Common Curriculum Review

Project Manager

Tee Zhuo


On short notice, the Yale-NUS Student Advisory Group (SAG) to the Dean of Faculty, and the Yale-NUS Student Government Academics Committee (SGAC) and its public representatives, were tasked to produce a joint report on the Common Curriculum. It consists of specific recommendations and summarised feedback from various channels. The contents of the report come from a thorough review of previous feedback, additional polling of students through the Yale-NUS Student Government website and social media pages, and in-depth focused group discussions. The five key areas which the report covered were convergence and coordination, number of courses, Science curriculum, Historical Immersion (HI) and Current Issues (CI), and electives in the first semester.



Government Representatives

Dean of Faculty Student Advisory Group

Academics Committee Public Representatives

  • Chia Pei Yun

  • Jason Carlo Carranceja

  • Jessica Teng Sijie

  • Liam Rahman

  • Sanjana Tadepalli

  • Elaine Li

  • Ling Xi Min

  • Sarah Novak

  • Swarnima Sircar

  • Tamara Burgos

Executive Summary for Common Curriculum Review

These are the key points from the report. Students…

1. Overwhelmingly disagreed with adding an elective slot to the first semester, as they thought it was detrimental to the spirit of the CC; a possible alternative is encouraging students to audit courses in the first semester could benefit the student experience.

2. Overwhelmingly agreed that grading should be more standardized to ensure more convergence across sections, and that students should not receive completely contrary guidelines from section to section within the same course. Students believe that establishing clear guidelines in the form of more general rubrics is crucial to development of convergence in assessment.

3. Overwhelmingly agreed that the different tracks in Science should not be joined, and that the Sciences should be made a distribution requirement, with a few variations to implementations. While they note that this would remove some of the commonality of the CC, students feel that the current approach to science education is ineffective for all students, science background regardless.

4. Overwhelmingly agreed that there should not be “curved” grading. This sentiment is particularly widespread with regard to Quantitative Reasoning.

5. Mostly agreed that CI and HI requirements should be significantly eased, or that their current iteration should be removed from the curriculum, due to the arbitrary nature of the selections within those requirements, and the undue burden they place on study abroad, major requirements, and capstone projects.

6. Mostly agreed that while a good idea in theory, the development of interdisciplinary courses should be very carefully administered and executed to ensure student buy­in to the process.

7. Mostly agreed that more discussion between course coordinators, including potential restructuring of CC syllabi could help ensure greater coordination within the CC.

8. Had conflicting views on the ideal size of the CC.

Relevant Reports and Minutes

Polling Data

Common Curriculum Survey

1. Convergence and Coordination. 

Changing the assessment can still affect how your overall CAP will end up after 4 years.

How would you rate coordination in the Common Curriculum (e.g. in terms of content, communication, assignment deadline clashes)?
  • Good
  • Neutral
  • Not Good
Is grading and assessment between courses fair and transparent in the Common Curriculum?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Not Sure

[closed – time elapsed]

2. Number of Common Curriculum courses. [closed – time elapsed]

Implications are far-reaching. E.g. downsizing common curriculum will increase the size of the major component. This could help/harm group cohesion and the “community of learning”. Alternatively it could strengthen majors.

What should happen to the number of Common Curriculum courses?
  • Increase
  • Stay the Same
  • Decrease

[closed – time elapsed]

3. Science Changes. [closed – time elapsed]

Combining the two tracts of current Foundations of Science (FoS) and Integrated Science (IS) may raise issues of discrepancy in ability. Conversely it may even the playing field for Science students who have had/will have to take several humanities subjects in the Common Curriculum.

Should we put science and non-science major students in same track (i.e. take the same section together instead of having IS and FoS)?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Not Sure

[closed – time elapsed]

4. Historical Immersion (HI), Current Issues (CI) and interdisciplinary electives/seminars. 

For interdisciplinary seminars (e.g. a science professor and a philosophy professor design and teach a course together), bear in mind these courses may change class sizes across the school and number of courses significantly due to resources being used up.

How do you feel about the current iteration of HI and CI?
  • Good
  • Neutral
  • Not Good
Do you believe HI and CI make valuable contributions to the Common Curriculum?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Not Sure
What do you feel about interdisciplinary courses?
  • Good Idea
  • Bad Idea
  • Neutral

[closed – time elapsed]

5. First semester electives. 

Having a first semester elective will complicate grading, and may somewhat defeat the purpose of having a common base experience. Also, one of the subjects in the current CC will have to be combined with another or pushed out if an elective option is introduced. On the other hand, it will give an option to try out courses earlier.

Should we have first semester electives?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Not Sure

[closed – time elapsed]

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