- Cheong Chee Foong
A brief overview: how to graduate for FASS Freshies
Updated: Jan 26, 2022
Essentially, this is a guide I wished I had as a first-year student. Information was derived from everywhere and everyone, scattered across gazillion different sites, tabs, briefings, and word of mouth.
To streamline the information, I thought it was best to put the important bits in one place!
Understand your requirements
While there are subtle differences between the graduation requirements of different majors, there are many modules which need to be taken for ALL majors.
Let’s break down the basics.
Subjects are now called modules, which are worth a varying amount of modular credits(MC). Most mods are worth 4MCs. We need to clear General Education Modules(GEM), exposure modules, unrestricted modules(UE), and finally, core modules of our own majors.
Let's begin with GE mods. These mods are aimed to help us have a more holistic education. Better yet, they can be a breath of fresh air‒ a nice opportunity to learn something different from our majors.
With effect from AY2021-22, the NEW GE curriculum comprises of:
Cultures and Connections (GEC)
Critique and Expression (GEX)
Data Literacy (GEA)
Digital Literacy (GEI)
Singapore Studies (GESS)
Communities and Engagement (GEN): will be offered from AY2022-23
We need to read one GEM from each pillar. Since each are worth 4MCs, that means we have to clear a total of 24 MCs worth of GE modules!
A more detailed description can be found here.
Essentially, exposure mods introduce us to the major; they give a little taste of what's to come, before one decides to fully commit to it. For FASS exposure mods (coded 1101E modules), we need to complete FAS1101, FAS1103, AND one module from each of the 3 baskets.
Asian Studies basket
(Southeast Asian Studies; South Asian studies; Malay Studies; Japanese Studies; Chinese Studies; Chinese Language)
(English Language/Linguistics; English Literature; Theatre Studies; Philosophy; History)
Social Sciences basket
(Psychology; Economics; Sociology; Communications & New Media; Political Science; Geography; Social Work)
Do note: taking an exposure mod from your major will NOT count toward the fulfilment of your major (so if you're a CNM student, you will need 84MCs of NM mods ON TOP of NM1101E!)
UEs are mods that can be anything. They can be used to pursue minor(s), second major, or simply a mod that strikes your fancy.
FASS students are required to read a minimum 36 MCs of unrestricted elective mods, including a minimum of 28 MCs from outside our Major.
Now this is where things get tricky, since it differs across majors. The best way to be sure is to check each department's site.
For instance, a CNM student would refer to here for their graduation requirements, while a student of linguistics can check here. Google is your best friend for making sure.
The important thing here is to understand which path you're on. Are you going to be pursuing single OR double major? Taking a minor? These will affect what and how many modules you need to clear.
With the requirements out of the way, let's move on to the modules we can choose.
Take fun stuff…with Unrestricted Electives (UEs)!
Want to be a greater stan to Kim Seon-ho? Have a desire to watch Mugen train without subtitles? Take language classes like LAK1201 Korean 1/LAJ1201 Japanese 1. Always wanted to be Forensic scientist, but Economics is more lucrative? Take LSM1306 to accomplish lost aspirations.
Take what your heart tells you to in year one. Overload in the first year if you want. Don’t let your dreams be dreams.
As a freshman, you have S/U option for up to 32 MCs (aka 8 modules). More details can be found here, but the gist of S/U is to waive/wave a bad module grade goodbye, so long as you get a C grade or above. If this is not fully utilized, the S/U option can be saved for subsequent semesters, for up to 12 MCs(aka 3 modules).
In the future, there is little room for pursuing mods you have interest in but not aptitude. And overloading in later semesters is going to hurt a lot more...I have the C to prove it.
The safety net of so many SUs is ridiculously invaluable. Why not use it?
…but not too much
Do consider to conserve some UEs for later semesters because they’re the most flexible mods to fulfil. Plus, it's good to leave UEs for exchange too because it'll be the easiest to map back in terms of flexibility.
So take one or two UEs. But remember to fulfil graduation requirements as well. It’s a safe bet to clear your cores and GEs for instance, and especially the graduation requirements of your major. If you’re still undecided on your major, it’s best to do so before year 2. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t, but it’s rather helpful to have an endgame in mind. Which leads to the next point…
Taking mods aimlessly is a sure-fire way to tear your hair out in later sems once you realize many mods only appear in one sem, have a vacancy lower than our nation’s birth-rate, require this and that mod as a pre-requisite, and a goat’s sacrifice to even take up.
Of course, planning out all your four years might seem daunting and unnecessary at this early stage, but having a rough idea helps make your journey smoother.
You don’t want to suddenly realize you have to overload in year four (aka, take more than 23MC for a semester), all while grappling with hellish 4k mods or your thesis.
So how do we plan? Normally, this would be the part where I spout all sorts of numbers and labels. But really, the best way to visualise your whole graduation journey is through a single picture.
This helpful guide is courtesy of our friendly neighbourhood career advisor. But freshmen might not have seen this, and others might have ignored/deleted his email accidentally/purposely, so why not refresh our memories?
The idea is incredibly simple: create an excel sheet with those blocks OR use this link; whenever you complete a mod, put in in its respective category. Simply type in potential mods you wish to take to simulate your complete academic plan. Need a list of mods for planning? Check out NUSMODS.
If you’re taking another major, replace those NM requisites with ones of your major.
And we’re done. Isn’t this easier than saying needlessly complicated numbers of modular credits and other inane terminology?
Always have a Backup Plan
Recall Murphey’s law: everything that can go wrong, will.
So don’t expect your plan to work 100% of the time. Unfortunately, whether we get a mod is not entirely up to us. We depend on a 'fun' little system called Module Registration (ModReg), where we bid for our desired modules.
Especially when it comes to critical 2k mods and above from your second year onwards, ModReg isn’t always going to work in your favour. So come up with plan B, even D if you’re feeling paranoid.
ModReg is virtually a gamble. Don’t be silly and think reserve classes are unnecessary, even though the vacancy seems high for a mod. I did, and I've sworn off casinos since. Secure more mods than needed and drop the unnecessary ones afterwards. Bid for multiple tutorial slots, use NUSMODS to simulate all possibilities.
Be prepared for anything.
Ultimately, this is just an opinion and a guide, so follow the tips with a discerning eye.
The unique point about FASS is the sheer flexibility it offers. Yet, the flexibility comes at the cost, since there’s a lot of decision making involved. Decide wisely!
Most of all, have fun. As much of it as you can, anyway. Adjusting to university life may be rough at first, but having the least responsibility and workload in year one makes it a waste if you don’t live a little.
Join a club, have supper with your RC/hall mates, contact your old friends who went to different universities…
…and enjoy a first year without zoom. Hopefully.