Benjamin Freud – Graduate Studies @ FASS


Moving to Singapore gave me the opportunity to make a career change, leaving a consulting career behind to pursue my doctoral studies in hopes of finding a research-intensive job upon the completion of my studies. Before applying to NUS, I wasn’t quite sure what my dissertation topic was going to be, but I knew that I wanted to mix European and Asian histories. I spoke with several professors within the History department who provided me with useful insights and advice on how to identify and construct a thesis that would be interesting and original, but also leverage the expertise of the staff within FASS. 

My dissertation topic examines French colonial policy-making in WWII Indochina, looking at the mechanics behind how the Governor General in Hanoi utilised Pétainist doctrine (the politics of the New Order that the Vichy government tried to establish following defeat in 1940) to advance his own agenda in the region. This subject combines my knowledge of the French past, my passion for understanding how ideology plays a part in politics, and my curiosity of Indochinese culture and history. I am very fortunate that NUS has encouraged me to approach a subject that is so wide-ranging.


I have been very lucky to have three experts in three different fields on my committee, all of which relate closely to the topic I am studying and who can provide varying points of view on my work. My advisors comprise of one of academia’s foremost experts on Indochina, a specialist in European ideologies of the twentieth-century, and an authority on youth movements in Vichy Indochina. I should add the that latter professor is from the Sociology department, illustrating how FASS works closely together and shows flexibility for the benefit of its students.


During my time at NUS I have completed coursework that has been directly and indirectly useful for my topic, specifically in terms extending the breadth of my knowledge on the region. My advisor has also encouraged me to study Vietnamese as a means of better engaging the sources for my topic. Lastly, I was a Teaching Assistant for four semesters. This experience has been invaluable as the professors with which I worked gave me an ideal balance between autonomy and guidance, allowing me to craft my own plans for the tutorials while always present to answer questions and give me advice should I need anything. In addition, I made two appearances as a guest lecturer in one of the classes. I was very nervous the first time, but believe I did much better the second, proving how useful the experience was and how I will take what I learned with me after NUS.


Now that I am done with my coursework and my field work I currently reading the materials I have collected in the archives. I should complete my dissertation by the spring or summer 2012. After my studies I am hoping to enter a career in political risk analysis. I am convinced that the research skills, experience, and output that I will have gained at NUS, along with the international exposure that is so important for this field, will allow me to make the transition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *