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Common modules, various subject combinations for first cohort at new NUS College of Humanities and Sciences in 2021

SINGAPORE — More than two months after unveiling plans to start a new interdisciplinary college, the National University of Singapore (NUS) has laid out details for the inaugural cohort of students enrolling in its new College of Humanities and Sciences next year.

Common modules, various subject combinations for first cohort at new NUS College of Humanities and Sciences in 2021

Students enrolled in the National University of Singapore’s new College of Humanities and Sciences must do a common set of 13 modules that will make up a third of their curriculum.

  • NUS launched its new College of Humanities and Sciences on Dec 8
  • The first batch of students enrolling in 2021 may take up modules from both the science and arts faculties 
  • Thirteen common modules will form a third of their curriculum
  • They may then pursue a variety of major and minor combinations across the two faculties

 

SINGAPORE — More than two months after unveiling plans to start a new interdisciplinary college, the National University of Singapore (NUS) has laid out details for the inaugural cohort of students enrolling in its new College of Humanities and Sciences next year. 

Students enrolling in the next academic year, which begins in August 2021, will undergo a common curriculum, the varsity said at the college’s launch on Tuesday (Dec 8). 

Its students will be allowed to take modules from both its Faculty of Science and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

They will also require fewer credits to fulfil the requirements for a major, making it easier to pursue double majors or a double degree.  

The new college is part of NUS’ push for interdisciplinary learning. In September, university president Tan Eng Chye said in an opinion piece for The Straits Times that NUS must “radically transform itself” as students would be graduating into a world of “wicked problems” that are ill-defined and mutate all the time.

Speaking at Tuesday’s launch, Professor Tan said that the new NUS college would equip students to “meet the challenges of the uncertain, volatile and globally connected world”.

He added that students from other faculties would also be able to reap the benefits of interdisciplinary studies as part of other initiatives that will be announced next year. He did not elaborate.

WHAT STUDENTS CAN EXPECT

From next year, students will be enrolled directly into the College of Humanities and Sciences, instead of the two faculties.

The college will take in 2,100 students as part of its first intake. 

Those who are doing National Service and have already been accepted into either faculty will automatically be enrolled in the new college.

Students must take 13 common modules, which will form a third of their curriculum.

These modules comprise five new integrated modules, such as scientific inquiry and Asian studies; six general education modules, including computational thinking and writing; as well as two interdisciplinary modules of a student’s choice focusing on key issues such as climate change and urbanisation. 

On top of the common modules, students may pursue three educational paths featuring various major and minor combinations: 

  • They can go down the “versatilists” path, where they pursue one major comprising 15 modules (37 per cent of their curriculum), followed by unrestricted electives for the rest of their undergraduate studies

  • The second option is an “integrator” path, where they pursue two majors composed of 25 modules (62 per cent of their curriculum). Such combinations could include data science and analytics from the Faculty of Science and sociology from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

  • Or they may pursue the “deep specialist” path, where they take up a single major after completing the common curriculum

Their four-year studies will culminate in one of three honours bachelor’s degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Social Sciences or Bachelor of Science. 

Professor Robbie Goh, co-dean of the new college, said that the entry requirements would be the same as those used for enrolment into the two faculties in the past. 

Enrolment numbers will not be restricted and will correspond with the intakes of both faculties, after accounting for falling birth rates, Prof Goh added. He is also dean of NUS’ Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

The combined enrolment for both faculties has, on average, been about 2,400 yearly. 

The other co-dean of the new college is Professor Sun Yeneng, dean of the Faculty of Science.

Right now, major requirements comprise about half or more of a student's curriculum, or about 19 modules. 

Explaining how lowering the credit requirement would encourage students to pursue another major, Prof Tan said that NUS students can already take an extra major from their faculty or a different faculty. But they have little “maneuvering space” within the curriculum because the present major requirements are “hefty”.

At present, only 15 per cent of graduates from both faculties complete at least a minor, second major or double degree. 

Prof Tan hopes that 40 to 50 per cent of students from the new college can do double majors.

During a panel discussion at Tuesday’s launch, Mr Ye Gang, co-founder and group chief operating officer of internet company Sea, said that his decision to pursue a minor in psychology alongside his major in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in the United States helped him transit from his role as Sea’s chief technology officer, where he oversaw programming, to his present role, which is more managerial and focused on business.

Sea runs online game developer Garena and e-commerce site Shopee.

Mr Ye said that students at the new NUS college would gain from the curated curriculum, which would help them draw links between subjects of different fields.

“If I had that opportunity, I would have appreciated it a lot.”

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NUS College of Humanities and Sciences curriculum interdisciplinary college

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