S/U? what.

I refer to the newest blogpost by the Provost of NUS on the new S/U system for cohort 16/17.

The S/U system was designed as an opening to allow students to venture beyond their faculty-offered modules and to take a chance and open the door to new ideas, perspectives, etc. From the 14/15 cohort onwards, this was so. I am from the cohort 15/16 and I would like to agree very much with the new move which would now enable freshmen to S/U not just up to 20MCs which is 5 modules but 32 MCs which is 8 modules in the first year of their candidature. I think that this is good because of a few reasons. First, for those who have no idea what I’m talking about, here it is.

THE S/U Option:

So basically what this is. S stands for Satisfactory and U for Unsatisfactory. You get to make a decision after the final results are over for that semester – you decide which module grades to keep (thus you will label as Satisfactory), or not keep (Unsatisfactory) in the overall calculation of your CAP (Cumulative Average Point, something like a GPA).

For cohort 14/15 and 15/16, it is a gradeless free FIRST semester, meaning you can S/U up to 20MCs (which is equivalent for 5 modules worth of S/U)

BUT NEWLY for Cohort 16/17 incoming in August, the S/U option is now extended to 32MCs in the freshmen year (which is equivalent to about 8 modules of S/U, given that one module is usually 4MCs). SO if in the freshman year, you do 5 modules per semester, that is 5 x 4 x (2 semesters) = 40 MCs, you can S/U 32 out of the 40 MCs.

The excess is then carries over to the next few years, up to a maximum of 12 MCs which is 3 mods.

This change is said to be brought about to continue to appeal to students in taking modules that would help them broaden their horizons and expand their interests and that are not solely from their faculty/specific course.

NOTE: The max number of S/U MCs in any candidature is still 32MCs, it is just that for the incoming cohort, they have the option of all 32MCs to be used in the first year whereas for cohorts 14/15 and 15/16 they only have 20MCs to use in the first year.

(Disclaimer: I possess the POV of an Arts Student, so it will definitely slant in that direction.)

So these are the reasons for why I support the S/U move and this new change specifically.

  1. In semester 1 of the first year, it is no secret that it is a time of acclimatising in a way. Getting used to the school culture, university life, campus life (if you stay on campus), it is not easy. Perhaps for army guys this might be even made more difficult as they’ve been out of the academic environment for a good two years. So, with the new option, it allows students the first full semester to settle in, balance up all their commitments which they might have amassed knowingly (or unknowingly, y’know just joining everything and going with the flow) and suddenly they find themselves in a dance production, drama production, a sports CCA, two upcoming camps, Rag and Flag etc etc etc.
  2. It allows students to actually have more time to figure out what they want. I’ve said this many times during Open Houses and when I went to FASS Outreaches to JCs and stuff. If you take the introductory modules, sometimes it is not enough to convince you to stay on in the major. So I often encourage people to take more modules under that major before deciding if they actually want to major in it. The problem here is that, you may like a particular major/field of study and be really interested to find out more, but it may be so that you may not be as good in it as you wanted to be. So therefore in a way it becomes kinda painful because you really like it…bbbbut you may have to decide between interest and grades. Having 2 semesters worth of S/Us allows you to mitigate the pain of that decision. E.g. I like taking German but I don’t want to ruin my CAP disastrously, so I have to forgo one German module maybe. But with the the new S/U (if I were in cohort 16/17. it means now that I can take German 1 and 2 and confidently enjoy myself in the modules and not be so worried about final grades per se.) This is not to say you do not work hard, but this is assuming that you work hard (yes pls do) but it may just not be commensurate to your grades because there might be factors out there you cannot control, eg the bell curve.

The bell curve. Yes. The new S/U Option, well, maybe it helps to reduce the horrors of the bell curve for first years. It is a painful thought to have your grades and efforts thrown around like a paper ball by the bell curve. It is well and truly, scary. But perhaps the new S/U option does release pressure on freshies a little, so as point 2 mentions, they can enjoy themselves a little more in academic (and campus) exploration before they get wrecked by the bell curve in the next few years. So maybe it will be more like they’ll be eased into the pressure cooker a little less harsher. hahaha.

The Provost did say in the blogpost that the PSLE system from 2021 is also gonna remove the T-score ranking system and will now rank students according to ‘wider scoring bands’. I think this S/U system comes along pretty well. As a freshman who has just completed year 1, it is a perfect time to tell this to incoming juniors.

When you come into University, it is the last 3-4 years of your life to ever throw yourself into anything and gain the most out of life, whatever you do, do it madly, never give anything short of your all. It is the last chance to pick up skills, pick up as many as you can. Uni life will make you uncomfortable sometimes, it’ll push you into places you don’t wanna go to, emotional places sometimes. Academically it is tedious, but it is also beautiful. You learn so much about yourself and your society. Knowledge and discovery is beautiful and I mean this in more than an academic way. With that, here’s to a long break ahead. (:


Week 13 // Satisfied

Tonight I return home a satisfied being. Thinking about and consolidating the many lessons God taught me and the blessings so greatly showered on me, I am in awe as I realized just how much has transpired this semester. We went through roots, fruits and flowers and though I listed two roots of the holy and wonderful attributed of God, I know there are many more deeper ones I have yet to put into words. Indeed, He is sovereign, all knowing and holy but also compassionate, forgiving and loving. As I thought on these things I realized how throughout the semester there were many times where through my events and daily happenings He was not in the picture and was barely a passing thought. I feel sad at that realization and this is something I really wanna work on next Sem. But I thought about it and I figured that it’s one thing to actively try and have God as a part of my daily activities it is another thing to truly live it. I suppose the question here is whether it is by my own strength or by His. Often time I rely on my own, I know. I pray God give me His life, in me, so I’d know experimentally what it is to live for Christ. 

As the week winds down I also started resting more and feeling less under the weather, having less demands of running around everywhere and there was much more time for myself to settle down and slowly be at home again with less deadlines. I’m thankful for peace and serenity, no matter how short it may be. 

Thank God for all things beautiful gifted to me by Him, through Christ. 

Studying a third language

Studying a third language was in many ways tiring. It half bled the life out of me. Taking German for 2 semesters straight was a decision that was exhausting but worth it. German 1 was new, weird, taken on the back of a very football-fueled drive. For those who don’t know, I have great respect and admiration for the German National Football Team (Die Nationalfussballmannschaft). That’s the National Team, then there are the clubs, and I am in love with Bayern Munich. (Bayern München ist meine Lieblingsmannschaft ^^)


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EN2202: Critical Reading

Overall comments:

Well, what a module this was. 7-8 weeks of barely understanding anything before the light came. This module is taken by a new prof Dr Roy, so she is not really used to planning the curriculum. If you take this under her, be prepared for very spur of the moment things, tests and assignment ONLY given in week 12-13. Breakdown is 30-30-30-10, 30% – class participation and presentation, 30% class work and assignments, 30% final assignment, 10% – for flexibility purposes she said. She deals with abstract concepts and uses scholarly articles to provide framework for discussion and only actually went into the text from week 7/8 onwards.


Sporadic because you’re not really sure what she wants you to do. Most of the work done in the seminar. No finals. No midterms either. Really vague at times, honestly. But maybe it’s the first time she’s taking it, it might get better. There was a midterm short response essay of about 2 pages double spacing, a final in class written test for about an hour and a take home finals exam paper that you had to answer one question from 3 sections, poetry and the two texts covered.

Rating on Esther’s scale, is it worth taking the module – 6.5/10. It only started to be worth it a little too late, I feel.

Final grade: B+ (wished for an A- but okay not too bad haha)

For some personal comments; visit here.

HY2253: Christianity in World History

Overall comments:
The bell curve is bad. and the prof is an extremely strict marker. Nonetheless, I enjoyed myself. I have to qualify and say that I am a Christian and therefore it does help that I know many/most of the concepts taught and there is little thinking work on my part (for content). If this was bid from Round 3, the bidding points were inflated badly but Round 2a/b was okay, I got mine for 1 point. I think the module does give an objective and balanced view of the growth, change, development and globalization of the religion. (As a christian), it is interesting to listen and learn many things that we take for granted we know. The prof is pretty engaging and his lectures are amusing.

Readings are pretty heavy, that is if you actually do them. Tutorials every week last for an hour and can be intense (or not) depending on your class’ engagement and participation level. My class’ was good so I enjoyed it, but felt tutorials were slightly short and could be longer. The module spans extremely long timelines and covers many issues and themes so if you’re not a content guzzler you might want to reconsider. (I have notes, if you’re interested come find me.) The essay is worth 20%, reaction piece article critique is 20%; Tutorial participation – 20%. Finals – 40%

There aren’t midterms but there is a midterm essay, a reaction piece essay due week 10/11, and finals.

Rating on Esther’s scale, is it worth taking the module: Yes, quite. 8.5/10

Final grade: A-

LAG2201: German 2

First I need to talk about the prof. Some of the things I said here were taken from the nomination I wrote for him for the teaching awards.

This prof has inspired me to take German 2 even though I did not intend to. I am anything but a language person but he made me see and understand that studying a language is so much more than just for the grade or for a certificate. He helped me appreciate German culture and mindset, and his teaching styles made it such that his classes were always challenging but just the right balance between tough and doable. He never gave up on anyone of us especially those of us who were weaker and could not really help ourselves, he would tell us to come up with strategies and he never turned a blind eye to anyone who requested help. His pep talks about life and the lessons that we were to take away from it were also very applicable and I really appreciated them. I remember going up to him to tell him that I was finding difficulties with certain components and I reached a point where I really doubted my capability in the module. He told me frankly that there are certain study methods that fit certain people and others that do not and that it is never a one size fits all thing. He also said that passion for the language is what he really appreciates and wants to see, and maybe that could mean you love what you do even though you may not be fantastic at it. I think these little things that he does really makes people appreciate his lessons. He never hesitates to make his lessons interesting through role playing and it is also taught very practically as some of the assignments are video filming based on real life situations, eg, seeing the doctor, ordering food, etc. All in all, it was a great experience taking German 1 and 2 under him. This is Prof Chan Wai Meng (who will be on sabbatical leave next semester.)

okay now to the technical stuff

Overall comments:
German 1 is that intro module and German 2 is the continuation of it. If you have the UEs to spare, it is wise to do both because German 1 and 2 together makes up one proficiency cert. German 2 isn’t really harder than level1, just that it is easier now (slightly) because you’re already used to the language and it ain’t so foreign now. Bonus points if you can take it with the same batch of people you took German 1 with, that would be fun.
German 2 is more in depth and you learn modal verbs, imperatives, adjective endings, places, directions, etc with topics on fashion, healthcare, exercise, holidays, occupations etc.

Workload –
well, don’t say you haven’t been warned. Consistent hard work required. 3 video assignments, 2 semester tests, homework every lesson, 3 vocab tests, other small assignments here and there… the list goes on. Plus if you aren’t very good in it, you’ll definitely have to put in more work.

Midterms was 1 semester test.

Final exam was the second semester test in week 13.

Final grade:

(rating on Esther’s scale)
Is it worth doing this module: 8/10

EN2203: Introduction to Film

Overall comments:
This was a fun and chill mod. For a level 2, I spent it watching movies so yes it was enjoyable. I didn’t really dig movies before the module so I took it to be convinced that movies were worth watching. I’m convinced now. The module covers the basics of film – cinematography, camera angle, lighting, sound, etc before going to the more academic side of things which is different approaches to film such as the Auteur Theory and Spectatorship. I personally enjoyed learning how to break film down into these basic components and it was overall pretty interesting.

For a level 2 module, it is very chill. One midterm in class test, barely any readings except for Multimedia Conglomeration and Spectatorship (week 10/11), one tutorial facilitation where you come up with a short proposal and write a report about the facilitation when you’re done with it, and one finals. Pretty much that’s it. You watch movies every Monday so I don’t think it’s a very tiring workload if you get to watch movies.Tutorials? Just participate in discussions, it ain’t that hard. Class part is 20%, tutorial facilitation is 20%, midterms and final essay worth 30% each.

One midterm class test and no finals Woohoo!

Rating on Esther’s scale, is it worth to do this module:
Yes very much indeed, film is that aspect not many people actually study so why not take it – 8/10

Final grade

Reflections as a freshman; AY2015/16

Typing this seems so surreal. Year 1 is about over.

I remember dreamt of getting into this school, little did I know what was in store for me. From the Sem 1 camps, intro mods and getting accustomed to things to stepping up more in Sem 2, not just taking on leadership roles but also growing very much intellectually and maturing, it’s been such a wonderful academic year.

I did things I never imagined I’d ever do, most people ask me if I’m crazy. I think I am. Writing this, I don’t know how to put into words the many things that I gained from all my experiences. I gotta say I’m also very blessed to be in FASS. It’s a faculty where I get to study everything I want, it’s so enlightening to learn things, to appreciate perspectives, to have ideas to discuss, to understand my world, my surroundings, to know cultures, history, and so much more. It’s a wonderful place, really, one that I could never have dreamed of, in terms of allowing me to pursue what I love and that in depth and breadth. I am very grateful indeed.

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A lit mod that nearly killed me…

(This is a reflection, views are my own and reflect no one else’s)

I started by feeling the hype that all the seniors talked about. Everyone said you needed to take this module because there was a certain Prof who’d been reputed to take it and apparently she was ‘legendary’, ‘amazing’ and ‘(insert all other adjectives)’. Okay fine point noted, at the end of semester 1 I declared literature major and MPE-d that module which apparently I didn’t get in the MPE but I got it for 1 point (I was prepared to really bid highly for it) but okay one point, good for me.
One week before the module started, I find out it’s not Prof X as the seniors said, instead, it was the goddess of Literature. That was supposed to mean that it would get even better, right? Or, so I thought.


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