when you thought it could not get any better: No exams, just essays. Winning. Some people do find GS to be an acquired taste though. Often tutorial sizes will be oversized due to the popularity of the courses and some of the students you find in it will often be there because they believe Gender Studies will be ‘bludgey’. However one student had to say about Gender Studies, “…you really have to work for your HDs. Depending on what you’re writing on, you can really have to grapple with the very basic ideas, the subject matter, and spend a lot of time getting your head around it before you can start writing.” So if you are going to do GS because you think it will be a ‘bludge’, don’t.

But if you are genuinely interested, do Gender Studies. Just do the Introduction to Gender Studies, major in it, or do one of the many senior units of study on offer just for fun. It could be one of the most enlightening and satisfying courses you take in your whole degree.

GOVERNMENT Government and International Relations received a huge amount of responses in the survey. Students reported class sizes to be reasonable for this course and feedback from assessments to be prompt and helpful however many stated they did not see the practical use of this degree. A respondent clarified this saying ‘don’t assume government is about becoming a politician’ and praised the value of learning ‘to analyse superstructural frameworks that shape this country and your mind’. Other students were similarly positive about the benefits of this degree recommending it for its flexibility and the added bonus of being able to feel ‘superior to Art’s students’. Students warned of the importance of doing readings thoroughly to get the most out of this course and of handing in assessments on time as that 2% penalty can pile up and become a massive stress come exam time. Many students recommended GOVT 2336: Gender and Human Rights describing the subject as engaging,

interesting and challenging with reading promoting lots of tutorial discussion. Students also described lecturer Christopher Neff as amazing with one response stating ‘he was the most inspiring teacher I have ever had’- can’t dispute that! GOVT 1105: Geopolitics also received positive reviews especially lecturers Ryan Griffiths who ‘made the course interesting’ and John Brookfield who was described as a ‘demi God’ with ‘a wonderful way of teaching and engaging’. GOVT 1202: World Politics received less positive reviews with students reporting lectures were often difficult to understand and the content heavily theoretical. Lectures are not recorded for this course and students were also critical of the ‘weirdly specific’ multiple choice test worth 40% as a form of assessment. GOVT 2221: Politics of International Economic Relations also received criticism for unstructured tutorials that did not foster discussion and unnecessary emphasis on tutorial presentations.

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Overall, Government and International Relations appears to be a useful and interesting degree. Students seemed happy with the range of choice of subjects available and pleased with the lecturers and tutors in individual courses. Although students reported that the course can be at times challenging and required consistent attention to readings, this degree seems like a good choice is you want flexibility, new perspectives and to feel a little bit superior to your friends doing Art’s degrees.

“This degree seems like a good choice is you want flexibility, new perspectives and to feel a little bit superior to your friends doing Art’s degrees. ”


HISTORY History at Sydney is a discipline which places a good deal of initiative in the hands of the student. Increased tutorial sizes will ensure that discussions are dominated by a handful of vociferous students while most will not be able to participate in a given discussion. Your assessments will come predominantly in essay form, so with only three contact hours a week it is easy to scrape by while devoting little time to reading and research. If your goal is to go on to postgraduate work or honours in history, then you will need to develop your research skills in your own time and talk over your essay or potential areas of interest with lecturers after class. Luckily history staff are uniformly helpful in suggesting areas for further reading and potential research. The collection at Fisher library has been gutted in recent years but will still provide

an invaluable resource for most undergraduate historians. Much of the material covered in Marco Duranti’s Twentieth Century Europe (HSTY1044) will be familiar to students who have studied modern history in high school. However in order to disengage from your prescriptive Board of Studies endorsed education, Marco’s engaging lectures and readings will provide a useful introduction to engaging with secondary literature. The history department has a strong collection of subjects in Chinese history. Don’t be intimidated by any degree of unfamiliarity with Chinese history or language. Studying Chinese history will open up a rich world of academia neglected by high school education and provide students the potential to engage in a vibrant area of research. David Brophy’s China in the Nineteenth-Century

World (HSTY2606) will provide another perspective on the well trodden path of European imperialism as well as a useful background to contemporary politics and international relations. Studying history will place a number of resources at your disposal. Devoting time to tracking down that extra source or discussing a potential honours essay topic will ensure that you can take best advantage of them. Recommended Units: 1. HSTY1044 2. HSTY1031 3. HSTY1023 4. HSTY2619 5. HSTY2612 6. HSTY2691

INDIGENOUS STUDIES One of the biggest draws of Indigenous Studies at the University of Sydney is the small tutorials that are filled with eager students and tutors who are dedicated and willing to share their vast knowledge with everyone. These subjects provide a comprehensive historical and theoretical focus, but also strive to teach students the historical repercussions of events that are still occurring today. The most popular unit of study was KOCR2600 Indigenous Australia: An Introduction, which is structured in a way that gives students a clear and comprehensive overview of Indigenous culture and history. Peter Minter, the course coordinator and lecturer, was engaging and thought provoking. The most interesting part of the course was the theme of Indigenous resistance to assimilation. It explored historical events and the lasting effects that European colonization has had upon Indigenous culture, with a focus on creative resistance such as art PAGE 26

and poetry. This unit, along with KOCR2611 Issues in Indigenous Rights, is a great unit of study for students who want to engage in discussion about current Indigenous issues such as Native Title rights, Northern Territory Intervention and the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and culture. KOCR2607 Introduction to Aboriginal Literature and KOC2612 Indigenous Creative Expression received highly favorable reviews due to the engaging course content and the dedication of tutors and lecturers. The majority of Indigenous units of study have a take home exam, so this is a huge plus for students who find sit down exams stressful. Be warned though: majority of the units of study involve an oral assessment, which can be worth around 50% of your assessment. So if you’re not a confident public speaker, let your tutor know ASAP.

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INTERNATIONAL & GLOBAL STUDIES “at the end of all of this, you will be a jack-ofall-trades and a master of none. You need not worry about this, though, because the degree program would have taught you to justify it thus: in an era of global capitalism, most people are.”

So here you are, wondering what those who went before you thought of this degree program. Well, sailor, keep on staring upon the constellations and wondering, because it seems you have been left in the doldrums. There were no responses. Yet as Sherlock said to Watson, the observation of trifles can lead to greater enlightenment. You see, dear reader, this degree program is barely structured as such. So, rather than completing our survey as INGS students, respondents elected to respond as students of the other units that they took. In essence, this degree is a tailored journey through the world of the liberal arts. Like a student of the liberal arts, you will select from among units in government, history, languages, or perhaps a different area entirely (see the other subject headings in this guide for more on each area!). As you venture between schools, you will be bound to your colleagues only loosely as you meet for one

compulsory unit of study a semester. A different faculty will host this unit each semester, and the teachers of this faculty will present their field of inquiry through the lens of international and global relations and phenomena. There is a certain excitement in the exploration of new fields. You will be taught by brilliant minds from a diversity of backgrounds, and be exposed to a breadth of knowledge. You may encounter fields that you never expected to pursue, but that come to inspire you. You may enter a particular field, only to be knocked out by a javelin of cold boredom. Yet love a subject or loathe it, you will move to different horizons next semester. Of course, at the end of all of this, you will be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. You need not worry about this, though, because the degree program would have taught you to justify it thus: in an era of global capitalism, most people are.

LANGUAGES While it’s hard to make generalisations about all 12 of the languages that USyd offers (13 if you include Latin), there are a few things that seem to be true about all of them. The number one thing you can expect if you’re planning to study a language at university is A LOT of work. You will be confronted truckloads of course content which don’t always fit in to the contact hours, leaving you with regular study, whether it’s answering questions online or completing vocab exercises, as well as “so many fucking assessments” throughout the semester. While this may put you off studying languages immediately, don’t turn the page just yet. The workload, while overwhelming, is also something that students

recognise as essential to learning a foreign language and something that “rewards you with competency”. And the assessments, while sometimes painfully regular (often fortnightly or even weekly), are usually worth very little, normally around 10%, with others as little as 2% and rarely over 25%. If you’re someone who is worried about bombing out on the day of a big exam then languages might be for you, however, if you shine in heavily weighted assessments like 60% essays and finals then you’re out of luck as language courses often don’t have a final exam. Another thing you might expect when studying languages are small tutorials, allowing more individual attention from your

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tutor and a better bond with people in your class. This being said, many students last year found that their tutorials were incredibly overrun, with as many as 35 students in a class. You’ll also need to make sure you attend most if not all of your classes, as many language courses are taught in tutorials and seminars (not lectures) where attendance is observed with “feverish fastidiousness”. The other thing to know when choosing to study a language is the type of units on offer. There are language units, where the focus is on grammar, vocab etc., and cultural (aka thematic) units, which will be specific to topics such as cinema, literature, history or linguistics of the language. Some cultural units are taught PAGE 27

in English, and are therefore open to people who aren’t actually studying the language, and these will often be cross-listed with departments like English or European Studies. If you’ve made it this far and think that languages might be for you, read on to find out more about individual departments. Arabic and Islamic Studies

Some courses reported that oversized classes made it difficult to get speaking practice, including in the Beginners course seminar where there was little to no individual attention or speaking practice. Further, the speaking assessments are usually only weighted 10%, and there is a far greater emphasis, both in class and in terms of assessment, on grammar and comprehension.

The greatest strength of the Arabic department is its size – many commented on the interesting discussions that were fostered by the small lectures and dedicated teachers. However, students found that there was not always a strong correlation between classes and reading material, making it difficult to conceptualise the content as a whole.

Second year German students reported that they didn’t find the coursework challenging enough. They reported that it mostly involved revising content from first year, and the assessments were too easy – making you feel that you could do well without actually being very good – and even recommending that you just “do an intensive course instead”.

Chinese Studies

Italian Studies

The Chinese department was praised for its “boundless” resources and the “interesting” and “relevant” topics of study. Some students found the language learning was well paced, while others thought the Beginners class “threw you in the deep end” and that there was too much focus on reading and writing with not enough on speaking.

The Italian department had very highly reviewed staff, including lecturers who were described as eccentric and “slightly insane”. Downsides included an overwhelming course load, but one that could be managed with regular study.

French Studies The French Beginners class was considered “challenging in a good way” with a good diversity of class material, though others thought the lectures were “boring” and poorly organised, with too much of a focus on grammar which should have been left for tutorials. There were plenty of resources and exercises that were designed to be done at your own pace, but the consensus was that “those who did the work succeeded, those who don’t won’t”. For Intermediate students, many felt thrown in the deep end in terms of their expected language comprehension, with students regretting the lack of information available in English. This filtered through to the assessments, where some thought that the exam questions were phrased (in French) in a way that was difficult to understand.

Latin Latin staff were held in very high esteem by survey respondents for being “funny”, “charming” and “talented”. As usual, the language was criticised for course content that was “delivered with ruthless efficiently”. Others responded that junior units have a stronger focus on grammar, while senior units look more at vocab and reading, which is better suited to those who studied Latin for the HSC. Modern Greek Studies Greek was only criticised for its long end-of-term essays, but was praised for its small class sizes allowing for “intimate and interactive” teaching. .

First year Advanced French was almost universally disliked. Some considered the books to be “quite interesting”, but most described it as “boring” or even “a bad life choice”. Across all language units, students complained about the expected level of study, even saying, “I probably wouldn’t have chosen French if I knew how bad the workload was”. Germanic Studies German tutorials were mostly praised for having fun classmates and being a “great chatfest”, though for courses with a lot of content (so basically all of them) you need a tutor who is able to keep a good pace in order to move through all the material. PAGE 28

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LINGUISTICS Linguistics was reviewed as ‘fantastically interesting’ and ‘not for everyone, but if it floats your boat, your boat will be the floatiest boat ever’. Many people commented on the difficulty of the work, though it was reviewed both positively, as a ‘total mindfuck’ and negatively as ‘like rocket science’. Linguistics is renowned for having a high course load despite being part of the Arts faculty, with weekly or fortnightly assessments worth as little as 3%, which were reviewed as both suiting the course well and being completely annoying. Reviewers also noted that ‘if you fall behind you’re fucked’, but said that you could stay interested and up-to-date

by attending all classes and paying attention in tutorials. Reponses to the survey consistently praised individual lectures, including that Nick Reimer is always willing to help students outside of regular class hours, Jason Johnson is funny and passionate despite his dry lecturing style and Bill Foley ‘is god’. Amy Cruisckshanks, a tutor, also received special mention as being kind, helpful and smart. Notable mentions for courses included the ‘engaging’ Historical Linguistics and the ‘obscure and quirky’ Modern Irish Linguistics. Both Syntax and Semantics and Pragmatics were noted for their extreme difficulty (‘it will make your brain do backflips’) but equally for how ‘interesting’ and ‘fantastic’

they were. Conversely, Bilingualism was described as having too much content and Language and Social Context (LNGS1002) had no lecture slides, meaning it was difficult to catch up on any missed lectures. A major con cited for the department was that it has suffered vicious cuts made by the university, meaning that core units like Morphology haven’t run since 2011, and similarly, core units including Phonetics won’t be on offer in 2014. In conclusion, Linguistics is an extremely interesting and rewarding department with many great lecturers, but you’ll have to be willing to work hard if you want to understand why so many students enjoy it.

ANCIENT LANGUAGES Ancient languages enjoy enthusiastic praise from students. Studying Cicero and Demosthenes may sound dull, but if you plan on doing Ancient History honours, you’ll need to finish 12 units of LATN or GRKA. So plan ahead. Students are overwhelmingly positive about Latin. Not only are they enamoured with the language itself, but they hold the lecturers in very high esteem. Anne Rogerson is organised, thorough, and “probably the best lecturer you’ll ever have at uni”. Paul Roche and Bob Cowan are also extremely well-liked. If you decide to embark on a journey in Latin, you’re in for a lot of work. First year students

unanimously complained about the study load, usually in capital letters. Weekly quizzes encourage constant revision and exasperation. Which is all for the best, because if you don’t keep up with the fastpaced course, “you will fall behind and you will DIE”. Senior Latin even more dire, with disproportionate amounts of time taken up by hundreds of lines of translations, week after week. Nevertheless, students insisted that they enjoy doing all this work.

available at a beginners level without prerequisites in as both junior (LATN1600/GRKA1600) and senior (LATN2600/ GRKA2600) units, which are jointly taught but separated in case you want to treat beginners’ courses as senior units.

Ancient Greek is known to be both more difficult and more quickly taught than Latin but, despite this, students who study both Latin and Ancient Greek tend to prefer the latter. Note that both languages are

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MEDIA Media & Communications has received a fair amount of flak in previous counter course books. This year however, students have focused on course content and lecturers’ skills more positively. The most popular course and lecturer was universally Advanced Media Writing with Megan Le Masurier, who was approachable, knowledgeable and generally loved by all. There was also special mention of internship coordinator Adriana Hernandez who dealt swiftly thousands of emails this year. In general, first year was dull but things get ‘exponentially better’ in later years. Practical subjects, MECO2601, 3601 and 3602 were engaging to some,

while the emphasis on group work for major assignments left others frustrated. Local and international internships were a great way to get an idea of the industry and the required thesis component, a good preface to an honours year. Tutorials for the unit also fell short of expectations with an entire class put toward 5 minute sessions with each student – while the others waited around, and the rest of the classes irrelevant to the technicalities of constructing a 5000 paper. Grads gave good feedback about industry recognition of the degree and advise first years to start interning as early as possible in order to get an edge in the job market. It’s also recommended to decide on a

second/third arts major early on to tailor the degree. For those intent on entering the fields of TV, radio, Print, PR, advertising and publishing – this is a great degree; anyone looking for video or film should consider extra/other options.

Tips for Media students: 1. Choose an additional Arts major early on to tailor your degree. 2. Get used to group work! 3. Start interning as early as possible to gain valuable industry skills and to get an edge in the job market upon graduation.

SOCIOLOGY In a world increasingly romanticising the ideals of employment and real-world practicality, sociology retains its spot on the social science spectrum as one of the most relevant and interesting subject areas a humanity student can immerse themselves in. Introduction to sociology 1 and 2 are both run by Salvatore Babones, provide a sweeping overview of the topics to focus on and are by all accounts, mercifully easy to cram for with all exams multiple choice. “Dr S” (Salvatore Babones) is a great lecturer! Variety of interesting topics that are linked to real world examples. Felt like the subject matter was very relevant.” Contemporary sociological theory (SCLG 3601) with Melinda Cooper is in a league of its own in the department. “Challenging, thought provoking, lecturer was completely engaged. PAGE 3 0

THE single best undergraduate course I have done at usyd.” It is also a very small course, which enables fantastic discussion. The format of a 2 hour seminar directly followed by a tutorial means that focus is high, with a very engaging and stimulating 3 hours. Readings are apparently chosen with care, and are highly readable. This brings us to “Hands down the best lecturer I’ve had in my three years”. Our respondents seem to have a slightly creepy obsession with Dr Laura Beth Begg, described by one student as “like a stern aunt who secretly gives you candy.” Apparently all the “shitty bits about sociology (that is wanky, irrelevant, etc) are completely turned around by her. She makes research and theorising relevant and interesting, and constantly links it back not only to things that are real and tangible and close to home, but also exciting and

engaging.” One respondent exclaimed their initial apprehension to take Social Inequality in Australia due to its appearance as an “obvious subject” of questionable relevance to students who should be informed about the subject matter as a result of their lived experience. However, the relevance of the unit became instantly apparent with Dr Bugg’s engaging lecture content regularly drawing large numbers of attendance on a weekly basis. Sociology Theory and Practice (SCLG 3602) has interesting and flexible classes that allow you to pick topics based on your personal interest. “Very practical and great preparation for honours. Alec Pemberton is an informative, entertaining, respectful and encouraging lecturer/tutor, who provided a great deal of feedback.” Counter course handbook 2 014

PHILOSOPHY Philosophy is not for the faint hearted. Students expecting an easy distinction by asking “why?” or quoting Foucault should remove such notions. Philosophy requires strong argumentation, clarity and development of ideas. That said, students considering taking philosophy at Sydney ought to because it maintains its status as a generally wellreviewed, engaging and popular discipline.

“Philosophy requires strong argumentation, clarity and development of ideas. That said, students considering taking philosophy at Sydney ought to because it maintains its status as a generally wellreviewed, engaging and popular discipline. “ First year students begin with an overview of the major areas in philosophy with senior units offering more specific areas for study. First year students begin with

PHIL1011 – Reality, Ethics and Beauty, which has been consistently recommended as an excellent introduction to philosophy. Ethics lecturers Luke Russell and Tom Dougherty (depending on year) have both received rave reviews. Metaphysics (reality) lecturer David Braddon-Mitchell has not lost his Midas touch; we’ve been praising this lecturer for years and from the consistency of responses we doubt that’s about the change. Despite its lack of clear relevance to future employment prospects, PHIL1011 can be recommended as an excellent addition to any degree. Second semester offers more diversity with the high average, but maths-y, PHIL1012 – Introductory Logic, and the other taster course, PHIL1013 – Society, Knowledge and Self. Both of these courses were positively reviewed but featured a greater diversity of opinion compared to PHIL1011. Some reviewers gave rave recommendations for Duncan Ivison’s introduction to political philosophy, whilst others found the material harder to engage with. For senior students, PHIL2617 – Practical Ethics and PHIL2645 – Philosophy of Law can be recommended with ease due to consistently positive responses. Lecturers Tom Dougherty, Yarran Hominh and Caroline West were also praised for their delivery and selection of course material. Despite the general positivity, many students offered advice on how to avoid some of the

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Recommended Units: 1. PHIL1013 4. PHIL2616 5. PHIL2617 6. PHIL2645 7. PHIL3622 pitfalls that students may face. First and foremost, do the readings. Students expecting to intuit or bullshit their way through tutorials should not be surprised when their tutor calls them up on it. Doing the readings ensures engagement with the material. Tutorials on the whole received mixed reviews with some reviewers complaining of tutorials filled with “robots” who did not contribute, or “name-dropping hipsters” who impressed nobody. Others had fantastic tutorials that were described as useful and “thought provoking”. With regards to assessment, some reviewers found the structure of many senior units, two major essays, to be insufficient to developing proper course knowledge whilst others praised its flexibility. The most common piece of advice to future philosophers was to pick their senior courses based on lecturers; ensuring a good teacher more often than not ensures a good course. Ultimately, most students found philosophy a valuable and enjoyable addition to their degree.


RELIGION Studies of Religion received mixed reviews in this year’s survey. Students appeared to find the course to have a reasonable workload and tutors to give prompt feedback for work. Assessments were related to the course content and helpful to the overall degree. Students did say lectures are often not recorded for religion classes and as tutorial sizes can be small, it is important to actually attend the lectures and do your weekly readings.

RLST3601: Rethinking Religion received very positive reviews with respondents saying ‘I loved it all’, that the course contained ‘awesome discussions’ and that lectures truly cared about student’s opinions. RLST1005: Atheism, Fundamentalism and New Religions (the compulsory first year subject for a religion major) received less positive feedback. While some stated the lectures were humorous and interesting others said it was too ‘debatey’ with a particularly memorable

response complaining of ‘heaps of total wankers in tutes who loved to listen to the sound of their own voice and were given that luxury’, however this be may be an unlucky experience, not the fault of the course itself. Overall while religion assessments were often reported to be challenging and long, students seemed to have positive experiences with the course overall finding lecturers and tutors helpful and individual subjects interesting.

PERFORMANCE STUDIES Performance studies is Sydney’s answer to Drama. If you choose Performance studies, you won’t be studying theatre explicitly, but rather the mechanics behind it; what it is that makes a performance a performance.

most strenuous exercise is in PRFM2603, during the study of Commedia dell’Arte. Students have the opportunity to embody a masked character and the experience can be quite intense.

The core units, PRFM2601 and PRFM2602 do an admirable job of attempting to cover almost the entire scope of Performance Studies, everything from the beginnings of the discipline in New York, to anthropology, to philosophy, to the semiotics developed at Sydney Uni in the 1980s.

The staff are very receptive to student feedback and, in turn, provide students with volumes of feedback on their work. As a small department, the staff are keen to make sure students do as well as possible and are generally fairly flexible with regard to extensions and the like.

Studying performance is not just about watching performance or thinking about it (though you get to do a lot of that as well), it’s also about increasing your understanding of what it means to perform through the act of performance itself. Most of the class tutorials include practical components. The

The best bit of Performance studies is that very few of their units are assessed with Exams, and the coursework is actually reasonably enjoyable for those who are dramatically inclined, which means that motivated students can do very well very easily, and it can afford you some much


needed breathing room come exam time. The bad news is that all PRFM units are seniorarts level units. The good news about that is that you only need 36 credit points to complete a major, but it does mean that if it’s your first year at uni, you can’t do any PRFM without doing filling out those pesky pre-req waiver forms.

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ECONOMICS Sydney University is meant to have one of the best economics departments in the country, although the feedback we received suggested correct unit selection is imperative to get the most out of this subject. For those wishing to complete a minor in the subject, there are four compulsory units in first year, Introductory Microeconomics (ECON1001) and Introductory Macroeconomics (ECON1002). In general, students didn’t rave about these units, but they seem to have been taught at a satisfactory standard, with staff members receiving a decent amount of praise. Once you reach second year, there are two pathways to a major. If you’re not interested in honours, you simply complete Intermediate Microeconomics (ECOS2001) and Intermediate Macroeconomics (ECOS2002),

and then four additional economics electives in second and third year. We didn’t receive much feedback on the compulsory second year

units, but we gather that they were similar to their first year equivalents: uninspiring, but not awful. The honours stream Micro and Macro units are meants to be more rigorous, mathematical and interesting versions of the regular second year units, although beware of the

expensive textbooks you may be told to purchase. ECMT2110 was previously taught superbly well, but the Econometrics department has recently followed Economics in being amalgamated into the Arts faculty due to the continuing cuts being implemented by University management. This has meant courses are being taught by different lecturers, and general disarray. Overall, the Economics department has the potential to be one of the better departments at the University, but you have to be prepared to put in a considerable amount of work. The honours stream includes a large amount of prerequisite units which are said to be some of the best on offer in the course, so taking this approach is recommended.

POLITICAL ECONOMY Political economy is one of the genuinely unique subjects offered by the uni of Sydney. The department, one of the first political economy departments in the world, tasks itself with teaching economics in a pluralistic manner while putting theory in its social and political context.

First year political economy was generally met well by students. Ecop1001 economics as a social science has always received positive reviews, as has ecop 1003 international economy and finance. One student liked “ECOP1003 for attempting to teach the basics of economics without throwing too many numbers at you.”

Students responded that second year ECOP gets a bit harder but was rewarding. ECOP2011 Economic foundations of modern capitaism taught by the “brilliant” “eccentric” and “hilarious” Joseph Halevi got good responses; that it’s “hard but delivers more knowledge than a whole semester of other units.” Joy paton’s honour perquisite was similarly “fantastic and I looked forward to our seminars despite the shittonne of reading…” Third year ecop is also well received by students. Some of the most popular units being ECOP3623 political economy of neoliberalism by Damien Cahill and ECOP3620 Political Economy of Inequality.

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DENTISTRY For those who dream of peering into other people’s mouths and poking around with those pretty silver instruments, dentistry is the course for you. Though be aware of the massive commitment that a degree in dentistry requires. Year one and two are couples with medicine subjects, which include more contact and lab hours.

One student responded that “dentistry is very time consuming, with lots of contact hours and exams. It’s hard to make time for out of uni activities and can be really stressful” some students said they were at uni up to 45 hours a week, so be prepared to dedicated yourself to your studies for the next few years. Students responded that actual clinical placements were the most invaluable learning experience of their course; “a good example of this is the Radiography department in the detail part of Westmead. If you’re struggle with radiology, go and see them and you’ll learn so much” However long contact hours, frequent practical placements and course costs averaging

around three grand a year can puts students in difficult situations. Students report rarely having spare time to work to pay for lab maetierals and textbooks. However if you can manage it, dentistry students do recommend getting some occasional part time or casual work. Students highly rated their tutors and lecturers; “the tutors so far have been exceptionally helpful in getting the learning process going,” “there are tutors who are simply amazing – they genuinely like teaching and want you to learn (provided you’re willing). Use these tutors. Make appointments to discuss your progress and how you can improve, what resources are useful, and pick their brains!”

PHARMACY Pharmacy takes the concept of a full time degree seriously. You will find that your timetable has very few blank spaces with the course averaging out over 30 hours a week. Don’t expect an easy ride either, you are thrown right into the deep end from your second lecture. This combined with a set subject outline means you are potentially stuck with subjects that you may despise, Molecular Biology and Genetics (2nd semester) is a case in point, but hey at least you have no one to blame for agonising subjects. 1st year focuses on PAGE 3 4

foundational science like Chemistry (CHEM 1611 and CHEM 1621) and Biology (BIOL 1001 and MBLG 1001) but will also have Pharmacy specific subjects to give you a taste of Community Pharmacy and the science behind medicines. Kudos to Erica Sainsbury and Nial Wheate who do a great job teaching difficult and complex content. Also Jane Hanrahan does a good job and Rebekah Moles is highly regarded in later years. This course is also very expensive, aside from the degree costs extra costs including lab coats,

safety goggles, dissection kits, a myriad text books (one of which is required in PHAR 1812) and in later years spatulas and other equipment really can put a strain on student’s pockets. Practicals play a major role in Pharmacy with many labs ranging from 3-4 hours, all of which are compulsory, so to are Tutorials which must be attended at the risk of failing the course. MBLG 1001 which features in second semester in 1st year was the most complained about course. Not only does it inflict 4 hour Labs but also a 4 hour Skills test and Counter course handbook 2 014

very difficult content. If you hate group work this is not the degree for you, many subjects focus solely on group work and group related activity it goes so far as to complete a essay in a group,I mean really! All in all Pharmacy is a very challenging subject but also

very rewarding, above I have listed many negatives but for every negative aspect there is a positive one. Like the lifelong career or the people you meet or the difference that a Health care professional can make in the community. Pharmacy is a great degree that will provide

life long skills, if you don’t put in the effort this course will be hell, but if you do the rewards are immense. Lab Coats, Safety Goggles and Dissection kits are available for loan for free from the SRC.

BUSINESS ACCOUNTING & FINANCE Unfortunately both these subjects received few responses so they have been amalgamated into one subject review. Students were fairly positive about accounting and finance degrees as a whole, reporting that assessments were relevant and not overly difficult. Tutors and lecturers were reported to be generally helpful and accessible. One respondent described the degree as ‘amazingly flexible’ however also warned students that planning units of study needed for certain majors is essential. They also advised that talking to other students who have previously taken the course can be more helpful than relying on the university’s subject guides. Students also praised accounting and finance

degrees for being a good entry point into other business degrees and emphasised that accountants are not just ‘a bunch of soulless zombies who were sucked in by the prospect of money and trapped in an unsatisfying job’. So if becoming one of the undead was a concern for you when studying accounting or finance, not to worry. Subjects including FINC 3015: Valuations and FINC 3023: Behavioural Finance were both positively recommended. Overall accounting and finance received limited but mainly positive reviews and although subjects were reported to be challenging, students appeared to be satisfied overall with these degrees.

MARKETING Marketing, along with Management one of the most derided business majors. Is Marketing of any use to students at the University of Sydney? From our very own market research survey, it appears not – with first years being advised by one responder to make sure you do at least one proper major (“Finance, Accounting, Economics”) with your business degree. But it’s not all bad, marketing can be a WAM booster. Most students said they workloads were manageable and they were able to attain good marks, even if assessment

criteria were generally confusing. Marketing electives should be approached with a suitably conservative mindset. Gimmicky units involving Communications or Social Media may sound fun and do have relatively interesting assessments, but may involve unorthodox and confusing methods of assessment such as Facebook group engagement. Core units are generally well liked. Subjects like MKTG1001 are much more straightforward and well planned, with a well rounded introduction to the profession. Others, like MKTG2113

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Marketing Research should be a cinch if you’ve studied first year statistics or ever worked in a call centre. Remember, you don’t need a MKTG major to work in the marketing industry – but it is still the most media and PR friendly business major and may help boost marks across your degree.


EDUCATION If you are doing an education degree, you are probably one of the few people who appreciate how brilliantly rewarding and extremely important teaching is. One thing to take under serious consideration when enrolling in an education course is that it can be very demanding. Primary Education, for example, has 4 subjects per semester in the first year and then moves up to 5 subjects per semester. That being said, if you actually are passionate about teaching, you will love it. Admittedly, there are some dry areas that you just have to do. Stay strong and push through them. The general consensus on most lecturers and tutors for this faculty is that they are quite respected. Most of the Education staff members are incredibly dedicated to ensuring your success in your journey to teaching. Of course there are negative responses are unavoidable. “EDUP1001 was the most horrifically structured course I’ve ever undertaken, with no access to Blackboard or online course resources, vague assignments that made up


the bulk of the course, 100% attendance for tutorials AND lectures…” All hope for this Unit of Study is not lost though as another review stated, “Part time teachers for EDUP1001… were upbeat and always willing to accommodate different levels of skill at dance, drama and music.” The remaining subjects

“But whoever you are, if you want to take part in contributing to society through education, this is definitely the course for you.” were said to be fun and exciting. Mathematics, for example, is quite daunting and difficult for many people but the reviews for Heather Macmaster’s mathematics unit were convincingly good. “The best class was EDUP 1003 Mathematics and Numeracy. Heather Macmaster was a

great tutor. The tutorials were a lot of fun and I learnt a lot about mathematics that I did not know before.” As a person who is actually enrolled in Education I thoroughly enjoyed Heather’s teaching strategies and will use them when I begin my teaching career. The part of the faculty that combines Primary Education and Secondary School Education are the famous EDUF units. They can be either famous for being extremely dry or famous for stimulating awesome conversation and debate. It probably best to go into these classes with an open mind. But whoever you are, if you want to take part in contributing to society through education, this is definitely the course for you. There are pros and cons in everything that we do but I can assure you that becoming an educator in this environment is one of the things that people appreciate the most, even if that doesn’t happen until after school and well into their own careers.

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SOCIAL WORK Whether you are doing the single Social Work degree (four years) or a combined degree with arts (five years) if you are passionate about social work, you will enjoy yourself. If you are not, you probably will not find as much enjoyment and will be stuck in a degree you are unsure about for a very long time. A common thing you will experience amongst nonsocial work is, “pheewwww… you’re doing a FIVE/FOUR year degree?! Good luck with that…” Do not let these attitudes phase you, a lot of degrees are five years and social work is one of few vocational courses you can do, therefore you can leave after four/five years and go straight into pursuing a professional career. Take that, 3 year degrees! In your first year of social work, you probably will not feel like a social work student at all. This is because you have to take arts subjects and your only compulsory subject is sociology, which most arts students do with you. Let me just repeat the fact that sociology is compulsory. That means you have to do it. Do not forget to enrol in it. Compulsory. You have been warned. After finishing these junior units some

of the fun starts as you now go on to doing core subjects for social work. You are required to do Indigenous studies, social policy, research skills and psychology for social work. Psychology for social work in first semester is a bit dull just because it is very foundational and focuses on important theories of psychology which you will need to know as a social worker. The second semester unit of psychology, however, allows students to start engage critically with social policies and some traditional psychological interventions, which students found a lot more interesting and hands on. Third and Fourth (or fifth and sixth for the combined kids) is where placements start. There is a lot of prep to do for these placements with paper work, ensuring you have for vaccinations, a police certificate and a working with children certificate, amongst other paperwork. You will have a lot of assistance with all of this but it is important to be proactive about getting a lot of this done as well in order to get the first pick of placements.

“All in all social work is a great degree. If you’re passionate about helping people and community issues then it is definitely the degree for you.”

All in all social work is a great degree. If you’re passionate about helping people and community issues then it is definitely the degree for you.

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ENGINEERING Unlike some other degrees we could name, engineering is not a relaxing interlude between high school and wage slavery. It is hard work, with all degrees featuring high contact hours, heavy assessment schedules, compulsory subjects and more mathematics than you can shake a triple integral at. The upside of this is that engineering cohorts are closely bonded

by the shared suffering, with a very active set of societies providing the requisite amber refreshments that a student may require after a hard day of being relentlessly pummelled by their degree. Engineers will also graduate with exceptionally good employment prospects, with graduate full time

employment rates varying from 75% in mechanical to a whopping 93% in civil, all at a very healthy rate of pay. So if you’re (un)fortunate enough to be entering this faculty, just remember that no matter how much those art students mock your lack of social skills and the gross gender imbalance in your degree, you have a future. And probably some cool t-shirts too.

CIVIL If there’s one thing civil engineering students hate, it is the chronic overcrowding of their degree. And architects. Alright, two things. 2nd and 3rd year tutorials consist largely of squeezing hundreds of people into the PNR Drawing Offices, allocating a smattering of tutors to wander around and hoping that everyone has an absolutely top-notch learning experience as a result. Happily though, lecturers are by and large enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their subjects, with Tim Wilkinson attracting bouquets for his clear explanations of concepts in Structural Mechanics and Steel

Structures 1, but also some brickbats for his harsh marking. Richard Weber got plaudits for his real-world practicality and Federico Maggi for being a chill dude. No civil courses were considered outright bad, but there are several ones worth watching out for. Topping the list is the third year Concrete Structures, with some ferociously difficult examinations (Go to your lectures. If you don’t, you will fail, as an enormous chunk of this year’s class found out too late.) Also to be wary of is the third year Engineering and Society, due to its randomly allocated groups.

Some students found Steel Structures – Stability to be overly mathematical and of limited use. Hydrology features a substantial amount of mathematical derivation, but if that doesn’t float your boat do it anyway for the open book examinations, excellent (and available online) lecture notes. Numerical Methods was described as the most interesting and enjoyable of the 4th year units. Respondents who completed their thesis in 2013 indicated that it was a lot of hard work, but very enjoyable if you were interested in the topic.

CHEMICAL Chemical engineers are a close-knit group and they seem to be very positive about almost all aspects of their degree. Class sizes are very reasonable, to be expected in a school of only 50-60 students per year. Students were very keen on PAGE 38

the content of the degree, finding it to offer a good range of material, from the heavily mathematical and theoretical courses, often featuring quite involved tasks and some programming, to broader and possibly gentler courses such as Industrial Systems and Sustainability

that examines environmental issue in engineering practice, one student telling us “It’s the closest thing you get to doing an arts degree and a breath of fresh air”. The tutors, were well regarded and were tipped as the best sources of information on what Counter course handbook 2 014

electives to take in later years, depending on your personal interests. Respondents emphasized

the importance of attending your classes and finding a good group to work with, both because many courses

involved group assignments and as a way of reducing what would otherwise be a heavy workload.

ELECTRICAL Electrical engineering is based in one of the contenders for ugliest building on campus, and unlike architecture they can’t even revel in the irony. The one constant that electrical engineers face is maths. So much maths. All of the maths, all of the time. Students felt that the upside of this teaching approach was that they were equipped with extremely strong theoretical knowledge that they would be able to put to practical use in industry.

Craig Jin and his unit Electrical Devices and Circuits was praised as “fantastic, very engaging and generally helpful”. Tutors were also regarded as being helpful and supportive. Students criticized the assessment structure of the degree, with a common complaint that the assessments during semester were given an inappropriately low weighting and the final exam

an excessively large weighting. Laboratory classes were criticized as “oversimplified and not stimulating”. The broad range of units on offer in third and fourth years means that there’s something for every interest in electrical engineering, leading to more senior students being quite happy with the content of the courses and their provision of relevant and specific knowledge.

AMME AMME contains three degrees, aeronautical, mechanical and mechatronic, each of which share some but not all units with the others. Engineers in this school were largely happy with their lecturers and the content of their courses, finding the degree interesting, informative and giving them a good practical understanding of the skills required for working in the industry. However, they also universally complained about their workloads, and particularly the distribution of assignments, with some aeronautical engineers in particular experiencing weeks having more assessments than days in them. It was rare for any units to be

panned, with only Mechanical Design being described as “a complete failure of a unit”, with others such as Mechanics of Solids described as “boring” at worst. 3rd in particular worked people incredibly hard, with some students loving Aerodynamics 1 and Propulsion because of their content while others hated the combination on the basis of the incredible combined workload. Some students found the objective of assessments to be (deliberately) unclear in some units, adding to the already incredible workload and the number of all-nighters students had to suffer. Students recommended one of two options – either be prepared to sacrifice your

social life, or take up a double degree in a related field like physics, mathematics or computer science, simply to lessen the workload. The space engineering program is administered by AMME and can be taken as part of a mechanical, aeronautical or mechatronic degree. All of the respondents who mentioned its units praised them as interesting, challenging and crucially, with an appropriate workload. The only criticism made was that AERO2705 Space Engineering 1 was a bit unclear in what was required in assessment tasks, but apart from that, this program comes highly recommended.

ADVANCED The advanced engineering program can be taken in addition to the standard B.E. of whatever stream you’re doing, provided you have an ATAR > 98

for entry to first year advanced engineering, and a distinction or greater average for second, third and fourth year courses. If you complete three advanced

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engineering courses, you’ll end up with a nice shiny Certificate of Advanced Engineering in addition to your plain old B.E. (Hons). If you’re invited to do PAGE 39

1st year Advanced Engineering 1A, accept without hesitation as it replaces the near-useless filler unit Professional Engineering and you’ll get to know some of the smarter people in your faculty. The 2nd year entrepreneur focused course Business Planning offers something very different

to your standard degree but be aware that it is a substantial amount of work, will compress the amount of time available for you to focus on other subjects, and isn’t marked particularly rigorously. 3rd year Technology Education will appeal if you like the idea of teaching high

school students, and the work load is gentler, being spread over two semesters. The two 4th year courses in second semester are based around project delivery for a real client and try and give students the best possible preparation for life as a professional engineer.

LAW extended to Emily Crawford of Torts, Anne Twoomey of Federal Constitutional Law (LAWS2011), and Dr Ghena Krayem of Public Law (LAWS1021). Textbooks were almost universally decried as being too expensive. Similarly, the common assessment mode of 70-100% examinations was disliked, as was the closed-book approach to such examinations. One respondent described such examinations as “a farce.”

“If you wish to be a lawyer”, wrote Abraham Lincoln, “attach no consequence to the place you are in, or the person you are with; but get books, sit down anywhere, and go to reading for yourself.” Yet we today find ourselves at the University of Sydney Law School precisely because of the importance attached to its people and environs. This is perhaps the culture to which one respondent referred when they spoke of “the supreme arrogance of the University of Sydney Law Faculty”. It is a culture that finds expression in a veneer of vast investment in glossy brochures and similar marketing initiatives. Yet beneath the veneer, where the learning happens, students reported some irksome shortfalls.

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Students indicated that class sizes tended to be overcrowded, to the extent of placing unreasonable demands on tutors. “If you want personal attention”, wrote one respondent, “go to the University of New South Wales.” Notwithstanding such conditions, many of the faculty’s educators received glowing appraisals. Wayne Courtney of Contracts (LAWS1015) was consistently praised, described as “a really talented teacher with a gorgeous voice.” Graeme Coss of Criminal Law (LAWS1016) was elevated to divinity, having been described as “a fucking god.” The refreshing dry wit of David Rolf of Torts (LAWS1012) received several mentions. Several mentions were similarly

Respondents likened one another to flesh-eating piranhas in an untamed river where academic success belonged only to the fittest. Admittedly, no respondent said as much, and the writer has taken poetic liberties in conveying the sentiment. Yet it is beyond doubt that the culture of competitiveness endemic amongst high performing HSC students does not dissipate at Sydney Law School. As our friends in physics, philosophy, or the fine arts peacefully pursue their passions and devour knowledge for the sake of enlightenment alone, we suck one another’s blood in an attempt to boost performance in assessments. Students tended to feel that workloads were reasonable, although this topic garnered polarized responses. Many felt Counter course handbook 2 014

felt that their courses did not prepare them for a career in the law, though again the responses were polarized. Students tended to know what was expected of them in assessment tasks, though expressed some dissatisfaction with the degree of feedback provided. Lectures were not recorded often enough, and new students are encouraged to investigate whether their subject is in fact recorded (especially prior to spending class time at Hermann’s). Finally, students were generally satisfied with the administrative services they utilized. For those in senior years, Family Law and Medical Law were recommended. Conversely, Theories of Obedience was disliked. The advice proffered was varied, and sometimes contradictory. One respondent

insisted that one should never fall behind in one’s readings, while another believed readings to be unnecessary, instead choosing to rely on the internet and shared notes. A similarly inspired respondent stated: “the bell curve is the last minute crammer’s best friend.” Respondents agreed that over performing high school graduates should be prepared to adjust their expectations and resign themselves to lower marks than they may get in their other degree. It was generally agreed that the Law School is sometimes a heartless behemoth, in which mental health issues, other time commitments, and the like do not always attract sympathy. It was further observed that graduates rarely become lawyers. The conclusion drawn was that one ought have an overwhelming motivation to study law before embarking on

the journey. In sum, a lesson quickly learned is that law students tend to be competitive and anxious. Yet, they often present as self-assured, particularly when offering advice to their colleagues. So although law school seems daunting, and although the advice of some respondents herein may accentuate this notion, it is important to take it with a grain of salt. For most of the degree, courses are compulsory and the content is rigid. It is left to us to simply enjoy the ride, using whatever study methods work best for us. Lincoln advocated self-education in the study of law, which he described as “sometimes tedious and laborious”. Yet like Lincoln, as with Lenin and Gandhi, we may well come to understand and change the world through the pursuit.

HEALTH SCIENCE Health science subject are held on the Cumberland campus. Some students complain about the isolation of the satellite campuses, despite the bonus of being far away from snooty law students. The first thing you should know about health sciences is that there are a lot of compulsory subjects. So be prepared to study anatomy whether you like it or not. The study loads are pretty full on though. “if you aren’t committed to studying for hours each day for four years, don’t do this course! Nobody knows how intense it is going in.” But this is the same with a lot of subjects that are science based and centred around practical hours so if you enjoy the material and are prepared to commit,

reports are you’ll really enjoy it. First year stand out subjects are BIOS1168 Functional Musculoskeletal Anatomy A and BIOS1171 Neuroscience. Kudos to first year staff who have been described as “very informative and easy to approach when we had issues with out majors and elective choices. Also they were very open and provided us with many options” Praise was also awarded to many second year subjects and teachers, with special mention to the speech pathology and physiotherapy subjects. CSCD2066 Introductory practice II was a favourite, with very encouraging tutors who constantly provide friendly constructive feedback. A

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shout out has to go t one of the clinical educations, Rohyn Johnson, for being “especially excellent – she was very approachable and honest.” CSCD2026 Motor speech and dysphagia is also regarded as a brilliant subject… [that] was very intellectually stimulating” with lecturers that are extremely passionate about their discipline and actually practice in the area. Overall, students talk about nearly all the health sciences staff very favourable - so look forward to having some of the friendliest and most helpful staff cohorts out! So take full advantage of the help they’re offering to give you and soak up their wisdom.


MUSIC (THE CON) Welcome to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music! Whether you are one of the lucky few who have been accepted by audition or an Arts student desperate enough to trek up to take an elective course, the Con, located light years away from the “actual” Sydney Uni campus, is the centre of musical activity at the University of Sydney. If you’re new to the Con, you’ll soon find that you’ll get as much out of the degree as you put into it. Class contact hours are minimal, so the majority of the work is done in your own time. Rather unhelpfully the Conservatorium is cutting down from 14 to 13 Principal Study lessons per semester this year, due to “budgetary constraints” as stated by the Dean in a curt email, exacerbating the issue when the number of lessons provided was already very low by international standards – this does not even take into the account the large discrepancy between performance students compared to others. Despite this, the quality of teaching staff, both instrumental and academic, was reviewed as being very high. Lewis Cornwell, Marcus Hartstein and David Larkin from Musicology continue to be popular amongst students, helping to keep compulsory harmony and history subjects enjoyable (or at least bearable). One-on-one tutors have a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and experience, with new appointments from overseas coming in every year (such as Eduardo Diazmuñoz and John Lynch in the Conducting Unit). New appointments would seem PAGE 4 2

like good news to most with the notable exception of the flute department, in which the position of Lecturer in Flute is comparable to the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. After having sourced internationally renowned flautist Aldo Baerten midway through 2013, he only managed to survive one semester of University of Conservatorium bureaucracy, leaving in controversial circumstances at the end of the year. Student Administration remains one of the biggest mysteries at the Con. Prepare to spend months trying to complete simple tasks like getting professional leave or changing subjects, and even longer if you are booking a room at Venues. If you have a question for them, you will likely walk out being more confused than you were when you walked in. If you have a really important question it’s best to ask for Cedric, as he seems to be the only one who is actually aware of what the rules are. Con students receive some perks compared to their main campus mates; there are numerous practice rooms scattered throughout the building, although on most days you’ll want to get in early to ensure you get a room. Unfortunately, this will be made even more difficult this year thanks to the decision to put locks on all of the piano practice rooms from the powers that be. Since only piano majors receive keys to these rooms, it not only restricts the overall number of rooms available but also prevents students from organising chamber music rehearsals, composing at the

piano or practicing Harmony and Analysis keyboard skills. As a piece of general advice, respondents recommended new students stick by the suggested enrolment pattern where possible. It’s a good idea to get rid of harmony, aural and history subjects in the first couple years, as it will free up the latter years of your degree. Checking the degree requirements and planning ahead will prevent you from having to come back for a fifth year because you didn’t finish Harmony and Analysis 4. In terms of your compulsory Analysis, History and Culture units, remember that you don’t need to limit yourself to the Foundation Units (Advanced Harmony counts as a History! As does Research Methods, the prerequisite for Honours, and the Professional Practice Internship unit). Remember that unless you’re an Education student, graduating with a music degree doesn’t suddenly open the doors to thousands of prospective jobs. It’s all about the people you meet along the way and the personal commitment you put in. So form chamber groups, go and watch the concerts, have jam sessions! Make the most of your time at the Con – you’ll thank yourself later.

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NURSING It is deeply unclear why management at Sydney Uni has such little regard for the Department of Nursing and Midwifery. Budgetary constraints have slowly hacked away at the resources of the department for several years now. Despite the fact that the department is as understaffed as the profession, there are a number of redeeming features to studying Nursing and student seems to enjoy the course overall! The course is split between theoretical and clinical components, with the latter generally being agreed as the degree’s saving grace. According to many students,

studying can be a very lonely and solitary existence, with a substantial portion of the course completed at home. However, the small classes and overworked but dedicated staff make learning a joy, Most teachers are ‘born educators’ according to one respondent, and are always willing to take additional classes if need be. NURS5085 Mental Health is described as ‘amazing, organized and interesting’, which is a subject jackpot in our books. You can also expect a relatively autonomous research week around July, which provides students with probably the most choice they’ll receive from an otherwise demanding

and controlling master. Practice labs are somewhat of a gem in this course, and tutors are generally excellent to guide you through these challenging sessions. Unfortunately there are a lot of ancillary costs associated with the Nursing faculty, but keep in mind the SRC provides free lab coat and dissection kit hire. The assessment load for Nursing is heavy, and respondents advised that notes should be kept throughout the degree and study groups are recommended. Additionally, getting a job as an assistant in nursing in your second year to consolidate your skills is wise.

SCIENCE BIOLOGY Dissections, field trips and mystical lab figures like ‘Demo Dan’ are some of the highlights in the School of Biology. Lecturers are passionate about their teaching topics and the school is known for providing students with a broad array of subjects to choose a focus (cue cuts. First year kicks off with Concepts of Biology (BIOL1001) which is mostly a rehash of things you learnt (read forgot) in high school, mercifully examined via multiple choice. Human Biology (BIOL1003) has been described by multiple respondents as probably the most fun you’ll

ever have at uni. A shoutout to the legendary Demo Dan and lecturer Murray Thompson whose classes could only be explained in caps-lock ‘BEST LECTURER TO HAVE EVER’.

Thompson. Workshops are a blast and the advanced unit is advised for anyone who wants to cut back quizzes during semester for an essay and presentation later.

If population genetics and animal behaviour interest you (and if you’re not entirely new to genetics and evolution) then BIOL3925 is your best pick. This is also the subject for you if you’re craving trips out of the classroom with a great field trip and debate session at Warrah.

There are some really great topic areas in Ecology (BIOL2924) with favourites being urban ecology with Dieter Hochuli and marine with Ross Coleman.

BIOL1903 was another popular unit with props to C-L Beh and more shoutouts to Murray

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BIOL2923 was another subject with rave reviews. “This subject is fantastic!! I thought it would be boring, I mean how interesting can plants be but the way the subject was put together was really great.” PAGE 4 3

Overall the most common advice from respondents was to ask more questions during lectures to get the most out of talented, helpful staff and to take advantage of summer

and winter field trips when their available. “Make sure to look at what you want to study in 2nd and 3rd year so you can cover prerequisites. Do what interests

you. Advanced units are often easier than normal. Fundies is better than normal.” (Editor’s note: I have no idea what fundies is).

CHEMISTRY Something must be in the H2O in the Chemistry building because year after year students emerge raving about the quality of their teachers and courses. Despite that, future Heisenbergs should be aware that chemistry is no cakewalk. Get ready to fall in love with a building whose beauty rivals that of the UTS tower because you will be spending a lot of time there. Each first year chemistry course has three lectures, a tutorial and a threehour lab each week. But if the end of Breaking Bad left you hankering for more chemical education, chemistry may be for you. Reviewers praised chemistry for the great deal of flexibility it offers first year students. CHEM1001 and CHEM1002 are designed for students who have never taken chemistry at high school and students praised the quality of teaching in these units and the pace of their introduction to the science. For those more experienced chemists, CHEM1101 and 1102 are the standard first year units. Students who enrolled in the higher-level advanced CHEM1901 and 1902 and Special Studies Program (SSP) 1903 and 1904, also gave rave reviews about their courses. Lecturers Peter Rutledge, Lou Rendina and Tim Schmidt were all highly praised for their lectures and teaching

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style. First year coordinator Adam Bridgeman also deserves commendation for his timely feedback and his work to improve the quality of education within courses throughout the year. One criticism from advanced and standard students was the lack of clear relevance of the labs to their course material. SSP students, who do different and more in-depth labs, praised this aspect of their course very highly. Having a variety of streams means students can pick the difficulty that best suits them. One useful piece of advice from reviewers was that if a student is interested in a particular stream, but may not have got the 95 ATAR for advanced: they should speak to their course coordinator. In comparison to the clear positivity above, the pharmacy streams, CHEM1611 and 1612, were described as lacklustre and dull.

chemistry teaching at Sydney is its assessment program. Students sit a number of quizzes throughout the semester worth very little, which were seen by reviewers as a “rote-learning exercise”, and must then face the 70% final exam. This can be rather daunting given the sheer volume of content within each chemistry course, but some reviewers felt the exam “tested the ability to apply, rather than regurgitate.” Tutorials also received mixed responses but reviewers encouraged future students to ask questions in order to ensure they were useful. If the prospect of a seriously weighty exam and a high number of contact hours does not throw you off, we’re positive that with teachers this dangerously competent and with an infectious love for pyrotechnics, chemistry is sure to be a blast.

For senior and intermediate units, students gave positive reviews for the second year courses CHEM2401/2911(A dvanced)/2915(SSP) and CHEM2402/2912/2916. Despite the 8am and 9am lectures, students found these courses engaging and interesting. Solid State Chemistry with Chris Ling was also very positively reviewed, but noted for its intense difficulty and speed. One important aspect of

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GEOSCIENCES Your university loves amalgamating things - it’s that kind of cost-cutting that lets them afford all the pretty buildings, even when there aren’t any staff to teach in them. Unfortunately, lumping things together on the basis of their prefix (geology, geography, geometry) probably isn’t the best way of categorising them. Still, there’s a lot to be said for the Geoscience department, and not just that all the money’s in the rocks. Some would say that two hour pracs every week mean you’re doing an Arts degree wrong, but Kurt Iverson apparently

makes the earth move in Intro to Geography (GEOS1002). His senior unit Urban Geography (GEOS2122) is also highly recommended as “very Gen Y”, with lots of Youtube videos and case studies to keep students engaged in a very laid back and agreeable course. Ocean, Coasts and Climate Change (GEOS2115) was also mentioned as a helpful antidote to the aspiring Gina Rineharts, and tutor Guien Miao is apparently pretty excellent. Most complaints about the course focused around the assessments, as they were left ambiguous until the last moment, leaving some students

stunned (though probably relieved) to find themselves sitting down to a multiple choice exam. Another issue were the costs of course materials like textbooks and lab equipment, though excursions to places as faraway and exotic as the Great Barrier Reef, the Northern Territory and Orange were said to be well worth the expense. Remember, if you find yourself struggling under the weights of your course costs, the SRC can help you out with emergency loans, and provides a free lab coat and dissection kit hire.

I.T The IT path is a tough one, but luckily you have a few things going for you. Your tutors are always the smartest person in the room, and very eager to share their knowledge. Just be prepared for the many attempts they’ll make at being endearing, making outdated references to Minecraft or the latest Nexus phone. More importantly, they know the difference between you struggling with the latest weekly task, and you just being too lazy to learn how to do it yourself, so stay up to date. That’s generally how IT units work by the way – death by a thousand cuts. There will be a task every

week, punctuated with major assignments, and culminating in an exam weighted more than half the entire course. The first year units were largely well received. INFO1103 and INFO1105, both introductory programming subjects, were taught well, without overwhelming beginner students with unfamiliar work. A tip though - skip the expensive textbooks, there are much better (and free!) online resources for general programming units. INFO2120 (Database Systems) was a less popular subject. There were complaints that both tutorials and lectures

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were unnecessary to pass the course, while the content was dry and uninspiring. INFO1003 (Foundations of Information Technology) also received poor marks for overwhelming beginner students with a heavy workload. IT degrees are typically very rigid in terms of what subjects you can take. If you’re concerned about being forced to do units you have no interest in, you could always do a Bachelor of Science and major in Comp Sci instead. Either way, you get out of the IT path what you put in. Do your work, listen to your tutors, and you’ll be fine.

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“With maths, as with many of your integrals, you can often find the bounds are limitless.”

So do want to do this the hard way or the hard way? Maths at the University of Sydney can be highly rewarding if you can get your head around the content. But along your way you will need stability, time, and probably copious amounts of illegally scoured ADHD drugs. There are four streams in first year (Fundamental, Normal, Advanced, and the Maths Olympiad level Special Studies Program) and it’s super easy to switch in between streams. The advanced stream is more intense than Normal stream in terms of the number of proofs that you will be expected to understand and reproduce. Have a go, challenge yourself, and then drop down if you need to. The main challenges of the maths units are the early 8am starts, heavily weighted exams (often 70%) and the increasing intensity of the workload as time goes on, with often most of the examinable content coming in the later part of the semester which requires a good knowledge of the preceding material. The exams can be both a blessing and a curse, if you can handle late night study sessions and avid devotion to the topic for a few weeks then the exams are completely crammable. If you find yourself knowing little to nothing about the course nearing the end of semester, then past papers are your

saviour. Repeated practice of both these and the tutorial questions with solutions can give you a familiarity with the lecturer’s style in a way that can see you pass otherwise seemingly impassable subjects, purely through rote learning the different question types. Indeed, this is often the key to reaching higher grades rather than just bullshitting your way through a unit. The beautiful thing about maths is the lack of subjectivity in marking; you are either right or wrong. One senior lecturer explained to me that in the last few years the department has seen the sharp edge of the axe with a considerable amount of units being cut from the program (the latest to go being MATH2068: Number Theory and Cryptography), so much so that a pure or applied math major can be doing much the same units all the way into 3rd year. If you get the chance to take any units with David Easdown, Alexander Molev, David Ivers, or Stephen Tillmann, who all come highly recommended…whether you are in first year ‘fundies’, or are a 3rd year on your way to the University medal in Mathematics. With maths, as with many of your integrals, you can often find the bounds are limitless.

PSYCHOLOGY Once again, Psychology received much praise from students in 2013. A big plus is that the School is well organised and all lectures are recorded. Also, the staff get a thumbs up from the SRC for participating in the strikes throughout 2013. If you are one of the 2300 students choosing to take first year Psychology, then you will have the pleasure of meeting 3 of the top 100 voted University Lecturers in Australia – Lisa Zadro, Niko PAGE 4 6

Tiliopoulos and Caleb Owens. The compulsory first year units, PSYC1001 and PSYCH1002, give a broad overview of the discipline, covering 6 key areas of Psychology in each unit. The greatest problem students faced was keeping on top of the content. For this reason, many students strongly recommended attending all lectures rather than simply using lecture slides. “It’s no secret that the PSYC1001/1002 lecturers don’t like it when students don’t come to lectures

so the slides they put up on e-learning are only a fragment of what is actually addressed in lectures”. The essay in PSYC1001 was a highlight (not surprising seeing as it was about losing your virginity)! Final word of advice for first years is to not be fooled by the end of semester 100 multiple choice question exam – you will actually need to study! Just remember that these are questions written by psychologists so they will play Counter course handbook 2 014

with your mind! For a Psychology major, second year will entail 4 compulsory Intermediate units. Overall, these units were positively reviewed by students. PSYC2014 (Personality and Intelligence 1), despite receiving negative feedback in the previous year’s Counter Course Handbook, has greatly improved. PSYC2013 was also a popular unit. However, PSYC2911 (Brain and Behaviour Advanced) gets special mention for including animal experimentation in tutes. That’s right folks, rats! Again, the biggest thing to keep in mind is that “lecture material is pretty extensive and intense”.

Third year Psychology units of study got a lot of love (not surprising really - if you are still doing psychology by this stage then you can’t possibly be normal)! If you like challenging and stimulating topics and you can cope with an insane content load, then PSYC3010, 3016 and 3017 are for you. PSYC3020 (Applications of Psychological Science) got a good wrap for being an interesting yet relatively easy course that looks at practical applications of psychology in the work place. PSYC3013 (Perceptual Systems) received some criticism.

On a final note, the clearest message that came out of the surveys was that studying Psychology is many things – “interesting”, “challenging”, “inspiring” – but a bludge is one thing it definitely is not! Recomended Units: 1. PSYC1001 2. PSYC2013 3. PSYC3011 4. PSYC3014 5. PSYC3016 6. PSYC3017

PHYSICS Going back to the Greek roots, physics is the study of nature or natural things, and that is certainly what the three-year undergraduate program will be for aspiring physicists – a broad but detailed overview of all aspects of physics, from quarks and leptons all the way up to galaxies and supernovae. The highly inflexible structure of the major, which generally allows students the choice only between standard and advanced streams, allows the school to cover hugely varied and complex areas of physics as the years roll on, starting where the mandatory previous modules left off. And it is this aspect of the courses which

lets the school of physics really shine: the wide range and detailed focus of the courses allow researchers from all areas to give lecture series in their areas of research, allowing for enthusiastic and well-informed lecturing from the start. Highlights include David Reilly’s interesting but easily sidetracked third year module Condensed Matter Physics, which focuses equally on spectacular historic mistakes and quirky anecdotes, and the totally impossible thirdyear Quantum Mechanics module taught by well-known researcher Michael Biercuk, who may well break a few

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minds as he tries to derive all of space and time ‘by pure thought’. Physics students also know to try to attend lectures given by the charismatic and humorous Head of School Tim Bedding and the quirky and outrageously competent Martijn de Sterke – each are guaranteed to have you clawing back for the next course in Electrodynamics or Special Relativity. Overall, however, the school produces an exemplary lineup of courses and lecturers – just make sure that you were paying attention in those early subjects, because the course material will begin to build on it almost immediately.


SCA SYDNEY COLLEGE OF THE ARTS Telling your parents that you’re going to SCA is a bit like telling your parents you’re applying for unemployment benefits. One usually implies the other, so it’s probably more efficient to cover both in the same conversation. Fill out the paperwork by flinging a bucket of fluoro paint at your nearest Centrelink office and then leg it to Rozelle where you will spend the rest of your days hugging the sandstone at the seductive SCA campus. Similar to satellite campuses in Camden and the Domain a sense of community is fostered at Rozelle. At one o’clock the cafe and it’s courtyard come abuzz with students talking intimately about the kinesthetic

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architectural mind before an hour has passed and students slink back into sculpture, printdesign, painting, drawing and jewellry making workshops. Class sizes are still “satisfyingly small” and create a “positive atmosphere for self-expression.” Incoming students can expect engaged learning and strong relationships to form amongst students and tutors. Special mention needs to be made to Shane Haseman, Jaqueline Millner, Ann Elias and tutor ‘Tito’ who make students resolve to finish art school (to their parents dismay). Now that is not to say that the asylum of yesteryear has not imparted an ominous undercurrent, hidden,

but determinant, of one’s assessment grade: exorbitant ancillary costs. The quality of one’s work is directly correlated with the material required to complete major works: depending on the medium you use - $1,000-$3,000 will buy you a decent mark, while 400 dollars spent on textbooks will keep you up-to-date in tutorials/lectures. The SCA does provide a few scholarships that range from $500 to $5,000 based on merit and financial need, so make sure you spend a bit of time on your application to avoid having to skip meals in order to pay for the large spherical hedge you’re sculpting into John Howard’s bottom.

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VET SCIENCE “The diversity of this degree is also appreciated and claimed to balance out the often overwhelming workload of many of the subjects ... Enjoy being at the cutting edge of research and being taught by experts in the field.”

People think that just because Vet Science is about animals, it’s less work than human medicine. People are wrong. In fact because there are so many species of animal you learn how to fix in Vet Science, it wouldn’t be a stretch to contend that Medicine is actually an easier course. I mean there aren’t that many species of Human apart from people and college residents. Students state, “there is an incredible amount of fascinating shiz to learn during first year vet science” There is also high praise for the staff, such as one student’s comment that “Glenn Shea is a legend in the faculty for good reason and we students are privileged to be exposed to his hourly sessions of encyclopaedic yet engaging recitation of animal anatomy - and make sure you don’t miss his ‘lizard of the day’ segment.” So there you go, you might not get to play with animals but you definitely get to talk about them. Corinna Klupiec is also held in high esteem, described as “absolutely lovely [and] endlessly patient.” Her students especially admire her for her teaching methods, applying a “fantastic multi-modal approach to learning anatomy (models, DVDs).” That’s straight from the horses mouth, so go find these people and take their classes! The diversity of this degree is also appreciated and claimed to balance out the often overwhelming

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workload of many of the subjects. Units on topics such as veterinary ethics and the agricultural industries are less rigorous and help to break up the labs and memorisation of scientific terminology. But don’t worry, the purely scientific subjects are also thoroughly enjoyed by students. Cell Biology 1B is a particular favourite, “you can expect to learn about incredible new molecular biotechnological developments that are still a few years away from being used in practice by vets but are becoming indispensable for investigating disease.” Enjoy being at the cutting edge of research and being taught by experts in the field. Shout-outs are in order for Jacqui Norris and Kate Bosward for their excellent delivery of Microbiology of Animal Disease, also described as “academically rigorous yet rewarding and excellent.” Their enthusiasm and engagement is infectious (BAM!) Watch out for some hefty exam weightings that can often lump 70 or 80% into a few hours. Worst case scenarios can involve nightmares that have you enduring eight exams of 100% weighted closed-book exams. So settle in for a long hard slog. All to ensure that the rest of us have healthy animals to eat and healthy animals with which to snuggle. Hopefully not the same one, though.


USSC UNITES STATES STUDIES CENTRE Overall, a major in American studies and the corresponding AMST and USSC units were received relatively positively and highly recommended by students. The benefits are pretty clear: not only can one cross list a great range of fascinating units from a multitude of disciplines but the United States Studies Center offers some of the most unique, creative and respected units you will undertake during your study. Basically – GET ON IT! Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: the USSC is a pretty shady institution. It’s fairly been labeled a propaganda machine – it rarely critiques the US. Worse, it’s funding by some seriously suspect sources; including Rupert Murdoch himself. BUT as one respondent opined “For a start, everything that Honi says about the USSC and its association with drug companies/weapons companies/Satan may very well be true, but it is utterly irrelevant to their undergraduate units.” This presents a dilemma for progressive students – do I sacrifice my values to enjoy some of the best units available? It’s your call. (I’ve obviously taken the plunge and my father is a champagne socialist who spent most of my childhood lecturing me about how evil “that capitalist wasteland” America is. Ironically, it’s his favorite holiday destination). A big selling point: “All the teachers, whether they be the lecturers or tutors are complete professionals.” In AMST1001 ‘Global America’ “The lecturers ranged from superb (Rodney Taveira –praised as incredibly intelligent and engaging and Brendan O’Connor) to abysmally dull (Paul Giles).” Tutor Liv Hopkins proved “really PAGE 5 0

excellent at taking us through the content and challenging us to argue our points concisely. My tutor, Anwyn Crawford, was sharp, insightful and challenging, three qualities any student should prize tremendously. In senior units, David Smith was lauded as “hands down the best lecturer I’ve had at uni” yet another commented he was “bit repetitious if you took Global America.” However, one student noted “some of the guest lecturers in USSC2601 ‘US in the World’ were too right leaning.” Unfortunate. Workloads were considered reasonable, assessments marked fairly, with content relatively practical and comprehensible. However, lecture recordings were only available some of the time. Respondents also warned first years to “Plan ahead”. Qualifying for the major is fairly simple: you need to have completed AMST2601 American Foundations’ and five senior cross-listed units. To undertake Foundations you must have completed ‘Global America’ and a junior American history unit. Another valuable reminder is that “a double degree across two faculties is very difficult to find information on. Each faculty tells you to go to the other faculty and there is no communication in between.” First years need not worry though – the junior unit is generally considered “extremely well organised, fairly marked and fascinating.” Global America was praised as “easily the best subject I took this year - it was fun, engaging, interesting, relevant, and I really enjoyed writing essays for it” with another student remarking it was “my favorite subject of the year.” Students commended the

contemporary “interesting topics and coursework”, “varied lectures” and “the fascinating discussions in tutes.” Significantly, the “the interdisciplinary nature of the subject it meant that you could always find something that suited your interests to focus on.” However, the two-hour lecture format challenged many students’ attention spans, some found the content “repetitive” and critiqued the unvaried assessment program. The senior USSC units generally drew praise. USSC2601 US in the World and USSC2602 US Politics: Elections, Presidents, Laws were described as “academically rigorous” with “the assessment, especially in USSC 2601, is unique and specially tailored towards the content of the unit very well”. USSC2604 Sex, Race and Rock in the USA was “enjoyed overall” especially “if you’re passionate about music” although the breadth of material covered ensured certain genres and eras are “brushed over and not afforded much offensive.” Luckily the assessment style allows for students to be selective in the course content they utilize and write about their musical preferences yet should attempt to “broaden their horizons.” All considered, one should definitely dip their toes into these subjects that attempt to comprehend and attach meanings to the land of the free. America may be in decline, but it still holds incredible sway and power throughout the world. To ignore it would be foolhardy. Besides, no other subject would routinely give me HDs for essays discussing Miley Cyrus, Rupaul, extreme pornography, Barack Obama and American Horror Story. Counter course handbook 2 014

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Proudly supported by Sydney Uni SRC


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DID YOU KNOW? TWO THIRDS of University students are currently living below the poverty line

ONE IN FIVE University student occasionally skip meals due to lack of money

ONE IN TWO students report that their studies are adversely affected by financial stress

FORTY EIGHT PERCENT is how far current Youth Allowance payments are below the poverty line Contact to make an appointment with one of the SRC case workers if you are having financial problems and need help, or contact to get in touch with one of the undergraduate student welfare officers S t u d e n t s ’ R e p r e s e n t a t i v e c o u n c i l u n i v e rs i t y o f S y d n e y


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THANK YOU! The 2014 Counter Course Handbook has been the result of a massive collaborative effort, with contributions by students spanning a number of faculties. The education officers would like to thank everyone who contributed in some way to the creation of the handbook, we look forward to working with all of you again throughout the year in the Abbott and Pyne: Hands off our Education! campaign.






























Amanda Le May



Mickie Quick



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The University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council acknowledges the traditional owners of this land, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. We stand on this land today as beneficiaries of an uncompensated and unreconciled dispossession which occurred over 200 years ago. Many of the descendants of those dispossessed live just down the road in abject poverty, and as young people it is important to recognise how this history of dislocation and disenfranchisement has contributed to the inequity we observe in contemporary society, particularly in the area of education. We acknowledge both our privilege and our obligation to redress the situation at best we can: to remember the mistakes of the past, act on the problems of today, and build for a future for everyone who will not call this place home, striving always for practical and meaningful reconciliation. If you are reading this, you are standing on Aboriginal land. Please recognise and respect this.

Counter Course handbook 2014