DOS3701 / DSC3201 Supply Chain Management

Module: DOS3701 / DSC3201 Supply Chain Management

Semester taken: AY 2020/21 Semester 1

Lecturer: No lecturer, module is sectional-based

Tutor: Dr Lucy Chen Gongtao

Textbook: Designing and Managing the Supply Chain: Concepts, Strategies and Case Studies, 3rd ed., David Simchi-Levi, Philip Kaminsky, and Edith Simchi-Levi, 1999. McGraw Hill

What it is about

This module introduces students to the field of supply chain management, and is one of the three compulsory modules for students intending to specialise in operations and supply chain management. Topics such as how to manage a supply chain, manage inventory levels, manage the transportation of goods, etc. will be covered.

Assessment components

  • Class participation: 10%

  • Individual homework: 40%

  • Group homework: 20%

  • Group project 1: 18% (report: 12%; presentation: 6%)

  • Group project 2: 12%


This was the first module that I took as part of the specialisation, as I have always been interested in how supply chains work and wanted to get into a business field that may potentially need Computer Science skills in the future. However, supply chain management in NUS Business School is more concerned about the management aspect, taking the perspective of a business manager. Although this module covers some mathematical knowledge, they are very light and are only provided for a better understanding of the concept. The engineering aspect is better covered under the Industrial and Systems Engineering department under the College of Design and Engineering (CDE).

Thus, the module only briefly covers certain aspects that are more important for a manager to know. The engineering work on optimising supply chains will only be briefly talked about, but students are not expected to know it in great detail. This was also the first time Dr Chen taught this module, and thus it is the only iteration I know that does not have a final exam component.

Note: There is a Reddit post for AY2021/22 Semester 1 which goes into great detail about how Dr Chen is like as a professor. I did experience similar things, but not to such great extent. I will share some of my personal experiences below.


There are 3-hour sectionals every week and most of the time, there is not much to prepare before the lesson. The lecture slides are reasonably sufficient in the knowledge that you need, but Dr Chen may only briefly gloss over certain concepts which are further elaborated in the textbook. The contents of the lecture slides are directly based on the textbook (including the examples), so it should be relatively easy to follow the textbook.

The sectionals are taught in a lecture format, where Dr Chen will talk about the content in the lecture slides and occasionally ask questions for students to answer as part of class participation. As it was conducted in a hybrid format, a new tool was introduced to allow people to raise hands virtually, and Dr Chen will call upon students that have their hands raised using this tool.

There were some instances where it was obvious Dr Chen was not clear of her content. For instance, there was an example on warehouse capacity and the lecture notes provided a calculation on how much warehouse space is needed given the inventory turnover, average inventory level and the area that each unit of inventory takes up. Using these values, the example concluded the optimal warehouse area size. However, I was rather intrigued, as we have seen when shopping at IKEA that inventory can be stacked. Thus, I asked Dr Chen why the formula does not account for the possibility that the inventory can be stacked, so that a smaller warehouse in terms of area is needed. The only answer I received was to accept it, as that is the formula, with no further explanation nor attempts to find a more appropriate formula. I also found that the same example was quoted from the textbook, and Dr Chen just lifted the example over without understanding it.

I think that the lecture slides prepared by Dr Chen is rather decent, but I was a bit disappointed by her response to just accept it as it is without proper discourse. In the interest of my grades, I decided not to pursue the matter further. Other than that, sectionals are mostly the same as how other business modules are conducted.

Finally, there were two sectionals dedicated to a supply chain competition. This competition required us to work in our project groups and work together. Each group is paired with another group, and will play a role of either an importer or a florist, where the importer supplies the florist, and the florist has customer demand to meet. The game is rather complex, but our pair of groups managed to identify a suitable strategy that allows both of our groups to maximise our profits, which allowed us to win the competition with the most profits earned.


There are multiple homework assignments given throughout the semester. It was not announced beforehand on the number of assignments that there would be, but my semester had 7 homework assignments, and most of them were due a week after they were released. The homework can be individual or group based, and they will only be announced when the homework is released.

Most of the homework is simple and doable within the week. However, it was difficult to plan in advance as you are not notified beforehand if there would be homework for that week. Additionally, you do not know if the homework is group or individual based, which will require your group to quickly find a common time to meet.

Note: Some of the homework is found in the textbook, but there are copies of the textbook that are freely available out there.

Group Project

In addition to some of the group homework, there were 2 group projects to be completed in groups of 3 to 4. I had one of the best group members ever in this module, and this was especially evident in the supply chain competition mentioned earlier, where we worked really well as a team to achieve high profit margins.

For the first project, we were required to conduct research on a particular piece of new technology and see how it can potentially affect supply chains in the future. This project was given early in the semester and required us to submit a report and give a presentation in the last two weeks of the semester. Thankfully, Dr Chen decided to conduct the presentation online on Zoom (even though the rest of the semester was conducted physically), which made the presentation a lot easier.

For the second project, we were required to reflect on the supply chain competition and submit a group reflection piece on the lessons learnt. As we were the winning team, we knew what the winning strategy was, and had no trouble elaborating about it. In the interest of academic integrity and fairness, I will not be disclosing the winning strategy here. The strategy is easily derived from concepts taught in class, and observing patterns in how the game reacts to decisions made in the earlier rounds.

Other information

Assignment workload: There are some homework assignments, some to be done individually while others are to be done in a group. There is also a group reflection piece at the end of the module.

Project workload: There is one project to be done in a group of 3 to 4 people.

Readings: None

Recommended if: A compulsory module for Business students intending to specialise in Operations and Supply Chain Management. A decent module to learn about managing a supply chain, but unfortunately does not go too deep into the engineering aspects.

Rating: 4.0/5. The module is decent but Dr Chen could be better in encouraging learning.

Expected grade: B+

Actual grade: A-

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