Special Semester 2 – CS2107

CS2107: Introduction to Information and System Security (Taught by: Hugh Anderson)

I ended my internship on a Friday only to jump into special semester 2 for CS2107. This is a level 2000 breadth module that is rather popular during normal semester 2 with very high bid points over 2000. The last special semester module I took was CS2103 back in Year 1. I forgot how rushed squeezing a module into 5 weeks can be. However, with only one module, concentration is better. During normal semesters, I find that there are too many things to multiplex between (switching overhead).

I have nothing but praise for this module and the lecturer. Prof Hugh Anderson makes his lectures interesting over an already interesting topic (subjective). His lectures are well-structured, with a nice summary video at the start of each lecture (cue CS2107 wars and the peace-loving NUS-ians [because security is a perpetual war]).  Many of the concepts that he teaches he demonstrates on his computer, showing how easy it really is to attack insecure systems. He does have a lot of interest in various programs and teaching tools which he will install on his computer; I have never seen a Mac with so many icons on the Dock. Now I know why the dock zooms up the icons as you roll over them. He uses simple lecture quizzes to help reinforce topics and generously gives out rewards (chocolate fish among other trinkets).

Contents consists of cryptographic ciphers both classical and modern in breadth, network security, computer security and various examples of current systems in use. There is some set mathematics involved but it should be a piece of cake for any student who has gone through CS1231. There is graded weekly homework which you hand in at the start of the tutorial session. There is also a term project which consists of a write-up on any security topic given by him or chosen by yourself. Mid-term is closed-book MCQ. Final exam is open-book short-answer/open-ended and there are past-year papers for practice.

This is the most interesting and fun breadth module that I have taken and I signed myself up for CS3235 – Computer Security.

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2 Responses to Special Semester 2 – CS2107

  1. enchante says:

    Hi! I’m a 2nd year UG and was googling about ST when I came across your website. Just curious, would you recommend doing the maximum 4 modules allowed during the 2 parts of ST to reduce workload during the normal sem? Also, I’m desperate to pull my CAP up, it’s terribly dismal. Wondering if it’s true that ST will help to do so? I also read elsewhere that if you want to pull CAP you have to do min level 3000 mods and above? I thought that was just for those who have graduated already. Hope to hear your opinions, thanks 🙂

    • joshsiao says:

      I recommend taking special semester only because there are modules that you want to do but do not really fit in well or there are some core modules that you want to do well in and that you want off-load the work.
      I took 2 special semesters. The first in year 1 summer because I knew that CS2103 was going to be time-consuming and challenging. That is a CEG core module. The second time I took it was in year 3 summer because it was a pre-requisite module to something else I wanted to take. This two special semesters reduced my workload for this upcoming final semester to just one module.

      For pulling CAP you just need to take any module graded. Just make sure you are able to fulfil your degree requirements i.e. lvl 4000 depths, cross-faculty breadths, singapore studies and 2 GEMs. Any other module that you think you can score count as UEM. The reason why some say you have to take lvl 3000 and above to score is partially true. You can score better in such modules because they have very much smaller classes (some 10-30 students). Smaller the better so the moderating ‘bell-curve’ may be absent, but it also depends on the professor. Hard topics / exams does not necessarily mean difficult to score. Large classes you see in year 1 and 2 modules are very hard to score.

      Also don’t forget, each special semester will cost you the amount you are paying per full year divide by 10. So I had to pay some $1,300 for both modules.

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