Archive for the ‘Biology’ Category

Accepted, but can I do the masters?

I got a surprising email from Queen’s last week to say that I’d an unconditional offer for the masters course.

I say surprising, as I was still waiting for the Open University to produce the references which, supposedly, were essential. Moreover, I hadn’t weighed in with an official transcript for any of my degrees which I also thought was essential.

The only problem with this is that unless the offer of redundancy comes through for the first wave, I won’t be able to do it.


Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

The MSc Molecular Biology has become a possibility

Two years back when I went to the PG open day at Queen’s it seemed that I had found the masters I’d been looking for but unfortunately it seemed to only be a runner as a full-time degree and I couldn’t do that. So, I shelved the idea.

However, thanks to the voluntary redundancy scheme that the NI public sector is kicking off next week, it looks like the masters is a reasonable possibility. Normally, I guess most people would consider a redundancy programme as a bad thing, but in this case there appear to be a number of people including me who find that it’s actually a good thing. Surprisingly, Wendy has been all for me going for it and also thinks that using a year to do the masters would be a good thing too.

So, I find myself with the application typed up and off to Queen’s this morning.  It’s one of the all online ones and doesn’t really allow for us OU people so for my second referee, I’ve as the science SST are getting the two references sorted for me. Also doesn’t allow for those of us with more than one UG degree which I guess takes in a fair number of OU students too. Despite all the business of “personal statements” that degree courses seem to ask for, there was just an “additional information” box to complete so no flowery personal statement required. Thus the personal statement that I’d been mulling over for the last two years was quite short in the end and basically said that I got hooked on biology four years back, loved the way that just about every week over that time came up with something fascinating and I’d love to continue that with the masters.

On other fronts, I heard back from the psychology SST people and it appears that I can complete the psychology degree by doing just two more courses which is what I thought might be possible. Mind you, it does introduce the complication that those courses need to be completed by 2017 so, if I get to do the masters, it means running one of those courses alongside it.


Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

The 2014 Infectious Disease SK320 exam

Well, it’s all over. That’s the final exam for my Life Sciences degree too and I’m already wondering how I’ll get through life without biology to make it interesting.

The report question turned out to be a doddle and was pretty much exactly what I had expected so it was a doddle to do and my figures fitted in with it quite well too. A fairly easy 20-25% I think.

Next I did the data handling question which was entirely public health though, as usual with these questions, you could have had a good stab at it without having done the course. Based on a norovirus infection this year and looking at some trends and why school kids would catch it. Another easy 20-25% I think.

Finally there were the short answer questions. Ten from twelve and as usual from all over the course. It was easy enough to choose the first five or six and easy to eliminate two (did anyone do the two ten part ones?). In practice, there turned out to be several easy ones in my second choice group when I looked at the in more detail. I’m not so sure of the overall marks on this section which is a pity as it’s the section that largely determines the overall grade.

It felt like quite a reasonable paper apart from the two ten part questions which I suspect few will have answered.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Full time student for a week

As the Infectious Disease course is the last one for my Life Sciences degree, I thought I’d beef up the amount of dedicated revision time that I had for it.

That means that I’m a full-time student for the next week.

It doesn’t mean that I’ll be doing 12 hours a day revision mind you as my brain tends to run out after a while. The basic game plan is to drop the kids off and head on somewhere quiet where I’ll be able to do several 45-60 minute stretches before lunch, another slot after lunch and one or perhaps two after I pick them up again.

In principle, that should leave me with loads of time to do it all but the problem is that there’s loads to be done. My notes are 30 pages, I’ve another 10 of detailed diagrams, the glossary runs to 50 pages and so does the Q&A. Not to be forgotten is the research question which has oodles of studies though I’ll likely limit myself to 10-20 pages of reading for it. Having said that, I’ll only be skimming the glossary and Q&A so in reality it’s the 40 pages of notes and diagrams plus the 10-20 of the research question which doesn’t sound so bad but every one of them is very information rich.

One other complication is that for the answer to the research question you need to have two diagrams or tables and I’ve not yet seen any doable ones for it.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Moving into the final phase with the infectious disease revision

Over the weekend, I managed to complete phase one of my revision for the exam next week. That entailed finishing off the notes for the final book of the course so now it’s onwards to the next stage of the revision.

First up this week is a look at the research question and gathering together the information that I think will be required to answer it. I’m also going to have a look at the three examples of this type of question that I have from the specimen exam paper and the two past papers. I’m not going to look at them in a whole lot of detail though – just enough to get a feel for what kind of questions might come up.

Next up  is a look at the specimen exam paper I think with a view to ensuring that the notes that I have are sufficient to answer the majority of the questions. I say “the majority” rather than all as, although clearly being able to answer all would be better, I’ve not looked at any of the papers yet so I don’t now how viable it is to know everything that might be necessary. In parallel with that I’ll be going over the notes that I have at the moment and adding bits & pieces to them as necessary to answer the questions on the specimen exam and, later, on the two past papers that are available.

Then there’s an assortment of information to glance at which includes the 50 pages of the glossary, an equally chunky FAQ and a number of diagrams on topics that one of the other students produced this year. I’ll probably confine my revision of the case studies to those diagrams as I don’t think I will be able to slot in the time to go over them fully and I don’t think it’s necessary anyway.

After that, it’s some serious going over the notes that I’ve produced over the last month or so in the hope that enough of it will stick to answer ten of the short questions and any required background for the data handling question.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.