Hahaha I am supposed to be charting out a development plan for our new designer on board. So glad there’s finally someone professional to share the responsibility, but it’s also the heaven’s test for me on how to take people under my wing and groom them.
Being too used to a 1 person department, it is suddenly strange to find yourself being put in an inefficient state of mind because you have to think of how to delegate work and properly communiate your expectations. And worse of all I have no prior (both practical and theoretical) knowledge of branding, designing, advertising, managing yadda yadda in a business setting. Everything I am learning now is through hands-on and mistakes.
But that’s not the point of this post. I decided to review the modules I took during my Nus days just for the fun of it. To anyone who happen to chance across this, the course structure has definitely changed and I am just writing this based on my own experience at that point of time. Ok here goes! Sorry it’s a little lengthy and extensive, and I have forgotten the exam and assessment details. But hope you enjoy the ride/flashback.
Y1S1 (AY2012/13) 5 years back?!?! WTF!
PS1101E Introduction to Political Science
Prof Yoshi did a good job in dissecting and simplifying those damn complicated readings which were too profound for peasants like us to comprehend. The lecture hall was always full house and you could hear nothing except his voice and the sound of students typing away furiously on their laptops. And you will never leave a single lecture without NOT laughing.
Tutorial was 4 sessions in total, and we discussed the lecture questions in groups every session. The environment was less fiery than other slots because ours was at 8am and everyone hasn’t got their 100% alert mode on. Everyone also had a chance to speak up or shoot someone so participation wasn’t much of a worry.
Term paper had a heavy weightage and there were a long list of questions to choose from. The grade was a disappointment because the marker (who is our tutor) couldn’t find my thesis statement. Exam wise there were ID and essay questions.
Overall didn’t do well. The political concepts suddenly sounded easy during lectures, but learning how to apply them was tough for me because I was never fated with theoretical subjects.
Difficulty: 8/10. If you are someone who is not an abstract learner like me, I recommend you stay out of it.
HY1101E Asia and the Modern World
Topics were sectioned into East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia. Covered concepts like imperialism, globalisation, nationalism etc etc. Content is very heavy, very general and very broad. Most of the time you can’t catch what the profs are saying. I enjoyed the East Asian part the most because I had an interest in the region, even though Prof Teow was trying to cover 500 years in 45 mins (The other 45 mins were for other regions). Other than that it was forgettable.
Tutorial is every week. We were given a source and guiding questions every week to discuss. Our tutors are graduate students from countries of all sorts. Doing your MA/PhD doesn’t necessarily translate into good teachers and ours was such. Oh well can’t blame him on that, everyone has to start somewhere.
Assessment was 1 mid term, 1 essay and final exam. The essay was on analysing a source. On the whole it was manageable but it wasn’t one of the most enjoyable history mods.
JS1101E Introduction to Japanese Studies
The module was divided into 2 sections – humanities and social science. Both profs were very enthusiastic in sharing what they know and debunked many stereotypical thoughts we might have of Japan prior to taking this module. Content is quite a handful but I enjoyed it. Prof Amos covered the humanities part on Imperial Japanese history and his research on burakumin. Sometimes it gets a wee dry but it’s history. Prof Mcmorran covers the social science part. He is entertaining but may get carried away at times.
Tutorial is every week and we discuss questions based on what was taught during lecture. As it is also a GEK module, everyone in class are from different faculties so discussion was more lively. The tutor kept sharing her own stories as she is a Japanese herself.
Anyone who has taken this module can share with you their nighmares of the group paper. I didn’t have a good experience because of a certain year 4 double major student in our group who kept shooting down whatever point we raised during the project. Honestly I felt very intimidated and became more reticent as the tutorials progressed because I was so afraid of being seen as shallow or wrong.
Other assessment components include forum discussion and final exam. The forum post could be any topic we wanted and we have to reply to 2 other postings. Basically just fight to post earlier if not the forum would become too saturated with replies and rehashed topics if you start late. Final exam is mcq covering nitty gritty stuff so it was a test of memory. Apart from the awful group project dynamics, I enjoyed this module.
Experience: 8/10. Minus 2 for that traumatic group project
Difficulty: 6/10. Mostly focusing on content, although you might need to invest a little more time to craft a constructive forum posting.
LAM1201 Malay 1
There’s no denying that language modules are always the most fun albeit the steep learning curve, and (Malaysian) Malay was such. Basically by the end of the module you should be able to find it easy to go to Johor to shop while reading and talking in conversational malay the whole time. Prof Sew also clarified questions raised by students during the lectures through the class blog so that no one missed out on anything.
We had 2 tutorials – listening and writing. It was a laugh fest because everyone was a noob and made silly mistakes, and the tutors also laughed along with us. Our writing tutor gave us very challenging worksheets which were way beyond what we were taught and often left us confused, but the main essence of learning a new language is get more exposure.
There were quite a number of assessments staggered evenly throughout the semester so as to make the workload more manageable. The most memorable ones were doing a video of your family/ hobby, and a group skit. We did a story on the hantu pokok pisang.
Exam was…another level. The paper was divided into sections which included a a comprehension passage from berita herian. I remembered writing english on top of each word for nearly all the questions wtf. Studying lecture and tutorial notes is not enough. You might be better off reading the malay newspaper everyday and checking the words you don’t know in a dictionary, because google translate is not accurate. The bell curve may not be kind to you either, but I had fun.
Difficulty: 5/10. Luckily Malay also uses alphabets so we didn’t have to struggle with pronunciations and strokes. Was rather taken aback by the exam paper though.
GEK1502 Food Safety and Security
The module was a snorefest. In fact I found myself dozing off most of the time. It was so multidisciplinary that topics were all over the place, ranging from nutrients, hunger issues, types of food packaging, fruit ripening process etc. Kinda disappointed that what we learnt was not as advertised by the course description, which mentioned more on worldly food issues like supply chains and stuff.
There were no tutorials. We had a group project on a topic and basically listened to the rest of the groups present. Forgot what the finals were about. One of the most boring modules ever. End of.
Difficulty: ?/10 I didn’t give much damns about this module anyway so I can’t come up with a rating.
EU1101E Making of Modern Europe
This was on the history of Europe spanning from the French Revolution to WW2. Content was broad and intensive, and lecture slides weren’t very helpful in helping us understand what was the main point of each topic covered. We had 2 profs but they were sort of jumping from one subject to another randomly, and it felt like we were on different frequencies. The reading was from a textbook, which was written more like a storybook instead. To me, the narrative of Europe is a beautiful one, ridden with ruptures and struggles. But the delivery of the module ruined the experience.
Tutorial was 4? (Can’t remember) sessions in total. Everyone was trying to grapple and piece together what was going on so it didn’t matter if your talk made sense or not. We also watched 3 European films (which I forgot the names) so that spiced things up a little. Everyone got a chance to speak so participation was fair and square.
The highlight of the module was obviously the simulation conference. For us we were divided into the 5 representative countries of the Treaty of Versailles and we had to throw out topics as the “agenda” and present our opinions against them. Each country has 2 – 3 “delegates”. It is not supposed to be factually correct, and you can actually pakat with the other “countries” before the assessment.
Mid term was more of quizzes than writing lengthy essays. Exam comprised of ID questions and essay. On the whole I have mixed feelings for this module. Learning the narrative was fun, but trying to make sense of the profs’ and trying to carve out arguments wasn’t.
Difficulty: 8/10. You can actually learn much more of Europe history through a backpacking trip and talking to the natives there instead of listening to a bookish academic.
HY2207 Struggle for Modern China:1800 – 1949
Be warned that I sound a little biased here because my interest lies in Chinese history. Prof Huang might be slightly naggy when he is talking, but he did a very good job in organising the narrative and weaving them with the arguments brought up by academics. I can still remember that the very last lecture tied up everything together like a “ribbon on the present” which was yeah impressive. The content is as expected, heavy, since it was spanning over a century and many tumultuous events happened. Most of the history is political because this was the dominant force of that time, but Prof Huang narration was powerful enough to transport me back in time (trying to match period drama scenes with his teaching lol). Readings were unrealistically a lot but actually you will be fine if you just focus on the arguments he brought up during lecture.
Tutorial was 4 sessions in total; we were given readings and accompanying discussion questions. Unlike 1.5hour tutorials which involve group discussions, Prof Huang threw the question open to the class so participation was up for grabs. He calls names as well so everyone can at least say a decent sentence every time. He is also very encouraging and writes our points on the whiteboard so that all of us feel acknowledged and have contributed something constructive. Old school but the experience was awesome.
Assessment wise we had an essay, mid term, forum posting and exam. Everyone had the same essay question and weren’t given a choice so if it wasn’t of your interest, you still gotta stick with it. For the rest of the assessment I have forgotten the details, but it was a breeze. One of the best modules I have ever taken.
Difficulty: 6/10. Reading the academic work was a wee hard because of their scholarly language but Prof Huang kindly sieved out their main arguments into bite sized chunks.
HY2239 Chinese Business in Singapore and Beyond
The module was divided into business history and Singapore history on the chinese business community. Prof Kudaisya was quite concise in explaining the arguments through a thematic approach and linking them to case studies. Dr Brunero covered the Singapore history part from pre-colonial to modern day. The information was quite succint and easy to digest because the module was a cross listed Singapore studies module so they had to make it understandable across different disciplines. For me who thought Singapore history is the same old narrative, this module piqued my interest in the overseas chinese community and how they attempted to respond to shifts of time.
Tutorial was 4 sessions in total, mostly readings and group discussion. Our class got the graduate student tutor who is quite nice but still has room for improvement with regards to how to moderate a discussion.
Assessment wise there were 2 essays and final exam. The response paper is only 800 words on a newspaper article on business history. I forgot what exactly the question on the heritage essay is about but I remembered going to Chinatown Heritage Centre to do a write up about it. The essay is 2000 words which was initially intimidating, but I ended up beyond the word count. At least it was something alive, instead of burying yourself in research books. Overall the module was a refreshing twist to the all boring Singapore history and I enjoyed it.
Difficulty: 4/10. It was also a breeze actually!
HY2253 Christianity in World History
I took this module hoping to understand my religion better. I was quite enthusiastic for this module but my interest dropped to zero at the end of the semester. It wasn’t the prof though, in fact he did well in presenting how Christianity evolved throughout the ages and he was engaging. I can only say that you either get it or you don’t.
Tutorials were weekly, we were given a source and guiding questions. The class was really full and people were fighting to speak up which added to the frustration.
Assessment was 2 essays and a final exam. One of the essays gave you a list of questions to choose from, and I was quite torn with what to pick because I didn’t know how to answer a lot of them. Ended up doing this comparison question between a medieval and modern Christian but did badly. Somemore I even consulted Christians on this, just to be safe not to rely entirely on my own experiences. So much for the effort. The second one was an article review.
Exam was ID questions and essay. I had EU1101e paper earlier in the morning and honestly my brain was so fried and tired by the time evening came, so I really couldn’t focus on what I was writing.
Experience: 3/10. Choosing this module was a mistake.
Difficulty: 8/10. Maybe I am not fit to be a Christian.
HY2232 Modern Japan: Conflict in History
Another module to forget. The prof was a new addition to the faculty and being fresh from Japan, his accent was so thick that I could understand nothing. It was a very politcal module presenting the turblence of the political scene so expect violent topics like uncertainty, wars, changing governments, student riots, assassinations etc etc. Disturbing in both the content and the course delivery at best.
Tutorial was 4 sessions in total, one of which was a debate based on Nanke Chomin’s Discourse of 3 Drunkards on the Government. Splurged $30 over dollars just for this book for a one time use, and it’s probably collecting dust in some corner of the house now.
Assessment was 2 essays and final exam. I cant remember what exactly the first essay was about. The second one was on war memories which I didn’t do well. Final exam was 2 essay questions, and I remembered this dude in front of me used 7 booklets in total.
Experience: 3/10. Quite disappointment since I am into East Asian history but somehow the module didn’t deliver as expected.
Difficulty: 7/10. Maybe I should have gotten drunk to discuss topics related to this module, since 3 drunkards discussed on the government and can even have their nonsense published into a book.
Y1 Special Term (Y1ST)
JS2231 Japan in Southeast Asia
The module was enriching, Prof Gan changed the way on how to look at comics and the power of visuals. Many hands-on experiences and field trips to examine and question how history was curated and presented in the museums. Basically the takeaway was don’t take things at face value. We also went to Penang, which I have covered a few years back in this blog. Still missing the hipster Georgetown vibe and the nights when we played cards.
Since it was a summer school module, lessons were in seminar style and each week we took turns to chair the discussion on the assigned readings. Also had to write essays on our field trips, some of which we never got the feedback. But it was a break hrough in my essay writing, because we had to use photos and visuals to support our arguments. This was so different from my previous referencing from books and more books. Prof Gan is nice but very strict when it comes to marking and basic conduct like punctuality.
Difficulty: 6/10. Sometimes it’s a bit challenging to translate properly what you saw and experienced into words.
CH2294 Religion in Chinese Societies
In all honesty, the module was dry. Prof Dean just sits in front of the computer, opens up the reading for the lesson, and just goes on and on. But I give my hats off to him for his passion in this research area. It’s the first time I encountered an Ang Moh who speaks and read Chinese better than we do, and is so into temple inscriptions. He even produced a documentary on his field work in Putien. His enthusiasm got me interested in Chinese religion as well, which I later started taking modules related to it. Didn’t know that a temple alone, no matter how simple, can tell so many stories.
There were 4 essays in total – a comparison essay, a book review, a temple visit report and religion in Singapore. He’s a pretty chill marker and is more interested in sharing his knowledge instead of following a grading criteria strictly.
Experience: 7/10. We visited a few temples which I normally don’t pay attention to, which was quite eye-opening.
Difficulty: 6/10. The readings were quite complex especially the socioogical writings by Geertz but no one diligently read them anyway. It’s summer, come on!
Ok 1 year down, 3 more to go.