SINGAPORE - Freshmen who entered the National University of Singapore's (NUS') faculty of arts and social sciences (FASS) in August will go through a revised curriculum that aims to give them more freedom to customise their three or four years of undergraduate education.
The 1,600 first-year undergraduates will need to take two new modules meant to equip them with skills in academic writing and public writing.
In line with changing global trends and student aspirations, the FASS - which is the largest at NUS in terms of undergraduate numbers - has also created more space for students to explore interests outside their majors without delaying graduation, in its first major revision of its curriculum in more than a decade.
This means they can take fewer modules in their major, and instead opt for two more Unrestricted Elective modules which fall outside their specialisation.
The faculty, which has also noticed more students taking up a second major, has now also reduced the minimum major requirements so that students can graduate within four years without having to overload the number of modules during their terms.
In the 2015 academic year, 113 FASS students took up a second major, compared to 60 in 2012.
More students will now also be able to earn credits for internships. Each year about 170 FASS students go on credit-bearing internships that are related to their disciplines, and about 400 to 500 students take up non-discipline related internships that do not earn them any credits.
From this new academic year, students may earn up to three modules worth of credits by doing internships during the semester or vacations.
Professor Brenda Yeoh, dean of NUS' FASS, announced these changes on Wednesday (Sept 7) at a roundtable discussion held at NUS which revolved around the value of studying humanities and social sciences.
The discussion was attended by about 300 NUS students, teachers and students from junior colleges, employers and alumni.
The speakers were all alumni of NUS' FASS - Professor Kishore Mahbubani, dean of NUS' Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy; Professor Wang Gungwu, chairman of the East Asian Institute; and Ambassador-at-large Professor Chan Heng Chee, who is also a member of the NUS Board of Trustees.
Mr Ong Ye Kung, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), said that a humanities and social sciences education has special importance for Singapore's economy, public policy and society.
"What remains for us to do is to support young people to discover and pursue their interests and aspirations, and fulfil their potential. This is a public policy position that is pragmatic - because the jobs of the future do need the humanities and social science perspective," he said.