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  • Cheong Chee Foong

CNM Module Reviews: Compulsory modules

Dread it, run from it, core modules arrive all the same. Even if they are indeed inevitable, there's no harm getting a heads up on what exactly these modules entail! Hopefully, the information given serves well in shaping expectations on what you'd be facing, or at least provides a trick or two in on how to deal with these modules.

Do note the years of each review: these modules MAY HAVE CHANGED. Take this review as a rough outline, not a prophecy. Always check the details on LumiNUS before actually taking the modules.

NM1101E- Communications, New Media and Society

Taken in: AY19/20 Sem 1

Lecturer: Natalie Pang

Tutor: Wong Hei Ting

In a nutshell: A good introduction!

Description of module

  • This module introduces the fundamentals of CNM and gives you a tiny bit of what to expect from the major as a whole

  • Lectures will cover topics like public relations, creative advertising, and the gist of communication theories (Hypodermic Needle, Mean World Theory, etc)

  • Tutorials are just one hour every week, passing by in a flash especially when they attempt to cover quizzes, lecture recaps, and project assignments


  • Midterm quiz (15%)

  • Class Participation (10%)

  • Group project (25%)

  • Final essay (40%)


The content does a good enough job of introducing media theories to a layman and connecting them to the real world. Also, the weekly quizzes in tutorials were helpful in making sure we kept up with the lectures and actually understood what was taught.

Both Professor Pang and Dr. Wong are friendly communications experts, so don't feel shy clarifying whatever doubts you may have with them!


For an introductory module, there are quite a few things to juggle, and the project is rather time consuming. Personally, the rubrics for the project could also have been outlined more clearly.

Tips when taking it…

Compared with other exposure modules , NM1101E is a relatively cumbersome one. So, if you’re from another faculty and considering taking this to clear UEs…don't expect a walk in the park. Not to mention that the open book nature of the finals actually makes questions more difficult because you have to truly internalize what’s taught/asked, and not simply regurgitate content you’ve memorized.

Nonetheless, if your group puts in the effort, and you have a good grasp of the concepts, this module is definitely manageable.

NM2101 - Theories of Communications and New Media

Taken in: AY20/21 Sem 2

Lecturer: Renyi Hong

Tutor: Subhayan Mukerjee

In a nutshell: Theories galore!

Description of module

  • Introduces various theories on how communication is deeply involved in many aspects of our lives, from personal texting, socializing, to politics and society at large

  • Professor Hong has some tendency to read off the slides, but is otherwise a proficient lecturer who likes to engage the class with questions and videos

  • Tutorials always involve mini exercises/discussions about the lecture concepts

  • Readings range from textbook chapters to full news articles


  • Midterm essay (20%)

  • 2 Individual Essays (20%)

  • Class Participation (10%)

  • 4 mini quizzes (20%)

  • Final essay (30%)


Apart from being the groundwork of CNM studies, the theories here are extremely relevant and interesting in today’s society. Because of its relevance, doing the research for individual essays and linking them to concepts was a good exercise to test our understanding and expand our horizons.

The tutorials were also a good opportunity to hear varying thoughts on current affairs and concepts from course mates.


One issue I had was how dense the mod was. There were many legitimately interesting theories, but due to the interest of time, everything felt jam-packed. I feel we could have appreciated the concepts more if they focused on a few concepts rather than stretching them thin.

This problem extended to the way it’s taught: oftentimes, it felt like we were jumping from one point to the other without much links.

Tips when taking it…

  • Ask, ask, and ask. Clarify any doubts with your tutors/lecturer immediately when you have them, and don’t let it snowball.

  • Do study more on the theories on your own time to make sure you fully understand them. Tutorials are a good chance for you to check with your fellow course-mates too!

NM2103 - Quantitative Research Methods

Taken in: AY20/21 Sem 1

Lecturer: Cho Hichang

Tutor: Ho Wei Yang

In a nutshell: The scientific method!

Description of module

  • Revolves around quantitative research and analysis, like how to obtain data, how to interpret it, and what each data set truly means

  • Lectures about data analysis are about as fun as you’d expect. Professor Cho is deeply knowledgeable in the field, but his slides were rather plain at times. There were some lectures where group discussion was called for, so try not to mentally check out

  • Most tutorials were really about the group project, so it’d be beneficial if you had an idea for it ASAP

  • In the later half, sessions will teach you how to use a programme called SPSS to tabulate your group project research results

  • Between the time spent researching, scratching your head over SPSS, and obtaining data, the workload is no joke‒ be prepared to sink in quite a bit of time and effort for this mod


  • Class participation (15%)

  • SPSS test (5%)

  • Group project (40%)

  • 2 Essays (40%)


Data analysis isn’t for everyone, certainly not me. But it was helpful to learn the basics to obtain a better understanding on research papers. And unfortunately, there’s a lot more where that came from in future modules. Even if it's not your cup of tea, take the mod with an open mind and you might find newfound passions, or at least become numb to the pain.


You’re expected to critique a research paper right off the bat…which is difficult because you’re basically facing off against academics. Even evaluating their good points require finesse, so I think a little more guidance on the essays would have been appreciated.

Tips when taking it…

  • Read up on many different research papers to find a suitable topic for your individual essays, and familiarize yourself with HOW its written for your project

  • Do make sure your group project is on track, and not leave it to the last minute

  • Practise on your own with SPSS. My tutorial lucked out because the SPSS test was cancelled, but don’t hold your breath for a second miracle. Even if there isn’t an assessment, shaky SPSS knowledge can botch your entire project, so why not brush up on it?

NM2104: Qualitative Research Methods

Taken in: AY19/20 Semester 2

Lecturer: Shobha Avadhani

Tutor: Wang Xin Yuan

In a nutshell: A SOCIAL science!

Description of module

  • Delves into qualitative analysis theories and methods of research

  • Lectures will cover the qualitative data collection process, as well as different case studies as real-life examples. Professor Avadhani often shares her actual experiences as a researcher, so there are many opportunities to gain insight into the field

  • Tutorials were a mixture of group project AND individual assignment discussion


  • 4 Practicum Assignments (40%)

  • Group Project (40%)

  • Class participation (20%)


The free reign of project topics is actually pretty interesting, so use it as an excuse to investigate something you’re always been curious about. If your friends ask why you’re surveying them about their social media obsessions, you can say it’s purely for research purposes!


Sure, NM2104 grants you more freedom in topics…but freedom just means you must make more decisions, and whether you receive guidance, are on the right track on your projects...everything is entirely up to you. Personally, I would have liked more structured requirements on their assignments to make things clearer.

Tips when taking it…

  • Compared to the other modules on this list, 20% of class participation is nothing to sneeze at. Try to contribute to the discussion going on in tutorials!

  • Another important thing to note is the date of assignments: this was one of the few modules where assignments were due in just one week after a concept was taught, so no leaving work to the last minute

  • Readings that revolve around the theories of qualitative research are in abundance, so do try to keep up weekly!

NM3550: Communications & New Media Internship

Taken in: AY 20/21 Sem 1

Lecturer: Dr. Jinna Tay Academic Supervisor: Ms Rebecca Zhou


  • Pre-departure online quiz (mcq based): 5%

  • Preliminary report: 10%

  • Mid-semester portfolio: 20%

  • Final report: 30% (20% written report, 10% visual, aka slides)

  • Supervisor's feedback: 30%

  • Attendance to one of three briefings: 5%

Worth 12 MCs, this is the heaviest NM module yet, and for good reason: it’s an actual internship! Since this might be the first step into the field of media for most of us, having some preparation might be wise.

Want a more detailed guide? Head over to our other articles, where we dive into the nitty gritty of it!

If an extensive guide isn’t quite your cup of tea, here’s a quick rundown of the key tips.

  1. Either take MOOCs...OR overload in earlier semesters

Unfortunately, MOOCs are a lot less interesting than cows: Massive Open Online Courses(MOOCs) are simply mods one has to take during the semester when we embark on an internship.

The reason for this is simple: we must take a minimum of 18MCs each semester, and the 12MCs from NM3550 isn’t going to cut it. This is where MOOCs come in, to make up for the MC deficit. As for what exactly the MOOCs entails, it depends on which you choose. They typically involve 4 – 7 evening sessions after work.

You can try to avoid this by overloading in later semesters, but my personal recommendation is to overload in earlier semesters to avoid one, taking classes during an internship, and two, avoid having an extra burden in later years all while grappling with 4k mods.

2. Prepare for interview

Before we can get past the golden gates of employment, pesky interviews must be passed, and going in without preparation can lead to awkward pauses at best and cold rejection at worst. Here are some common questions that are usually asked. Preparing a good answer for them could very well improve your confidence and impress interviewers.

  1. Tell me more about yourself

  2. Why do you want to join this company?

  3. What’s your greatest strength?

    1. (Consider elaborating on how can you use said strength to contribute to the company)

  4. What’s your greatest weakness?

    1. (Do add on how you have taken steps to mitigate it)

Naturally, these are very general queries. Always study the company’s site and make sure you have a solid grasp on its core mission and values. From there, anticipate any other questions specific to them to make sure you don’t say anything that steps on anyone’s toes.

You don’t want to say your strength is to minimize risk when their motto is to be adventurous, or vice-versa.

And after you're actually in an internship...

3. Time management

While our studies might be flexible, the same cannot be said for internships. One little procrastination might snowball into dozens of sleepless nights to make up for it.

Above all, a delay wouldn't just affect grades this time, but possess very real ramifications on actual people. So pace yourself and keep track of deadlines so as to not get overwhelmed; consider using apps like CountOnly or google calendar to keep yourself on track.

Specific tips for an ONLINE internship

Since we're still in 2020 season 2 and have no idea what the future holds, here are some tips to tide you through the internship in the event it does take place online.

Don't panic

It may be rough picking up so much at the beginning, and online interactions with colleagues and supervisors can be awkward, even difficult. Still, just give it your best effort, and work will get better over time. Now that we're already more than a year into the pandemic, it's likely companies are well versed with WFH, so don't worry too much about it.

Again, ask

Miscommunication can happen quite often especially if you're communicating through text so ALWAYS CLARIFY instructions with your colleagues and supervisors. Being annoying is generally better than messing everything up. Generally.

Record keeping

Keep track of the contributions you make to the company, and what you've learnt. This is needed for the mid-semester and final reports that we have to hand in to reflect our internship process. Over so many months of internship, it can be really easy to forget/ overlook whatever you're done. Recording your experiences will make doing the slides and reports much more manageable.

30% of your grades depends on your supervisor. Meaning, if he/she doesn't remember what you did, it'll be very risky.


And there we have it, every compulsory NM modules listed and reviewed. Hopefully, this article has provided a better picture of what to expect! Even if any parts of the module don’t sound enticing, these are compulsory for a reason, so take in our stride, and put your best foot forward.

You’ll get through them in no time.

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