NUS Module Reviews AY19/20 Y1 FASSTRACK Summer School (Special Term 2)

IMPORTANT: Note that this is taken during the FASSTrack summer school (Special Term 2) so the module assessment may be slightly different from usual. The module is entirely online and there was no learning journey. Everything took place over just 5 weeks.

I initially planned to do two modules – EC3381 Urban Economics and EC2374 Economy of Modern China – but the latter got cancelled. So I opted for EC3381 and EC3880F Topics in Economics: Miracles and Crisis in East Asia. I really wanted to do EC3880F but its asssessment components were just not worth the risk; it consisted of 40% short essay and 50% long essay. Coupled with this was the long web lectures and night tutorials, EC3880F was a definite no-no as I want to use my summer break for other purposes too. Hence, I just settled with EC3881 Urban Economics. This was done to fulfill my economics electives.

EC3881 Urban Economics

Workload:

  • tutorial participation and forum discussions (15%)
  • reading chapter summaries (15%) – only 3 in total
  • quiz 1 (15%)
  • quiz 2 (10%)
  • quiz 3 (15%)
  • term paper (20%)
  • reaction paper (5%)

Lecturer/tutor: Timothy Wong Chong Ji

Lectures: uploaded beforehand

Tutorials: 1hr x 2 weekly, just discuss readings (prompts given)

Cohort group size: only 27 (originally 30 but 3 withdraw)

Given that this was my first 3k module in NUS, I was rather intimidated on my first tutorial session. What’s worse is my class was filled with seniors and as a fairly quiet and introverted student, I really had problems participating in class discussions. I really can’t summarise this module well but I will just say it’s about the monocentric model (just a model describing a city with cbd and suburbs etc), urban quality of life, crime, transportation etc. The readings assigned for tutorials are based on a theme e.g. Entertainment, Urban inequality, Urban Sprawl, Urban density and they are really what are discussed in tutorials. These themes were not directly linked to the lecture content and I had a hard time trying to find a way to study for this module. But this module is probably one of the few qualitative modules in the economics department. The readings were quite simple to read and rather interesting. Not much math was involved in our quizzes so for those who prefer to read, taking this module can be a good choice.

Quizzes were held on the Thursdays of week 2, 4 and 5 and only an hour long at the maximum. They were rather manageable and consisted of MCQs, multiple responses questions and short answer questions. The last quiz though was a bit of a shocker because instead of testing questions directly related to lecture content, Tim Wong had a few questions asking us about our insights on transportation policies. Think he must have forgotten that there are some who have not taken EC3101 (Like me lol) and he had questions on duopoly and monopoly.

There really wasn’t any specific requirements for the term paper and it just needs to be related to the module. Maximum of 4 page only so it is not a very long essay per se unlike the ones done in FAS1101. The reaction paper was literally just about your reactions to a newspaper article and I think i scored lower than the rest of the cohort.

EC3381 is pretty qualitative and the workload was surprisingly light. I only had to use my calculator twice and it was only for the basic calculations (no calculus or statistics even involved lmao). Each lecture has a textbook reading (not compulsory but very useful since the slides are based off it), a chapter reading from Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City and a few The Economist articles. The tutorial discussions were quite interesting although I mainly played the role of a spectator. Readings are not tested for the quizzes.

Other than that, I’d say this module is a must for those interested in policies because it covers a little of land use, transportation, inequality and crime. Think this module is required under the Applied and Policy Economics specialisation too. I really gained lots of insights on these themes and I initially was skeptical about it because i mean what is urban economics?? But I got to say I really enjoyed this course.

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