NUS Freshmen Guide for Transitioning into University Life fast

Four years ago, there was a blur NUS freshman who knew nothing about NUS module bidding. That’s me. I painstakingly read all the information I could find on the Internet about the bidding. When the bidding period comes, I was very anxious. I kept checking my dearest bidding account every 2 hours or so just to make sure I was not outbidded. How I wish I had someone to guide me during the whole bidding period. Having said that, I understand the pain of being a freshman. So, here it is: an honest and simple NUS freshmen guide. It is divided into academic and social sections.

NUS Freshmen Guide for Transitioning into University Life fast

Generally, one module in NUS is equal to 4 MCs. However, do note that there are some modules that are equal to 2, 3, 6, or even 12 MCs. The recommended workload is 20 MCs per semester. Some faculties prohibit you from taking too much modules depending on your CAP. For instance, in Faculty of Science (FoS), you must have a CAP of at least 3.50 to read more than 26 MCs.

NUS modules can be simplified and divided into a few categories:

  1. Programme Requirements (PRs) are modules from your major or faculty. Some of them are compulsory while the rest are electives (that is, you get to choose which modules you want to take as long as they are listed as electives). To check out your PRs, you have to visit the website of your respective major or home faculty or NUS bulletin (
  2. University Level Requirements (ULRs) are General Education Modules (GEM), Singapore Studies (SS) and Breadth. To graduate, you must take 8MCs GEMs (generally 1 GEM A and 1 GEM B), 4 MCs SS and 8 MCs Breadths.
    1. As the name suggests, GEMs are modules which cover general understanding of various topics. GEM codes start with GEK or GEM. There are two types of GEM: GEM A (Science and Technology) and GEM B (Humanities and Social Sciences).
    2. SS modules are those modules about Singapore. Its module codes start with SS.
    3. Breadths are any module outside your home faculty.
  3. Unrestricted Elective Modules (UEMs): Anything you want. Really. UEMs can be used to pursue minor(s), second major, or something as simple as your interest(s).
 Module Bidding

First and foremost, each semester you will receive 1000 points. Your points will be put into two accounts: P account and G account. The amount of points allocated in each account depends on your home faculty. P account can only be used for Major/Minor requirements and UE from your home faculty. G account can be used for Minor requirements, GEMs, SS, and UE outside your home faculty. At the end of each semester, you can fill up the Module Feedback Exercise and receive some extra points for the subsequent semester. Unused bid points will be transferred to the subsequent semester.

The points can be used to bid for your desired modules. If you are lucky, some (if not most) of your major requirements will be allocated to you. Each allocated module only costs 1 point. If not, you will have to bid for the modules.

Each module has its own quota or limit of students enrolled. If the number of bidders is less than the quota, you will get the module for only 1 point. Besides its quota, as you probably can guess, the cut-off point of each module depends on its popularity. People will be more willing to spend their points on the popular modules. Some modules can be as expensive as COE.


Before planning and bidding your modules, do take note of their previous cut-off points in CORS’ bidding history ( If there’s a tie in the bidding, the place will be given to those who bid earlier (first-come first-served). If you can’t secure your desired modules, you can always bid for another one or try your luck on the same modules in the subsequent rounds.

Bidding rounds

There are a few rounds available for bidding. You can always check the schedule here: The bidding starts with Round 0 to place your advanced bid, followed by Round 1A, 1B, 1C, 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B.

Round 1A and 1B are for returning students (that is, those who have been studying in NUS for more than 2 semesters). Round 1C onwards are open for all students. In round 1C, there are ‘bidding queues’ in some modules for 3 different groups: returning students, new students, or Minors and USP First-Tier modules. That is, each group will have their own quota for a specific module so each group will ‘compete’ with their own group. This is some kind of ‘protection’ for each group, especially for new students who has less bidding points compared to returning students. In round 2, the ‘queues’ are only for either returning students or new students whereas in round 3, there is no grouping or ‘bidding queues’ at all. All students will bid against each other. Moreover, each round has its own, specific modules up for bidding. For instance, you can only start bidding for your Minor modules in round 1C whereas bids for ULRs and UEs can only be placed from round 2A. The detailed information can be found here:

The last thing you have to take note of is that you can only bid for maximum 23MCs until round 2B. If you want to secure any additional modules, you have to bid from round 3A onwards.


NUS is a place where you will meet tons of abbreviations. At first, it might seem too much but, trust me, you will get used to it sooner or later.

BIZ: Business Faculty

FASS: Faculty of Arts and Social Science

FoS: Faculty of Science

FoE: Faculty of Engineering

KEVII Hall: King Edward VII Hall

LT: Lecture Theatre

NUSSU: National University of Singapore Students’ Union

OSA: Office of Students’ Affairs

PGP: Prince George’s Park Residence

RH: Raffles Hall

SRC: either Stephen Riady Centre (if it’s in UTown) or Sports and Recreation Centre

SU: Successful/Unsuccessful

UTown: University Town

…and so on.

CAP: Grades, Numbers and Figures

At the end of the semester, you will be able to check your results in the Integrated Student Information System ( or via SMS subscription. If you are very eager to check your result, I would strongly suggest you to subscribe to the SMS service. The long awaited message often reaches your phone at 7-8 am, or long before your result is up in MyISIS. To comprehend the As, Bs, Cs, and hopefully not Ds or Fs, do refer to this table or this article (


A+, A5

From this table, you can calculate your Semester Average Point (SAP) and Cumulative Average Point (CAP) according to this formula:

SAP or CAP = Σ(MCs per module x Point)

Or if you are too lazy, do check out Digital Senior’s CAP Calculator (!

If you are really curious how you are graded, do check out NUS Provost’s Blog on the bell curve and grading system in NUS (

Your CAP will define which class you fall into.

Cohort AY2011/12 and before:

CAPClass of Honours
> 4.5First Class*
4.0-4.49Second Class (Upper)
3.5-3.99Second Class (Lower)
3.2-3.49Third Class

*Some faculties might require some additional requirements, e.g. in Faculty of Engineering (FOE), you need to get at least A- in your Final Year Project.

Cohort AY2012/13 onwards:

CAPClass of Honours
> 4.5Honours (Highest Distinction)
4.0-4.49Honours (Distinction)
3.5-3.99Honours (Merit)
Timetable Planning

There are some options to plan your timetable. First, you can manually check the module descriptions on CORS. The module descriptions contain information about lecture and tutorial schedules as well as exam schedules.


Another option is by using a timetable builder. The official timetable builder is available here ( First, choose the upcoming semester and the department of your desired modules. Then, search the modules and add them to the list. Proceed to the timetable by clicking ‘Next’ for three times.

NUS pix 2

Some modules might have more than 1 timeslot so you can choose your desired timeslot by clicking the dropdown menus. Click ‘Rebuild’ to apply changes. Once you are satisfied with the timetable, click ‘Next’. You will see the ‘Printing Timetable’ page where you can choose the format of your timetable and save or print it.

nus pix 3

However, I personally prefer the unofficial ones called NUSmods because of their ease of use, sleek design and flexibility. As you can see from the screenshot above, you can easily search a module without having to choose its department or category.

nus pix 4

Once you click the module, you can easily check the module description, pre-requisites, exam date and other important information. To add the module to your timetable, click ‘Add Timetable’. Then, click the ‘Timetable’ tab on the left sidebar to check your timetable.

nus pix 5

You can easily export the timetable to different file extensions or share the URL (if you feel like sharing your timetable to the world!).


For a more pleasant experience, do check out these awesome apps made just for NUS students:


NUS map

During your first few months in NUS, the most useful thing you can get is definitely the NUS map ( Trust me, it’s very easy to get lost in NUS. The LTs are spread all over campuses. You don’t want to spend your precious half an hour only to get lost, do you?

There are several types of Internal Shuttle Buses (ISBs) in NUS: A1, A2, B, BTC, C, D1, D2 and Express Buses (not as often as the normal ones). It takes some times to get used to the different buses and routes. But fret not, you can always check the route on the display on each bus or download the NUS NextBus app (! To check out the comprehensive details of NUS ISBs, click here (

A1PGPR-Kent Ridge (KR) MRT-SCI-YIH-Central Library (CL)-FASS-Computing (COM)-BIZ-PGPR
A2Similar to A1 but in the opposite direction; The only difference is A2 goes to Museum.
BClementi Road-Museum-YIH-CL-FASS-COM-Computer Centre or opposite CL- opposite YIH-opposite Engineering Auditorium (EA)
CClementi Road-Museum-University Health Centre (UHC)-opposite University Hall (UHall)-SCI-UHall-opposite UHC-RH
D1BIZ-COM-Computer Centre-opposite YIH-Museum-UTown-YIH-CL-FASS-COM-BIZ
D2PGPR-KR MRT-SCI-UHall-opposite UHC-Museum-UTown-UHC-opposite UHall-SCI-KR MRT-PGPR-BIZ carpark


There are lots of CCAs available in NUS, from NUS Gaming Society to NUS Art of Living. You can check out the complete CCA list in NUS. The best way to find out which ones suit you best is by going to the Student Life Fair at the beginning of the semester.

There are many benefits of joining CCAs. The most direct benefit is the Residential Admission Scheme (RAS). According to RAS, those who join NUS official CCAs will have higher chance to secure accommodations in NUS. To be eligible for RAS, you have to obtain some sort of recommendation letters from the chairman of your CCA. Each CCA has limited recommendation letters to be given out. However, some CCAs are given more recommendation letters than the others. The detailed scheme can be found here (

Of course, there are other advantages and disadvantages of joining CCAs. Is CCA really that important? Well, you can decide for yourself. Here’s you’re your seniors think (

On-Campus Accommodation

There are 3 types of on-campus accommodations in NUS: Residential Colleges (RCs), Halls and Residences. RCs are those in UTown and Ridge View Residential College (RVRC). To stay in RCs, you need to submit an application and pass the selection process or interview.

Residences are PGPR, Ridge View Residence (RVR) and Kuok Foundation House (KFH). To stay in residences, you need to either be involved in NUS CCAs and get the RAS placement or be very lucky because the remaining places in residences will be allocated randomly. Another way to secure an accommodation in residences is by going for an exchange because it is very challenging (if not impossible) to join CCA and get a place in RAS while you are overseas. To understand more about the hall system in NUS, click here.

Halls are Eussoff, Kent Ridge (KR), King Edward VII (KEVII), Raffles, Sheares, Temasek Halls. To stay in halls, you need to submit an application and pass the selection process. After securing your place, you have to collect hall points by joining hall activities or hall CCAs to secure your place the semester after. To find out more about the fees of the different accommodations, click here ( To

Canteens, Cafes and Culinary

You can easily find a nice and affordable meal in NUS. Each faculty in NUS has its own canteen. Each canteen consists of several different food stalls and a drink stall. The price of a meal usually ranges from 2-5 dollars depending on your appetite. There are also some fast food joints, food courts, cafés and other food outlets across the campuses. Here are some food outlets that you definitely must try ( The full list of food outlets in NUS can be found here (

Study Spots

One of the best things of being an NUS student is you will never be bored of the study spots. There are various spots on campus suitable for studying. Library is the most suitable place for those who seek silence and peace during their study. Inside the library, you can always book a discussion room or project room if there’s a need for a discussion. Alternatively, you can sit on the benches provided all across the campuses. One of my favourite spots is the benches on the top floor of Central Library that overlook the Lovers’ Park because the noise level is just right and the scenery is somewhat calming. Once you spend some times in the campus, I am pretty sure you will be able to find your favourite study spots!


If you still have some burning questions or are still lost in the fast-paced NUS life, do let us know on the comment section. We will try our best to help you out and answer your questions! J

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Teresa Widodo
Teresa is a final year undergraduate in NUS majoring in Applied Chemistry. If you can't find her in the lab assembling some batteries for her final year project, she is probably curling somewhere with a book in her hand. Her all-time favourite book is The Little Prince. She is also a big fan of classical novels, Neil Gaiman's and Paulo Coelho's. Besides reading, her favourite pastime activity is binge watching American and British TV shows. On top of it, she revels in writing. She started out writing short stories published in several magazines in Indonesia. One of them was crowned as the best three in Kawanku Short Story Coaching in 2010. In 2013, she joined NUANSA 2013 Musical as the script-writer head and fell in love with scriptwriting ever since. Besides creative writing, she has written for various magazines in both English and Indonesian. In 2013, she served as the Chief Editor of NUSSU The Ridge where she finally realized her new-found passion in leadership.


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