10 things I’ve learnt in my First Year of SUSS (formerly UniSIM)

If you haven’t heard, Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) was named the sixth autonomous university of Singapore in 2017 (formerly known as UniSIM).

I wish I had a senior to advise me through my initial adjustment phase as there were plenty of new routines to get used to. So in a bid to ensure a smoother transition for my juniors, here are 10 things I’ve learnt from my first year in SUSS.

1. Pre-Course Quizzes

Before the commencement of every module, a student must first complete a quiz. Failure to complete the quiz and/or attain the minimum passing mark will render a module void. That means you can’t attend classes at all. The university will deem you withdrawn from the module and you will only be allowed to take it the following term, or whenever it is reoffered. So please remember to jot the deadline down in your scheduler!

2. 6 weeks duration

Each term lasts 6 weeks. If you think you’ll have time to cover content, you don’t! That’s why the pre-course quiz (see point 1) is really important. You’re expected to know your content before classes begin.

3. Multiple portals

The University uses multiple portals, and knowing what they are is crucial. During my first semester, I was overwhelmed with them all and often missed out important dates because I wasn’t in the loop. Here’s a handy list and what they’re used for:

  • Canvas – This is our learning management system: it’s where you submit your assignments, access study guides and assessment questions, engage in Discussion boards and have online classes. (There’s also an app for this!)

  • Outlook/Mymail – This is our mailing system. We communicate with our faculty members, friends and university staff through this email. Here’s a tip; link your mymail account to your regular E-mail account (e.g Hotmail, Gmail) so you will always be in the loop!

  • Student Portal – This for all things administrative such as timetables, announcements and course biddings.

  • SUSS backpack – This is an app. We access our timetable, classroom locations, mark our attendance and access E-textbooks here. The app is constantly updated based on student’s feedback so in the near future we might even utilise the app for all the portals. (Please make this a reality!)

  • Symplicity – This is where we RSVP for events, apply for job stints and request for counselling sessions (University life can be very overwhelming especially in the first semester, invest in your mental health)

4. SUSS core modules

Every student in SUSS, regardless of your major, will have to take up core modules. These modules take on a cross disciplinary perspective to global issues. For example, a module I took last semester was “New Empires: The Reach and Frontiers of the Tech Sector”. It covers tech giants, big data, AI technology and what it all means for the future. I personally have enjoyed all of my SUSS core modules so far because it never fails to leave me thinking about the world and my place in it.

5. Experiential team building Programme (ETB)

In the beginning of my first year in SUSS, I joined the ETB programme in Indonesia. During the ETB, we engaged in community visits, day workshops and experiential learning. This is a compulsory module, so go with an open mind!

6. Choosing a minor

In year 3 or 4 (depending on your course) we are expected to choose a minor. Most minor classes are conducted at night so please ensure it suits your academic timetable. SUSS has a wide variety of modules ranging from language, arts, communications and even Entrepreneurship!

7. Electronic Course Registration

This is the period where you bid for the modules you wish to read the following term. In order to register for your modules, you have to complete an evaluation of the modules you have completed the current term. This is very important friends, if there are things that don’t work, you have to flag it out. The university listens to our feedback and makes the necessary adjustments. If you miss the deadline to register for your modules, you won’t have any classes at all the following term. It’s of utmost importance, you jot the deadline in your scheduler!

8. Cohort rooms and locker rentals

The university has designated cohort rooms for discussions and revisions. During exam periods, study rooms will also be made available. If you, like me, study in school often, you’ll definitely need a locker to store your study essentials. The lockers are free but they are given out via a bidding system. Check your mymail for updates!

9. Flipped classroom

SUSS prides itself for its independent learning model. You are expected to study the content from the study guides, textbooks and lecture slides on your own before coming for classes. When you appear for classes, you will be engaged in discussions and debates so if you haven’t covered the content, expect to be lost and confused!

10. Assessment modes

Generally, there are 4 assessment modes for every module. They are Pre-Course Quizzes, Class Participation, Tutor-Marked Assignment (TMA) and Examinations. Some modules are non-examinable so instead of examinations, you get End-of-course Assignments. Let me briefly run through with you what these components are:

  • Pre-Course Quizzes (PCOQ)

I’ve touched on this in Point 1 but generally, this happens a week before your 6-week term begins. This makes up only 5% of your overall grade but if you don’t pass this, you won’t get to begin the module.

  • Class Participation

Usually this is done through the discussion boards. Depending on your modules, every week you are expected to engage in a discussion online (on Canvas) based on the content of the week. Although this is worth 5% of the overall grade, it’s useful and easy to attain!

  • Tutor-Marked Assignment (TMA)

An assignment that is usually due in the 3rd or 4th week of the term. You might think it’s easy, but the questions are essay questions that require you to display understanding of content and application of knowledge. This is worth 40% of the overall grade.

  • End-of-Course Assignments (ECA) or Examinations

This is usually 60% of the overall grade. If you did not pass your total for TMAs, Class Participation and PCOQ, you are not allowed to sit for your examinations or submit your End-of-Course Assignment. Remember that Class participation mark? It’s really useful!

If you have decided to embark on the SUSS life, I hope you find this piece informative. The way we do things here is slightly different than the other Universities and this can be overwhelming. Even so, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’ll end this off with 3 golden tips that have made my semester 2 in SUSS a whole lot more manageable.


  1. Get a scheduler

Stay organised, keep track of your deadlines and schedule in revision time. This will manage your anxiety and stress.

  1. Start Early

Cover your content before the term starts. It will save you a lot of time!

  1. Stay focused

For 6 weeks, get rid of distractions, delete your social media apps and dedicate your entire attention to productivity. I find that committing myself wholly to the 6 weeks duration has increased my productivity and get me on my A game.


All the best!


  1. Hi, thanks for the info. I left school when I was 17 after my O levels. And that was some 40 over years ago. As a freshman, uni studies are really overwhelming for me as I do not have anyone to guide me. I’m also like old school and not tech savvy. Navigating through Canvas and all that is like so much of info all over the place. Can’t the uni make it more easier and simpler to find and navigate all the course related materials. The LO and TO portals are really confusing at times especially if you are a first year student. Anyway I’m managing to cope and hope to finish my degree.

  2. Hi,

    Can just check? If i were to take a major with a minor, is it usually recommended i finish all my major modules first before doing my minor modules which would be in 3rd year? My major and minor quite different areas

    • Hello Priya! Thank you for writing in. Each semester is 14 weeks. In each semester, there are 2 terms (6 weeks, each term) and 2 weeks of breaks in between term 1 and 2. Hope this clarifies!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here