NUS Module Review — AY 17/18 Semester 1

Nathaniel Theodore Ling
11 min readJun 9, 2021

Hey all, Nathaniel here, a recent double degree (Mechanical Engineering and Economics) graduate from the National University of Singapore (NUS). This article will be a module review of my 2nd year in NUS, which may be useful for DDP students or Mechanical Engineering/Economics single degree students. You can refer to my previous article if you require any further insights on the Y1 modules that I took.

AY 17/18 Semester 1

ME2112 — Strength of Materials

Lecturer: Prof Chua Cheng Gan and Victor Shim
Assessment Rubric: 10% Lab, 10% Mid-terms, 80% Finals
Module Content (split into 2 key parts):

(a) Chua Cheng Gan —

  1. Equilibrium of Rigid Bodies
  2. Analysis of Trusses (think of bridges), Frames, and Machines
  3. Introduction to Stress and Strains
  4. Axially-Loaded Members(now in 3D)
  5. Transformation of Stress and Strain

(b) Victor Shim —

  1. Torsion of Cylindrical Shafts
  2. Beam Bending
  3. Bending Stresses
  4. Deflection of Beams
  5. Shear Stresses in Laterally Loaded Symmetrical Beams

ME2112 encompasses tons of shear, stress, strains and all rigid body related work in the field of mechanics/structures. The first half of the module was a real pain as I personally felt that Prof Chua explained the concepts poorly, and you’re left wondering how to tackle questions close to 100% of the time. The module content becomes more manageable towards the second half of the module when Prof Victor Shim takes over, using relevant examples (often usage of stationaries) to explain concepts. This helps clueless students (like myself) internalize a vague concept and sparks the train of thought to solve questions related to the module. There are 2 lab sessions (not meant to be bell curved so seriously but more of a giveaway so that students do not fail this module) covering (a) beam bending and (b) torsion of circular shafts — simply follow the lab assistant’s instructions and you will be fine. You can try to take some of your senior’s lab reports if you’re too confused on what to do, which will resolve most of your headache through the lab sessions. The preparation of mid-terms and finals, is another monster altogether, which I will elaborate further in the pro-tip section.

Pro-tip: This module is about fully understanding your concepts before you take your examinations. Mid-terms is a simple test on how well you understood Prof Chua’s lecture, which many students will choke given how steep of a learning curve ME2/3K modules are compared to Level-1000 modules. If I am not mistaken, the midterm tested our cohort on the moment distribution of a cone (or some other solid that I vaguely recall), which you’ll have to know how to integrate the distribution throughout the cone. Obviously this came about as a huge surprise to many students as most received a U grade out of a (U/P/S grading metric). However, if you’re choking at this point, do not give up since the finals is a whopping 80% of your total grade. I have 3 important tips to tackle the finals:

  1. Understand how to tackle Mohr’s circle. Internalize the steps in order to solve the question as Mohr’s circle will definitely come out for the finals and haunt you if you did not study for it (25% of the total paper). It isn’t too hard once you get the hang of it — try to solve some questions in the lecture notes using the steps given, and translate the steps into other problems like past year papers or tutorials.
  2. Know how to draw a free body diagram and use simultaneous equations to solve for unknown forces and moments. Try to practice by tackling more simple diagrams because the finals will incorporate some form of monstrous free body diagram for students to solve. This is difficult to master, but not impossible to achieve.
  3. Lastly, as long as you’re good with Prof Victor Shim’s lecture notes for the 2nd half of the module, solving his questions in the module will be relatively simple (with an exception of a 10–15 mark portion used to differentiate the A/A-/B+s). I’m not exactly sure on how to guide you towards solving that specific part of the question, since I myself left that blank.

In general, do try to score well for your lab and mid-terms, and scoring around 70% of the paper should land you a decent grade (perhaps an A/A-) for this module.

ME2134 — Fluid Mechanics I

Lecturer: Prof C.J Teo and T.T Lim
Assessment Rubric: 20% Lab, 80% Finals
Module Content (split into 2 key parts):

(a) C.J Teo:

  1. Properties of Fluids
  2. Fluid Statics
  3. Principles of Fluid Motion

(b) T.T Lim:

  1. Equilibrium of Moving Fluids
  2. Momentum and its Applications
  3. Dimensional Analysis
  4. Analysis of Pipe Flow
  5. Analysis of Fluid Pumps

Another harsh module introduced to Y2 Mechanical Engineering students with a steep learning curve. On hindsight, I thought it wasn’t too bad if one placed a decent amount of effort to internalize the content and then applying it to different questions (past year papers). Similar to ME2112, there are 2 lab sessions which are a giveaway, in order for every student to pass the module. For the content of the module, you’ll be learning on statics like ME2112, just that its applied to a fluid kind of context (when fluid places pressure on a seawall or a dam, etc), along with using the holy Bernoulli equation to solve fluids in motion. The second half will include more industry related content such as pipe flow and usage of pumps to funnel water from point A to B (either upstream or across a long distance) — I did use some knowledge from ME2134 for my first ever internship in a marine systems design department.

Pro-tip: The finals is the most important paper that will dictate your final grade, so please take the preparation process seriously (in other words, it is also possible to skive off the first 8–9 weeks and go on turbo mode to prepare for your finals — to each their own I would say). Prof Teo will test 25MCQs and 1 open ended question, which will be related to fluid statics and usage of the Bernoulli equation. If I recall correctly, Prof Teo tested us on Chapter 3 of the syllabus — hydrostatic forces on a centroid and stability of floating bodies. Knowing how to solve the tutorial questions will be beneficial in reaching the required amount of aptitude needed to score well for the paper. Additionally, Prof re-used question 8 of Tutorial 3 (something along the line of using Bernoulli’s equation to solve some fluid flow across a curved pipe, which threw students off since you’ll need to account for the radial distance to solve the question), so please fully internalize all the concepts needed for the final exam!

For Prof Lim, understanding dimensional analysis (giveaway) and usage of pumps to solve for fluid flow is sufficient to score well for the paper. If you’re looking to attain an A grade, you’ll require a good amount of knowledge in radial spin of liquid in a container (chapter 2A of Prof Lim’s notes). I think it will be tested consistently throughout the existence of this module as I consulted Prof Lim once over more advanced knowledge on this portion of the module content, and he was pretty shady in terms of his replies — it got me to think that he was most probably using this part of the exam to differentiate the As and the Bs. Now that you know the key content above needed to score well for this module, please use these tips to your advantage :).

ME2151 — Principles of Mechanical Engineering Materials

Lecturer: Prof Christina Lim
Assessment Rubric: 20% Lab, 80% Finals
Module Content:

  1. Mechanical Properties of Materials
  2. Atomic Structures
  3. Crystal Structures
  4. Crystal Defects and Diffusion
  5. Dislocations, Deformation, and Strengthening of Materials
  6. Fracture and Fatigue
  7. Corrosion
  8. Phase Diagrams
  9. Phase Transformations

This module will be a break from your more content heavy modules that will most probably sap 90% of your brain juice — the content is more qualitative and its more of internalizing the content (‘burning your lecture notes and drinking them’ kind of style). In fact, I can’t recall most of the module content given how I was in auto-pilot mode for the first 12 weeks of the semester, resulting in a typical panic mode when preparing for my final exam (typical engineering things lol). I don’t think the module content is complicated, but the structure of the exam will definitely segregate the A’s and the B’s.

Pro-tip: Adding on to why I’m emphasizing the structure of the exam, Prof Christina sets the paper in a 40% True-False type of question structure, with the remaining 60% in an open ended format. The 60% isn’t too hard to nail down if you’ve done your revision in terms of:

  1. Explaining fracture and fatigue in a clear and concise format
  2. Explaining corrosion in a clear and concise format
  3. Understanding how to understand phase diagrams and transformations, along with simple calculation
  4. Understanding a stress-strain graph (Prof will ask students how to use such a graph to find out key results — like final length, pressure, etc)
  5. Some further qualitative knowledge in terms of crystal structures (depending on which cohort you’re in as Prof will not recycle her questions)

However, the catch comes in with the remaining 40% as Prof will bring in a negative marking rubric (speaking of which , I recall that Prof Teo also did a negative marking rubric for his MCQ in ME2134, but it wasn’t as brutal as ME2151). As such, a lack of confidence in your answer will lead to a couple of blanks as she penalizes you with -1 mark should you answer and get the question wrong (compared to -0.25 for Prof Teo). Understand your theoretical knowledge well to solve the 40% of the finals and you’re on your way to attain a decent grade (at least an A-).

ME3162 — Manufacturing Processes
Lecturer: Prof Seah Kah Heng and Wong Keng Soon
Assessment Rubric: 20% Lab, 80% Finals
Module Content (split into 2 key parts):

(a) Seah Kah Heng:

  • I think its more of just using his book to study for finals

(b) Wong Keng Soon:

  1. Machining and Tool Operations
  2. Tool Wear and Tool Life
  3. Unconventional Machining
  4. Additive Machining

This module will be the easiest ME module amongst the 4 core modules in Y2S1, which will also explain for the really steep bell curve. The lab sessions arereally chill (hands on project on machining some basic items) and the module content is more of appreciating how objects are created (either by machining, injection moulding or what not).

Pro-tip: I do not have much of a pro-tip here as this module seems to be a hit-or-miss kinda scenario, where you may need to have some eureka moments to tackle the MCQs and short answer questions well — as most answers seem to make logical sense given how vague the module is (I’m not sure how to explain this, but you’ll know when you have taken this module). The main preparation you can do is Dr Wong’s portion — which will test the Ernst and Merchant Theory to solve for some questions. I recall that the one that he set for our batch was kind of difficult since it had way more angles to consider, hence the inability to complete the paper on time. Other than that, try to enjoy the module as this will be one of the lightest modules ever taken before you head into other semesters of Mechanical Engineering torture.

EC2101 — Microeconomic Analysis I

Lecturer: Prof Zhang Yang
Assessment Rubric: 3% IVLE Quiz, 10% Tutorial Participation, 15% Homework, 25% Midterms, 47% Finals
Module Content:

  1. Preference and Utility, Budget Constraint, and Consumer Choices
  2. Revealed Preference and Individual Demand
  3. Vouchers vs Cash, Income and Substitution Effects, and Consumer Welfare
  4. Market Demand and Exchange Economy
  5. First Welfare Theorem and Walras’ Law
  6. Production Functions
  7. Concept of Cost
  8. Short Run and Long Run Cost
  9. Perfect Competition
  10. Government Intervention

EC2101 is a core module for economics majors, and a prelude to the more advanced EC3101. Module content is nothing too out of the ordinary if you put in the effort to attend Prof’s lectures, but the exam is another ball game altogether. At this point I would say for EC2101 and EC3101, it is more of the ability to “fill in the blanks” to ace these modules — involving more of strong cognitive thinking than just being a 10 year series grinder lol. Prof will consistently twist questions in the tutorial to a more complicated framework, but its really using what you have learnt during lecture and initiating some form of problem solving on the spot to come up with the solutions.

Pro-tip: I recalled Prof Zhang Yang mentioned that 10-20% of the finals will be from the first 6 lectures. That was not so true since she tested close to 40% from the pre-midterm content, so please do not take a Prof’s words as face value and study your whole damn module. A huge shout-out to one of my pals Roy, who informed me in advance to specifically study the Edgeworth box for the finals as Prof loves testing this concept (either to trip people off their game, or to separate the A’s from the B’s). I vividly remember that Prof will walk you through on how to solve the problem with the Edgeworth box in a 6–8 part process, totaling to a whopping 25% of the finals — so much for not testing any pre-midterm content… I studied 3 specific videos on Youtube at around 4am in the morning, about 5 hours prior to my examination — and it paid off since the Edgeworth box really came out. As such, please review these videos if you’re taking this module as its the exact same thing for the finals

  1. Pareto Efficiency — Substitutes:
  2. Pareto Efficiency — Complements:
  3. Pareto Efficiency — Substitutes and Complements:

If this did not motivate you enough to watch 15 minutes of content for your finals preparation, just note that I clutched this module with a decent grade given my 25th percentile for my midterms — thanks to acing the question on the Edgeworth box.

GES1021 — Natural Heritage of Singapore

Lecturer: Prof Amy Choong and Ng Ngan Kee
Assessment Rubric: 5% IVLE Forum, 25% Poster, 30% Midterms, 40% Finals
Module Content:

  • The whole module is condensed into a specific book to be purchased — 4th Edition of the Natural Heritage of Singapore

Just a GEM module I took to clear the Singapore basket, which turned out to be pretty interesting despite the lackluster grade. One will learn alot of plants and animals that reside within Singapore, along with interesting guest lectures that SHOULDN’T be skipped since the content provided in the module will be tested in the midterms and finals. In general, its a recommended module if you’re keen in learning about the biodiversity in Singapore and embarking on a field trip with your friends to do up the final poster.

Pro-tip: Not much of a pro-tip here but realistically speaking, try not to focus too much on this module if your midterm results is below median — since the exams are more of a hit or miss depending on (1) how well you flip your book for the content during the exam itself and (2) how much you can recall off the guest lecturers’ content since quite an amount will be tested for both midterms and finals. If you’re looking to score for this module should your midterms be at the 75th percentile, then do focus on acing the poster (really churning out the content that the Prof is looking out for) since a lousy poster will result in a lousy grade lol.

To wrap up, this specific semester for me was really painful due to the inability to S/U and it was my first exposure to core module that took university to another level. I will be releasing AY 17/18 Semester 2 shortly!



Nathaniel Theodore Ling

I write about venture capital, equity research, and data analysis.