Archive for the ‘Pathway into BSc’ Category

Languages at VCE and at University

So you went away on the school trip to another country (for me this was Japan in Year 9) and fancy yourself a (beginner) bilinguist. Many uni’s including Melbourne, offer beginner language subjects for people who’ve never done a language before and higher level classes for people who want to continue a language after VCE. At Melbourne Uni they are called breadth subjects. With the new Melbourne Model even budding young scientists in the Bachelor of Science/Biomedicine can continue or start a language. Just FIY guys, a language is just one avenue. You may have a passion for music, history, African drumming etc. No, I did not make that last one up. So what does this mean for all of you? Depending on how strongly you feel about a language you can do it at VCE or wait until Uni. However guys, you can’t escape the dreaded oral exam wherever you go. It’s just part of doing a language. Here is something else you might find interesting. You can do what is called a Diploma in Languages at the same time as your Bachelor of Science. What happens usually is this stretches out the usual 3 years into 4 years and your breadth subjects are occupied by language subjects.

A University level subject at high school:

This is a wonderful opportunity to get a taste of uni life (and this includes the wild parties Mat tells you about). While some high schools may offer a university level subject, the same principles apply for doing any higher level subject, plus a few more:

– You will have to attend university so keep in mind how much time will be spent travelling and the cost.

– Some university classes are held in the evening e.g. I did psychology in my first year at uni which ran on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 5-6pm. This meant I didn’t get home until after 7 (a huge change for someone who lived within walking distance from high school). Good news though most lectures are recorded so you can listen to them online.

– First year uni subjects have tutorials. These are usually on during the day and attendance might be compulsory to pass.

– Uni is based on independent study e.g. I’m on a train writing this as opposed to a classroom.

– Your uni subject may contribute to your ENTER/ATAR and if you get into the university that offered the subject, it may also count towards your degree. Just a reminder guys that different uni’s have different rules about this sort of thing and they can change on a semesterly/yearly basis.

– The content will triple. You’ve probably heard uni only runs for 2×3 month semesters, so lecturers have to compress alot of information in a very short space.

All the best!


Doing a unit 3 & 4 subject before year 12:

Hi guys! So first up I’m not here to encourage or discourage you from taking a higher level subject. I’m here to let you in on a couple of things I didn’t really think through when I was making this decision:

I went to your average public school with some VCE level subjects on offer from year 10. In year 11 I took psychology units 3 & 4 without having done units 1 & 2.  For the upside, I had that extra subject to boost up my enter and the content was not too difficult to learn. However I did not have the independent study motivation that the year twelves did.

Completing a higher level subject usually means you need to devote more time to that subject to understand the material and there is usually more set and ‘unofficial’ homework that goes with it. Also focusing on that subject may mean your other subjects aren’t given enough time. Remember it is important to understand the basics as new information is built on these.

Also think about if you need this subject to get into your chosen degree. At the time I didn’t, but when I got to uni I did psych in my first year so it was great to already have this background.

I quite enjoyed the challenge and it was great going into year 12 with some enter points already behind me.

Feel free to post a comment or send us an e-mail if you have any concerns about doing a unit 3/4 subject before year 12.

Good luck with the mid year exams!


This series of posts are on a few things that I wish I had known going into VCE. First up I want to define a couple of words that will probably be thrown at you:

Bachelor: this is the name of a basic university degree, so while you do a Victorian Certificate of Education at high school, at uni it becomes Bachelor of Science/Biomedicine/Arts etc.

Major: this is kind of like your specialty. Mine is Human Structure and Function and it involves a collection of subjects that give me a wide knowledge in how the body is put together and how it works. There are heaps of majors on offer at uni e.g. pharmacology, zoology, chemistry and many, many more. Most people start of doing the same subjects at first year but once they get to second year people start to specialise.

BSc or BSci: the abbreviation for the Bachelor of Science. This is what appears at the end of your name.

Honours: generally a fourth year of study. An honours year can only be completed after a Bachelors degree. It differs from your Bachelor degree because it involves a research project as opposed to coursework i.e. going to lectures.

Breadth: These are kind of like your electives at high school. The new Melbourne Model has made it compulsory for students in the Bachelor of Science to take subjects outside of the degree, for example a language. It gives students a broader range of knowledge.

Lecture: The main method of teaching at uni. Basically you sit in a very big room with a few hundred other students while a lecturer talks to you about a particular topic. Many lecturers have different teaching styles. Some like to have powerpoint slides which you can print out beforehand and take with you to add notes to. Some use overhead slides (common in chemistry with lots of diagrams). Some will ask questions and others will wonder around the lecture theatre while giving a talk (so sit in the middle where they can’t get to you).

Tutorial: A much, much smaller class. Around 20 students usually. Here your tutor will take you through some questions. This is a great time to ask questions and work out where you need help.

Laboratory/Practical: That time of week where you can get your hands dirty. You put the knowledge you learnt in a lecture into a prac e.g. learning about the anatomy of the upper limb and then going to dissect one.

Some helpful links:

If you want go to Melbourne and do a Bachelor of Science this is your point of call:

A list of all the majors on offer for the Bachelor of Science (BSc):