NUS module reviews AY19/20 Y1S1

Just ended my first semester in NUS and needless to say, it was a huge jump from my polytechnic days. As I was registering for modules, I wished that there was a comprehensive guide on certain GEH and UE modules but there weren’t many. Hence, I’m doing one for future students like yourself so that you can pick a right module for yourself.
1. EC1101E Introduction to Economic Analysis

Lecturers: Dr Ong Ee Ching (micro)/Chan Kok Hoe (macro)

Webcast: yes but it takes 2-3 days after the second slot’s lecture for it to be uploaded

Tutorials: weekly one-hour tutorials

Workload: relatively light. readings are tested but in MCQ formats.

  • Tutorial participation (10%)
  • Mid-terms (25%). Closed-book, 36 MCQs in one hour. Micro only.
  • Pre-lecture quizzes (6%)
  • Post-lecture quizzes (9%)
  • Finals (50%). Closed book, 72 MCQs in two hours. Micro (25%) and macro (75%).

This modules covers the bits and pieces of the very basics of economics such as welfare economics, market structures, money and banking and international trade. It’s a good module to clear your social sciences basket for non-econs major as this exposure module teaches many concepts which can be applied in real life. For econs major, this, duh, module is a must and many do recommend to take this alongside EC2104 and EC2303 to get a full taste of University-level economics but I did not do so (will explain later). As I have took a diploma plus module in economics in polytechnic, the EC1101E syllabus was rather similar to what I have learnt but much more in depth. According to Dr Ong, the micro segment (first six weeks) is similar to GCE A levels economics but the macro will be entirely different. Instead of merely writing essays, it will focus on Keynesian and Classical model, Money and Banking, Monetary and fiscal policy and international trade, something business students in Ngee Ann Polytechnic would be familiar with. Both lecturers teach well and I actually understood the monetary policy and fiscal policy better after this module.

Tip: Highly recommended to get the textbook and to pre-read them dutifully before every lecture. Problem sets are very different from what actually come out in mid-terms and finals so focus more on the pre- and post-lecture quizzes when doing your revision.


2. CH1101E: Retelling Chinese Stories: Change and Continuity

Lecturers: Koh Khee Heong

Workload: very light. Readings don’t seem important.

  • Tutorial participation (30%)
  • Open-book quiz (40%)
  • Group project – term paper and presentation (30%)

Webcast: no

Tutorials: odd-weeks, two-hours sessions. Starts on week five.

As what the module title described, CH1101E covers mainly five famous stories from Chinese literature and history and its various adaptions over the years based on social context. The five stories are The Orphan Zhao 赵氏孤儿, Jing Ke the Assassin 荆轲刺秦王, Homosexuality in Chinese Culture 断袖, Mulan 木兰 and Chinese Ghost Lovers 倩女幽魂. Each theme would span across two lectures where the prof will first introduce the background context of the story and its various literary adaptations and the lecture afterwards will be a movie screening (aka one of the adaptations). Lectures were very entertaining because the prof made funny comments all the time.

For the group project, each group is assigned a theme by your TA and you basically just have to compare and contrast the two movies (another movie adaptation to be watched before every tutorial) and account for these similarities and differences. Pretty easy for a group project but the term paper is a rather headache as it can be quite hard to come up with a thesis for some topics like mine (Chinese Ghost Lovers).

This module really opened my eyes when I am watching movies as I am constantly reminded of the director’s intentions and the social background (behind the movie). For instance, Mulan is originally a folk song in the Northern Wei dynasty that celebrates the nomadic lifestyle of the Northern Chinese (not Han Chinese) and not a story that emphasises on filial piety and loyalty. It was only in the Tang Dynasty (where Confucianism was once again on its rise) did the tale of Mulan became domesticated to a role model. And fun fact, in the Yuan Dynasty version Mulan committed suicide because she did not want to serve and be with the ruler which at that time was the Mongolian rulers. In all, it is suitable for FASS students to clear the Asian Studies basket because the workload is just so light but be aware of the heavy tutorial participation weightage. Nonetheless, students from other faculties can still take this module to clear your UE.

Tip: Though this module is taught in bilingual, it is honestly still much better if you understand Chinese well. The tutorials, for some reason, are conducted in Chinese and while the lectures are in English, there are some times where you wished you paid more attention in your Chinese classes so that you could understand some idioms or meanings better. Example:

昨夜见军帖,可汗大点兵。军书十二卷,卷卷有爷名。

“Last night I saw the draft posters,

The Khan is calling many troops,

The army list is in twelve scrolls,

On every scroll there’s Father’s name.”

Honestly it much easier to read the Chinese than understand the English ones for this module because the English translations, although correct, can be rather awkward to read.


3. FAS1101: Writing Academically in Arts and Social Sciences

Lectures: none. but there are pre-class readings and videos to watch.

Tutor: Aileen Lam

Workload:

  • Tutorial participation (15%)
  • Research proposal (15%)
  • Overview essay (25%)
  • Final essay (45%)

This module’s primary aim is to teach you how to write an academic paper at the university standards, how to make solid arguments, do proper citations and how to make a thesis you can argue and defend for. Albeit the importance of this module, I still hated this module because it only confuses me even more with unnecessary terms and assignments. Regardless of the hard work I put in for my first two assignments, I only made it to the bare minimum for the middle-level tier. There are various topics to choose like the 1919 Peace Treaty, death penalty, sociology of deviance and many more and please choose a topic wisely because you will stick with it the for the rest of the semester. The aim of this module is simply to come up with a thesis/your argument and then do some research to back up your stand. So, try to read as widely as possible, find your stand ASAP and simply WRITE.

Tip: edit your work based on what your tutor says because ultimately he/she is the ONE grading you.


4. MA1301: Introductory Mathematics

Lecturer: Chew Tuan Seng

Webcasted: yes, 2 x 1.5 hrs per week; uploaded the hour after that day’s lecture ends.

Tutorials: weekly, one-hour

Workload:

  • class participation (5%)
  • Mid-terms (25%)
  • Finals (70%)

One double-sided help-sheet is allowed for both finals and mid-terms.

This module is designed specifically for students who do not possess any GCE ‘A’ Level H2 math knowledge and hence, its syllabus is pretty much whatever the A level students learn in pure mathematics in their two years. Nonetheless, it is best if you have taken GCE O level A Math because MA1301 is basically an extension of these knowledge. I decided to take this module to clear my UE and also pick up some basic calculus like implicit differentiation which I think might be useful for the mathematics portion of economics. So yeah, poly graduates planning to major in econs do take MA1301 with EC1101E first before doing EC2104 like everyone else does because chances are they have done these math in JC already.

The prof teaches well and slowly making sure you understand the concepts. It’s ok to watch webcast and it’s better for me since I learn better at my own pace.

Tip: Do attempt the tutorials and PYP because the prof likes to base his papers based on PYP. NEVER memorise solutions because it does not work; try to understand the questions and answers.

5. GEH1053: Film Art and Human Concerns

Lecturer: Dr. Gilbert Yeoh

Webcasted: no

Tutorials: weekly, one-hour

Workload: light but time-consuming. Readings are tested.

  • class participation (20%)
  • Mid-terms (15%)
  • Individual essay OR group project (35%)
  • Finals (30%)

Both finals and mid-terms are open-book. Films tested in mid-terms will not be covered in finals. The format for both are exactly the same – MCQs and short-answered questions based on the screenings played in the exam hall. (PM me if you are unsure of how it works).

This module is about the film medium i. e. Mise-en-scene, cinematography, sound and editing and how it is used to engage human concerns. E.g. how does the bright and visually-striking colours of a cheongsam signify the intense and repressed feelings of a woman in 1960s Hong Kong? If you find yourself never appreciating films then please do NOT take this module because it will be challenging. I love this module because firstly, I enjoy watching films and secondly. Dr. Yeoh is always very eager and enthusiastic in lectures. I personally took it because I have watched almost half of the films covered in the syllabus but I did not regretted it as it is always better to gain a different perspective of your favourite films.

Films covered:

  • Greed
  • Citizen Kane
  • Psycho
  • His Girl, Friday
  • Goodbye, Dragon Inn
  • Chungking Express
  • 12 Storeys
  • In the Mood for Love
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • The Road Home

Do bear in mind that since this GEH is offered under the Eng Lit department and you have to attend the mandatory screening OR watch them at your own pace at home.

Tip: watch the films with an open-mind, be observant about every little details and take notes while watching because Prof likes to test the tiniest stuff about each movie in mid-terms and finals.