Recommended electives for NTU, NUS and SMU undergraduates

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It’s that time of the semester again; electives registration season. Think of electives as the boat keeping you afloat as you get buffeted by the waves known as your core modules.  And if you’re a suaku freshie or just someone researching on universities to apply for, you’re probably wondering what electives you should choose.

The golden rule: Choose electives that will boost your GPA. Of course, some of you are choosing mods based on subjective metrics like how fun or lepak it is – or how many eye candies will attending that class. No matter the case, we’ve got you covered with this list of modules recommended by lao jiaos.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

How it works: Every undergraduate will have to take a certain amount of electives determined by their school, in addition to core modules. Electives are split into 2 categories: Unrestricted Electives (UE) and General Prescribed Electives (GERPE). The latter is subdivided into 5 sub-categories: Art, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS), Business & Management (BM), Liberal Arts (LA), Liberal Studies (LS) and Science, Technology & Society (STS).

1. X-Rated Linguistics: Language, Sexuality And Desire (HG2024)

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What it’s about: Analysing the linguistic and discursive aspects of human sexuality.

Fun Factor: 5/5. Hands down, the best module I’ve taken. But don’t be fooled – you won’t be watching porn in class and you definitely won’t be a karma sutra master after 13 weeks. Instead, you’ll learn how linguistics is used to express sexuality, sex and desire – through documentaries and frank discussions about topics like online dating and the LGBTQ community.

Chill Factor: 4/5. The key is to understand the concepts behind topics covered. If essays aren’t your strength, use the final project and groupwork components to boost your grade. And be creative in your delivery! I submitted my final project as a documentary and we incorporated interactive elements like crosswords into our group presentation.

Grading Component: 100% Continuous Assessment | Attendance, Quizzes, 2 Midterms, 1 Essay, 1 Group Work Presentation, 1 Final Individual Project

Available as: UE

2. Forensic Science (CM8002)

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What it’s about: Learning about how scientific methods can be applied in criminal situations.

Fun Factor: 4/5. In the second half of the sem, experts from various local agencies like SPF, HSA and AVA are invited to conduct lectures where you’ll get an inside look at some local case studies. Fair warning, some of the content might make you squeamish.

Chill Factor: 5/5. Lessons are all done through Coursera, a online portal that lets you take courses from universities worldwide. Guest lectures aren’t compulsory either, but they’ll be good to attend. Although the module is content-heavy, you’ll gain a new perspective into crime-solving – which you can’t get from shows like Sherlock.

Grading Component: 20% Continuous Assessment, 80% Final

Available as: GERPE (STS) or UE

3. Studies In Malay Music (AAI48B)

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What it’s about: Learning how to play Malay musical instruments and picking up performance techniques.

Fun Factor: 4/5. You’ll get to play a variety of traditional Malay instruments like the angklung and kompang. Part of what makes the module fun is seeing everyone stumble while trying to get the rhythm right and laughing about it together.

Chill Factor: 5/5. During lessons, all you do is learn how to play instruments. Of course, you’ll have to put those lessons to test during your essay components so it’s good to pay attention. As one friend puts it, “just Google everything.”

Grading Component: 100% Continuous Assessment | Attendance, 2000 word Essay, 500 word Reflection

Available as: UE

4. From Alchemy To Chemistry (CM8003)

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What it’s about: Learning about how Chemistry has developed over time, and being aware of the direction it is heading towards.

Fun Factor: 4/5. Despite having “Chemistry” in its title, the module is history-orientated as you’ll see how Chemistry has affected world events. An extensive knowledge of chemistry isn’t required, but will be useful.

Chill Factor: 5/5. Lectures aren’t compulsory and are more of story sessions than lessons. Since it’s a pass/fail mod, your grade won’t affect your overall GPA. That said, try not to fail as pass/fail mods are freebies for clearing your required UEs.

Grading Component: 40% Continuous Assessment (MCQs), 60% Final (MCQs & Short Answer) | Pass/Fail Module

Available as: GERPE (LS), (LA) or UE

5. Level 1 Language Modules

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What it’s about: Learn a new language and gain a deeper appreciation of a country’s culture and customs. Language mods are easy to score but finding the right one for you might be a challenge. Your interest plays a huge part in determining your final grade. Here are some tips to ease your selection process.

If you hate learning new alphabet systems, choose these modules as they utilise the Roman alphabet we’re all familiar with:

  • LF9001 – French Level 1
  • LG9001 – German Level 1
  • LI9001 – Italian Level 1 
  • LM9001 – Malay Level 1 
  • LS9001 – Spanish Level 1

For Hallyu and anime fans, take LK9001 – Korean Level 1 and LJ9001 – Japanese Level 1 respectively for a greater insight into Korea and Japan that goes beyond pop culture.

Fun Factor: 5/5. Language classes are the most interactive in all of NTU. You’ll make friends easily as you work together to brush up your grammar skills.

Chill Factor: 3/5. Although these mods are super fun, note that you might have to study harder to get an A as you’re competing with self-taught fans who will increase the bell curve.

6. Digital Lifestyle (EE8092)

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What it’s about: Learn the mechanics behind the electronic devices we use in our daily lives from cameras to game consoles and mobile phones.

Fun Factor: 3/5. The best exam question I’ve ever seen came from this mod: “Which of these is a game console?” If you’re a techie, everything here should come as second nature. But normies, don’t be deterred as lecturers are engaging despite the dry content.

Chill Factor: 4/5. Attendance isn’t taken. Lectures are available online. You basically have a free 3 hour slot in your timetable. But memory work is essential to score a good grade.

Grading Component: 50% Continuous Assessment, 50% Final | ALL MCQ

Available as: GERPE (STS) or UE

National University of Singapore (NUS)

7. Human Anatomy and Physiology 1 (AY1130)

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What it’s about: Learn how the human body works through clinical examples.

Fun Factor: 5/5. You will work on cadavers and get a first-hand look at how various body systems function. Don’t choose this module if you can’t handle dissecting dead bodies.

Chill Factor: 2/5. There is no room to be on auto-pilot as the workload is heavy with weekly lectures, tutorials AND lab sessions. As you’re dealing with Biology here, the content is heavy and requires lots of memorisation.

Grading Component: CA1: 3 Essay Questions, CA2: Objective Structured Practical Examination, Finals: 80 MCQs

8. GEH1009/GEM1050 – Framing Bollywood: Unpacking the Magic

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What it’s about: Studying of social, economic, political, and cultural issues in India through Bollywood films.

Fun Factor: 5/5. Bollywood fans have no reason to miss this as watching movies weekly counts towards a huge part of your grade – so the more movies you watch, the more you can write for finals.

Chill Factor: 4/5. Aside from watching movies, there are also weekly readings which can get technical. Tutorials consist of discussing Bollywood classics and analysing the aspects that go into making a film like soundtrack and dancing. It’s important to watch AND understand the films. Many are able to quote scenes from the movies but few are able to relate them to the topics tested.

Grading Component: 50% Continuous Assessments, 50% Finals

9. Management And Organisation (MNO1001X)


What it’s about: Learn how organisations are managed. Explore the 4 central functions of management; planning, organisation, leading and controlling.

Fun Factor: 4/5. The content is taught through interesting components like the experimental studies where you’ll be the subject of a research and team projects where you’ll use a real organisation as the subject of your case study.

Chill Factor: 4/5. Many students consider this mod’s content to be commonsensical. Tutorials are conducted every fortnight, allowing you to take things easy. A large part of your grade will depend on group work which is held throughout the sem and can’t be studied for. Be in sync with your group mates as this component has brought down grades of past groups.

Grading Component: 70% Continuous Assessments, 30% Final Test

10. Understanding The Universe (PC1322/GEK1520)

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What it’s about: Learn how astrology was developed and how space exploration has led to advancements in how we see the Universe.

Fun Factor: 4/5. Explore the vast wonders of space in the comfort of your lecture theatre. Although it’s not compulsory, you should tag along on the stargazing trip where you’ll get to see star formations.

Chill Factor: 3/5. Each component is super fun and won’t feel too much like work. For instance, in the photo assignment, students are required to capture a celestial phenomenon. Like space itself, the content for this mod is vast – even though you won’t be tested in depth. Just look out for tips during lectures and memorise your notes.

Grading Component: 100% Continuous Assessment

11. Intro to Comms & New Media (NM1101)

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What it’s about: Learn about the fundamentals of communication and how people communicate in the modern world.

Fun Factor: 3/5. As a citizen of the digital age, most of the content of this module will come naturally to you as it focuses more on new media and its related tools.

Chill Factor: 4/5. Your midterms and finals will be purely MCQ, so already, there’s less pressure. Although MCQ papers are easier to score in, the options given tend to look similar to each other so memorise every inch of your textbook and readings!

Grading Component: 55% Continuous Assessment, 45% Finals

Singapore Management University (SMU)

Note: SMU mods are mostly bidded on based on the reps of the professors. The same module can be taught by 5 different profs in one semester and have different course outlines. As such, students can choose HOW they want to learn. A Google Docs reviewing every professor exists, so ask your seniors!

Tip: This applies to every school but is especially true for SMU kids. As most of your mods rely heavily on group work projects; bid with your friends! Secure your groupmates early to increase your chances of scoring better.

12. Creative Writing (ENGL002)

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What it’s about: Learn about the various forms of fiction and how to write them. The module includes talks by Singaporean authors and field trips to bookshops and book launches.

Fun Factor: 4/5. If you love reading and writing stories, this module is for you, Relying heavily on creativity, this mod is a welcome change in pace from the standard business-geared SMU mods. You’ll also get the chance to meet local authors and learn from them.

Chill Factor: 3/5. While the grading component might seem easy, writing stories can be a daunting task for those who don’t have a flair for language. A tactic students use to score well is determining what tropes their professors love and incorporating them into their submissions.

Grading Component: 10% Class Participation, 90% Short Stories (3 writing assignments, 30% each)

13. Creative Thinking (MGMT004)

What it’s about: Understanding the concepts of creative thinking. Use them to analyse and resolve problems differently.

Fun Factor: 4/5. You are given creative freedom to submit your assignments in whatever form you like. Let your mind explore as you get to apply what you’ve learnt through mediums such as reflection journals and blog posts.

Chill Factor: 2/5. For a module that’s only half a credit, the workload is heavy. Be as creative as you can and score well in the individual assignment portion as it determines almost half your grade. Past students submitted this component in the form of short stories, vlogs, cooking tutorials and even music videos.

Grading Component: 15% Attendance and Class Participation, 40% Individual Assignments,  15% Class Projects, 30% Final Group Project

14. Advertising (MKTG205)

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What it’s about: Learn how to engage, influence and persuade target audiences through research, target analysis, media evaluation and creative development.

Fun Factor: 4/5. You’ll get to work with an ad company for your group presentation. And the top group will receive an internship and prizes from the ad agency.

Chill Factor: 2/5. Since you’ll be working with an actual client for an actual project, you can’t afford to be chill. While this might sound unnerving, think of it as gaining real-life exposure into the working world. The only component you can mug for is the midterm test which, fortunately, is an MCQ. Just read all your lecture slides and notes to ace that part.

Grading Component: 10% Class Participation, 20% Individual Presentation, 30% Midterm Test, 40% Group Presentation

15. Introduction to Arts & Cultural Management (ACM003)

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What it’s about: Learn foundational knowledge in the arts and how art interacts with society and the economy.

Fun Factor: 5/5. You’ll get to go on excursions! This is one of the few modules that take you out of the classroom so treasure it. Past batches got to visit the Journey to Infinity: Escher’s World of Wonder exhibition at the ArtScience Museum.

Chill Factor: 4/5. Classes are highly engaging, and students are encouraged to participate in discussion sessions. This is great for people who share the same passion for the arts as they get to learn from each other.

How much you must study to get an A: 2/5. Just interact in the class discussions to learn more. Some students didn’t even buy the textbook and relied solely on class notes.

Grading Component: 10% Class Attendance, 20% Class Participation, 40% Individual Journal & Group Presentation, 30% Essay

May the odds be in your favour

Now that you know the expectations of each module, bid away! Suffice to say, your grades will rely heavily on your interest and understanding of the content. Hopefully, you’re one step closer to that perfect GPA.

For all the freshies out there, you’ve just entered the final stretch of your education. Though you should give it your all, remember to stop and smell the roses along the way. Learning can be fun and there are loads of things to take away from your uni life besides good grades like friendships, networks and skills.

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