3 module planning tips from an NUS undergraduate

Hello, everyone! It’s been a while, but I’m finally back and ready to share my experiences. This time, I will share some advice on how to plan your modules. Module planning is every university student’s nightmare, especially for students who have not officially entered university. There are so many websites, especially for NUS — NUS Mods, NUS Canvas, NUS Edurec…it’s hard enough keeping track of these sites.

Additionally, for prospective FASS and FoS students, the new CHS curriculum is so hard to plan for. There are 13 mandatory modules, and figuring out which modules are pre-allocated to you and which modules are not is just a pain.

But don’t worry! I’m here to make it a lot easier for everyone. I’ve been through the system, I’m studying at NUS, and with almost two full years of experience, I think I’m qualified to give some advice. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

One final note: the most important websites you could use specifically for NUS are NUS Mods, the NUS CHS website, the NUS major modules (i.e. NUS psychology modules for me), and NUS major graduation requirements.

1. Find a Common Curriculum

For prospective undergraduates, the simplest first step is to find out whether you have a common curriculum. Many universities often have a common curriculum that is mandatory for undergraduates, particularly within Singapore. However, overseas universities might not have this.

In order to find the common curriculum, keywords such as “x university x faculty common curriculum” can be used. For example, googling “FASS graduation requirements” brought me to a PDF, which then brought me to the FASS website. The FASS website has an explicit section for graduation requirements and an option titled, “Cohort 2021 and After, CHS Common Curriculum”.

Alternatively, you can pay attention to news regarding the university. For example, the new CHS curriculum and the merging of Yale-NUS with USP have gained media coverage within Singapore. If you are a prospective NUS student, this is very pertinent to you and you might want to be aware of this.

If you have no common curriculum, congratulations — feel free to move on and read the next tip. However, if you have a common curriculum, the next step would be to find the modules inside the curriculum.

For NUS, clicking on the CHS Common Curriculum option will bring you directly to the CHS website that lists the common modules. The website also shows the pre-allocation of modules, and which modules will be pre-allocated to you in year 1. It also shows the different modules per semester.

Once you have this knowledge, this leads me to step two: map your modules.

2. Map Your Modules

Now that you know the common curriculum modules you must take, it is time to map them! But what exactly does this mean?

Module mapping is a process many undergraduates do to plan for the next four years of university. It helps you see which modules you will be taking during which semester. It also helps with counting the number of module credits (MCs) per semester. The number of MCs is especially important, as you need to make sure you have enough to graduate.

But how do you map your modules? Simple. First, open up either an excel sheet or a google drive sheet. Next, you can have headings for the four years of university, and separate them by semester e.g. “y1s1”, “y1s2” etc. Underneath each heading, list the modules you will be taking. Next to the module, list the number of MCs it provides.

Here is my personal plan as an example:

If you have a common curriculum, fill those modules up first. Afterwards, every major will likely have one or two common gateway modules that they have to take. These gateway modules will most likely be pre-allocated to you in year one of university, so put that module code in your year one plan.

From my plan, all the blue colours are CHS common curriculum modules. The year one CHS modules are compulsory and thus pre-allocated. The other CHS modules require you to bid for them, so I just use them to balance my workload. You can see that later on, during my 4k modules (some of the heaviest modules you can take as an undergraduate), I add a lot of CHS modules or UEs (unrestricted electives) to ensure my workload is not too bad.

Additionally, every major will likely have mandatory core modules. A simple google search of “x university [major] modules” will show you all the modules you can take, and the graduation requirements will tell you which are core (i.e. mandatory) modules.

In my plan, PL1101e and PL2131 will be pre-allocated to you in your first year. However, PL2132 and all 3k modules for NUS psychology are mandatory. Thus, as a psychology undergraduate, I must take all of them at some point in the four years of university.

You can simply use google to help you find out your mandatory modules. I google “NUS psychology modules” to see the whole list of modules. “NUS psychology graduation requirements” also shows me the core modules I have to take. The website that lists NUS psychology modules also shows the requirements for those modules, which helps me plan.

For example, when looking at 4k modules, I need to complete 80 MCs. In each semester, I take around 20 MCs. This means that I need at least four semesters before I can take a 4k module, and thus those modules will likely be taken during years three or four.

This is a complicated process and requires a lot of time and research, so I suggest you make time for it. Schedule a day where you just sit down and construct one mapping plan. It might not be the final, and it is likely that you will change it, especially for your UEs or if you have failed to bid for a module. However, a brief plan is better than nothing at all.

Overall, to make life a little bit easier, I suggest that you: a) start with pre-allocated common curriculum modules; b) put in pre-allocated major gateway modules; and c) fill in the mandatory modules (for both your major and the common curriculum modules) as you go.

One final thing to note is the semester. For NUS, you can use NUS Mods to see which semester the module will be available in. Normally, for very common modules e.g., common curriculum and common major modules, it will be offered in every semester. However, there are exceptions – the HS and HSI 2k modules in my plan are semester-dependent. Thus, you need to double-check to see if you have planned correctly.

Additionally, you can note down whether you can SU the module or not. SU means that the module credits will be counted, but the grade you obtain will not be counted towards your CAP. It can be useful to know which modules you can SU and which modules you cannot, but this is slightly advanced. If you are feeling overwhelmed, stick to the basic plan of module mapping.

3. Double-check Graduation Requirements

Once you have mapped the basic modules (i.e. the common curriculum and the gateway modules), it is time to check your graduation requirements. A google search of “NUS psychology graduation requirements” brings me to a website that lists everything very explicitly. Once you have these requirements, you need to map the necessary modules onto your plan.

However, I suggest you take it step by step. First cover the core lower-level modules, then work your way up. For example, for NUS psychology, begin by mapping PL1101E, PL2131 and PL2132.  You will get PL1101E and PL2131 in year 1, so you can fill that in. I also strongly suggest that you take PL2132 as soon as possible, because it is a foundational module. A lot of higher-level modules will have PL2132 as a prerequisite, particularly laboratory modules and 4k modules. Thus, I suggest you place it in year two semester one.

Next, you move on to the 3k core modules. Also remember to check the prerequisites for each module so you know when you can take it! For psychology 3k modules, the only prerequisite is PL1101E. Thus, when you have completed that module, you can start to clear your 3k modules.

I personally was able to take PL1101E in my first semester of university. Thus, in my second semester, I actually took two 3k modules. This helped me a lot, especially in terms of clearing mandatory modules for psychology. For psychology, you also have to map a laboratory module, so keep that in mind when planning.

Finally, you can move on and map the 4k modules. Do take note that NUS psychology 4k modules require you to complete 80 MCs, which means that you have to complete at least four semesters of university before you can even take them. Thus, these 4k modules are likely mapped onto years three and four of university.

Once you have finished mapping the modules for your common curriculum and the necessary modules for graduation, you can now start filling in the spaces for your unrestricted electives! For NUS, you need 48 MCs of unrestricted electives if you are taking a single major — roughly 12 additional modules. The number of MCs required differs for a single or double major, or anything else, so do check that before you plan this.

For finding potential UEs, you can use NUS Mods to search keywords related to your personal interests. For example, I search for words like “crime”, “deviance”, “China” etc. because of my interests in these topics. Based on your search, modules will show up, and you can then pick and choose the ones you want to study.

Finally, if you want to go for an exchange programme, you should plan it now. Pick the semester you prefer, and ensure that you have put that in your plan. You should also google to check what you can and cannot map for an exchange. For NUS psychology, for example, you can only map one 4k module on exchange. So do keep that in mind.

And that’s it! That’s the end of the planning session! I know it is a lot to take in. And it is likely very complicated. But doing this not only gives you a plan for your four years of university, it also gives you a headstart in familiarizing yourself with the many websites necessary for university. But that’s it from me! Hope this helped, and good luck with your module planning!

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