Home Away From Home

The appeal of studying at two locations – Singapore and London – for my PhD was the main reason I chose the NUS-King’s College London Joint PhD programme.

I began my PhD at NUS, under the supervision of A/P John Phillips, which allowed me to be close to my field of study in local religious practices. After completing my local fieldwork, I moved to London to begin my writing process. There, I received supervision from Dr. Kélina Gotman and was part of the Performance Research Group of the English department.

Having two supervisors gave me fresh perspectives on my research and I was able to develop my thesis in ways that I had previously not considered. I was able to scrutinise my arguments more thoroughly and learnt how to articulate my ideas and theories to readers from different positions.

Strand Campus, King’s College London, Autumn 2012
Strand Campus, King’s College London, Autumn 2012

London life was eye-opening too; a cultural capital where a variety of performances, cultural events, and academic talks are constantly held. I developed an enjoyable routine where I would take rides in the notorious tube service, arrive at Dr. Gotman’s office (situated along a narrow corridor), where we would discuss various topics and tangents stemming from my thesis. After this, I went either to the theatres or spent the evening figuring out how to make Chinese food with the ingredients I could get from Tesco or Chinatown.

My wife and I: Gone shopping at Harrods during the Christmas period, 2012.
My wife and I: Gone shopping at Harrods during the Christmas period, 2012.

My work also became more multi-dimensional. Having two institutions meant that I had access to two libraries, worked with two supervisors who had very unique points of view, and became part of a network of international scholars, academics and practitioners who possessed noteworthy experiences I could learn from.

The past four years in the programme have broadened my worldview, and I returned with more knowledge and experiences that have come to redefine me as a researcher, and most of all, as a person.

The greatest advantage of this joint initiative is being able to interact with various people and research communities, and share our thoughts and interests with each other. There are opportunities to meet other graduate students as well. Both universities run short courses and skills-based workshops where students from different disciplines meet. I learnt how to shift from one paradigm to another, switch from one language to another, apply different skills in different situations and immerse in cultures both familiar and unfamiliar. The intercultural exchange between the two institutions and cultures benefitted me most.

Being away from my comfort zone and home was the biggest challenge. I had to learn how to adapt and adjust to my surroundings. Sometimes I would face issues that were very foreign to me and I had to learn to react accordingly. Completing your postgraduate studies is like running a long marathon race, and at certain points, you might find yourself alone in your journey. Thankfully those moments were rare and few in between, due to the large number of international students in both institutions. There were really basic problems to confront like finding a plumber to fix my boiler that broke down during the long and harsh winter!

Somerset House, which is next to my department building, Winter 2012. The whole space is converted to an ice skating rink every December.
Somerset House, which is next to my department building,
Winter 2012. The whole space is converted to an ice skating rink every December.


Maughan Library, King’s College London, Spring 2013.
Maughan Library, King’s College London, Spring 2013.

The Maughan library near the Strand campus is a massive labyrinth that houses an impressive collection of books, and was one of my favourite places to spend time in. My dual library accounts gave me access to digital versions of international journals and e-resources from the catalogues of both libraries. As a UK student, I could also access the British Library. I cannot stress how invaluable that is for a researcher.

It has been a really humbling and enriching experience as a whole. I feel incredibly fortunate to have gone through the Joint PhD at two outstanding institutions and I do hope prospective doctoral students would consider joining such a remarkable programme.

At Stratford-upon-Avon with friends from Japan, 2013.
At Stratford-upon-Avon with friends from Japan, 2013.

Contributed by: Alvin Lim, a Joint PhD student with King’s College London, who just graduated in July 2015.

Kent Ridge Alumni Day 2015 – Recruitment of Student Helpers with Remuneration

Dear Students,

NUS Office of Alumni Relations is looking for student helpers for the coming Kent Ridge Alumni Family Day. Below are the details, student helpers will receive remuneration of S$8 per hour.

Event name : Kent Ridge Alumni Family Day

Event Date: 15 August 2015 (Saturday)

Reporting Time: 8.30am / 10.30am / 12.30pm

Reporting location: Shaw Foundation Alumni House OR Utown Auditorium
Release Time: 10pm onwards (from Shaw Foundation Alumni House OR Utown Auditorium)

Roles: Event Crew (for Event setup, Ushers, Registration Team, Shuttle Bus Marshals)

Attire: WHITE or ORANGE T-Shirt (NUS T-shirt preferred if you have); jeans & covered shoes

Remuneration: S$8 per hour

Notes: Lunch (for students reporting at 8.30am or 10.30am only); Dinner (for all students) will be provided

Return Transport: Taxi reimbursement for dismissal after 11pm on carpool basis.

If interested, please forward the following required information to Ms Gabriella Nyam at gabriella@nus.edu.sg. Deadline for submission is 30 July 2015 (Thursday):

Full Name
Height (in cm)
Year of Study
Mobile No.
Email Address
Reporting Times (Please indicate all available times, thereafter we will assign your reporting time):
(i) 8.30am
(ii) 10.30am
(iii) 12.30pm

Congratulations Class of 2015!

As you embark on a new journey of endless possibilities and opportunities, let us look back and celebrate this milestone with the people whom have all played a part in your journey here at FASS.

Here’s a short video proudly brought to you by NUS Students’ Arts and Social Sciences Club (FASS Club) and the Dean’s Office (External Relations & Student Life):

Our heartiest congratulations to all our graduates again!

New Award for Top Malay Studies Student at NUS

The Straits Times Online

FASS Department of Malay Studies Ms Nur’Izzah Mohamad Afandi, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Second Class (Upper) Honours at this year’s Commencement Ceremony. Ms Nur’Izzah is also an inaugural recipient of the Malay Heritage Foundation (MHF) Prize which comprises a cash award of S$1,000.

The prize is borne out of a S$15,000 gift by MHF to NUS and is only awarded to the top honours student from the Department of Malay Studies at FASS. It serves as an encouragement for recipients to make continuous efforts in keeping the Malay culture alive and in promoting it to the rest of the nation.

Madam Zuraidah Abdullah, chairman of the MHF, said that the prize was set up with the aim of creating a long term relationship between recipients and the foundation.

MHF was established on 28 July 1999. Through partnerships with the Malay Heritage Centre and other relevant bodies, it hopes to promote the study and research as well as the public’s understanding and knowledge of the historical and socio-cultural development of the Malay Community in Singapore.

To read the article, click here.

Reading Asian Studies in FASS: What to Expect


The Asian region is rich and diverse in culture, religion, history and language. As the region transforms politically and economically, its influence and significance increasingly extend to the other parts of the world.

The Asian Studies is for those who are seeking an area of study that allows them to gain an understanding of the region, its traditions and transformation while simultaneously assessing its role within the context of the world.

FASS provides an extensive range of programmes to equip our students with the skills and opportunities to study an area of their choice in-depth. Offered by various departments, these programmes comprise Chinese Language, Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, Malay Studies, South Asian Studies and Southeast Asian Studies.

Chinese Language

The Chinese Language programme curriculum offered by the Department of Chinese Studies focuses on three aspects namely the Chinese language and linguistics as well as Chinese-English translation.

Students can look forward to the Visiting Scholar Programme, also offered in the Chinese Studies programme, whereby eminent scholars and distinguished visitors such as famous writers are often invited to teach in the department on a short-term basis.

Over the course of study, students stand to gain from insightful sharing sessions and modules that will introduce them to the development of Chinese literature that originates from ancient times to the Qing Dynasty in CL2121 History of Chinese Literature or uncover topics and issues behind real-life anthropologistic scenarios in CL2291 Chinese Anthropolinguistics among many others.

To find out more about other modules, click here.

Chinese Studies

Also offered by the Department of Chinese Studies, the programme focuses on three prongs – Chinese literature, History and Philosophy.

Students will be trained in both classical and modern Chinese Studies through modules such as CH2223 Chinese Fiction that covers fictional narrative tradition or CH2244 Chinese Women: History & Literature that will give an idea of the life of women in pre-modern and modern eras.

To find out more about other modules, click here.

Japanese Studies

The Department of Japanese Studies is the largest area studies departments devoted to the study of Japan in the Asia-Pacific region.

Other than being exposed to a broad range of disciplines, students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture as they interact with the Japanese community in Singapore.

In modules such as JS2230 Itadakimasu – Food in Japan, students will evaluate the ways that food influence Japan’s state policies, international conflicts and its national identity or study how entrepreneurship determines the dynamics of the country’s economy in JS 227 Entrepreneurship: Self-made in Japan.

To find out more about other modules, click here.

Malay Studies

The Department of Malay Studies adopts a multidisciplinary and comparative approach that covers the broad issues of the Malay society and Southeast Asia.

From learning about issues that concerns the representation of Malay women and men in various socio-cultural and institutional contexts such as in MS3216 Gender in Malay Societies to uncovering themes, ideas and values reflected in classic Malay films in MS4207 Malay Film, students will gain scholarly knowledge and a better understanding of their history and cultural identity within the modern wold context and its challenges.

To find out more about other modules, click here.

South Asian Studies

The South Asian Studies programme offered by the Department of South Asian Studies seeks to provide a broad understanding of the region that comprises India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives which is crucial for dealing with the region in the 21st century – a time of rapid transformations.

Examples of modules include SN2280 Marriage, Sex, Love in South Asia which will harness students’ analytical skills by uncovering how love and sex are shaped politically, culturally, legally and ideologically or by learning the confluence between geography, environment and divinity in South Asia through the study of the region’s major river system in SN3278 Rivers of India: Divinity and Sacred Space.

To find out more about other modules, click here.

Southeast Asian Studies

The Department of Southeast Asian Studies offers an inter-disciplinary approach which draws on different disciplinary perspectives and methodologies from the humanities and social sciences.

Students can expect a truly, memorable experience as the Department incorporates theoretical modules with the chance to play and study the Javanese gamelan and classical Thai music.

Students will also be introduced to the culture of supernaturalism and its influence in Southeast Asia in FMA1201FS Thinking about the Supernatural in Southeast Asia and are able to investigate the ways illicit substances and behaviours are deeply imbricated in everyday life in Southeast Asia in SE2225 Forbidden Pleasures: Vice in Southeast Asia.

To find out more about other modules, click here.

Success After Hardship

Tamil Murasu

FASS Communications and New Media undergraduate, Mr Ashik Ashokan and his friend, Mr Ashok Kumar, a SIM undergraduate, have made it to the peak of Mount Damavand – the highest volcano in Asia.

Both friends managed to overcome all odds without the help of a high-altitude guide or porters to raise funds for ‘Heart2climb‘ – a charity organisation which they had both started.

No strangers to risky expeditions, the courageous duo had previously scaled Mount Annapurna in Nepal to raise money for charitable causes as well; proving that no mountain is high enough to stop them.

Congratulations to our faculty members!

FASS is pleased to announce that the following faculty members have been appointed as Chair Professors, in recognition of their outstanding and impactful scholarly accomplishments, which are internationally acknowledged.  The appointments are for a period of 3 years from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2018.  The Faculty looks forward to their continued leadership and successful contributions to the growing international profile and standing of the University:

  • Professor Jonathan Rigg, Department of Geography, Raffles Professor in Social Sciences
  • Professor Sun Yeneng, Department of Economics, Goh Keng Swee Professor
  • Professor Julian Wright, Head, Department of Economics: Lim Chong Yah Professor
  • Professor Jean Yeung, Department of Sociology: Provost’s Chair

The University is also pleased to extend the term of the following Provost’s Chairs:

  • Professor Chua Beng Huat, Department of Sociology
  • Professor Lily Kong, Department of Geography
  • Professor Brenda Yeoh, Department of Geography

The Faculty is also pleased to announce that Associate Professor Maurizio Peleggi, Department of History has been awarded the William Lim Siew Wai Fellowship in Cultural Studies in Asia for a period of one year from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016.

NUS Commencement 2015: From NT Student to Budding Teacher

Monday, 6 July 2015

The New Paper

Mr David Hoe and Ms Siti Nur Diyanah Hardy, proud FASS graduates at this year’s Commencement Ceremony, were featured in The New Paper today.

Both Mr Hoe and Ms Diyanah had a less than conventional education path. Mr Hoe, who will be graduating with a Bachelor in Economics degree, was from the Normal (Technical) Stream. Ms Diyanah was a former madrasah student, who became the first Malay student to graduate from NUS with a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree with First Class Honours in Social Work.

Another proud graduate of FASS, Mr Jeremy Lim, had overcome personal challenges and pursued a degree in Japanese Studies. Mr Lim, who was born with brittle bone disease, will be graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree with second class upper honours at this year’s Commencement Ceremony.

The Faculty would like to extend our warmest congratulations and wish all our graduates continued success.

To read the inspiring report of our graduates in AsiaOne, click here.

Click here or here for the Straits Times and Berita Harian article respectively.

Reading Humanities in FASS: What to Expect


The study of Humanities can be said as the study of human culture and experiences through explorations of philosophy, arts, history, languages and literature. Using methods that are often highly critical and analytical, students obtain knowledge that helps to make sense of the past and present. The study of Humanities bridges the past and present and in turn helps us to gain a deeper understanding of the world around us.

In FASS, students have the opportunity to read Humanities subjects such as English Language, English Literature, History, Philosophy and Theatre Studies.

English Language

Offered by the Department of English Language and Literature, the programme is great for those who have a penchant for the language and are interested to delve further into its structure, development and functions in the society.

Through modules such as EL 3206 Psycholinguistics or EL4254 Language, Ideology and Power, students will get a chance to explore the development and complex psychological processes behind the usage of language and examine key concepts and ideas by scholars.

To find out more about other modules offered, click here.

English Literature

Also offered by the Department of English Language and Literature, students who take up the programme will be adept in academic writing as well as literary and cultural reading taken from British, American and Film and Cultural Texts.

Currently, a Creative Writing Track is underway. The special programme will possess three strands – poetry writing, playwriting and prose writing.

Students can look forward to modules such as EN 2204 Reading the Horror Film which highlights the importance of genre analysis in film studies and EN 2271 Introduction to Playwriting which equips students with skills and resources needed to write for the stage.

To find out more about other modules offered, click here.


The Department of History introduces the subject to students who are particularly interested in pressing issues, political and economic trends, geography and other determinants that shaped the past centuries of human civilisation.

Students will be able to explore social concepts or debunk historical and current phenomenon in modules such as HY 2257 Law, Crime and Punishment in History and GEK 2049/GEH 1013 Pirates, Oceans & the Maritime World.

To find out more about other modules offered, click here.


The Philosophy programme curriculum crafted by the Department of Philosophy inculcate critical thinking skills and an appreciation for philosophical traditions.

From investigating alternative conceptions of the human condition in GEK 1067/GET 1029 Life, the Universe and Everything to grappling classic ancient and modern paradoxes in PH 3246 Paradoxes; students will develop valuable skills that are applicable in various aspects of life.

To find out more about other modules offered, click here.

Theatre Studies

The last of programmes offered by the Department of English Language and Literature is also the first degree-conferring programme in Theatre Studies in Singapore.

The modules offered under the programme entails both the theoretical and practical aspects of Theatre in both Eastern and Western traditions.

Students can expect to examine a wide array of film genres and styles in TS 2243 Film Genres: Stars & Styles as well as analyse and subsequently create a performance through another perspective such as in TS 4216 Feminism & Theatre.

Graduating cohort of the programme will also be able to experience working under the guidance of a guest director to put up a professional theatre production as a company in TS 3103 Play Production.

To find out more about other modules offered, click here.

GPN@NUS Leading in Global Production Network Research

“It’s not just about ‘Made in China’! Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and so on are all heavily involved in global production networks in different industries, such as automobiles, electronics, shipbuilding, agro-food, banking and finance, transportation and so on,” says Dr Henry Yeung, Co-Director of the Global Production Networks Centre (GPN@NUS) and Professor of Economic Geography. Read the complete interview in the latest issue of The Alumnus (page 18) here: http://alumnet.nus.edu.sg/magazine/2015July.pdf
Visit the GPN@NUS website: http://gpn.nus.edu.sg/