Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Response to Y1S1 2014/15 in NUS

HELLO! My blog is a hermit crab who has found a new home: https://enavanilla.wordpress.com 


Caution: These are all my personal opinions. In other words, please just take it with a pinch of salt.

I really wanted to do this module review because I had a hard time deciding what mods to take as a freshie and bloggers who did mod reviews really help a lot by just giving me that peace of mind during module bidding. Also, simply because sometimes ivle offers no substantial course descriptions.

Mods that I took in Y1S1: FMA1206M, GL1101E, GEM1031, SN1101E, NM1101E. I will not be revealing my grades because they may set up unrealistic expectations for certain people.


FMA1206M - Food Politics
- Bid points: 300+
- weekly responses, research paper (own choice)

By far the best mod I've taken this sem. The 300+ points were worth it. Super chill prof (Mr Matthew Lepori) but still carries the class well enough - especially during class discussions. I participated quite actively, which was hard not to because there are only 15 in the class (very limited quota) though in the middle I was getting a bit sian cos the various problems of food politics were ultimately based upon a few fundamental issues so it was more like looking at those issues through the various aspects e.g. land, labour etc. We also had to do a one-page response every week based on one part/all of the week's readings; very manageable.

The research paper was 70% and works exactly like an EE (those who took IB will know this) so I thought I had it in the bag but the research period also fell during the presentation overload + midterms weeks so I didn't have a solid research. Which is still, no excuse because I should've given more thought to my research topic. First draft ended up with a less than ideal grade. I was still thankful because I knew that he was rather lenient and gave me extra credit for doing a survey.


GL1101E - Global Issues (Exposure mod for Global Studies)
- Bid points: 200+
- Term paper (assigned questions),
- Group essay/presentation,
- Finals (short and long answer)

GL1101E can be used to fulfil either the Humanities or Social Science exposure basket. This is my intended major so I put in a bit more effort for this module. I participated actively in class throughout the 4 tutorials (I heard all political science mods are like that) and I probably scored quite well for class part because my tutor/lecturer (Dr Hyejin Kim, who is also the author of the novel Jia) actually recognised me outside of class (She couldn't recall my name but it was more that I'd ask for).

For the lectures, I know a few friends that don't like Dr Kim's pictorial-talking style but personally I find it more engaging especially cos she's the type that likes to bring in some personal experiences regarding the topics. So lecture is basically just summary of readings + Kim's own relevant experience.

I liked the readings because they really made you give a second thought about our perceived image of globalisation. The only flip side is that the readings are crazy long. For a freshie. So obviously I didn't finish all the readings. I think 80 pages was the minimum each week haha. But if you're one of those people who keep up on current affairs regularly and have a good background in history, this mod should be rather straightforward and easy to ace. Didn't do too well for my term paper though; I semi-bullshitted my way through 40% of the paper and ended up with (what seemed to be) the average grade for this assignment.

First grade that I got from this mod was a B- (okay this will be the only grade I will ever reveal just to remind myself and others to not repeat my mistakes) and it was a HUGE blow to me because I didn't expect it to be that bad. It was a group essay cum presentation thing and we had to choose one TNC and explore one or more issues surrounding that TNC; e.g. environmental, political. Although I know that our essay wasn't the best shit on earth but I was at least expecting a B/B+. Not because I thought that our essay was superb, but because there were 2 seniors in my group so I thought that the standard of our essay would be sufficient for a decent grade since they've spent an appropriate number of years in NUS. Everyone did what they needed to do but I guess we overestimated ourselves.

The final paper wasn't too bad but certain questions definitely require students to read and analyse the readings rather than simply depending on students' knowledge on concepts/ current affairs/ history.


SN1101E - Exposure module for South Asian Studies
- Bid points: 1
- Group presentation,
- Midterm (MCQs and short answer),
- Finals (long and short answer)

I did okay for midterms cos the MCQs were surprisingly easy except for a few random trivial fact type of questions, unlike NM's. My short answer pulled me down actually, sigh. I was super thankful that the lecturer decided to change the format of this semester's finals(which were not too bad too). Past year papers can be found it in NUS library.

I was quite a umm, leech (SO not proud of it) for group presentation; simply because I had no idea what was going on for the topic that I chose and I had three Year 2s in my group that did a lot of work. There were 6 in a group so we split into 3 pairs for each South Asian country that we covered. My partner literally assigned me what to research on, with 50% of the research already done by him. I feel super bad but at the same time, it was kinda for the better cos I really had no clue where to begin. Will never let this happen again.

There were two main lecturers and both were quite passionate about what they're teaching. Actually most of the info presented during lectures are not too far from the readings(comes as a course pack) so I guess the lectures just made it easier for me to pick out what to take note of. But because I didn't have much of an interest in South Asia (wanted SEA but the bid points were too high), I didn't really enjoy studying for it except for the Sino-South Asia relations and Gender in India topics.


GEM1031 - Study of Names
- Bid points: around 150
- Midterms (short answers, open book)
- Group essay/ presentation
- Term essay (1000 words)
- Finals (short answers, open book)

2 misconception that I had when I decided to take this module. 1) I thought this mod would be super interesting and chill (which is actually not that inaccurate), 2) I overestimated my interest in the English language. I complained a lot about this module because I didn't really consider what I was learning useful? I know I'm probably offending lots of people but for me it was really one of those interesting to know but impractical subjects.

Both the midterms and finals were in similar formats, the prof (Dr Peter Tan) provides past year final papers on IVLE. Both are open book exams, aka saving my ass. Oh, and do bring along your term essay for the final paper!

Actually, now that I think of it, I don't know why I ranted so much about this mod throughout the sem cos the prof is actually a really nice guy and even prints out the notes for you. .... Probably cos I only enjoyed doing the term essay where I did a comparative analysis of puppy names and baby names and was rewarded with a decent score.


NM1101E - Exposure module for Comm. & New Media
Bid points: 1
- 1 individual assignment,
- 2 group assignments,
- Midterm (MCQs),
- Finals (MCQ)

Didn't enjoy this module at all. Lectures were boring, readings were seldom interesting (there was this whole 30 paged chapter on group communication aka talking about teamwork and shit and this was not the only redundant chapter). I remember being shocked by the midterms questions cos I could barely do 50% of the 25 MCQ questions. It was just a bunch of jargon on everyday topics. So, if you don't study and you're bad at guessing the definitions of the terms, don't expect a good grade. Finals were 90 MCQ questions, probably cos they doubled the quota to 400+ for that particular sem and it wasn't too different from midterms; random questions here and there.

Tutorials (1h or less) weren't too bad at first and tutorial time always passed like a bullet train. The only good thing that came out of the tutorials was my marketeers gang (inside joke). By the time we reached the last few tutorials we couldn't even be bothered with the materials that we're suppose to prepare. 3 assignments that we had to complete: 1 individual and 2 group (randomly assigned). Not difficult to score as long as you apply the concepts and having group members who are good at fluffling helps too.


Hope this post will be insightful for anyone who gets to read this and all the best for the upcoming semester! :)

P.S. Year 1s, please take advantage of your S/Us to either 1) clear out compulsory mods that you're not confident in, or 2) take advantage of people who slack around (like I did) and emerge at the top of the bell curves. I was stupid not to make full use of this privilege, don't make the same mistake.

Edit (25/12/2015):
According to Google stats, this is the most-viewed post on my blog. Not surprising because this is one of the more useful posts on my blog HAHA. But the thing that I want to point out is, whether it applies to you or not, please don't be too dependent on such a post like mine. The main objective of me providing this post is just to give a peace of mind to freshies who might find starting school in a new environment daunting and to point out any modules that might differ from their module description. 

I personally feel that at the end of the day, it is best to choose the modules that you find interesting. Of course, it is important to make sure that the modules that you take are manageable, but I just get disappointed when I hear people choosing modules just because they heard that it is easier to do. I have a very average CAP, like second lower kind of average haha, and I definitely wish my CAP can become higher with easy modules but that's not the point of university education. Youth is a time for you to challenge yourself, not fall into a path that is easy to travel.

Let's try to create some meaning in our rigid university system.

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