University Sophomore: Year 2 Semester 1


Hello guys! Sorry for the lack of updates. I’ve been really busy with both work and school and only managed to find time now that my finals are over.

I’ve noticed a sharp increase in unique visitors to my blog especially during NTU’s course registration period and the jump kinda scares me LOL. However I am both glad and heartened that my course reviews helped many of you one way or another. As the title suggests, this is going to be the third instalment and I’m sorry I couldn’t get this out before the registration period started. Hopefully it’ll come in handy for Add/Drop period instead!

Ever since I left my job at a tuition centre in March, I’ve been giving tuition to primary-level students while juggling freelance design assignments (P/S: I have updated my portfolio section). Hence last semester was a little bit of a struggle for me especially when one of my core modules had a test every 4-5 weeks. I am just so relieved that my first sophomore semester finally ended.

No modules were pre-allocated to me since I’m longer a freshman so I had to go into (STARS) war like everyone else and add modules (including CORE) myself. I eventually got all the modules I wanted because shopping at Love, Bonito probably trained my fingers fast enough in mouse-clicking -lol so I didn’t have to go through the painful process of the Add/Drop period. Like the previous semesters, I had a four-day week so that I can sleep in to save on transport costs. Being one who absolutely loathes written exams, I chose modules that are more project-based. Hence out of the 5 modules registered, only 2 were examinable. Of course, there were pros and cons la. One of the cons being lesser free time for myself because I’d be loaded with projects throughout the whole semester but I’d rather spend more time applying what I’ve learned to reports than memorising them for the finals which I’d definitely forget after the paper is done.

Talking about finals, I had my worst this semester not because my papers were tough but because, oh my god I NEED TO RANT, I freakin’ fell down the stairs of bus 179 which braked so suddenly (and I wasn’t in time to grab the pole), gotten the biggest bruise in my life on my thigh and was subsequently late for my first paper despite reaching school early. Thankfully I alighted after Lee Wee Nam stop so the bus wasn’t very crowded (actually if it was, I probably wouldn’t have fallen so badly) and not many witnessed the fall. It was so awful that both my shoes flung out of my feet and a good Samaritan had to retrieve my shoes for me. I arrived with a slight limp at the examination venue 15 minutes late (also partly because I couldn’t find the venue) and one of the invigilators had to niam (nag) at me for not being punctual which I pretended not to hear and walked away…….. So irritating please. People late very anxious already, you still want to nag and affect their mood even further omg. Luckily for me, despite the loss of time, I still managed to finish the paper on time.

* * *

As always, my review on the courses I took as follows. I realised most of the reviews are only applicable to WKWSCI students but if I remember correctly, some are also UEs/GER-PEs for non-WKWSCI students.

1. AAI383 Choir I (UE)

I have been dubbed the NIE girl because I register for NIE electives every semester without fail since discovering their goodness (non-examinable and no bell curve if I am not wrong) in my second semester. The upcoming semester is no exception LOL.

Like Voice, Choir requires an audition before you can be registered to the module. But unlike Voice, it would be an actual audition i.e. you have to sing (in front of other students) and you must be above-average-to-good at it. You have to be in tune with the piano and the rest of the members. So yup, if you’re intending to go for the audition, pick a song that you know you can sing well. I didn’t know I had to sing so I only decided on my song just before my turn (and I was unfortunately the first. Lol I was so amazed how brave I was). After you’re done with your song – it does not have to be the full song (I only sang the first stanza, not even the chorus) – the judge will play a note on the piano and you’re expected to sing it. My advice: don’t rush into humming the note. Take a second or two to think and decide first. If you go too sharp or too flat, then you’re out. If do well, you’re in, and then you’d be assigned a voice part – either soprano, alto (for ladies), tenor or bass (for guys) – according to how you sang. I sang pretty low-pitched so I went into Alto. Many times I wished I was in soprano because alto’s pitch could get pretty low and boring at times. But yeah, soprano’s could get really high too and the possibility of going off-tune is higher.

The downside (or upside to some) of Choir is that you need to know how to read musical notes or better yet, sight-see (bonus if you know how to play the piano) because your lecture notes will all be in musical notes. OK maybe you don’t NEED to know, but knowing it would be helpful unless you can sing by ear. Even so, there are so many different voices singing at the same time so it can be difficult to identify your voice part unless you listen really closely to the person standing beside you (and she may be wrong too lolol). Of course, the conductor would go through the song several times so alternatively, you could record the lesson on your phone and listen to it again at home.

This module is not as simple as you think it is. It prepares you for a mini concert held on the last week of the class where you’d be watched by real audiences. You would be taught about 8 songs in total and that’s not it. You are also required to form quartets (4-6 people) and sing some of these songs chosen by the assessors. So don’t have the silly thinking that you can get away lip-syncing in Choir and get a good grade. You have to sing and be heard in the quartet especially when you’re the only soprano/alto/tenor/bass there and it’d be very obvious if one voice part is missing. Those songs are not those popular and modern ones you hear on the radio so most of the time you won’t know the tune before that. Also, because you won’t have the conductor directing you in your evaluation/assessment, you have to decide on the pace/harmonise and this is very challenging in a group.

On top of singing, you’d also be taught how to warm up your voices and yes, this will be evaluated. It’s not as easy as Do-Re-Mi okay.

I enjoyed my Choir session though, even more if not for the quartet 😦

Oh, and the conductor is not the professor teaching Voice in case anybody is wondering.

2. CS0900 Communication Strategies for Sustainability and Social Change (GER-CORE)

One of the more tedious modules this semester in terms of the number of readings you have to do (the other being CS2007). Many people will be shocked to know that even though I’m a Communication Studies student, I actually dislike reading. A lot. But I will still read if required, like for this module *sigh*

As you can already tell from the module name, this class is all about saving Gaia and saving the world. It discusses case studies about the problems faced by third-world countries, some major environmental issues faced generally around the world and the strategies used to address them. No doubt it’s an interesting class but what kept us going for lectures is actually the professor – he’s so humorous and engaging in his lectures. It was also his first time taking this class full-time and trust me, he’s extremely enthusiastic. It’s so hard to fall asleep in his class unless you didn’t sleep the night before.

There is no tutorial for this class but there would be two 1.5-hour lectures in a week. In previous years CS0900 was an examinable module but thanks to Dr Rosenthal (the prof of this module), it now has no finals! Whoopeee!! In exchange for that though, there would be 3 (MCQ) tests across the semester each weighing 20%. I didn’t do well at all for all of them so I’m depending on my group project which weighs 40% to give me a decent grade. For group project, you can either do a video or an interactive website featuring one of the strategies discussed in lecture. For mine, I did the latter 🙂 If I can find a web host, I’d upload and post it up here.

3. CS2007 Communication History and Theories (CORE)

Just by looking at the module name is enough to make you sleepy and indeed, there wasn’t a lesson which I would not doze off to. The lesson was pretty dry with many terminologies to remember and it’s not uncommon to have the lecture hall only 1/4 occupied – I’m serious! And there isn’t any lecture recordings for this course (actually almost every CS modules I know of do not have recordings) The only time, I swear, when the the class received almost-full attendance was when we had our mid-term test. It also didn’t help when both lectures were held at 9am. The prof was kinda boring too but that’s just my opinion because I know people who found him interesting.

The only thing I regret doing for CS2007 was buying the textbook. It’s so ridiculously expensive and bulky. There is actually a soft copy version floating around the net so please don’t waste money on a book which you’d only use for 12 weeks or less.

Like CS0900, reading the required text is essential, not only because it will be tested in the final paper but also because you wouldn’t understand a single thing on the lecture notes.

I’d have to admit, though, that after reading the textbook, some communication theories appear to be interesting. I especially love the one on Genderlect by Deborah Tannen. But on the whole, the textbook is just a platform for communication theorists to argue against one another and hopefully make a name for themselves for something (i.e. theories) we don’t need to know. (Ok I’m just being biased here because I’m not a fan of theories to begin with)

This module comes with, as mentioned, a mid term test of 30% weightage, a term paper of 20% (which the entire cohort did VERY badly in general. Some even failed like whaddahell how can you fail a midterm paper? The effort and all.. down the drain) and a final exam of 50%. You do not have the luxury of choosing your own group mates for the term paper because according to one of the theories we learned, “you work better with people you’re not familiar with” -_- So yeah, I didn’t know who my group members were at all until one of them added me on Facebook. It was a rather hilarious sight to see members in other groups describing to one another what they were wearing and where they were sitting prior to their first meeting hahaha.

Also, don’t bother getting notes from your seniors in the cohort before mine (12/13) because it’s a totally different syllabus now. We had nothing to practise on for our finals because past year papers were all tested on the now-defunct syllabus -_-

4. CS2025 Image and Sound Production (Major-PE)

The MOST physically tedious module because all its assignments involves filming. This is one of the modules I had to take if I were to go on Advertising track and probably the last production module I’d ever take in NTU. The good thing about this module is that it has no exams at all (but there are 2 tests and they are NOT easy). YAY I’d do ANYTHING to have the final exams scrapped. Lol.

It’s pretty ironic that the prerequisite of this module is CS2006 (another CORE production module taken in year 1) which I presume is supposed to give you a head start on filming and teach you all the technicalities of film-making and editing but I actually learnt nothing much from there. Almost every lecture towards the end of the semester for 2006 was just additional time to edit your footages but in 2025, every tutorial is an extension of the lecture and you’d definitely be doing hands-on activities like sound recording and lighting. I feel that 2025 is a better option if you’re really interested in film-making. 2006 is really a waste of time as compared to this.

The course is assessed by 2-minute dramatic narrative silent film (15%), a 30-second TVC (20%), a 5-min short film with written report (30%), class participation (10%) and test and quizzes (25%). It seems like a rather heavy module but strangely I didn’t really feel any pressure. Luckily for me, I was still able to find time to shoot amidst my hectic work schedule and my group members were also very accommodating. Probably I didn’t feel stressed out because everyone was very cooperative and all of us know our roles and responsibilities well. No one in the group was a freeloader *phew* and I’m extremely thankful for that. We forged close bonds after being through so much and surprisingly we never had any disagreement on set. From getting cast, approval to shoot at public areas and props all at the very last minute, I’m so glad we managed to pull through!

I was mainly the editor and director for the videos. I enjoyed being the editor more though because I like to work on software. Here are our work:

Assignment 1: Silent narrative film

Basically a film that has no dialogues because we’re not allowed to have any. I racked my brains for a concept and we only decided on this on the week before submission (prior to that we had 2 other ideas which I though were quite difficult to execute). We are the last minute champions man. This video stars Andrew and Amanda, our resident actor and actress (you’ll know why later) and other supporting actor and actress. They may not see this but I am very grateful for their help. They were more than willing to make a trip down again for a reshoot when asked to. Plus, they acted really well so do engage them if you have any acting gigs okay.

Assignment 2: TVC for Health Promotion Board

This assignment is a collaboration with Health Promotion Board to promote early (proper) sex education. The board will pick the best 3 and reward them prizes so it’s kind of like a competition as well. We didn’t really bother about the prize and only picked the concept (by students from another module. Our job was just to execute it) that we thought was the easiest to work on. Surprisingly this idea wasn’t very popular and only 2 groups (including mine) chose it.

The main actress was my group member, Sheena’s friend. She looks like a secondary school girl right? But she’s actually in JC now. Sheena is like the lobang queen for actors in the group. Andrew and Amanda were also sourced by her. And best, all of them is can act one la!

We had a hard time getting that drop of tear at 00:18-19. We tried putting eye drops but too much of it can be bad for the eyes so we made her sit in front on a moving fan with her eyes wide open LOL. But nothing happened to her except her eyes turned extremely dry so we resorted to wetting her eyelids. I can’t remember how many attempts it took to create that tear but it sure took us a long time! I felt so bad making her go through all these. She was very nice about it though.

As for the pregnancy test kit, no one dared to purchase it over the counter lor -_- So the fearless me had to get it alone… at Changi Airport HAHAHA. I got it while waiting for boyfriend’s plane to touch down. And after we used the kit, nobody wanted to keep it in case of reshoots because there were already 2 red lines drawn on the test strip (for the unaware, it signifies PREGNANT). Everyone had the same concern of being questioned if anyone at home sees it. So guess who brought it home? -_- I’m not very good in hiding stuff so I really hope no one chanced upon it while I was out. LOL!

Our video was first runner-up in the competition! We were pleasantly surprised. Like, finally some recognition in our work. We’re like a *cough* diamond *cough* in the rough waiting to be discovered. 😛

Assignment 3: Short film

Our best production out of the 3 but sadly the one with the lowest mark 😦 We love this because of the morbid storyline. For this assignment we are allowed to come up with our own plot.. but there’s a catch. We’d have to incorporate items provided by another group in our video (and we’d provide items to another group too. My pregnancy kit was still lying around in my room and I thought it would be a waste if I threw it away 😛 So yeah, you know what happened to it). Items we got were a wet wipe (which was already dry by the time we received it), a polaroid picture, a colourful hair tie, an envelope with a “Lorem Ipsum” letter in it and a packet of water. Can you spot any of these in our video?

This was shot at numerous locations with approval at the very last minute as well and we didn’t expect to be given green light to shoot at an actual funeral parlour (Singapore Funeral Services), cemetery (Ying Fo Fui Kun Memorial) and a doctor’s clinic (NTU Medical Centre). SFS was really kind to assist us if we needed any help. We asked for their company shirt and they loaned us without hesitation. THEY WERE REALLY NICE AND SUPPORTIVE BEYOND BELIEF 🙂

All in all, it has been a good experience working with new people. We must really thank our lucky stars for the smooth-sailing filming process despite being super late minute. It was very risky and this video wouldn’t be possible if the locations weren’t secured. So everyone, please do not follow in our footsteps.

Back to the module, one thing I dislike about it is that we had to critique every group’s video and then grade them. Although the grades students gave would not affect the actual marks given by the instructor, I feel that by doing so only sows discord among groups. Sometimes I feel that the grade we received from another group wasn’t justified as we had previously given negative criticisms for their video. I’m probably being overly sensitive here but I really wondered at times if they were just out to get back at us. It might not be the case but I believe things like that is inevitable? I also did feel that some feedback were a little biased to begin with.. No doubt, there are students who are really good in film making but I think it’s really unfair to assume that their videos are perfect before even looking at them. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me and I just feel that this critique session is flawed. I am perfectly fine with giving comments but grading is really unnecessary. It lowers morale sometimes especially when you receive marks as average as 70 while others receive crazily-high scores like 95. And these videos are really, in my opinion, not exceptionally good. -_- Like seriously man, 会不会有一点太夸张?

But anyway, the above is just my thoughts so please don’t take offense to that. I’ve got to admit though, that through this module, I realised that there’s a huge disparity in preference between me, the class and the instructor. What I like may not be what they like and vice-versa. Take the HPB TVC for example. I really didn’t like the concept and it’s actually my least favourite video. But guess what? My instructor loved it and it even bagged an award LOL. #okaycan

5. LM9001 Malay Language I (UE)

My timetable is never complete without a foreign language. I stopped taking up Spanish because the timeslot was really unsuitable for me and I think it will go on like this for a long time (because Spanish level 3 is not that high in demand so they put it at the least popular timeslots).

I chose Malay because it’s easier to learn and it is also applicable to Singapore and Malaysia (supper paradise). However what I learnt was formal Malay and not the colloquial Malay we use among friends. Jadi saya tak bercakap dengan kawan-kawan saya 😦

If you’re looking to take up a foreign language which does not consume much of your time, I’d recommend Malay because from week 1 to week 11, there wouldn’t be much to do except for self-revision. The tests only start coming in from week 12 (yes, the final teaching week). There’d be homework given occasionally but they aren’t very difficult to do (plus it’s not graded).

Since you’re in Singapore, you can practise by conversing with your muslim friends in Malay. I started eavesdropping on makciks‘ conversations ever since I took the language LOL. After all, being Singaporeans, we never form proper sentences when speaking so you should be able to understand a little even at level 1. 😛

Like Spanish, I enjoyed my Bahasa Melayu classes a lot. My classmates were a funny lot, always cracking jokes in class and making everyone else laugh with their silly comments. My cikgu would also play along and laugh together with us.

The exam structure for Malay is somewhat similar to our primary/secondary school English exam – reading aloud, conversation, listening comprehension, written exam and short composition. There would be a written test (with oral) before the finals which carries 50%. The remaining weightage would then come from the final paper. Don’t be alarmed by the composition. It only requires a minimum of 50 words for goodness sake! And I believe Malay is the only language to have English translation for the composition topic.

If you have time to study every week, an A+ shouldn’t be difficult to obtain. Even if you don’t, a B+ is not unachievable too.

Okay that’s about it from me for this semester. Hope I’m not too long-winded. Did it help? As always, let me know in the comments below if you have any questions! Alternatively, you can ask me through my formspring. It’s getting a little too quiet there so make some noise for me please. 😛

‘Til next time!

Read also:
University Senior: Year 4 Semester 1 & 2
University Junior: Year 3 Semester 1
University Sophomore: Year 2 Semester 2
University Freshman: Year 1 Semester 2
University Freshman: Year 1 Semester 1

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7 thoughts on “University Sophomore: Year 2 Semester 1

  1. thanks for the reviews! nice blog too. 🙂 Is the image and sound production mod available to other majors? At one point I have considered taking choir too but I guess bass parts are damn boring to sing so I decided against it. but just wondering how difficult is it to get A in mods like choir? I get the sudden spike thing quite abit too during course registration period. haha it made me go “omg, yeah, that’s so true” while reading your post. haha.

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  2. You’re welcome! I dont think image & sound production is available for other majors though. I do know that its prerequisite (CS2006) is available for comms minor. It’s not impossible to score A for choir but i wouldnt say its easy. You need to have very musically-talented group members coupled with a good voice. Haha high 5 then! The increase in readers is really alarming haha

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  3. Hi, may I know what are the components tested for finals in LM9001 (Malay Language Level 1)? Are we required to write long essays for finals? 🙂

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  4. Hey Cath,

    The components are similar to that of upper primary English exam paper haha. You’ll get a few MCQ vocab/grammar questions, cloze passage, open-ended but easy comprehension and graphic stimulus (answer questions based on the picture provided, usually an advertisement or a poster).

    Yes there’d be an essay as well but you only need to write a minimum of 50 words which you can easily hit 🙂

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  5. Hey! Would you mind asking what grade you got for Malay and do you know the average grading your classmates got? And did you join the class alone or with friends? Since with friends it seems like it’ll be good to practice the Malay together.

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  6. Hi Jun! I went alone 🙂 i feel that being with friends would sometimes hinder your learning progress. don’t be afraid to go alone coz there will def be people like you in class.

    I got a B+ coz I only had time to study the day before the paper. I think the average should be around B+ as well. It’s not impossible to get an A if you have time to revise. Take it if you can!

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