CHS Modules: My Recommendations

Hey, everyone! I’m back!

This time, we’ll be looking at the CHS curriculum. For anyone who doesn’t know, CHS (College of Humanities and Sciences) was established in 2020, after the merging of two NUS faculties: the Faculty of Science (FoS) and the Faculty of Social Sciences (FASS). This means that for any undergraduate students undertaking a major in either of these schools (e.g. if you were to major in chemistry or psychology, for example), you would be under the CHS curriculum. And under the CHS curriculum, there are thirteen mandatory modules (link to website) that you have to take in order for you to graduate.

If you’re still confused about CHS and the general structure, don’t worry! I’ll be going through it in this article. I’ll also provide my own recommendations for CHS modules based on my personal experience and share my own journeys through the mod.

1. CHS Structure

First, let’s review the general structure. Most of this is on the CHS website, but I will briefly discuss it. Under CHS, there are three main categories: the common core (consisting of six modules), the integrated pillars (consisting of five modules), and the interdisciplinary pillars (consisting of two modules).

For all undergraduates, in your first year, you will be pre-allocated seven CHS modules, four of which will be taken in your first semester, and three of which will be taken in your second sem. You can see a list of the pre-allocations here — do take note that the allocations are based on your major. During my matriculation, the modules were pre-allocated based on the last letter of our NUS ID (the pre-allocations can also be found on the website). I am unsure as to how they pre-allocate the modules for future cohorts, but you can check the website for further information.

Afterwards, you can select the modules based on your own arrangements (i.e. they will not be pre-allocated to you). You can essentially plan your own schedule and clear the modules whenever you want, as long as you finish them by the time you graduate.

For individuals who reside on campus, do take note that some of these modules might change due to your own on-campus requirements (e.g., RCs or residential colleges require you to take certain modules), particularly for those in certain programs (e.g., UTCP, NUSC, etc.).

2. CHS Module Options

Now, let’s move on to the options. Again, for year one, the modules are pre-allocated based on your major. However, for the rest, you are free to select whatever modules you want. When attempting to select your modules, based on personal experience, there are certain considerations.

First, the most important one is whether or not you can S/U the module. For those who don’t know, S/U essentially means that you retain the modular credits without retaining the grade. This means that you can get credits that count towards your graduation, but how well you did in the module will not affect your CAP (or overall grade). Some CHS modules have the option to S/U, and some do not. If you are planning to have that CHS module be a ‘filler’ (or be a lighter mod in your semester), then do check this.

Second, another consideration is prior reports about the module. Many seniors would have taken the module, and information regarding the syllabus, learning outcomes and exam format would have been out. However, do take note that the CHS curriculum is a relatively new one, and many modules have only recently come out. This means that they are still in the process of getting feedback and re-designing the mod, which means that the syllabus and exam formats might change in future.

There have been many cases where a module has become exponentially harder — for example, when I took HS1501 (artificial intelligence under Common Core), the final exam was open-book, and we were able to use Google. When my friends were taking it in the semester after (this semester, actually), both the midterm and finals were closed-book. So when reading senior reports, keep in mind that it can change.

Third, another consideration is when you can take the module. Personally, I have to plan my modules in advance, and so I have an NUS plan that states which CHS module I have to take in which semester. This helps me ensure that I clear all necessary modules and that I am on track to graduate. However, this means that I need to take note of which modules are available in which semester. You see, some modules under the CHS curriculum are only offered in semester one, and so you can only take it in that specific semester. So if you are set on a particular module, you might want to check to see when you can take it.

One final piece of advice I have is to just take what you are most interested in. Personally, I think this applies to university in general — it is very difficult to study something you are uninterested in, and it is even harder to do well in it. So for any CHS module, if you want to aim for an A, I suggest you pick the module you are most interested in. You can do this by looking at NUS Mods and reading the course description. Although it is a brief one, it can give you some idea or insight as to what to expect, and you can see whether or not you might be interested in it.

3. CHS: My Personal Experiences

As of now, I have taken eleven CHS modules, and my experience has been overall neutral. But I do like some modules more than others, so I thought I would highlight some of my own personal recommendations and reflections. Hopefully, it can help you make a decision or at least give you deeper insight into the modules.

FAS1101

I think one relatively useful module is FAS1101. Of course, this module is under the common curriculum and is specific to FASS majors. Personally, I thought this module provided a decent foundation for writing skills. Even if I did not gain anything from it (as I have had previous experience in scholarly writing thanks to taking the International Baccalaureate), many of my peers found it a good introduction to university-level writing. It does teach you to look for appropriate academic sources, write in an academic format and submit a research essay, which are all important skills for university.

I personally do not have experience in the sciences writing module, but I have heard from my science friends that it involves examining scientific research papers and writing evaluations of those papers. I am not sure how relevant it is, but I think critical thinking and analytical writing are good skills to have overall.

GEI1001

This module is digital literacy under the Common Core, and it varies depending on your major — for FASS majors, this is the module you will end up taking. I enjoyed this module, although I unfortunately took it during a very busy semester, so I did not get to enjoy it as much. However, I do think it is a useful module. It taught me practical Excel skills that can be used in real life, particularly for a psychology major.

For example, I learnt if/and formulas, vlookup tables, efficient filtering, and other Excel-related skills. These were particularly useful during my summer internship – I interned in the research department in the policy division at MSF (I wrote a previous article about it; please feel free to check it out!). During my time there, I used the skills I learnt to help clean up a real-life dataset for analysis.

In my opinion, this module is relatively heavier than a usual CHS module. There are frequent quizzes that contribute to your grade, assignments that require creativity and effort while also allowing you to practice the Excel and data-analysis skills you learn throughout the module, and frequent videos that you have to watch, as they contain important content that you need to learn. Overall, while it is a relatively heavier module, the skills you learn and get out of it are actually useful.

Also, I will say that the lecturer, Jonathan Sim, is a really nice guy who does his best to make the content as fun as possible. The tutors were also pretty fun, and the activities that are set up for tutorials are also honestly pretty entertaining.

HSI2002

This module is Scientific Inquiry II, which is under the integrated pillars section. Under Scientific Inquiry II, there is actually a large number of modules for you to choose from. You can pick whichever one you are interested in, but I personally chose this one because it was more research-oriented. I am also generally interested in sports science research, and I thought it would be interesting to learn more about factors related to fitness, such as effective sporting exercises and efficient dieting methods. I was also interested in the socio-cultural factors, and explored things like psychology and athleticism and anti-doping policies.

For those who are interested in sports science research, this is a pretty useful module. It covers a lot, ranging from dieting to common athletic injuries. Do take note that there are three practicals in this module, and they require you to exercise — the most intensive practical is a beep test, which all students in the class have to run. But for anyone who is intimidated by exercise, don’t worry! I am also a very unfit individual. Fortunately, you are not graded on your fitness level but rather on how well you evaluate research and write up the related report.

Overall, I personally thought this was a pretty fun module. It wasn’t too intensive for me, but that’s because I am used to writing and evaluating research papers in my degree. For those who are perhaps not as familiar, it will probably take longer to work on and submit the assignments. But if you are interested in this topic, I highly recommend it. The lecturers and TAs are also very understanding, and they try to explain things to everyone regardless of prior research knowledge. Also, they are understanding of student deadlines, and the lecturer, Ivan, will allow for extensions if it is a very intensive period. He is also very helpful, and you can just telegram him any questions you may have.

CLC2204

This module is the communities and engagement pillar under the common core section. Again, there are many potential modules you can take. Largely speaking, there are two main types of modules you can take: service-work courses and field/project-work courses. Service-work courses are usually just volunteering, although do take note that this requires a year of volunteering. I personally took CLC2204, which falls under the field/project-work courses. For these modules, it lasts for one semester, but it is another academic module. This means that there is content, assignments and exams.

Overall, I liked the module. It gave a good introduction towards youths and community development, and the lecturer, Ting Ting, is very passionate. She really does her best to make it fun and engaging, and she is very aware that many of us are there only because it is mandatory for CHS. She is also very helpful in all the assignments and is more than willing to answer any queries or make time for any meetings.

Regarding the workload, I think it is just a regular CHS module workload. During my semester, I had one mid-term exam, one individual assignment and one final group assignment. She is very helpful in highlighting what exactly is to be expected for all your assignments and tells you the exact criteria needed to do well. Additionally, I think it is an interesting module, and as part of our group assignment, we had to dialogue with community stakeholders. It gives you greater insight into the general system in Singapore, and gives you the opportunity to talk with professionals who are actually working in the field.

One final note: for anyone who is considering taking the year-long volunteering, I have heard from seniors that it was not very well-developed, so some people would have to travel for an hour just to interact with the people they were volunteering with. Even if there was a form indicating preferences, if you are assigned a far location, you will likely have to do it for a whole year. I am unsure if they have changed this based on feedback but do take note that that is a thing to consider.

Overall, that is my introduction and evaluation of the CHS modules! I hope this helped give greater insight into what you can expect from CHS. Good luck to all CHS students, and I hope to see you all next time!

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