The Lecture Swap

The Lecture Swap

Critic Te Ārohi sent two pairs of what we considered to be polar-opposite majors to go to each others’ lectures: History major Adam and Biochemistry & Genetics major Gryffin; Marketing major Christopher and Gender Studies major Monty. It’s like swinging, but with a bit more content and a bit less consent.

Disclaimer: This article is the subjective experience of students with zero experience in the paper they reviewed. It is not reflective of the course content or the lecturers’ teaching.

History vs Genetics

BIOC221: Molecular Biology

This was an anxiety-driven shit show long before I even made my way into Castle 1. The lecture was at 10am on a Tuesday, and the post-Patty’s two-day hangover was really hangovering. Being surrounded by BSc students who looked like they were yet to have a near-death experience managed to make my headache ten times worse.

9:53am: At least I made it on time. I avidly avoided the front seats and settled myself into the (hopefully) inconspicuous middle of the lecture theatre. 

9:56am: Lecture slides are up: BIOC221 - Bioinformatics and Transcription. First of all: what the fuck does that even mean?

10:01am: Lmao, there’s a Vevox to rate the lecturer. Can’t wait to join this. 

10:02am: It’s multi-choice, honestly a foreign concept to a BA student. They’re not nearly as much fun as I thought they would be. 

Q : How do you find the pace of [previous] lecture?
A: “Too fast – a lot of new material.”  Yeah, no shit – my only experience with the sciences was my brief stint in Year 12 Physics, and whatever tinfoil hat-fuelled COVID conspiracy theories my uncle shares on Facebook.
Q: Which Bioinformatic examples did you find most interesting?
A: “Medicine Virology: Covid Variation.” I’m somewhat of a scientist myself. Thanks, Uncle.


10:18am: How am I not even halfway through this?! The lecture vibes are not on; this guy may have the most monotone voice I have heard of a lecturer. To be fair, I’d be the same if I had to talk about gene editing all day. Absolutely exhilarating. 

10:22am: Definitely not the only one feeling this way. Looking around the lecture theatre, I think I’m taking more notes than everyone else here. 

10:26am: I am way out of my element. I think it’s been ten minutes since I’ve been able to actually comprehend a full sentence coming out of the lecturer’s mouth. I feel far too intimidated to Google anything due to fear of being silently judged from behind. But like, what is a “promoter” or “elongation”? I know these words and yet, I don’t. 

10:33am: I don’t think I’ve seen a single student smile yet. Lighten up, champs.

10:38am: The lecturer has gone on a ten minute spiel about how tuberculosis cases went up during Covid. If even I understood this straight away, it might be time to move on, dude. 

10:43am: Nothing like a Youtube video from 2010 to drill this into me. 360p is plenty, yeah?

10:45am: I’m in so much pain watching this attempt to play the video on the projector. I’m actually itching to watch Anthony Fauci now. Good throwback to before nutjobs thought he was the antiChrist, at least. 

10:49am: This lecture has gone in one ear and out the other. I’ve got PTSD from the monotone, and at this point I’m just writing for the sake of blending in. I still don’t know what Bioinformatics and Transcription means. I’ve been bio-uninformed, and I’ve only transcribed my spiralling inner monologue.

Something I learnt: Fauci absolutely froths it when you can diagnose tuberculosis within two hours. Fuck yeah, I can get around that. 

Something I unlearnt: Everything I thought I knew about DNA.

If I gave a lecture on this: Showing a Hank Green CrashCourse video and an Arthur Morgan tuberculosis compilation to really tug on the heart strings.


HIST318: Australia Since 1788: Boundaries of Belonging

As seemingly the only Critic writer not studying Pols or Comms, it was my turn to try a BA lecture. Maybe I’d also leave with questionable journalistic skills. I want to clarify that as Critic's resident science student, I promise I don’t support cutting the arts nor am I coming into this lecture armed with a BSc superiority complex (despite saying “nor” just now). I'll try my best to like this.

10:52am: Gapping it after a particularly dry and traumatic Biochem lecture, I discovered, to my surprise, that I was off to Mellor labs for the History lecture. I felt a bit like a traitor walking past all the HSFYs who were on the verge of tears.

10:58am: Settling into the weird seminar room, I notice that there's only about 30 people here. Nestled in the back, the fella next to me immediately glances me up and down. Either the History department is cultishly close, or I didn't dress the part of an indie BA hippie. Both, probably.

11:01am: The lecture starts – today we're learning about South Asia and colonial Australia. Mint, I'm an Aussie (apologies) so maybe learning about my own country will make me actually appreciate the subject I so proudly avoided throughout school.

11:02am: I’m introduced to today's lecturer, and the second she starts talking I'm hooked. Get her an audiobook contract ASAP! Her voice is so chill and oddly soothing (I already feel a nap brewing).

11:06am: A few minutes in and I'm really appreciating how few words there are on each slide. I'm not missing the mindfuck of a single Biochemistry slide taking ten minutes just to decipher.

11:10am: Shit, I've already zoned out for a few minutes and we’ve barely started. I can't help but notice the kitchenette in the corner of this strange room. Maybe if I made some Mi Goreng mid-lecture I'd actually be able to focus.

11:16am: Starting to worry slightly that I've been stitched up and put in the wrong paper to see if I'd notice. Every slide has a map on it – are we sure this isn't just a Geography paper in disguise?

11:22am: We've spent the first half of the lecture learning about early connections between India and Australia, and I think I'm following so far. On a side note, the lecturer loves using the word “foundations”. I wonder if she'd be interested in Engineering, there's far more foundation chat than in History. 

11:26am: As a very questionable break from learning about the monopoly of the East India Company, I watch Critic's video of Sam griddying across campus. Now this is history. 

11:32am: Just as I was paying attention, I lost ten minutes without realising. I want to go on my phone but everyone is fully engaged – this is the first lecture I've been to in my degree without someone online shopping in front of me.

11:38am: A failed attempt at showing a 30 second YouTube video turns into a four minute ordeal. Glad to see no matter what subject you study at Otago, your lecturer still won't be able to use technology for shit.

11:43am: I may have mentally checked out about 20 minutes ago, but occasional camel facts catch my attention as we learn about the Afghans who came to outback Australia to manage camels.

11:50am: The lecture ends with a “Thank you for your attention” slide, filling me with guilt for not appreciating History enough in the last hour. You rock arts profs, humanities students deserve the world. Regardless of your degree, every lecture has students teetering on the edge of daydreaming.  

Something I learnt: There's more detailed records of the camels that came to Australia than the Afghan cameleers that came with them :( Fuck you, colonisation.

Something I unlearnt: Hating on people who actually do their readings, especially for papers like this. Getting through pages and pages of content this dense would finish me off long before my questionable lab safety practices do.

If I gave a lecture on this: I’d just play an episode of Horrible Histories, with Subway Surfers in the corner to satisfy our cooked attention spans. Maybe then I’d remember something. 


Gender Studies vs Entrepreneurship  

GEND207: Masculinities 

10:02am: The first two things I notice upon entering the lecture is that A) it’s mostly women learning about masculinity, and B) this lecturer isn’t straight. One of the main ways you could tell the latter (aside from my excellent gaydar and the fact that he spent a more than generous portion of time talking about his gay adventures in Berlin) was that at several points during the lecture, students were actually encouraged to chat and share their thoughts with the class. This never happens in BCom owing to the “I am in charge”, aggressively straight, male, possibly racist, once-a-week missionary with the wife energy that envelops the majority of my Commerce professors. 

10:18am: With the lecture’s content being ‘Masculinity and Mobility’, it naturally leads to a discussion on cars versus public transport. I learn that taking a bus makes you look like less of a man because you aren’t the one driving. Lord forgive the Passenger Princes. 

10:25am: The fact that women seemed to make up the majority of the class gives me the impression that this is less a masculinity master class as one might think, and more of a class dedicated to figuring out why men care so much about who has the loudest car. Apparently, expert opinion is that the decibel-level of your engine doesn’t directly correlate with the size of your penis.

10:32am: Okay, so apparently men take up more space on the road because they don’t like to feel “submissive” by taking public transport, hence why they take up more physical space on public transport when they do (AKA the manspread). 

10:46am: The discussion has evolved to whether self-driving cars are less masculine than cars you drive yourself; whether it’s more important to a man to feel that he is in control (driving), or to feel like he is better than everyone else (fancy self-driving status symbol car). I’m hesitant to inquire about where Truck Nutz comes into the equation [Editor’s note: I regret Googling what those are]. 

Something I learnt: A great final exam for a masculinity course would probably consist of surviving an hour of car talk with some straight dude-bros without getting something explained to you as though you haven't learned the alphabet yet. 

Something I unlearnt: Shame over using my Bee card. 

If I gave a lecture on this: I would definitely spend more time covering my own homosexual escapades in Berlin.


ENTR101: How to Start a Venture Responsibly

3:56pm: Walking to Archway to attend ENTR101, I can’t help but wish this was taking place in the Business School. I've always been jealous of the Business School. It doesn’t make any sense why the Business students get the nice things now when they are going to be able to afford them later and we (BA students) won’t.

4:02pm: After figuring out how to spell “entrepreneurship” to blend in (which I assume is the first thing you’re taught in this paper), the lecture starts in a mostly empty room. ‘Lean Entrepreneurship Part Two’ the slides read. Brilliant. Lean entrepreneurship? Like the purple shit? I know I am in for a treat. As the lecturer starts to talk, his speech patterns and hand gestures are exactly like a motivational speaker, and I feel myself being pulled into a false trance. 

4:06pm: Endless flow charts appear on the slides: ‘Growth Hacking’. “Make sure you do a SWOT every month.” I have no idea what these things mean, but either everyone understands, or they’re all as lost as I am, because I’m typing the most in this lecture hall. 

4:10pm: Update: a subtle Google reveals SWOT means Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats analysis. This is no help.

4:18pm: Someone asks the lecturer a question for clarity, and receives the reply: “That’s a question for another paper, because that has more than a yes or no answer.” Guess he doesn’t understand what he’s saying, either. 

4:24pm: We get into the real meat of the lecture: ‘Guerilla Marketing’ strategies. It’s fascinating, normally I study guerilla warfare but now I get guerilla marketing. I guess gorillas are kind of lean? The strategies covered include: sponsored flash mobs (fuck off), getting a student council member to promote your product on Instagram (print media is dead), and projecting your ad on the side of the Dunedin Civic Center (he insisted again and again that this was legal).

4:26pm: Just as I am processing how annoying a sponsored flash mob would be, someone excitedly raises their hand: “Is this like when Elon Musk shot a car into space?” The lecturer looks ecstatic, “Yes! Exactly like that!” I think I’ve hit the jackpot.

4:35pm: Mr. Lecturer moves on from discussing potential marketing tactics to discussing potential business models. From what I can tell, no one is paying attention at this point. Someone swings on a squeaky chair, two people snap each other. I feel like I’m back in high school. 

4:42pm: Trying to ignore the incoming headache from that goddamn squeaky chair, I zone back in to realise he is not only describing, but encouraging, the razor-and-blade business model. Holy shit. I didn’t realise that business schools were that upfront with how scummy they are. I thought this paper was meant to be about responsible business ventures. For those unfamiliar, it's selling an initial product at a loss, but the replacement parts of the products at a massive markup. It’s generally considered to be just downright extortion, but he seems very excited over this idea, lulling us into believing it’s positive with his motivational speaker voice. 

4:45pm: The lecture finishes five minutes early, and I can only hope that these students have to take an ethics class alongside this. 

Something I learnt: Lean marketing has absolutely nothing to do with lean. 

Something I unlearnt: Any hope that I had of future entrepreneurs being taught ethical business practices.

If I gave a lecture on this: I’m a communist. I wouldn’t.