#ShameYourUnit: ECON204, where the questions … don’t really have answers


Words || Hans Lee

You ever had that moment when the answers are just not coming to you?

Don’t lie – we all have. Especially if you’re a self-sufferer of difficult subjects like anything out of the science or business faculties.

We know that the answers are sometimes hard to find. Now imagine that the answers you’re trying to find are all in tutorial booklets on iLearn. Seems reasonable, right?

Now imagine that there are so many typos in the tutorial booklets that many of the answers are actually duds.

On top of that, imagine that the work is so much that even the lecturers and unit convenors cannot actually get through the work that is set every week.

What do you get? Exactly: UNIT RANT TIME.

Welcome to ECON204, better known as Macroeconomic Analysis, but even better known as the hardest 200 level Economics major subject. Pass this and you understand world economics and how it all blends together. Don’t pass this and it’s another semester of fees straight to the Macquarie University cash jackpot.

More than that – you don’t get to pass your degree and you don’t get to graduate on time with everyone else. (The subject is not available in summer school.)

Now I’ve gone through the positives, let’s get to the negatives. Be warned – this is where my snarky sense of hell comes alive.

It’s thirteen weeks of models, statistics, world performances and not-so-world performances. Although the content is around 40% stats, 60% models, the final exam is more like 95% models and 5% please explain.

That in itself is a great forbearance lesson to all prospective students of business – make sure you know your math inside out. And know how to do it under pressure. The last thing you need is to forget how to rearrange a saving rates equation in a three hour pressure cooker exam.

The work starts fairly in the beginning. By around Week 5, you’re introduced to the two most important models of Macroeconomics – IS/LM and AS/AD – goods versus money and supply versus demand. For those not Economics students, you’re probably more familiar with the second concept because it affects all of us every day.

However, what they don’t tell you is that by around Week 5, you not only need to be familiar with it – you basically have to know it as well as your bae’s favourite recipe. The work heaps onto your back much like Santa Claus’ present sack at Christmas. To give you an idea, Week 5’s presentation was 32 slides but by Week 7, the lecture had 53 slides – all building on Week 5 and 6 work we didn’t even finish because of time.

Overzealous, I hear you cry!

Wrong – just bad planning. Like, really bad planning.

And what about that lecture time! Thursday … 8am. I’m assuming that may have changed for this semester as rooms become rebooked but I’m also thinking it may not because of how organisation works.

Tutorials are not that great too. The answers seem to be hard to find for the students, but they’re even harder to find for some of the tutors. One tutor apparently used “we have to move on, we’re running out of time” as a frequent excuse of getting out of answering questions. Awkward.

And if you thought wrong answers in tutorials were bad enough, wait till you hear about the assessments. The unit guide is like such:

Assessment Type of Assessment – What’s Involved Weighting
Tutorial Participation
  • Attendance
  •  Presenting answers to tutorial problems – this wasn’t so bad. Unless of course you’re interrupted halfway through by the same colleagues who have no idea what’s going on.
  • Riddled with mistakes and undertaken three times in the same semester.
  • Was changed later on to allow two attempts per quiz – unfortunately, they also forgot to tell you when your second attempt opened so unless you check iLearn as frequently as your Instragram feed (unlikely), you’ll forget it.
Mid-Semester Test
  • Taken at 8am on a Thursday. It’s really all a blur.
Final Exam
  • Taken in the exam block. Yay?

So be warned and know what you’re up against. But also know who’s running what and be prepared to use the Internet to search for answers like never before.

You’re welcome.

Have a unit worthy of shame? Email grapeshot@mq.edu.au. Anonymity guaranteed upon request.