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  • Arnest Lim

CHS Common Curriculum Course Reviews (Part 3) - HSA1000, GEI1001, HS1402A

Updated: Nov 13, 2023


You all know the drill, let’s dive in.


Disclaimer: All of the following courses were taken in AY 22/23 Sem 1 and the structures of these courses MAY BE DIFFERENT in subsequent sems. All views expressed in this article are my own so please only take this review as an unofficial guide. More detailed information can be found in the links at the bottom of this article.


Check out other course reviews right here.


HSA1000 - Asian Interconnections

Lecturers: Dr. Clay Eaton, Prof Rajesh Rai, Dr. Nurhidayahti Miharja, Dr. Hanisah Abdullah Sani (guest), Prof Chris McMorran (guest)

Tutor: Kim Mi-jin

TLDR: A multidisciplinary look at Asian studies.


Description of course

  • HSA1000 is the self-explanatory "Asian Studies" Integrated Course that also fulfills the GE Cultures and Connections pillar.

  • Lectures introduce students to the field of Asian studies, covering such topics as race, religion and social inequality with the aim of deepening students’ appreciation of sociocultural diversity in Asia.

  • Fortnightly tutorials are 2 hours long and held on campus, providing a platform for students to present their views relevant to the course’s themes as well as carry out presentations on related texts.

  • This course is typically pre-allocated in Year 1 but if you have timetable clashes like I did, you may be only allocated it in Year 2.

  • Alternative courses:

  1. University Scholars Programme (USP) students - USP-Humanities and Social Sciences courses

  2. NUS College (NUSC) students - NHS courses (Making Connections: Humanities and Social Sciences)

Assessment

  • Tutorial Participation (15%)

  • Group Presentation (15%)

  • Individual Assignment (30%)

  • Field-Based Group Project (40%)

Pros

HSA1000 provides students with a sneak peek of Asian studies, potentially cultivating an interest in that field. In that sense, this course could prove useful to students who want to embark on the Asian Studies minor or any major within the Asian Studies basket.


I also think that HSA1000's tutorial formats in which a lot of healthy in-class discussion is encouraged has allowed students to sharpen their critical thinking as we had to reflect on the points made by others to have relevant conversations in class. Critical thinking in general is very important to university life so this is good.

A location that our group visited for our Field-Based Group Project, the Chulia Mosque in Chinatown.


Cons

Similar to HSS1000, the content covered in HSA1000 is very surface level. Asian studies encompasses so many different fields that deserve a deeper look in their own areas of study, but because they are all squeezed into one course, everything feels a bit superficial.


I also find this course extremely FASS-biased and the FoS students likely won’t be able to apply much of what they have learnt here to their own majors. Along the same vein, I find that of the CHS courses I’ve taken thus far, HSA1000 is the least applicable in general. In fact, the most relevant topic in this course (social inequality) is technically something that HSS1000 also covers, while the rest just don’t feel very important.


Personal thoughts

Unlike HSS1000 or HSH1000, which I had neutral or positive thoughts about, I did not particularly enjoy HSA1000. In my opinion, this course simply didn’t have the applicability that other CHS courses had. Combined with the fact that the content wasn’t particularly interesting, it just reinforced my thoughts of “why am I learning this?”


This is one of the times when I find that the older FASS system was better as it allowed students to choose their own Asian Studies course and students didn’t need to read a course that just doesn't amount to much. We’ve covered the differences between the old FASS and the current CHS systems before, so head over here to check that out.


Finally, as HSA1000 is one of the courses that you might be more inclined to utilise your S/Us on, I would strongly suggest to future CHS students to clear this course in Year 1 because of those 20 extra S/U units in Year 1 and not delay it to Year 2 like I did.


GEI1001 - Computational Reasoning

Lecturer: Jonathan Sim

Tutor: Jonathan Sim

TLDR: How can we apply computational tools to identify and solve problems?


Description of course

  • Formerly known as GET1050, GEI1001 is a Common Core Course that fulfills the GE Digital Literacy pillar and is often referred to as the “FASS coding course”.

  • In place of lectures, short pre-recorded videos are used to introduce students to the basics of computational reasoning, as well as how we can apply such mindsets to solving real-world problems. Students will also be introduced to powerful computational tools like Excel and VBA.

  • Fortnightly tutorials are 2 hours long and held on campus, with students putting their computational reasoning skills to the test and improving them through various activities.

  • Take note that AY 22/23 Sem 2 is the last time that GEI1001 will be pre-allocated to FASS students, so from AY 23/24 onwards, students will need to register for this course themselves.

  • Alternative courses:

  1. FASS students can read any of the following - GEI1002 (Computers and the Humanities), NM2207 (Computational Media Literacy), CS1010S (Programming Methodology) or its variants, COS1000 (Computational Thinking for Scientists), CM3267 (Computational Thinking and Programming in Chemistry), LSM2302 (Computational Thinking for Life Sciences)

  2. Data Science and Economics (DSE) students and FoS students can read any of the following - CS1010S or its variants, COS1000, CM3267 OR LSM2302

  3. Special Programme in Science (SPS) students - SP2273 (Working on Interdisciplinary Science, Pythonically)

  4. NUSC students - NPS2001 (Matrix Unplugged:Using Computer for Real-World Problems)

Assessment

  • 3 Pre-Tutorials (15%)

  • Tutorial Class Participation (20%)

  • Individual Assignments (Quizzes, Group Project Surveys and Peer Evaluations, Interactive Story Games) (20%)

  • Group Project (35%)

  • 3 Surveys (10%)

Pros

The content taught in GEI1001 is extremely useful, especially when it comes to working with large Excel datasets. I think it’s not out of the realm of possibility to say that at some point in everyone's working lives, we'll probably have to use Excel, so that’s where a lot of what we learnt in this course will come in handy. Greedy algorithms, Excel functions (eg. IF, AND, OR) and of course, the unforgettable and amazing Microsoft VBA - the course has made acquiring these skills accessible for many.


My friends who took other coding courses and/or have different programming backgrounds have often told me that the programming language isn't the important thing, it's the "computational thinking" mindset that you pick up, which you can then apply to other languages. GEI1001 is definitely structured in a way that helps students internalise said mindset while making learning fun.


Finally, since all the pre-recorded lecture videos are relatively short and easy to digest, students can consume the content on their own time and not worry about being swamped with too much information.


Cons

I think my eyes bled from the sheer number of Excel sheets I pored over for GEI1001. Jokes aside, I wish that feedback was released a little sooner for the submissions. When feedback is released too late, it gives students less time to prepare and work on these areas for improvement.


Moreover, I find that a lot of the feedback given was too “generic”. Perhaps it's because many students just tend to make the same mistakes or because there’s only one lecturer for this course, but I do wish feedback was just a little more targeted. Maybe the department can consider allocating more instructors for this course instead of heaping the work onto one sole instructor with some undergraduate TAs.


Personal thoughts

I think many students are understandably worried about taking GEI1001, since it's the dreaded "FASS coding course". I’ve heard horror stories about the massive workload of GET1050 (the old course code) but this course was actually very manageable, even for someone like myself who had no programming background.


This turned out to be one of the most fun courses I’ve ever taken, with the lecturer putting in his best effort to turn potentially dry and tedious content into something really fun and interesting. Even though lectures are all pre-recorded, they’re still very engaging and not at all a chore to watch (coincidentally, my two favourite CHS courses, HSI1000 and GEI1001, had pre-recorded lectures instead of live ones).

Of all the hilarious catchphrases included by the lecturer in his lecture videos, this is my favourite one (look out for them when you take this course).


Anyway, this course has proven extremely useful. I've picked up many crucial skills and knowledge, and I hope to be able to make good use of what I've learnt in future.


HS1402A - Career Compass II

Coordinator: Beatrice Tan

Career Advisor: Kong Kum-Hoong

TLDR: The sequel to HS1401A.


Description of course

  • The second course in the Career Compass series, HS1402A gives a deeper look into acquiring important career skills.

  • Allocated to all Year 2 CHS students, this course aims to provide greater industry exposure through external learning opportunities such as career workshops and internship talks.

  • Alternative courses:

  1. FoS students - HS1402S (exact same content but under a different course code)

Assessment

  • Once again, students are required to accumulate 100 points over the course of the AY, with varying number of points being attached to various activities. The course is graded on a Completed Satisfactorily or Unsatisfactorily (CS/CU) basis and won’t be reflected on students’ transcripts.

  • From completing 3-month-long internships over the previous summer, participating in career events or even completing a stint on the NUS Internship-As-A-Service (IAAS) platform, students can do as much as they want to complete these tasks.

  • Students can also choose to read extra courses to gain points, such as CFG1002 (Career Catalyst) or any of the Roots and Wings 2.0 courses, allowing them to attain extra units while also contributing to HS1402A’s requirements.

Pros

Much like its predecessor, HS1402A is an AY-long non-credit bearing course that doesn’t require much effort to complete. Students can spread their activities out over both semesters or just “speed run” the course’s requirements in the first semester.


While the previous career course introduced students to NUS’ career resources, HS1402A goes a step further by providing more opportunities, like Career Booster workshops or industry seminars, to tap on and make full use of these resources. This will be greatly beneficial for students when they begin to explore their career options.


Cons

N/A


Personal thoughts

Compared to HS1401A, I definitely spent a little more time with HS1402A, in no small part due to the fact that I took an extra course (PLS8005) to gain 40 points. Even then, it still didn’t contribute that much to my overall semester workload, for (truthfully) I just did the bare minimum. Of course, I still think this course is useful.


The career workshops and talks do open students’ eyes to the working world after university, and without HS1402A’s literal points system, I might not even have been so incentivised to attend these activities. Just like with the previous course, I can’t really come up with cons because there really aren’t any, and HS1402A is definitely a good tool for students to utilise NUS’ career resources.

 

For more information, please access the following links-




Career Compass Courses: https://fass.nus.edu.sg/career-compass-series/overview-of-courses/



NUSC Courses: https://nuscollege.nus.edu.sg/learn/


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