NUS Module Review: Yr 4 Sem 2 (2016/17)

NUS Module Review: Yr 4 Sem 2 (2016/17)

Wowwww. I can’t believe it. My last module review. :'( I’m going to miss school soooooo much!

During this semester, I took only two modules as Honours Thesis was 15MCs and Positive Psychology was 5MCs, so I still had 20MCs in total! Even though I gave it my all to both modules, I didn’t feel too over-stressed about them (eg to the point of breaking down) which has happened in previous semesters before. I take it as me maturing and being able to handle stressful situations well! Also, I’m so happy I managed to graduate with a second upper after desperately trying to pull myself up a few semesters ago. T__T I started out with 3.6 and now I’m at 4.2.

PL4401: Honours Thesis

I have so many things to say about thesis that in the end I am somewhat speechless! I’ve felt intimidated just by that very word since I’ve heard it, but spending a lot of time and effort on one huge, long-term project is something I prefer instead of taking several separate modules. So there was no question as to choosing between thesis or coursework. I guess I’ll break the whole process into general sections and talk about them.

1) Looking for Prof

This was a very daunting and difficult first step into thesis. The period for asking profs to accept you as their student kind of coincided with exchange. You need to think about what you’re interested in, any specific hypotheses you have in mind, and which profs are suitable for you.

I was generally fine with most topics, and I asked quite late after my exchange finished (about 6 months before), so I kind of emailed profs down the list (in the NUS Psych webpage), tweaking my email to suit each prof. I was lucky to have found a prof who had several topics I could choose from, and which gave me experience in interacting with patients at IMH too. Hint: He’s taught abnormal psychology and criminal forensic psychology before.

The personality of the prof also matters, so make sure to ask around (or just get a general feel) for people who’ve been under that prof to know how the prof deals with mistakes, deadlines, draft turnover rate, general personality and preferred writing style. I was so lucky my prof is so so so nice, encouraging and efficient!

2) Writing the Intro

I believe at this stage, most people would have gathered enough writing experience on writing a literature review. I didn’t know *anything* about my topic (lolol), so I spent a looot of time reading 234312432 papers on the topic before I could synthesize all the info into something coherent. If it’s a really specific topic, you don’t need to read so many papers I guess.

It’ll be good to split the entire literature review into smaller subtitles and chunks as it’ll help both the marker and yourself (from procrastinating). Also, was very useful in forcing me to just. start. writing. Something about watching the timer counting down my time makes me take action lolol.

It’s a VERY good idea to write out the entire introduction during the Summer holidays (before Sem 1 Thesis year starts) and finish by December holidays (in between Sem 1 and Sem 2 thesis year).

3) Data Collection

Data collection was another very tough stage for me as I had to go down to IMH 3 days a week, from 8.30am-5pm+ (using my own free, unpaid time sobs) conducting cognitive tests on patients. Each patient would take about 2hours, so I could only do maximum 3 patients each day. And we had to collect a total of 120 participants (which was thankfully later reduced – although I still have to collect till 120 now for publishing)

My introverted nature and inhibitions to speak to and bother strangers had to be totally discarded away, and I had to be the total opposite of what I usually was – convincing, persuasive and bright.

I’ve learnt to unashamedly barge into and disrupt doctors’ meetings with a suspicious hugeass luggage in tow, to disturb busy nurses with my requests, to make small talk with strangers from all walks of life, to approach and persuade/plead/beg/trick tired strangers into spending 2-3 draining hours with me, to be thick-skinned enough to bother my friends for help, and to be aware of my limits (because I’ve done an 8-hour straight day before, without much breaks, and had a fever at the end of that day).

I’m going back to IMH again this Friday to resume data collection. Kind of nervous at the thought of it since I’ve probably gotten rusty. ;_ ; I can do this!!

4) Data Analysis

Data coding was mundane but alright.

Data analysis…was a whole new world of manipulation with numbers. During this period, my prof went overseas for about 2-3 weeks, and he was going to return only 2 weeks before the submission deadline. So I had him list down what kind of analyses I needed to do, and learnt them by myself through youtube and google ;___ ; (logistic regression and area under the curve). I’m guessing these aren’t even considered advanced methods yet, but to a noobie like me they were like fwheio;fjw;iojar. Yet I still somewhat enjoyed dealing with numbers and stats jargons more so than having to wake up early and head down to IMH to collect data.

5) Results and Discussion

After making sure your analysis is correct (for me, I couldn’t check with my prof since he was overseas), it’s time to make sense of all your results and link them back to your hypotheses and introduction!

I think what’s important is to explain all your results, what went right and/or wrong, and why it turned out that way, while exploring possible alternative explanations. Also explain the significance of these results and what they mean for the topic/field.

I think explaining is one of my strengths (although it was ironically one of my weaknesses). I just keep asking myself ‘so what?’ and read my sentences super critically and continuously add on sentences to further cover any gaps that the marker could criticize.

6) Submission and…wait for comments and grades

Remember to format your thesis properly (the formatting guidelines are somewhere in the nus psych website, or if they’re nice the psych department might email you too) before sending it in. You’d need to submit both soft copy and hard copy (at a later date). Also make sure to print your hard copy early!

I went to the printing shop near University Health Centre/beside the Salon around that area and was the last one they accepted as they had their hands full. I’d recommended to go to our school printing shop as they’ll know what a psychology thesis needs to look like and stuff (hard cover bound, black with gold lettering, certain title page formatting etc).

Your thesis grades will be revealed to you along with the release of the other module results. You can also view your thesis comments by the 2 markers (one is your prof and the other is an anonymous prof) at a certain website (which will be sent to you through your email).

I honestly expected to do better (and my prof said he expected that too) considering the amount of effort and correcting I did to get my paper’s standard to where it is today, but I only had an A- ;_ ; well I’m satisfied enough with it already!

Right now, I’m collecting more data so I can submit my paper for publishing! Doing thesis was a seriously long journey, but I’d choose this over and over again each time. I’ve learnt a lot, possibly much more than doing separate modules could have done for me, and managed to brush up on and showcase my interaction, statistics and writing skills as well. If you are just slightly interested to take up thesis, but you’re scared, don’t let it deter you. Life finds a way! You will find a way!

Rating – 1 being least and 5 being most.

Difficulty in understanding: 134/5

Workload: 143242/5

Self-study time required: 12423/5


PL4880G: Positive Psychology

I was quite worried about the workload of this module.. just look at the components:

  • 3 Essays (23%)
  • Assignments (In-class + homework) (27%)
  • Seminar Presentation (Online) (7%)
  • Research Presentation (13%)
  • Final Exam (30%)

Some of the components (especially the presentations) took an absurd amount of time as my group was quite gung-ho about them lolol. For the seminar presentation (you have to make a video for the class to watch online and answer thought questions), we took two days to film our puppet show. T__T other groups also had quite high quality videos…all the effort and time we spent for just 7% (less than your average 10% class participation)!!!

As for research presentation, I spent a looot more time on that as we decided to do a super exaggerated korean love drama (as our topic was forgiveness) and had to memorize the script and actions hahahahaha. Well, I’m quite glad to have done all these presentations to end off my undergrad life as I had quite some fun. And it also helped me get to know my groupmates better (instead of those ‘ok you do slides 1-5 and i’ll do slides 6-10’ etc etc with not much personal interactions and befriending going on). But I’m not sure if you’ll have the time for these if you’re also handling 3-4 other level 5000 modules.

The prof herself, Grace Lee, is a super positive person and listening to her american (she’s from Hawaii) accent makes words flow better lolol. You can tell that she truly believes in the things she’s teaching, although people in the class have wondered about the fluffiness of positive psychology. I enjoyed everything I’ve learnt in class, and find most of them very applicable to my own life (mainly because I became a lot more about conscious positivity). The topics itself made readings a lot easier to go through.

The essays require you to have a certain main, original idea and are quite short (750 words), so you have to make sure to be succinct.

Finals consisted of MCQ, short-answer and essay questions. They were quite doable, and didn’t require thaaat much memory (to my relief), more of applying towards examples and situations.

Overall, the module wasn’t as time-consuming as I thought as you didn’t need to memorize readings much and essays were short and sweet. Presentations were pretty fun too, albeit initially dreadful.

Rating – 1 being least and 5 being most.

Difficulty in understanding: 1/5

Workload: 3/5

Self-study time required: 3/5

Yr 1 Sem 1: x (pl1101e, js1101e, laj1201, sc1101e, el1101e)

Yr 1 Sem 2: x (el2201, pl2131, pl3232, pl3235, laj2201)

Yr 2 Sem 1: x (pl2132, pl3236, pl3240, gek1508, laj2202)

Yr 2 Sem 2: x (sss1207, pl3252, pl3234, pl3233, laj2203)

Yr 3 Sem 2: x (acc1002x, gek1049, pl3287, pl4207, pl4880j)

Yr 4 Sem 1: x (gek1900, lab1201, pl4228, pl4206)

Yr 4 Sem 2: x (pl4401, pl4480g)

6 Replies to “NUS Module Review: Yr 4 Sem 2 (2016/17)”

  1. Hi Ivana, I’m a psych student currently in NUS and would really appreciate if you could answer some of my questions regarding the honours thesis. I think I have some misconceptions regarding the thesis in that I thought that 1. doing an abnormal psych related thesis would not be possible due to lack of access to patients for data; and 2. the thesis would be done over 2 semesters with data collection in Y4S1 and actual thesis writing done in Y4S2. However, your review and thesis clearly goes against these two misconceptions of mine and hopefully you could help me clarify them as my main interest is also in abnormal/clinical psychology and I would probably want to do a thesis in a similar fashion as to how you have done yours. Thanks!

    1. Hi, thanks for your questions! Whether you have access to a certain population group depends on the connections you have/your prof/whether there’s enough time to apply for ethics. On a side note, I’m sure it’s also possible to do an abnormal psych related thesis on a healthy population.

      In my case I took a big risk as my ethics application took a rly long time to be approved (vulnerable popn). As a result I could only start data collection in Y4S2 (mid Jan) by the time it was approved. I took about 2-3 months for data collection, so I only had 1-2 weeks to analyze data and a week to finish writing. I knew what I signed up for so I managed to stay (relatively) calm while I was still collecting data when my friends were already submitting their completed drafts. So it’s def possible for you too!

      Yes, thesis is to be completed within 2 semesters. How you structure your time within those 2 semesters is up to you. And you can also spend time conceptualizing and doing lit review on your thesis way before that (which was what I did cause I knew I wouldn’t have that time towards the end of my thesis)!

      Hope this helps abit and let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂

  2. Hi Ivana, I’m currently a year 3 Psych major at nus and I was hoping to ask a couple of questions about the honors thesis.

    From your experience, how early would you recommend approaching profs about supervising the HT? And when emailing them, is it necessary to already have a specific research question or just broad topics that I’m interested in?

    Thank you!

    1. I think it depends on how “kiasu” your batch is. For me I asked in Yr3Sem2 (around Feb) and by then quite a number of the profs were already full and couldn’t take in more students.

      It’ll be good if you have research interests or a research question which aligns with the interests of the prof (you can check their research interests listed in their profiles under the psych dept section on nus website). Otherwise depending on the prof, some of them are okay to have you take on some of the projects they have in mind.

      Personally I didn’t have a research question in mind when approaching profs but I knew I wished to do something clinical/abnormal psych related, so I was glad my prof had a few thesis topics I could choose from.

        1. You’re welcome! Hope it helps you in some way. Feel free to ask me anything else and all the best if you’re planning to embark on thesis! 🙂

Any and all comments are welcome!