Even though we are University-affiliated, many of these comments are our own opinions.
Consult the relevant faculty as a final authority regarding Admissions, Enrolment etc. However, we have tried to provide links to the University’s website as much as possible for accuracy’s sake.
You may wish to consult the BSc Orientation FAQ document as well: http://tinyurl.com/bscyear1q-a
If there are any statements you wish to add on to, correct or delete from this page, please contact us on email@example.com
General Common Year 1 Questions
We've gathered a list of questions that first years tend to ask. Click on the questions to view the answers!
Where do I get the POPLHLTH 111 Course Guide?
POPLHLTH 111 does not have a Course Guide. They upload lecture notes onto CANVAS right before the lecture for you to download and annotate on during the lecture.
Which Orientation Day should I go to?
If you are a BHSc student, go to the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Orientation Day.
If you are a BSc (Biomedical Science) student, go to the Faculty of Science Orientation Day.
How do I enrol?
After you apply for the University of Auckland and are accepted, you now have to enrol in the 8 papers (i.e., 4 papers in Semester 1 and 4 papers in Semester 2) required for 1st year. For Common Year 1, you have very little choice as to which papers you are allowed to do so the enrolment process is made easier as you can enrol in a "cohort" option which simply picks all your necessary papers for you and sorts the different classes to ensure all permutations of valid, non-clashing classes is presented to you. (In the usual enrolment process, you actually manually choose the courses you wish to do; but this is not really the case here).
To enrol in a cohort:
Log in to your account at student.auckland.ac.nz or by searching “SSO UoA” on Google
Select the “Enrol” option, and proceed to select “Add Classes With” on the side panel. To add courses, select “Timetable Planner”
Ensure you have selected the correct term (i.e if you want to enrol in first semester, select 20xx Semester One)
Once on the Timetable Planner, proceed to select “Add Course” and select the “Search By Cohort” option, and select your relevant cohort.
View various options, and once you have your desired timetable, make sure you send this timetable to the enrolment cart
Click ‘Enrol’ (after agreeing to T & C’s), and ensure payment options have been secured*
*Payment is usually completed/should be paid by the 1st day of Semester which is typically either late February or early March; which should be plenty of time for StudyLink to process your Student Loan if you are applying for that.
**First years are entitled to their first year free as part of the fees-free study scheme. For more information, please consult https://www.feesfree.govt.nz/
BSc (Biomedical Science) should enrol in the following papers:
SEMESTER ONE: BIOSCI107, CHEM110, POPLHLTH111* and a General Education (what's that?)
SEMESTER TWO: BIOSCI101, BIOSCI106, MEDSCI142, and PHYSICS160
*For BSc (Biomedical Science), it is not necessary to take POPLHLTH111 unless you are intending to apply for Medicine (MBChB).
If you are absolutely sure you will not be applying for MBChB, consider taking STATS101 as that is another core paper you will have to take inevitably. However, should you be on the fence about your career options, it would be highly recommended to take POPLHLTH111 should you change your mind later and want to apply for clinical programmes.
BHSc (Health Science) should enrol in the following papers:
SEMESTER ONE: POPLHLTH101, POPLHLTH111, BIOSCI107 and CHEM110
SEMESTER TWO: POPLHLTH102, HLTHPSYC122, MEDSCI142 and a General Education
I'm having problems with enrolment and don't know what do to! Can you please help?
If you would like to drop your enrolled cohort for a serious reason (e.g. you now have a clash), you need to contact your Student Centre. Excuses like "I don't like my timetable" are unlikely to work! :P
Otherwise, all other enrolment problems should be dealt with by your Student Centre, of which their details can be found here.
What General Education (Gen Ed) paper should I take?
General Education (Gen Ed) papers are courses in various subjects meant to broaden your experience and exposure to other fields not related to your degree. Whilst these papers aim to provide introductory information to a particular aspect of their course, first year biomed/healthsci students are already overwhelmed with the weekly timetable and the amount of stuff to study for (e.g. MEDSCI 142!). It is often recommended that you simply choose a Gen Ed that you are interested in because the more interested you are, the more motivated, and better you'll do! This is absolutely good, sound, advice.
However, there are some points to consider....:
Some Gen Eds (particularly language papers) will inherently require you to spend more time on them for study thereby taking time away from more "important" papers like MEDSCI 142.
You ideally want a paper which is not time-intensive and relatively easy to get good marks in so you can focus on your core papers
'Easy' papers can also be interesting; who knows? Maybe that paper might even show you another degree/career pathway you might be interested in!
Your MEDSCI142 grade will matter towards clinical programme entry, but your gen ed won't... (not for core paper consideration, at least). Take what you will from this and make up your own mind with the choices below:
Open (O) Schedule
Whilst some courses related to the science faculty are listed in the open schedule, you may not be able to do the following Gen Eds: BIOSCI100G, EXERSCI100G, MEDSCI101G, MEDSCI100G, OPTOM101G, POPLHLTH103G. This is because if you do a course in a certain subject (e.g. BIOSCI 107), this makes you ineligible to undertake a General Education in the same subject - see this link for more details.
Special note regarding PHARMACY 111G: if you do this Gen Ed, this makes it difficult for you if you wish to complete a BPharm degree - so it is best to avoid it.
In short, here are a few Gen Eds for you to consider that past years have found easy:
PHIL 105G (no longer unanimously agreed by all; course changed est. 2017)
Please note that every year, the timetable gets swapped around so not every paper is always available given the potential clash with your core timetable which takes priority over the Gen Ed paper. Some Gen Eds may also only be available to health sci due to course availability (i.e some courses are held in semester two)
There is also a website out there that allows people to anonymously post their course review of certain papers - the accuracy and unbiased view is not guaranteed though - take it with a grain of salt!
What is GPA and how is it calculated?
Your final grade in a paper is a combination of your internal assessment grade and your exam mark (e.g. a typical paper might look like: 50% exam, 20% mid-semester-test, 20% lab and 10% assignment; however, this is different for every paper and you should refer to your course manual or course coordinators as they should provide this information).
Your final grade in a paper is called a 'Grade Point Equivalent' (GPE). When you take an average of your GPEs, they become a 'Grade Point Average' (otherwise known as your GPA). This helps simplify your grades into a single number.
Below tells you the estimated grade thresholds for most papers. However, in some papers, grade thresholds are not the same. They are sometimes adjusted higher or lower depending on how well the rest of the cohort does in that paper; e.g. in one year, Poplhlth111’s A+ grade threshold was not 90%. It was around 93-94%*** my source is from friends who got A or A+ and calculating their grades manually.
This is by no means from official UoA announcements. Point is, it can vary slightly from paper to paper - some departments like to scale marks, others don't - just try your best and get the best mark you can!
9 = A+ (Score is 90 or above)
8 = A (Score is 85 - 89.99)
7 = A- (Score is 80 - 84.99)
6 = B+ (Score is 75 - 79.99)
5 = B (Score is 70 - 74.99)
4 = B- (Score is 65 - 69.99)
3 = C+ (Score is 60 - 64.99)
2 = C (Score is 55 - 59.99)
1 = C- (Score is 50 - 54.99)
0 = D (Score is 0 - 49.99: i.e. fail grade)
Find out more about GPA calculations.
Why do some subjects clash with themselves (e.g. Physics 160)?
The component that seemingly clashes during the enrolment process is the labs and tutorials. Labs are usually run fortnightly with tutorials every other week. If you’re doing BSc (Biomedical Science), that would probably only apply to Physics 160. So for example, odd weeks are lab weeks and even weeks are tutorial weeks. This appears as if the lab clashes with the tutorials on SSO. If you press ‘Enrol’, this should not appear as a problem.
Should I apply for Semester 2 papers now?
Yes. The only thing you get to choose is your general education paper (assuming you’re doing Biomed/Healthsci). Although there are a lot of choices out there, it doesn’t hurt to pick now as otherwise, you may miss out on your preferred lab streams.
Furthermore, when picking a gen ed paper, the ones that are deemed to be the "easiest" often fill up very quickly so enrolling earlier will ensure you have a place in the paper. If you end up changing your mind you can always change it before the semester starts (This only applies to HSc Students, as Biomed have Gen Eds in Semester One)
What is this academic integrity course?
Academic Integrity is important in university – the work you hand in must be all your own and not copied from someone else. You’ll have to complete an Academic Integrity course at some point during your degree, and you’ll find that you’re automatically enrolled in it. You’re supposed to read about academic integrity and watch a few videos here and answer quizzes about it on CANVAS.
You need to get it 100% right, but you have infinite chances and it’s not exactly the hardest thing ever! It’s nothing to worry about; just something you can consider doing before University starts so you don’t have to even think about doing it during University.
If you don’t complete it within the first semester you will simply be re-enrolled in the following semester until it is completed. Find out more here.
What is a "core" paper?
This depends on who mentions it:
In General: "Core" papers are compulsory papers that you have no choice but to complete as part of your degree. However, you are likely to have to do all 8 prescribed papers so this is confusing and irrelevant to Year 1 students. For Biomed students wishing to apply for Optometry (BOptom), "core" papers are 6 papers: BIOSCI 101, BIOSCI 106, BIOSCI 107, CHEM 110, PHYSICS 160, and MEDSCI 142. This is because these 6 papers count towards both the interview selection and the selective entry into the BOptom programme.
For students wishing to apply for Medicine (MBChB)/Pharmacy: "Core" papers are 4 papers: BIOSCI 107, CHEM 110, POPLHLTH 111, and MEDSCI 142. This is because these 4 papers count towards both the interview selection and the selective entry into the MBChB programme.
What are course guides and where/when do I get them?
These are books which are printed for each individual course by the relevant departments. Some departments require you to buy it from UBIQ (each coursebook costs around $30). Other departments give you one copy as part of the cost you paid for the course.
If you don't want to buy a course guide, the whole thing is often uploaded to CANVAS as well, so you can print off the relevant pages for lectures (but it's probably easier, and cheaper, to simply buy the courseguide). Inside these course guides should be all the relevant course information, lectures, tests, labs, etc.
Also, the important stuff that's in these courseguides are the lecture notes - these lecture notes are usually organised into lectures. So, the pages for Lecture 1 will contain Learning Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Aims/Concepts (whatever fancy word the lecturer wants to call them) will have relevant pictures, notes etc. for what the lecturer will cover in Lecture 1. Such is the same for Lecture 2, and so on.
How will I make it to my classes on time if I have classes/labs that are back to back?
Lectures start 5 minutes after the hour and finish 5 minutes before the hour giving you 10 minutes to travel to your next lecture (assuming it’s at another location; otherwise, you have 10 minutes to chill in the same lecture theatre). You can leave your lab early provided you finish all the required work early as well (however, that is a rarity).
Do I really need to get a lab coat and safety glasses? Where can I get one?
Short Answer? Yes, you do.
You will be required to buy a lab coat for use in BIOSCI, CHEM and MEDSCI labs. You will need to bring it to every lab you have or face the threat of hiring one! Although it's only $2 each time, this isn't worth it in the long run as you'll need a lab coat for the rest of your University degree anyway so you may as well invest in one now.
You’ll also need safety glasses, which always must be worn in CHEM and MEDSCI labs (unless otherwise stated) and in BIOSCI labs when using harmful chemicals. These can all be bought at UBIQ (found at Kate Edgar Information Commons Level 0 and Level 1), or at the Science Resource Centre.
You can also get them second hand at some other places (e.g online, or at the Grafton campus; be quick as they do sell quick!).
Textbooks: Do I have to buy them? Should I buy them?
Textbooks are massive thousand page books which contain a plethora of information which is incredibly beneficial to anyone able to read them. At University, courses usually "recommend" or "prescribe" textbooks.
"Recommended textbooks" often supplement course material well hence they are recommended.
"Prescribed textbooks" are prescribed likely because the course coordinator / professor wishes you to do homework and actually read parts of the textbook.
That said and out of the way, it is strongly advised that you do consider the following before purchasing physical textbooks:
You can access textbooks for free at the University of Auckland Library! Simply walk into the Library and borrow them either from Short Loan or from the shelf and have a read. You just need your UoA ID card to borrow the textbooks!
You may even have access to the electronic version of the textbook. Some textbooks can be accessed via the UoA Library website via your University log-in. For example, Webb & Bain's Essential Epidemiology 2nd Edition can be accessed in this link.
They're heavy to carry around. You're likely to be going into University 3-5 times a week. Who wants to lug around these heavy beasts all the time?
You can purchase just the electronic version. In this digital age, you can get the electronic version easily onto your mobile, laptop, Kindle (TM) without it being so darn heavy to lug around! They're also usually a lot cheaper, and budget-friendly!
There are second hand textbooks available. Join this FB group, follow the rules, and buy a second hand textbook for much cheaper.
Second hand textbooks are often "brand new condition" for a reason. People tend to open their book once or twice during the semester because of the "New Year New Me" mentality but soon don't bother when they realize that they just need to study through their course guide primarily.
As broke students ourselves, we recommend the following:
Wait until the end of Week 2 to decide whether you need a textbook.
See what your study behaviour is like. Do you actually go to the library often and read the recommended readings? Do you struggle to understand the background information from lectures? If so, then sure, it may be beneficial to purchase (or even just borrow) a textbook. However, we strongly recommend refraining from buying textbooks because the vast majority of people just do not find buying textbooks worth the money.
I don't care! I want to buy a textbook! Which textbook(s) should I buy?
The best textbook to get is Tortora & Derrickson's Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. This textbook is recommended for BIOSCI 107 and prescribed for MEDSCI 142. You will need to do pre-readings for the labs in MEDSCI 142 from this textbook. (But this can be done at the Library anyways).
Since this textbook covers two courses, it is economical to purchase this. Textbooks for other courses are not recommended by us.
What edition textbook should I buy?
Of course, purchasing the latest edition is very nice, but you will find it is quite expensive. Textbooks simply get updated every few years to keep up to date with the latest information and in the process, the page numbers get changed around for certain topics.
Between editions, however, you will find that the vast majority of content remains identical, just simply on a different page. Given that your course books often cite your recommended readings from certain page numbers, it is annoying to not have the right page number - but that is what an index is for! However, most course books will actually include the page numbers for the prescribed readings for multiple editions of the textbook.
How do I find past exam papers to practice on? And where are the answers?
Go to this website, and type in your course number (e.g CHEM110)
Alternatively, you could browse by course
Only exam papers from previous years are shown on this site; mid-semester tests are not provided and will be given to you at discretion of your course co-ordinator via Canvas
Answers are not provided for exams as they are designed to be revision tools. Instead, if you got together with friends to discuss answers, and for the leftover questions that you still couldn’t do - asking your lecturers (via email) or asking on Piazza, would help your learning experience more. For subjects such as CHEM and PHYSICS; they do post up past exam papers AND past exam paper answers on CANVAS. The BIOSCI department usually has some past tests/exam MCQ quizzes on CANVAS where they do tell you the answers to the past MCQ section of the exam.
Exams: When are they? Why is my exam schedule so bad? When do we find out our mark? etc.
The Exam Schedule is typically released during, or after, the mid-semester break for the corresponding semester. (So for Semester 1, the Exam Schedule will be released in both your SSO and in this link in approximately Week 6.
Exams are closer together for the larger classes, so generally Biomed papers tend to have their exams within the first week or so of exams. This is to allow a longer processing time for exam papers with larger classes so that your marks can be released on time.
Exams are timetabled according to the exam office – the departments do not have any control over the timetable so complaining to them won't really help your case. In addition, all of the prior years to you have had their exams crammed together so they are extremely unlikely to change them anyway. Your overall grades will be released on SSO, usually between 10 and 20 days after the last day of the exam period.
You can request to get a photocopy of/get your original exam script here. You can request to get it recounted here, however you should weigh all your options before proceeding with this because it costs money ($55 per paper requested!) and you’re unlikely to get a different grade. Note that they do NOT remark your paper, but rather recount the number of marks that the examiner recorded.
What is the morning stream and afternoon stream I have heard about?
Because there are so many students in certain classes (e.g. 1000+ students enrolled in CHEM 110, BIOSCI 107, and MEDSCI 142), the University lecture halls are unable to fit 1000 students all into one place at one time. As such, there are often two streams for the same course where the lecturer will present the same content twice in one day; just at different times.
You are expected to show up at the stream you are enrolled in although some people like to "stream-hop" and attend the morning stream just so they can finish their day early. As for choosing which stream to enrol into, it is no longer possible due to the rigid enrolment structure of the Timetable Planner Cohort system.
What are overflow rooms?
Similarly, because of the sheer number of students in certain classes, at a given lecture slot (e.g. 9am-10am on Monday morning for BIOSCI 107), two lecture theatres might be dedicated to the one lecture. The "overflow" lecture room is likely nearby the main lecture theatre and will have two screens: one showing live video footage of the lecturer, the other showing the Power Point presentation (or whatever the lecturer is using to teach).
Some people like the overflow rooms because of it being a bit less stuffy and more relaxed in atmosphere. After all, fitting 500 students into the main lecture theatre can definitely cause undue heating effects!
Should I do BIOMED or HEALTHSCI?
As the Student Association for the Medical Sciences, we primarily cater to BSc (Biomedical Science) students so we're inevitably going to be biased towards it here (oops).
Nonetheless, here's some (hopefully) objective points for you to consider to guide your choice:
You can apply for Optometry as well. (BOptom entry requires BIOSCI 101, 106, 107, CHEM 110, PHYSICS 160, and MEDSCI 142) HEALTHSCI does not provide the same options
You need to do Physics. If you've done high school physics all the way up to Year 13, you should have little problem as you'll have done most of the content before. If you have done it to Year 12, PHYSICS 160 is a nice continuation of what you learnt. If you have not done it at all before, good luck.
A little bit more objective. In Year 1, Biomed requires very little essay writing. Most assessment is either MCQ/SAQ. This makes assessment much more objective with your answers being either "right" or "wrong" and with fewer shades of the in-between.
Much more science-based. If you enjoy your purer scientific learning, Biomed is for you. If you did lots of high school science, you'll find learning in Biomed much more familiar.
Consider the 3 other papers: BIOSCI 101, BIOSCI 106, and PHYSICS 160. Read through their course descriptions to see if they interest you. Perhaps read our reviews on this website to give you an idea of what they're about.
You cannot apply for Optometry or Medical Imaging.
A few more essays - perhaps a little subjective. There are a few more essays. We're not saying that you need Top of the World English Literature writing skills, we're asking you to research a topic, grasp the big ideas, and convey your opinion clearly. That said, it might feel that assessment is therefore slightly more subjective given that someone must read your essay and then give you a mark. If you are quite happy with essay writing, then perhaps Health Science is for you.
Consider the 3 other papers: POPLHLTH 101, POPLHLTH 102, and HLTHPSYC 122. Read through their course descriptions to see if they interest you.
PLAN B! What if you don't get into your desired programme? Sure, both degrees can apply for Pharmacy, but what if you wish to continue with BIOMED or HEALTHSCI?
You can potentially think of Health Science leading to a career as an epidemiologist / public health policy advisor; whereas Biomedical Science leading towards a career as a Scientist.
Do you prefer thinking of health more holistically and in the context of society (i.e. Health Science) or do you prefer thinking of health more intricately and in the context of molecules, cells, tissues, and organs (i.e. Biomedical Science)?
There is no "easier" course. There is only a course that you are personally better at. If you're interested in the topic, you'll naturally study better for it, and you'll likely do better at it.
In the case you apply for post-grad med, it would be recommended to treat all 8 FY papers as your core; especially since cumulative GPA of all 3 years are considered.