My top 5 favourite courses at UVic

Registration is fast approaching for next year, so if you’re looking for a course to fill your schedule you’ve come to the right place. All of these courses are difficult so keep that in mind, but anything worth doing is challenging at times.

I’m a transfer student, but I’ve completed 22 courses at UVic. I’ve taken 5 terms now (including summer) and picked my favorite course in each term. I’ve listed the professor I took the course with, but they may not teach the course anymore.

When ranking these courses against each other I took into account several factors: How engaging the professor is, how interesting the material is, the organization of the course, and the quality of evaluation. These are my 5 favourites:

5. Psychology 315 (now 351B) – Introduction to Human Neuropsychology (Instructor: Rylie Moore) © Brian Van Wyk © Brian Van Wyk

PSYC 315 was a condensed summer course that spanned three weeks. The material was interesting and easy to understand. Grad student Rylie Moore taught the course, and he did a great job.

Dr. Mauricio Garcia-Barrera teaches this course in the fall and spring semester and it has since been renamed PSYC 351B. Dr. Garcia-Barrera guest lectured our class and was well-spoken and very knowledgeable.

Tests were straightforward with multiple choice based on memorization and case study long answer questions. A description of patient’s symptoms would be presented and you would have to deduce the likely culprit. This is probably the easiest class on the list.

4. Biology 400 – History of Biology (Instructor: Dr. Gregory Beaulieu)

What a fun class this was! Dr. Beaulieu delivers lectures with the enthusiasm and sarcasm you want from all your professors.

It was interesting to investigate the great scientists and scientific discoveries which shaped the field. All the information is laid out perfectly for you. Take notes, memorize, and you’ll do great.

Dr. Beaulieu has a new course: Biology behind the news (BIOL 351). I will definitely be taking that in the spring.

3. Biology 360 – Cell Biology (Instructors: Dr. Barbara Ehlting & Dr. Ben Koop)

cellsLoved Dr. Ehlting! She is warm and funny, but no nonsense, which is great.

This course is a must for anybody who enjoys biology. Dr. Koop teaches a very interesting section on cancer for all you pre-meds out there. There is a ton of material and the multiple choice testing is difficult.

Dr. Ehlting’s majority of questions involve a logic based approach, whereas Dr. Koop’s are testing factual accuracy (you know it or you don’t). There’s going to be a lot of questions that can have choices A-H, where choices E, F, and G are combinations of right answers or all or none of the above. The concepts are not that difficult to understand, but you need to know everything.

2. Biology 367 – Neurobiology: Molecules to Behavior (Instructor: Dr. Kerry Delaney)

This course gets a bad rap with students!

Dr. Delaney is a great lecturer, as he is enthusiastic and entertaining with a passion for the material. He can be a bit intimidating at times, which can turn some students off. Come to class prepared to learn, treat him with respect, and don’t have an entitled attitude like you want to be given something.

He genuinely cares about his students, but if you want to do well you better work hard. This course is meant to be challenging. You will learn a ton about neuroscience in this class!

The testing is difficult, but innovative. I commend Dr. Delaney for trying something different with his testing. There is every kind of question you can imagine: multiple choice, true and false, matching, fill in the blank, short answer, long answer. My advice is to know your concepts cold and be able to explain them concisely without any filler or incorrect information.

1. Biochemistry 300A – General Biochemistry I (Instructor: Dr. Martin Boulanger)

IMG_0149This course I took in my first semester at UVic, and boy am I glad I did. I would not have been as well prepared for the rest of university if I didn’t take this course.

Dr. Boulanger did a great job of explaining how to think logically about novel and complex problems. His lectures about concepts about what I thought were simple biochemical concepts were eye-opening.

He understood that students found the testing difficult and would take you through sample questions and explain what a full mark answer would look like. The testing is difficult because there are things you’ve never seen before on the test and time is limited.

Dr. Boulanger taught me how to intuitively think about biochemical problems and use reasoning to present a competent answer. If this guy taught a class on time travel I would take it. That’s how much faith I have that he can flat out teach. Take this class.

Honourable mention – If you still need more options some other classes I felt very good about were PSYC 215A, BIOL 432 and BIOL 447.

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