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  • Kwok Cheng Leng

Student Exchange Programme (SEP): The Ultimate Guide for Applying to SEP in CHS CNM

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

Want to apply for SEP but you realise that there’s only 2 available course mappings on EduRec, and what’s worse, for the same course?

🫠🫠🫠 I don't even think New York University was offered for my application AY.


Yeah, that was me when I was looking to apply for SEP … Unfortunately for us CNM students, we can’t exactly rely on EduRec to check possible SEP placements and course / module mappings. But where to even begin? What even are the NUS partner universities and how do we know which universities have our courses? More importantly, how on earth does course / module mapping work?



It’s easy to feel stressed or overwhelmed when you’re completely new to the process. Allow me to share with you a step-by-step guide of how I successfully applied for SEP, and hopefully this will help you in smoothening out your SEP application process.


Disclaimer: Please note that this is my personal SEP application process for AY23/24 as a CNM major, specifically focused on CNM courses / modules. Some of this information might no longer be accurate during your specific SEP semester (I sure hope more course mappings would be available on EduRec for you then), so please check the official channels or email studyabroadfass@nus.edu.sg on anything you’re unclear about!


Content:


1. Deciding a Region


Having a rough idea of where you’d prefer would definitely help you narrow down your research. For instance, personally, since I knew that I definitely wasn’t interested in Canada, Mexico or the United States of America, I could remove those locations from my scope of consideration. This equates to more than 50 universities removed from the equation immediately, which is quite significant in my opinion.


If you don’t have any preferred regions, that’s ok too! Perhaps you can think of which region to first look into instead.


2. Selecting the Universities (Check for CNM-Related Faculties / Departments, and Other Information)


Now that you’ve considered what regions you’d prefer, or at least what region you’d like to start researching, it’s time to see what universities each area has to offer!


You don’t have to Google each country one by one, you can simply visit NUS’s Global Relations Office (GRO) website here for the list of university-wide exchange partners! Besides that, did you know that GRO also has a publication guide for international programmes? Under Section 5 of the guide found here, you’re able to see a whole list of universities where NUS students can go. More accurately, if it's available already, you can head to the FASS SEP website page to check for the available places in your academic year under “SEP Application Materials”.


Referring to the information above, I took down the list of universities in the regions I preferred on Excel, then checked their websites to see which university offered a Communications major, department or faculty. Then, I removed universities from my list which did not yield any results.


Additionally, GRO provides PDF documents with brief information about each partner university (PU) on their website. These are very useful and you can take a closer look by clicking onto your PU of interest here.


Clicking on the names in orange will lead you to a PDF about each PU.


Some PDFs specifically state which faculties the PU might be suitable for, like the PDF for the University of Innsbruck below (and now you know it may not be suitable for us).


Some of these documents also directly provide you with the link to the school’s department or course page, like the one for Shanghai Jiao Tong University below.


Through each PDF, you’ll also get to know what the academic calendar looks like for each PU. Usually, most CNM students complete our Compulsory Internship Programme (CIP) in the same academic year as SEP. So, we need to be careful to cross out PU options that clash with CIP!


For example, if you’re planning to do a Semester 2 exchange and thus go for CIP from July to November, then you might be unable to embark on SEP at Osaka University because the academic calendar doesn’t align.


Some PDFs like the following one for Boston University also mention important details regarding Visa regulation, insurance and emergency contact information that you should read through.


Additional information you might want to look at could also be language proficiency requirements and entry requirements.


Overall, I removed universities from my list of consideration if they did not have:

  1. CNM related majors / departments / faculties

  2. An academic calendar that allows for CIP

  3. Enough English courses / modules (especially in countries where English isn’t the first language)

  4. An entry requirement that I could fulfil


3. Looking at Specific Courses / Modules


By doing this, you can easily see which PUs have more options. Depending on the university, their course allocation system might not guarantee you a place in your course of choice, therefore it is always good to have extra backup courses on hand. I mean, to each their own, but I certainly wouldn’t want to go on SEP only to end up taking a 4-8 MCs workload because I couldn’t secure a place for 3/5 of my selected courses.


I’m sure your list must be narrower by now, so let’s go ahead to look at the specific courses each PU offers.


Per PU, I compiled a list of potential courses in an Excel sheet with their relevant links specifically for my intended SEP semester. For example, the University of Liverpool:


In order to check for enough options, make sure to consult the MC exchange ratios for SEP! This will help you see how many courses / modules at the PU = NUS’s 20 MCs.


If you’re thinking: “Har, you ask me go choose my courses but what if end up all cannot map?” Don’t worry too much about that right now, you can start listing down communications related courses first!


One tip when searching is to search by keyword, like typing in “media” or “communication” into the search bar on each university’s course page. Otherwise, try filtering by department, faculty and semester.


Last but not least, if you're curious about whether you can map CHS Common Curriculum courses: According to FAQ 31 on the FASS SEP website, CHS Common Curriculum courses are generally not mappable out of NUS. Only these 3 requirements (Data Literacy, Digital Literacy and Artificial Intelligence) could be considered for mapping. However, not all partner university courses may be suitable and courses must be mapped to specific, recognised codes to fulfil course requirements. (Dummy codes cannot fulfil CHS requirements and can only be used for Unrestricted Electives.)


4. Narrow Down Your List


Once you’re done, you can easily eliminate universities with little courses available for your semester, or with little courses of interest. For me, I eventually ended up with around 15 viable PUs, of which all had at least 3 backup courses I would take.


However, we’re only able to apply for 5 universities in the first round. How do we choose which to go with? I feel like at this stage, most of you would already have PUs you’re leaning towards, and can easily make that decision.


However, if you’re still conflicted, I’d suggest for you to consider, in no particular order:

  1. The number of slots available per PU

  2. Accommodation options

  3. Student life at the PU

  4. Any additional pre-requisites or procedures to applying that the PU might have

  5. Cost of living


For instance, under the Queen's University website for incoming exchangers here, it is mentioned that “finding living arrangements in Kingston can be a challenge – especially in the Fall term”.


Therefore, if you’re looking to go on SEP during their Fall term and stay off-campus, you must be prepared to not only do your due diligence in securing accommodation but also to encounter potential difficulty. If this is a turn-off for you, then you may not want to apply for Queen's University after all. (With that being said, going on SEP is bound to come with challenges as you adapt to a new environment, so don’t be too quick to dismiss PUs!)


5. Actual Course / Module Mapping


You have finally come down to your final 5 PUs!


Before we start mapping, let’s take note of the mapping restrictions as pictured below.


For CNM, mapping is generally done to department dummy codes instead of specific course codes.


For instance, there is a course at a PU that is similar to NM2209 Social Psychology of New Media. Instead of mapping to NM2209, you’d instead map to dummy code NM2741. The first number of the dummy code indicates the level of the course; as the PU’s course is similar to a level 2000 CNM course, you can map it to a level 2000 dummy code.


Still sounds confusing? Let me provide you with more examples below.


Assume you want to take 5 courses at your selected PU, which are equivalent to 20MCs at NUS. They are Psychology of New Media, Media Law, Visual Communication Design, Public Relations and Television Studies. 3 of these courses are similar to NM2209 Social Psychology of New Media, NM2223 Media Law and Policy and NM3217 Principles of Visual Communication Design. Hence, you’d map:

​Course Title

Dummy Code to Map

​Psychology of New Media

NM2741

Media Law

NM2742

Visual Communication Design

NM3741

Public Relations

?

Television Studies

?


You are unable to find matching NM courses for the other 2. What do you do?


First, check what level of difficulty these courses are at the PU. Some universities, like the University of Adelaide, have course codes that correspond to the course level like in NUS:


For the course Public Relations, according to the PU’s course code, it seems like it is a higher level course.


Secondly, you can search up the details of the PU course in NUS Mods to see if there are any NM modules that mention key phrases from the PU course. You see that the term “public relations” finds a match to NM4207 Managing Communication Campaigns.


Therefore, you can now make a more informed map, as you can deduce that the course Public Relations might be a level 3000 or 4000 course.

​Course Title

Dummy Code to Map

​Psychology of New Media

NM2741

Media Law

NM2742

Visual Communication Design

NM3741

​Public Relations

NM4751

Television Studies

?


For Television Studies, let’s imagine that CNM does not have any course even the slightest bit related to it. After checking its level of difficulty at the PU’s website, you see that it’s considered a lower level course. Perhaps the course details from the PU explains that its curriculum introduces students to how television media has evolved over time. With this information, you can thus infer that Television Studies is likely to be considered a level 1000 or 2000 module, thereby mapping it to NM1741.


Of course, what level you map might not be the most accurate. If you’re still unsure, you can reach out to cnm.undergraduate@nus.edu.sg for unofficial CNM SEP enquiries, or the department coordinator for official queries, who was Dr Jiang Shaohai (cnmjs@nus.edu.sg) during my application. Don’t fret over it though as the department will eventually look through your mappings and then advise what dummy code to change to should amendments be necessary.


Once you’ve more or less figured out your mappings, fill them in on the study plan template available on the FASS SEP website page under “SEP Application Materials”.


6. Whatever Comes After: Personal Statements and Questions


You’re finally at the last stage!


Open up the External Study Application page under Global Education on EduRec to see what questions are being asked. During my application, I was required to submit a personal statement of about 1,500 characters including spaces, as well as to answer 2 questions related to safety awareness and character traits, both limited to 500 characters including spaces.


Besides those, don’t forget to fill in an estimated cost of study using the template and sign the letter of undertaking uploaded on the FASS SEP website.


Altogether, the additional files you need to submit are:

  1. Unofficial transcript

  2. Study plan

  3. Estimated cost of study

  4. Letter of undertaking - tuition fee beyond normal candidature


Andd you’re done! Congratulations on submitting your SEP application, and all the best!



Psst, if you didn't manage to go for SEP but are considering to go for Summer / Winter programmes, this guide might still be applicable as some of the procedures may be the same. :)

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