Updated: 20 July 2016
This year, many of my friends are freshies in FASS because of the guys exiting army and entering into the world of Uni. I keep getting repeated questions (from the previous years and this year) about certain things, so I decided, I’m going to do a blogpost on what to do as a freshie.This is going to include all useful links which explains everything in detail. So when my future juniors enter, I’ll just direct them here. Also, since I was once a blur freshie who googled everything, if you are a blur freshie who googled this out while trying to find out some terms… well… welcome too!
Also, feel free to contact me at: email@example.com (I’ll help to my best abilities!) if you’re shy about posting comments
What’s covered here:
- Graduation requirements (GEM, SS and all the stupid short forms)
- Minor/double major
- Gradeless first year/semester and S/Us
- Some common NUS terms
- What to expect in uni
- Useful Links
So since this is supposed to be a sort of “idiot’s guide to FASS”, I’m gonna just explain the requirements real quick.
An overview before you start:
What do I have to complete (for a 2016 onward freshie):
1) 4 exposure modules (including the expo mod of your chosen major) + 2 writing modules (FAS1101 and FAS1102).
2) 5 modules from each pillars
3) 7 UEs
4) 2 modules from anywhere
5) 10 modules from your major (excluding the exposure module)
6) If you’re taking honours, another 8 honours module
For those before 2015:
- 1 Singapore studies module: These are modules with “SS” in front.
- 2 GEM modules: Unless you’re a poly student, you need 2 GEM mods. One from Science and one from humanities OR two science gems (for FASS students) So, how do you tell which is Science and which is humanities? The common misconception is that you see if it’s “GEM” or “GEK”. Nope. You look at the numbers. If the 2nd number of the course code is “5”, it’s a science gem, if it’s “0” it is a humanities GEM. If it’s a “9” you can use it to fulfil your arts gem OR science gem. Easy enough?
- Here are some useful links:
To see All the Gems offered in NUS: http://www.nus.edu.sg/gem/GEMs_offered.pdf
To learn more about GEMS : http://www.nus.edu.sg/gem/about_what_is_ge.htm
- 2 Breadth: This includes EVERYTHING outside of your faculty. If you’re a psychology major and you take a history module, do you count it as breadth? NO. It only counts as breadth if it’s not from your faculty (i.e Engineering, design, business) You can use an SS module or a GEM module to fulfil this, as long as the GEM is not offered by your faculty. (e.g a science GEM by school of engineering or a SSB by school of biz)
For 2016 onwards:
I’ve been informed there has been a change in the university requirements for the new cohort and I’ve been asked many questions regarding this. To be honest, I think the new system probably makes life easier and is more intuitive.
So, what is part of your requirements? You have to take 5 General Education modules, one from each “pillar”:
- Human Cultures
- Asking Questions
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Singapore Studies
- Thinking and Expression
How do you know which modules are from which category? Well, I’m glad NUS has done away with the number coding system and now it’s easier to identify what modules are from what pillar.
- ‘GEH’ – Human Cultures
- ‘GER’ – Quantitive Reasoning
- ‘GES’ – Singapore Studies
- ‘GET’ – Thinking and Expression
- ‘GEQ’ – Asking Questions
So, the GEK/GEM codes does not apply to y’all anymore!
2015 and before:
- 4 Exposure Modules: Basically these are all the “XX1101E” modules, XX being PL or SW or whatever (there are exceptions). So where should you take these 4 modules from? Basically, FASS is divided into 3 – Humanities, Social sciences and studies. So, you have to take one from each group. Where does the last one come from? the 4th exposure module have to be from the division of your chosen major. (e.g you decide to major in English, you have to take one more expo module that is History, English lit, Philo or Theatre studies.) Which basket or division is European studies and Global studies from?! Good question! I was recently informed by Gary that these two exposure mods can be used to fulfil the “Humanities” or the “Social science” division/basket.
For those 2016 and after:
You only have to take 3 exposure mods now (from each basket), but have to take 2 writing modules, FAS1101 and FAS1102, on top of that.
For both before 2016 and after 2016:
- 7 UE Modules: What are UE modules? Basically they are ANYTHING that is not your major. They can be from your faculty, but not your major. So if you’re an English major, you can take English lit modules to fulfil your UE. Gems and SS can be used too.
A NOTE TO REMEMBER: You can only take a maximum of 15 level 1000 modules and out of this 15, a maximum of 8 can be from your faculty. This 8 does not include GEMs and SS offered by your faculty.
Two extra modules from anywhere:
Only applies to those 2016 and after:
Yeap, and then two extra modules from either your major or anywhere.
So to recap for 2016 onwards freshies:
1) 3 exposure modules (including the expo mod of your chosen major) + 2 writing modules (FAS1101 and FAS1102).
2) 5 modules from each pillars
3) 7 UEs
4) 2 modules from anywhere
5) 10 modules from your major (excluding the exposure module)
6) If you’re taking honours, another 8 honours module
Credits to Ching Siang for informing me about the two extra module thing and the writing modules! (:
Gradeless First Year and S/Us
To first understand what the heck is a gradeless first year or semester, we must first understand what in the world is an S/U. An S/U can either be your friend and your foe and the nature of S/U has changed a lot since I was a freshie.
So let’s say you take a module and then the results come back to you and they were horrible. You have the option to S/U it. It means that you can count the credit of the module (if you passed it) so you do not have to retake the module or take another module to replace it, but you do not have to count the grades to your CAP. If you fail, the grades dont count either, but you have to take the module again/another module to replace it.
Up to this point, one thing to note. S/U is only done after the release of exam results.
Now say you’re a freshie that enrolled in 2016 (only 2016 onwards ah). You can S/U a total of 8 modules in your first year. Huh shen me lai de?
So in your first semester, you take 5 modules (normal workload). All 5 the results jialat jialat. You get to S/U all 5. yaye! If only 4 modules jialat, you can s/u those 4 modules only. And what happens to the remaining 4 S/Us? You get to keep them for the next semester!
So, in your first year, you typically take 10 modules and you get to S/U 8 of them. This 8 can be used in any combination. 4 this semester, 4 next. 3 this semester, 5 next. You DO NOT have to use all 8.
So let’s say, you finish your first year and you only used 4 S/Us, what happens to the remaining 4? You get to bring 3 S/Us to the next 3 years of your life in NUS. If you used 6, you can bring 2 S/Us only. (So please used your S/Us sparingly because you might need them in the future!).
There’s also rules surrounding what kind of modules can be S/U-ed.
If your module is from your own faculty, modules 3k and above cannot be S/Ued. And modules 2k and below with pre-requisites cannot be S/U-ed too.
Credits: Gradeless first year information was made understood to me by Esther
Okay, with that aside, here are the more complicated ones that I’ve been asked before
What in the world is a minor?! Okay, minors… they are QUITE useless, in terms of certification. But can be quite fulfilling to take. It can be your area of interest or a major that you liked but did not find practical to major in. Do remember that NUS has a lot of minors that are not majors. There are minors in religious studies, gender studies, forensic science, healthcare etc etc.
Minors take up 6 modules out of your 7 UEs. Meaning, you only need to do 1 UE if you’re doing a minor.
Double counting: For minors, you can double count modules to fulfil requirements from your major and your minor. For example, if a certain module PHXXXX can be used to fulfil my minor AND my major, you can double count this module. However, you do not double count MCs. What this means is, you fulfil both your major and your minor requirements, but you still have to take one more UE to fill up that MC. (you do not take less modules if you double count for minors) So instead of just having 1UE, you have 2 UEs left. You can only double count up to 8MC (which is 2 modules)
Note: You have to declare your minor by sem 4, or else… you have to complete all your requirements for that minor then declare it.
you may need to overload if you’re a normal student doing 2 majors unless you take an extra year or something/special sem/summer prog.
Where does double major fit into your MC requirements?
It eats up all your UEs and plus another 5 modules for you. (48 MC for your second major. 48 – 28 (UE requirements) = 20 mc) So if you’re a double major, no you do not need to do UEs.
Here’s an input from Yingjie: Double majors do not necessarily require overloading. It’s 12 modules, so it just depends on your combination. For example, if you’re in FASS and you do a second major in Science, say Life Sciences, your Breadth modules can also count towards your other major. Or in some cases, your first and second major may share modules, so it depends on how you work it.
So you may not end up having to overload! (:
For 2016 onwards
Compared to your seniors, each major (without honours) only need to do 44MCs (11MCs) worth of major modules. So you need to take less modules to graduate with a second major now.
And, remember now you got that extra 2 modules of anything (as compared to your seniors), so like mentioned above, you can replace your UE (7 modules) with modules from your second major. You can also use your 2 extra modules of anything to fulfil modules from your second major. So all in all, if you make use of that 9 modules, you only have to take an extra of 2 modules! Yaye! If you’re lucky and find crosslisted modules, you don’t even need to take extra modules (double yaye!).
Pros and Cons of doing Double Major and Minor:
This is my take on this, I understand many people have differing objectives/views/abilities and stuff.
The advantage of taking a double major is you are qualified in two majors. This is especially so if the job you want specifically requires you to have a certain major rather than a general degree (i.e Social Work degree if you want to be a social worker). Plus it’s totally cool if you love two majors and want to study both more in depth. Plus, you do not pay more each sem.
The disadvantage is that you have to overload every sem and your modules are mostly ‘heavy’ major modules. You dont get to study more “widely”. Because double major/minor eats up your UE, you dont get to take other interesting “nonsense” modules outside of your two majors. Plus, this means your timetable is rather rigid. (bye bye 3 day work week)
Should you go for it? (some questions to ask yourself)
Can you cope with two majors? (the workload is heavy)
Are you okay with not taking other modules? (this is one of the main reasons why I didnt take double major)
Will having two majors decrease your ability to enjoy your learning? (another main reason why I didnt take double major because I rather immerse myself fully in the learning of one major than to split my time between two majors and make it unable for me to fully ‘enjoy’ my modules. Yes I’m a nerd like that who is rather incompetent)
What are your objectives for uni? (Get an employable degree?/Enjoy learning?/Party animal?/ Networking?)
Yes, the bane of every FASS student’s existence. CORS, bidding points, round 1C WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!
You are given 600 points in your P account and 400 points in your G account.
P account = Everything in your faculty
G account= Everything that’s not from your faculty + SS/GEM that is offered by your faculty
Let me introduce you to a friend you will meet every semester for the rest of your stay in FASS, CORS.
CORS website: http://www.nus.edu.sg/cors/index.html
As a freshie, you bid in Round 1C. This is a protected round. It allows you to bid for everything in FASS (including those offered by language centre) that a freshies can take (i.e including level 2k modules that have no prerequisites)
What can you bid for in this round:
- Exposure modules
- Level 2k modules that have no prereq
- language modules (this one I’m not very sure)
Okay, got that? now, what if you want to bid for language modules breadth,SS or GEM: ROUND 2
So what is Round 3 for? It’s the left over spaces for every module. If you dont get all the modules you need by this round, please start fighting for some. In this round you use points from your P and G account.
Bidding Tips: (I get this ALL the time, but I asked this ALL the time too when I was a freshie)
- Dont be stressed out over bidding, it’s not that tough, serious.
- Log in every day, in case you got the wrong round for your modules (yes, kiasu a bit wont die one)
- Dont save on your first sem, of course within reason. The thing is, you will probably rarely use your P account after you’ve declared your major because you can MPE (module preference exercise) for your major modules later. (more about MPE later)
- If you see number of bidders super low in relation to the quota, shift your points somewhere else. If Supply > demand, everyone gets the mod for 1 point and you get refunded your bid points
Timetable building tips: (I regret not asking seniors for help on this)
- USE NUSMODS: http://nusmods.com
It was good during my time, but they just revamped it and it’s DAMN BLOODY GOOD now.
- Always have back up modules
- Look at the location for back to back lectures/tutorials. Typically, the prof ends 25 mins earlier for lectures and 15 mins earlier for tutorials for you to squeeze in the shuttle bus to get to your next class. But please dont put back-to-back classes which are ridiculously far from each other if you can help it. It does nothing for you, especially if you need to consult your prof/tutor after lecture.
- Have an empty day, you’re an fass student, you’re known for empty days.
- Lunch time for most people is 12-4. So… the canteens are really crowded (no thanks to the science park people too), especially the deck. I like to schedule classes during lunch because I rarely eat lunch in school and I dont like crowded canteens (long queues and no tables). You can eat in classes/lectures. Profs are generally quite understanding/they dont really care. Of course use common sense, dont picnic in class.
Balloting for tutorial tips: (I did it all wrong in sem 1)
For balloting, you choose tutorial slots and you start ranking them. It’s not first come first serve, it’s chance. If you think bidding is stressful. ho ho ho. This is horrible. This makes or breaks your timetable. It can make your 3 day week a 5 day week.
- Rank tutorial slots that are 8am-10am and 4-6pm lower than those 10am-4pm slots. People rarely want these slots.
- slots after/before the lecture is damn pops.
- use other modules to block out days. This is a bit more complicated… but you’ll get it after sem 1, I think.
- Dont cry if you dont get your tutorial slot and cmi for other slots. Talk to your prof, they’ll help you.
NOTE: For most modules, tutorial only starts on the 3RD WEEK OF SCHOOL.
I’m a psychology major planning to do honours, so whatever I say is based on my experience. Again, I understand everyone is different and it’s best if you ask your seniors from your same major. Double major/minors/double degree. I’m sorry I cant really help you, but feel free to still read to get some idea.
I always advise my friends to declare major in the first sem if they’re sure of what they want to do (this I didnt do because I was not sure… and there are consequences for being undecided). I usually tell them to take a level 2 mod in their first sem (of their preferred major ) for 2 reasons: A. get a REAL feel of the major and B. Get ahead.
Considering you have to do 14 modules from your major,
sem 1: do the exposure mod
sem 2 to sem 5: do 3 major mods + 2 other modules
by the time you reach sem 6 (year 3 sem 2), you’ve finished 13 major modules and are left with 2. This gives you the ability to “bring down” one module from your honours year, should you decide to do honours, so that your honours year will be less taxing.
It’s even better if you do 2 modules from your major in the first sem, so that you have flexibility in the future should you decide to go exchange or anything. Plus, now with the gradeless/capless first year, why not try out your level 2k module without the fear of it killing your CAP?
Also, try not to do more than 3 major mods a sem. (I’m talking from a psych stud POV) I have friends who can cope with more than 3 major modules a sem, but for me, I feel that 3 modules is optimal. (Not too slack, not too chiong)
How to choose modules:
- Dont just look at the title. The title and description always sound better than it is.
- Go google that module code with the term “IVLE public view”, sometimes the syllabus is online
- Look for past exam papers: Go the LINC and search for past exam papers for the module. (NUS library: http://libportal.nus.edu.sg/frontend/index)
- Look at the breakdown of the course… (20% class part 50% exam…blah blah blah) and see if you can live with that
- Ask around, module-reviews.com is your friend…
- Google for reviews
- Look at your exam dates and make sure they are not one after the other!!!
- s/u : (for batches after 2016, please ignore this) This is a very common qns. S/U is for modules that you dont want your grade to count towards your cap. Before the 2014/2015 batch, s/u can only be used for modules that are not from FASS. But from this batch onwards, S/U can be used for anything that is not your major, is 2k and below and has no prerequisites. This is a damn good move and I’m super jelly of all the freshies. S/U is like a super power, but then it’s limited. Only can use for 12 MC (about 3 modules). You need to get D above to S a module (grades do not count in to cap, but count MC as fulfilled) . You have unlimited U. So if you fail, you can just U it. (dont count grades, dont count MC… it’s like you never took the module)S/u calculator: http://module-review.com/?page_id=158
- This calculator tells you if you should s/u the module.
- Gradeless first year: Basically, everything you study in your first semester, you can s/u. Doesnt matter where it’s from, you can choose to s/u it (Up to 8 modules, I heard). So the credits count (you dont have to take the modules again), just that your grades do not.
- CAP (cumulative average points) : This is the root of your stress in uni. Everything look at CAP (almost everything). Opportunities, exchange programme, double major… CAP is your overall average grade point. A/A+ = 5, A- = 4.5, B+ =4, B= 3.5, B- = 3, C+ = 2.5, C= 2, D+ = 1.5, D= 1, F=0
Honours: First class is 4.5 above, second upper =4, second lower=3.5, third = 3.2
CAP calculator: http://module-review.com/?page_id=177
This calculator is super useful. It tells you how much you have to get to maintain your cap/move up/move down.
- SJAP: your “CAP” for only modules from your major
- GAPS: This place allows you to classify your modules into the various requirements and help you keep track of what you’ve taken
- MPE: Module preference exercise – lets you indicate what modules you want to take next sem (only for your major). If supply> demand, everyone gets it for 1 point. If supply<demand, nobody gets it and you have to bid for it in round 1A when bidding starts.
- IVLE: This is where everything concerning your modules are at (for most modules). Your module syllabus, textbook name, homework, lecture slides… readings. Everything. You even submit your assignment here. Your course mates names and contact too. Your whole life.
- MYISIS: Not a terrorist group.This is the “admin” website. Your transcript, tuition fees, exam results, exam seat number and location… it’s all here.
What to expect in Uni/Tips about everything else
Again, this is my perspective (psych student…from a JC…and all)
- You dont have a “home class” anymore. You’ll see more or less the same people around after a while… and maybe come up with nicknames for them because you dont really know their names (heh heh heh, guilty as charged). Dont expect to have fixed classmates. You see them for one module and once the bell rings, next module everyone goes.
- Be proactive. Dont know, ask. The prof dont know what you dont know. Dont know how to find a resource, ask. Dont understand something, ask. Dont know how to do your assignment, ask. I started year 1 sem 1 being uber stressed because I didnt know how to do my assignments and the prof/tutor just expect you to do it on your own without much briefing. That was really scary for me because I didnt know what they wanted. Well, my bad for not asking. In uni, it’s quite different, sending emails to your profs and tutors are really common. Dont be afraid to do it.
- Uni is expensive: Go to IVLE used textbook forum/Carousell to save money.
- Working during Uni: Possible, but need good time management
- You can withdraw from mods: A lot of juniors I spoke to didnt know this. If you withdraw before the 3rd week, nothing will be reflected. If you withdraw before recess weeks, you get a ‘W’ on your cert, but nothing happens to your cap. After recess week, you get an ‘F’ and it counts into your CAP. I once withdrew from a mod once and now I think it was the wisest thing I did in my whole uni life. hahaha (kua zhang) but yes, if you’re dying in a mod, explore the option of withdrawing, if before recess week.
- FIND YOUR CLASS BEFORE THE DAY OF THE CLASS
- Dont spam exposure mods in your first sem
- “Uni was the best time of my life, I had nothing to do”, “Uni is chill” LIES… at least for year 1. Maybe it’ll get more chill after a while, but dont count on it. If you’re from a JC, imagine A levels every 4 months. Yes. that is it. But dont worry, you will survive and get used to it.
- CHECK YOUR EMAILS! Better yet, sync it to your phone. If it’s on email and you didnt see it, you’ll probably lose out big time. I’ve had profs telling us class was cancelled through email on that day itself. So… please just check it, together with IVLE announcements.
- Try to be consistent (again, diff strokes for different folks). But I find keeping up with things/readings weekly… (okay, sometimes I fall back a week or so), very helpful. As a psych student, of course you have to use your psych knowledge to good use in real life. Anyway, there are findings to back this up. Cramping last minute is not the way to go.
- Bell curve. This will either save or kill you. Dont be too happy/sad when you see your grades
- No one cares about how many lectures you skip. I personally havent really skipped any lectures before… other than PL1101E, which is surprising because I skip school in sec/JC like I was homeschooled or something. But in uni I learn that because uni is not an everyday thing, it’s easy to lose that rhythm and momentum, so even if you’re not learning anything from lectures, still try to go for it.
- Every week is a different topic.
- Readings… yes you are expected to finish them. Actually this depends on the module, but for psych… yes please finish all the readins, burn and drink if you can.
- Free days are for you to complete readings/assignments/maybe CCA/maybe go out
- Be prepared to learn more about yourself/others/people
NUS library: http://libportal.nus.edu.sg/frontend/index
Module Review: http://www.Module-review.com
Okay, so feel free to leave me questions below and correct me if there are any wrong info on this page or any info i missed out.
I’ll try my best, I guess.
If you’re shy, firstname.lastname@example.org (Yes, start using emails, if you dont normally use them)
Hope this helped you!
ENJOY UNI, FRESHIE!!