selected items from my university education, 1994 - 1996
December 16, 2000

 money and the environment Apr94 market-based strategies for a sustainable future


 mnemonics Apr94 memory and association


 practice and skill May94 motor learning, feedback, and transfer


 how memory works Jun94 learning and recall


 subliminal messages Jul94 are less effective than a quick chat


 bases of learning Aug94 conditioning and punishment


 performance appraisal Sep94 measurement criteria, benchmarking, and error


 coursework: Intro to uni; Commerce; Mathematics; Psychology


Below is a list of units I did whilst at uni, accompanied by a brief comment. Click on the unit title and you'll get whatever work I did for that unit - assignments, study notes etc.

  Introduction to University

A108 Life and the Universe
I loved this unit! Not only was it stimulating and eye-opening (to someone who had avoided both biology and geography at high school) but it also served as a very painless "welcome to university" unit. There was a bit of reading, but it was worth it. Of course, A108 has nothing to do with my chosen field - perhaps this is why I liked it so much.


C160 Introduction to Accounting
This unit was very dry, particularly with its emphasis on the Statements of Accounting Concepts, the downright dirty politics occuring right now in Accounting and indeed the Conceptual Framework itself. All very good but where is the relevance? This unit gave me the basics (and I am still using them) but there was a high signal-to-noise ratio. [notes here]
C161 Introduction to Economics
I found economics fascinating, with its broad truths and insights into the nuts and bolts of a functioning economy. I believe that some of the principles have application beyond economics. For these reasons I found this unit to be good value.
C165 Principles of Commercial Law
This was a must-have unit: I think everyone should know the basics of law. This unit reveals the inner workings of contract law, which I have found to be particularly useful. And I must make mention that Hardial Singh Khaira remains one of the most progressive lecturers I have ever had. [notes here]
C169 Principles of Marketing
A decent introduction to marketing, quite applicable, if a little obvious.
C209 Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law
I found this unit to be very informative and highly applicable; it empowered me as a consumer. This unit also covered competition policy (with reference to the invisible hand, perfect competition and regulatory intervention), which I found interesting.
C214 Marketing Management
More lists of concepts. This unit was under-structured; it shot a whole pile of theory at the student, but neglected to place the theory firmly within applicable conceptual baskets. This unit was recently excised from C169 Principles of Marketing; perhaps this was a contributing factor. The unit also required students to study the marketing of a particular product at a particular firm; this study was inevitably constricted by commercial secrets, throwing the validity of this piece of assessment into question.
C222 Industrial Relations
Some heavy concepts in this unit, but it was spot-on for applicability. It was painful at the time, but I don't regret doing it - in fact I wish I had paid more attention, as IR always occupies a significant portion of the news.
C223 Organisational Theory and Behaviour
This unit really clicked with me. I think it was because this was a proper management unit. Again, I wish I had paid more attention.
C228 Employment Law
Building on both C165 and C222, this unit spills the beans on the nature of employment, in a legal context. Applicable, and probably invaluable at some point.
C240 Organisation and Management Development
This would have been a good unit, except I thought that the academics involved sucked. Sorry!
C262 Managerial Economics
More fun with economics, this unit was dry but up my alley, so I kinda liked it, in a very sick way of course.
C273 Consumer Behaviour
I found this unit to be filled with lists of irrelevant approaches to the analysis of nothing. Consumer behaviour is unique to the individual, and no amount of pseudo-scientific posturing is going to change this. However, C273 insisted on exploring the possibilities, and to its credit it did provide a handy list of what not to believe. This includes things like psychographic analysis, processes of personal and cultural behaviour, and various "laws" of supplier behaviour. Fortunately, the course material provided an adequate basis for discussion - start from here, and work back to reality.
C274 Entrepreneurship and Small Business Innovation
I did not find any innovation in this unit at all; emphasis was on prescribed conduct, right the way from the overall structure of the major piece of assessment, to emphasis on pretty coloured highlighting on overheads. I found the assessment structure harsh and the academic concerned, Dr Allan Nash, somewhat unapproachable. In fact the only enjoyable moments of this unit were the invited speakers. I withdrew from this unit - I would have failed it otherwise. [some notes here]
C317 Strategic Management
Gem. I loved it, I live it, I want more. This unit pulls together the various aspects of corporate behaviour and places them within a strategic framework. The emphasis here is on shaping corporate behaviour to reflect organisational goals. Case analysis provided the opportunity of analysing the strategic approaches of several international companies (and at least one hero from history), which was enlightening, and identified several prospective employers. Curiously, the unit was taken by Dr Allan Nash, the envigilator present at the time of my flunked attempt at C274. This presented me with a sticky personal situation, which I worked to resolve with a combination of open communication, and a quality contribution.
C320 Management of Human Resources
A nice soft unit that explored many of the concepts found in S144 Psychology of Work, with the added spice of a management perspective. I also enjoyed the experiential case study, which required a team of students to contact, analyse and critique HR practice at a firm of their choice.
C323 International Management
This unit is essentially the principles of management, as affected by international operations. I found the unit to offer a pleasant insight into contemporary managerial practice, and a somewhat stereotypical approach to analysis of international culture. There was a little too much generalisation for my liking, particularly with the research presented. The unit also required students to construct a feasibility study for the launch of an exported product; I found this study to be more marketing than international management, and thus question its applicability. I found the academic concerned, John Krasnostein, to be particularly approachable; coupled with the managerial insight, this approachability made the unit worthwhile.
C324 Services Marketing
I enjoyed this unit, despite the effort, as it built upon the best of the marketing theories covered in other units, to apply marketing to the functions of customer service. I find this application to be highly pertinent, given the centrality of the customer to the sales cycle. There was room for creativity, and Bill Chitty proved to be a tough but quality academic. This lead to interesting tutorial discussions. This unit differed from other marketing units in that there was not much prescripted theory, instead were a range of alternative approaches, and the pervasiveness of a Quality-based philosophy. Opportunity was given for the student to combine and exploit these ideas, in the context of a firm of the student's choice.
C335 Marketing Research
This was probably the hardest unit I did at Murdoch. Based upon the scientific method, it built upon previous exposure to statistics, required the use of statistical software, and exposed students to the realities of sampling the population for the purposes of marketing. This meant tying marketing objectives to a research study, and suggest growth strategies, in consequence of the results of the study. The aims of the unit were great, but I think it tried to do too much. The scientific method is mysterious enough (particularly to Commerce students), but when the unit tries to introduce new statistical concepts (such as levels of measurement), plus introduce statistical software, plus introduce survey design, and then ask students to string it all together... it's a big call. Doing well in this unit means lots of work. Professor Bob Armstrong was insufferable, but perhaps he was just joking - who can tell? Yet, the unit was very rewarding.. I'm glad I had an opportunity to learn what I learned... but I had to pay attention, trying at times.


M105 Introduction to Information Technology
I am sure this unit would be useful for some, but it wasn't for me. Unfortunately it was compulsory.. it would be good for a neophyte.
M180 Introduction to Statistics
Requires constant attention, of limited application, I'm sure it will be useful, but when?
M208 Commercial Computing
This unit was OK - a bit of work, but the skills I learned remain useful.
M3561 Information Systems Management III
This was an interesting unit for me, presumably because I have an interest in IT and an interest in management. The unit was an interesting mix of big-company prescription and new-age anarchism, reflecting the changes in philosophy that are occuring concomitantly with innovations in technology that render prescriptive approaches irrelevant, wasteful and ultimately toxic. That is, technology disseminates power, and IS management is essentially an attempt to nurture this dissemination with a sense of confidence. This can be achieved by embracing technologies that facilitate organisational sustainability, as defined by organisational vision. This unit ties the IS function into the wider corporate context, as well as exploring several contemporary technologies, such as distributed systems, groupware, and electronic document management. Basically it was very cool. This unit is actually offered by Edith Cowan University - I did it over summer to make up for my failed S143 in 1995.


S141 Introduction to Psychology
A great unit that I'd recommend to anyone. If not for the insights into the human psyche, this unit is good for coming to terms with the rigours of the scientific method.
S143 Developmental Psychology I
This unit might have been fun for some, but for me it totally lacked applicability, I should never have enrolled in it, and I failed it in consequence.
S144 Psychology of Work
A must for those intending on a career in commerce. I'm still waiting for the commerce units to catch up. Neato!
S145 Cross-Cultural Psychology
A nice soft unit that dispels all myths of both cultural superiority and conformity; nothing is better, just different.. and reveals the interdependent nature of culture, perception and indeed reality itself. Not bad for three points!