Module review (AY13/14 Sem 1)

I’ve been wanting to do a module review for awhile now but I’ve kept putting it off cause I’m really lazy :P Haha I’ve finally gotten around to writing it, and though it may be a bit late, I hope it benefits you guys! (:

Note: This is based on what I can remember/the circumstances in which I took the modules, so it may not be completely accurate for you.

Quick jump: IS1103, CS3246, CS3283, CS4243, CS4249, NM2203.

IS1103 – Computing and Society

Overview/Workload: Ethics mod, very light especially for a year 3.

Teaching style/lecturer: 3h sectional teaching group every week. However, aside from the first couple of weeks, most of the other sectionals are split into 2 groups of 1h 30min, and you only need to go for yours. The sectionals are seminar style, where learning takes place through discussion. The 2 profs, Irene Woon and Anand Ramchand, were both really really nice! Just that sometimes prof Anand forgets to upload stuff (not that I download them anyway OOPS).

Notes/textbook: 1 page handouts are given out during most of the sectionals. However, they are pretty bare, and almost all the content comes from the class discussion. I didn’t really take a lot of notes though, since most of it was common sense/application. The textbook used was Ethics For the Information Age by Michael J. Quinn. I strongly recommend not buying the book (or at least get 2nd hand); just download the softcopy. It’s good to read I guess, though I gave up after getting to the part on the different ethical theories lol.

Grading:

  1. Final exam (open book) – 40%
    2h (too much time!), consists of MCQ and open ended questions. I found the final exam really easy, and some of the MCQ questions/options were hilarious! “What is the Great Firewall of China? a) A tourist attraction” LOL. Also, even though it’s open book, I didn’t refer to any of my notes. For the open ended application questions there’s no right or wrong answer as long as you can argue using any ethical theory. I only used Kantianism, Act and Rule Utilitarianism for the entire paper.
  2. Group assignment – 30%
    Form a group of 4-5 and write a report based on a particular theme (my group did cyber warfare). Each person does a ~5 page case study on an incident which falls into your chosen theme (I did Stuxnet), and as a group analyse the ethical dilemas/similarities and differences of each case. My group did mostly individual work though, only the intro was discussed as a group.
  3. Class discussion – 10%
    This is important! As mentioned previously, this is where the bulk of the learning takes place. It’s also free marks cause all you need to do is 1. give your opinion 2. discuss as a group and *try* to come to a consensus. I found this the most fun part of the module haha, in part due to how much my group contributed to the chaos vibrancy of the class :P
  4. Individual writing – 10%
    There were 2 identical in class writing assignments, 1 given at the start of the sem when most people (except those who took KI/philo before) knew nuts about ethical theories, and 1 at the end of the sem to see how our ethical reasoning changed. We were given about 15min for each of them, so most of the freshies wrote 1 entire page (CRAZY), while I spent 5min writing 1 short para lol.
  5. Individual Presentation – 10%
    This was fun! Haha we had to do it Ignite style (5min with 20 slides, each slide auto advances after 15s), with a maximum of 7 words per slide. Each person gets a different topic and I was the first to present in the entire class, on the second week before the sectional was split into 2 groups. The profs were nice enough to ask us (the seniors) if we wanted to go first (and set a high bar :P) before our other mods got heavy.

My verdict: easy, fun, and pretty slack. I really enjoyed this mod! Sorry to the year 1 who grouped with us though, he did quite a lot of stuff cause us seniors were headache-ing over other crazier mods >< Also, bell curve for this mod is very steep. My friend forgot to submit a 5% assignment and his marks dropped by 3 grades (he verified this with the prof)!

My grade: A+ yay!

Quick jump: IS1103, CS3246, CS3283, CS4243, CS4249, NM2203.

CS3246 – Multimedia Content Analysis and Search

Overview/workload: Interesting mod on text and image search, and image and video compression (my fav!). YOU NEED TO BE GOOD AT CODING FOR THIS MOD, or group with somebody who is (and keep apologising for being useless like me T.T). Workload-wise it’s the complete opposite of IS1103; probably the heaviest mod I’ve taken in NUS so far.

Teaching style/lecturer: 2h lecture and 1h tutorial every week. Prof Chua Tat Seng is a smiley and understanding guy – he kept giving us extensions (we couldn’t cope), but severely underestimated the time/effort needed for the assignments. For the second one, he actually said all we needed was 1 weekend, when even Eugene spent many days coding almost non stop for it! Tutorials are taken by either him or some China tutor (forgot her name). Not that I’m discriminating, but the tutor was useless as she just talked to the whiteboard and couldn’t answer a lot of our questions. It was so bad that the attendance shrank from >15 students to just us 4 friends -.- try to do your tutorials though, as some of the questions require research and help greatly for exams.

Notes/textbook: Softcopy slides are uploaded every week. Most of the important stuff are already in there, but some of it (especially the notations) can be a bit difficult to understand, so try to go for lectures. The textbook was Fundamentals of Multimedia by Ze-Nian Li and Mark S. Drew, which I only just found out while writing this cause we never touched it at all lol.

Grading:

  1. Midterm (open book) – 25%
  2. 1h (I think), open ended questions, held the week after Recess Week. I can’t really remember much about this except that it wasn’t as hard as I expected it to be. Scored above average for this paper (:

  3. Final exam (open book) – 40%
    2h, open ended questions. The mark allocation for this paper is INSANE, and it’s written in terms of % of the module’s grades instead of marks. There were about 4 or 5 questions with multiple parts, and each parts required a number of points. For example, there was a part of a question for 1% which required 6 points for the full answer. So that means each point is 0.167% of the module -.- There was nowhere near enough time for the paper (how to when you’ve questions like outline an algo for a text based search engine), and I wasn’t smart enough to read the entire paper first and choose the faster ones to do ): This paper was easier than expected as well.
  4. Programming assignments – 34% (8% + 10% + 16%)
    1 word: CRAZY. The weightage totally doesn’t do justice to the amount of time/effort put in. I mean like, 8% to build a text based search engine, 10% to build an image based search engine, and 16% to build an app based on image search? Plus, each assignment includes a report with details of our product and the results of a *few thousand* tests, a Powerpoint summary, and a presentation. The good thing is that you really learn a lot, and the grading criteria is released so you decide your own score. The last assignment is part of STePS, so a nice UI and business value is important! My group did Search-a-gram, an Instagram based search engine, and we won first prize! $200 Fairprice vouchers (: skeleton code for the first 2 assignments were given in Java, but you’re allowed to use any language. *C++ is a million times faster and has OpenCV*
  5. Class participation – 1%
  6. YES 1%. This and the terrible tutor (sorry) were why most of our tutorial group stopped attending classes. I’m not sure how many questions you need to answer, but the mark allocation for this mod is quite crazy as you already know.

My verdict: not for the faint hearted. While you do learn a lot, you also lose a lot of sleep. As much as I enjoyed the stuff I learnt (I almost always do), I wouldn’t suggest taking this mod unless you have the time and want a challenge. Search is a specialised area, so you’ll do fine without it

My grade: B+. I was quite surprised!

Quick jump: IS1103, CS3246, CS3283, CS4243, CS4249, NM2203.

CS3283 – Media Technology Project I

Overview/workload: Better known as the CM 8MC mod, where you (and your group of 4-5) gets to choose a media related project to work on from start to end. In the first sem, it’s mostly just planning/designing/prototyping; the real coding is in CS3284. It’s relatively light for such an important 3k core mod; just remember to keep track of the deadlines as a group, as they give it to you at the start of the sem and don’t remind you.

Teaching style/lecturer: They decided to add a 2h lecture last sem, which I honestly think is quite useless =x The mod is pretty much independent group work, so remember to meet up with your supervisor to ensure that you guys are on the right track (or your grades will suffer like ours did T.T). Lectures are combined with CS3281, and there’s a guest speaker every week. Apparently the prof in charge is Leow Wee Kheng, and you rarely hear me saying this, but I don’t really like him (sorry). His instructions are unclear (“Technical Focus: Text explanation of the design of the technical focus. For a game project, techncal focus is game.” The heck??), talks wayyyy too much (even the other profs get annoyed) and doesn’t update the students (the worst was when lecture got shifted to another day and he didn’t update the website or tell anybody till I emailed to ask -.- yes, the new slot did clash with other classes for some people). He doesn’t seem to know how to read UML diagrams; when he realised we could defend against what he was (wrongly) saying, he resorted to calling UML diagrams useless. Seriously.

Notes/textbook: Notes may or may not be given out by whoever’s lecturing. No textbook (:

Grading:

As mentioned above, the instructions are really not clear for this mod, so here are 2 different breakdowns which we were given in the same document lol. The 1st breakdown:

  1. Critiques – 20%
    There are 2 critiques, I’m not sure how they do the mark allocation, cause the highest marks for both Critique 1 and 2 was 14, so that’s 28 marks in total? Lowest was 8 which quite a few groups got. The 1st critique is on the requirements analysis of another group in class, while the 2nd is on the system architecture of a past year’s project.
  2. Peer reviews – 10%
    2 peer reviews also, the 1st on user and system requirements, the 2nd on project planning and scheduling. Try as I might, I really can’t remember this part at all ._.
  3. Project Development – 70%
    I guess this comprises all the documents in our 2 submissions (requirements documentation; revised requirements documentation, design documentation, evaluation report, project report), and 1 final presentation, all of which consist of multiple parts.

The 2nd breakdown:

  1. User & system requirements – 15%
  2. Design of system w.r.t. project specific technical focus – 25%
  3. Design of system architecture & UI – 25%
  4. Design verification and usability evaluation – 25%
  5. Project documentation – 10%
  6. Project management – 5%
  7. Presentation – 5%

My verdict: It’s a compulsory mod. The real work starts this upcoming sem. Can’t say I’ve learnt much for this mod, and given the choice, I wouldn’t take any mod under prof Leow (sorry).

My grade: B+. The bell curve for ths mod was steeper than expected, and we weren’t on the same page as our sup ):

Quick jump: IS1103, CS3246, CS3283, CS4243, CS4249, NM2203.

CS4243 – Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition

Overview/workload: problem: computers have no eyes. Solution: teach them how to “see” in terms of linear algebra. YOU NEED TO BE GOOD AT LINEAR ALGEBRA TO UNDERSTAND THIS MOD!! Workload is lighter than expected for a 4k mod, provided you don’t choose to relearn all your linear algebra (then it’s bad).

Teaching style/lecturer: 2h lecture every week and 5 or 6 2h lab sessions. Lectures are a must (at least for me), cause the maths look like a foreign language T.T The OpenCV library is used with Python, which is fairly easy to pick up. Prof Ng Teck Khim (who also happens to be my 8MC sup!) is super nice, and he keeps saying if we don’t understand it it’s his fault lol. He’s damn cute, keep repeating phrases subconsciously and gets distracted easily haha. He focuses on the understanding instead of the maths, so always asks if everybody understands and doesn’t mind explaining again (and again and again, much to the smart people’s annoyance), and started a help session for those who were struggling (:

Notes/textbook: Lecture notes uploaded at the start of the sem but keep getting updated up till that chapter is done so printing everything at the start of the year is a bad idea. And as much as you may prefer to read your notes from the com like me, it’s difficult to write maths stuff on the com, and the exam is open book anyway. I can’t remember if there’s a textbook, but I’ve the ebook Programming Computer Vision with Python by Jan Erik Solem in my Dropbox so… Haha.

Grading:

He said he was reducing the assignment weightage but I’ve no idea if mine is the updated one or not.

  1. Labs – 15%
    5 labs in total. The lab sheets are pretty straightforward, he guides you step by step through everything. Just take note which version of OpenCV/(especially) Python you’re using or you’ll get a lot of syntax errors. Also, he’s fine with you doing the labs at home and going there just to submit (:
  2. Assignment – 10%
    This one was a bit scary cause it was so easy ._. 10% for just printing out maths stuff (eigenvalues, rank, etc.) with NumPy! This was given over E-learning week (or was it Recess?), so remember to submit it!
  3. Group project – 35%
    Group of 4, choose from 4 different projects. My group did panorama image stitching, which was the most popular option. The grading criteria for this was… See whose image looks nicer lor. I’M SERIOUS! He lets us set our own scope! My group started out super late, a few days before the deadline (please don’t do this!), so we couldn’t really do much except translate existing C++ code of image stitching to Python. Prof Ng is perfectly fine with this (told you he’s nice!), as long as you can understand the code and explain it during the presentation.
  4. Final exam (open book) – 40%
    I died. It was insanely difficult, the worst exam I sat for in my entire life. I think I was only able to do around 25 marks? Also, since this was prof Ng’s 1st time taking this mod (which had a change in syllabus) and there are no tutorials, nobody knew what was coming out. The past year papers were totally not helpful at all; I could actually do most of them but when I opened this exam paper… ):

My verdict: very tough mod which I took as a pre-req for CS4340. Would have taken CS4247 instead if it was offered in sem 1 ): I got pretty discouraged cause of this mod (I cried more than once ><), especially when you see your friends not listening in class and yet understanding everything. Also, there are Master's and PhD students, so lectures are in the evening.

My grade: B. Lowest grade this sem, but still much better than expected (I got C+ for linear algebra)! God’s grace :D

Quick jump: IS1103, CS3246, CS3283, CS4243, CS4249, NM2203.

CS4249 – Phenomena and Theories of Human Computer Interaction

Overview/workload: more in depth HCI stuff. If you enjoyed CS3240, I’d suggest taking this as one of your 4k mods (: workload is manageable.

Teaching style/lecturer: 3h seminar style lecture every week. SO HARD TO WAKE UP FOR 9AM LESSON, and prof Shendong Zhao records attendance/late coming! Not that I’d skip this lecture, cause I really enjoyed this mod (: Prof Zhao is nice but strict, and he has a lot of really cool HCI projects (like Vignette) under his name! He’s not always clear with his instructions though (this seems to be an HCI prof thing =x), and under estimated the complexity of the code for 1 of our assignments (which pissed a lot of people off and made them hate the mod).

Notes/textbook: pre-lecture slides were only uploaded before the lecture when we complained about it haha. He uploads an updated copy based on what we covered and with answers to the in class questions after each lecture, and I think there’s no need to print notes. There’s no textbook as far as I know, but he did give us a couple of readings which I didn’t bother with haha.

Grading:

  1. Assignments – 50% (25% + 25%)
  2. The 1st was to analyse 2 timetable builders based on Fitt’s Law, KLM and Cogtools. It’s partly individual work and partly pair work, and you guys need to present your findings to the class after the deadline of the project. The 2nd assignment is on experimental design and analysis of AutoComPaste. It would have been a pretty fun assignment if not for the terrible code we were given by the TA, which resulted in the prof having to extend the deadline twice cause it was just so bad and incomprehensible. You need to design and carry out an experiment, and since users are very unpredictable, I strongly suggest not faking your results. You’ll learn much more that way too.

  3. Class and workshop participation – 10%
  4. Higher than most other CS mods, but I think it’s free marks :D As mentioned above, there are in class questions in the lecture notes, for which he first asks for volunteers, before starting to arrow people. The questions are all very straight forward thought, and you shouldn’t have any trouble answering them if you paid attention. There’s also a panel discussion during one of the weeks, where HCI people from the industry are invited down. Prof Zhao had a great idea of us smsing in our questions, so there was no reason to be afraid of appearing stupid or anything (: Just sms him a question to get your marks :D

  5. In class quizzes (closed book) – 10% (5% + 5%)
  6. 5 questions for 5 marks, 15 minutes to complete. The 1st quiz is on the 1st half of the mod, the 2nd quiz on the 2nd half. Some of the questions can be a bit tricky, but other than that the questions are pretty doable. Time is also kinda tight.

  7. Final exam (1 A4 cheat sheet) – 30%
  8. 2h paper with 20 MCQs and 8 short and long answer questions. The exam for this was really easy and I actually enjoyed doing it haha :P You should have more than enough time to complete this paper if it remains at this standard (:

  9. EXTRA CREDIT – up to 2.5%
  10. There were 3 HCI experiments done by the research labs and they needed participants, so prof Zhao gives you an extra 0.5% for each one you take part in. Each experiment takes around 45-90min, and I think it’s good to experience how this is done, since you need to carry out your own experiments for Assignment 2. We were also invited to submit possible exam questions and answers. “Depending on the quality of the question, you will receive 0.5% if it is reasonable and the answer is correct or 1% if the question is not only reasonable, but also a good example of testing the understanding (instead of memorizing) of the course material.”

My verdict: really interesting mod! I would love for more mods to have this style of teaching (seminar style lectures only, higher project weightage compared to exam, high class participation) actually, cause I learn best this way. Bell curve is steep, so try to do the extra credit stuff (I did all, but not sure if my exam question was good or not). Also, there are Master’s students in the class.

My grade: A-

Quick jump: IS1103, CS3246, CS3283, CS4243, CS4249, NM2203.

NM2203 – Social Media in Communication Management

Overview/workload: new mod about advertising on social media platforms. Less fluff than I expected, but still fluffy compared to CS mods. Workload is pretty light if you don’t do the weekly readings like me. I tried to do them k (at the end of the mod lol)! Just that I kept falling asleep so I gave up after the 4th week’s readings. On hindsight, I shouldn’t have bothered cause they didn’t help at all during the final exam -.-

Teaching style/lecturer: 2h lecture and 1h tutorial each week. The lecturer was Tracy Loh, and some of the students complained that she taught/spoke too fast. One even said he typed very fast, yet still couldn’t keep up with what she said LOL. I found that pretty funny cause I don’t type fast and I didn’t think she was going fast! Lectures are quite interesting as she shows a lot of videos. The tutor was Rosalie, she’s quite nice and can’t believe we don’t need to write essays in computing LOL. She doesn’t give comments when she marks the tutorials though, so if you want to know why your 2 pages of text has just 1 tick and a 6/10, you need to ask her.

Notes/textbook: notes uploaded each week, and apparently they’re just the skeleton; the meat is in the readings. Personally I think the readings are useless and you’ll do fine as long as you go for lectures and take notes. Readings are uploaded at the start of the sem I think, not too sure cause I only downloaded them at the end of the sem haha. Textbook is Social Media Marketing by Tuten, T. & Solomon, M. (2013), and some of the tutorial questions (and readings) are based on passages in it, but the stupid book cost over $100 and was too new for me to find the ebook -.- you can photocopy the required pages from the library’s copy, or wait for your friends to do it and ask them to send it to you like what I did haha.

Grading:

  1. Individual assignment – 20%
  2. 2 open ended questions similar to those in the tutorials, but require a lot more research. I did quite badly for this, cause apparently I missed the point of the questions ):

  3. Group project – 30%
  4. This was really fun to do! Basically, you and 4 other people come up with a social media campaign for a company of your choice. My group chose Bata, and I was in charge of the creatives and the design/compilation of all documents for submission. Haha something funny was that after the final presentation, one of my tutorial mates asked what program I used to do the slides, and I was like it’s just PowerPoint! Hahaha animation hacking FTW :D Here’s a random mockup of one of our videos (badly done IMO, but my group loved it).

  5. Peer review – 5%
  6. Yes you get 5% just for doing a peer review! Don’t be an idiot like me and forget to do it lol. Luckily for me, a lot of other people also forgot so they had to reopen it haha. Just that for some reason I still couldn’t access it, so had to email Rosalie back and forth before she finally discovered the issue on her side.

  7. Class participation – 15%
  8. Comprises of tutorial submission/participation and forum participation. Tutorial participation was super easy, cause for once I actually did my tutorials, since they have to be submitted. As the only computing student in that tutorial, my opinions were usually very different from the rest of the class haha. “What is Web 2.0?” “Bullshit.” *stares all around* LOL.

  9. Final exam (closed book) – 30%
  10. 2h paper with MCQs, short answers (choose a few) and essays (choose 1 I think). Surprisingly it wasn’t too difficult, though the time was a bit tight. Probably cause I write really slow and am totally not used to it haha. This was my last paper so I was already in the party mood when I entered the exam hall haha.

My verdict: fun mod, aside from the readings. I enjoyed the videos during the lectures and the group project the most. Oh and a lot of arts but very few SoC students try to bid for this mod, so get it before Round 3 at 1 point! I made an impromptu decision to take this mod during Round 3 so used 700+ points on it haha. I’ve too many points to spare anyway :P

My grade: B+

Quick jump: IS1103, CS3246, CS3283, CS4243, CS4249, NM2203.

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And that’s the end of this super long and wordy and pictureless post! Haha took a few hours to type everything out so I really hope it helps you guys! (:

♥ sarrie

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4 thoughts on “Module review (AY13/14 Sem 1)

  1. Hi,
    This is random but…
    Prof Ng Teck Khim is really nice!
    I can vouch for that! =D
    I took a module under him last semester and he was super patient in explaining the concepts for the weaker students.

    Like

  2. Hi Sarah,

    I’m Yang Shun from NUSMods and I came across your site while searching for module reviews. NUSMods has just added a reviews section for modules and is actively gathering quality module review content.

    Hence I would like to ask if you would like to share your module reviews on NUSMods.com for the benefits of the NUS student population. Alternatively, if it’s too much trouble for you, I’ll be glad to repost your reviews under the name of NUSMods, of course, giving you credit and linking to your blog.

    What do you think?

    Regards,
    Yang Shun
    NUSMods Team

    Like

    • Hey Yang Shun,

      Sure, would you mind helping me to repost them? Haha thanks for considering this a quality review and for reminding me that I haven’t done last sem’s one! (:

      P.S. the reviews section is a bit hard to navigate to (at least on mobile), so not many people know about it unless they’ve been explicitly told ._.

      Like

      • Hi Sarah,

        I have reposted most of your reviews on to NUSMods, thanks for allowing NUSMods to display your reviews (:

        Yup the site hasn’t been optimized for mobile yet. We’re working on it in the meantime. Do let me know if/when you have reviewed last sem’s modules!

        Regards,
        Yang Shun
        NUSMods Team

        Like

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