All SPS students are required to complete six (6) modules, which are meant to cherish interdisciplinary science and inspires research excellence through seminars, laboratory, field work, simulation and research project. Strong emphasis on independent learning offers abundant opportunities for those who are motivated to indulge in advanced topics as well as to dabble in scientific investigations.
2. BRIEF OVERVIEW AND TIMELINE
Each of the six modules is worth four modular credits. (MCs) The six modules can be separated into two categories, namely research-oriented modules and thematic integrated modules. The six modules are listed as below:
The six modules are to be taken over a duration of two years, beginning in the freshman year. Students will start with SP2171 Discovering Science in their first semester which will be conducted over both Semesters 1 and 2 of the first year. 4 MCs will be awarded for SP2171 upon successful completion in Semester 2. In addition, students will also read SP2173 Atoms to Molecules in Semester 1 followed by SP2174 The Cell in Semester 2.
In the second year, students will read SP3175 The Earth in Semester 1 and SP3176 The Universe in Semester 2. Students are also required to fulfil a research component which takes the form of SP3172 Integrated Science Project. SP3172 can be taken in either Semester 1 or 2 of the second year. Students will fulfil a total of 24 MCs within the SPS. The sequence of modules to be read is shown below:
3. RESEARCH-ORIENTED MODULES
There are two research-oriented modules aimed at equipping students with the relevant skills to embark on undergraduate science research. The students will acquire essential research and communication skills and apply them in focused literature surveys. From their exposure in scientific literature, students will then be equipped with the knowledge to eventually plan and perform their own undergraduate research. The detailed curriculums of the two research-oriented modules are outlines as below.
3.1. SP2171 – Discovering Science (4MC)
This module is a series of lectures conducted to improve students ’ computational, modelling and communication skill as an integral part of the Integrated Science Curriculum. Students are also required to engage in small-group discussions and undertake focused literature surveys on special topics of their choice within the four major themes in the Integrated Science Curriculum of the Special Programme in Science, namely Atoms to Molecules, The Cell, The Earth and The Universe. Students will read this module in Semester I and Semester II of their first year of study, with a 4-MC workload over two semesters.
3.2. SP3172 – Integrated Science Project (4MC)
This module is similar to an undergraduate research project where a greater initiative in planning the research work is expected of the students. Students will be expected to embark on research projects of an integrated nature to complement the thematic integrated science modules in the Special Programme in Science. Students can either choose to take this module in either Semester 1 or 2 of the second year.
4. THEMATIC INTEGRATED MODULES
There are four specially designed integrated modules with themes that progress in scale of size. Each of these modules will integrate Biology, Chemistry and Physics using Mathematics and Statistics as tools. Students will be taught to think in an integrative manner instead of looking at each discipline in isolation. There will also be a focus in the current trends in the scientific fields. The detailed curriculums of the four thematic integrated modules are outlines as below.
4.1. SP2173 – Atoms to Molecules (4MC)
This is the first module of the thematic integrated science modules (“Atoms to Molecules”, “The Cell”, “The Earth” and “The Universe”), covering nature at different scales from that of minuscule atoms to that of the vast Universe.
“Atoms to Molecules” strives to answer a simple question: “How do atoms come together to produce the vibrant diversity observed in the physical, chemical and biological world?”. To this end we follow mans’ quest to understand the atom, the development of ‘quantum mechanics’ and how this leads to our understanding of molecules as collections of atoms. We will also visit the development of techniques that probe the micro/nano domain and use some of them (atomic spectroscopy, scanning tunneling microscopy) in hands-on experiments. We will conclude by studying novel, cutting edge topics related to carbon such as fullerenes and graphene. Extensive use of computational tools (e.g. MATHEMATICA) will be used for simulations and for surmounting any mathematical barriers.
4.2. SP2174 – The Cell (4MC)
This is the second module of the thematic integrated modules, covering nature at different scales from “Atoms to Molecules”, “The Cell”, “The Earth” and “The Universe”.
The Cell module provides a general introduction to the key chemical and physical principles underlying several biological processes which cells integrate and use to function as an autonomous machine that is capable of regeneration (self-replication), repair and re-programming (differentiation), response (force-sensing) and re-modeling (tissue formation). These processes can occur from single molecules to single cells and multi-cellular or tissue levels because of their general ability to self-assemble and migrate; to harness and utilise energy; and to store, decode and process information.
4.3. SP3175 – The Earth (4MC)
This is the third module of the thematic integrated modules, covering nature at different scales from “Atoms to Molecules”, “The Cell”, “The Earth” and “The Universe”.
This module focuses on the physical, chemical and biological processes that have shaped the development of the Earth. The module takes a systems approach in order to understand the interconnectivity between the various components of the Earth system, i.e. the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere. Using this approach, students will study the impact that anthropogenic activities, such as burning fossil fuels, has had on the Earth system.
4.4. SP3176 – The Universe (4MC)
This is the fourth module of the thematic integrated modules, covering nature at different scales from “Atoms to Molecules”, “The Cell”, “The Earth” and “The Universe”.
This module traces the developments in theoretical and observational cosmology, starting from Newtonian cosmology, Hubble’s observations of the expanding Universe, Einstein’s cosmology and the Big Bang, interstellar chemistry, formation of stars and black holes to recent ideas in the origin and fate of the Universe.
5. OTHER OPPORTUNITIES
Apart from the modules, students can gain experience and leadership skills through serving for the SPS committee. Work opportunities would be provided, ranging from the website administrator, to a science demonstrator. From their third year, SPS students are given the opportunity of helping conduct the SPS modules, by participating as junior mentors (in their third year) and student mentors (in their fourth year).