‘Our mission as a department is to be a key node of geographical knowledge production and dissemination, through both teaching and research, within Asia and globally’
Geography at the National University of Singapore has a long and proud history dating back to 1928, when it became one of the first subjects offered in the Faculty of Arts at Raffles College, a former entity of our University. Some 90 years on, we are firmly established as Asia’s leading geography department and are consistently ranked among the top 10 geography departments globally. This reputation is built upon research excellence in three key areas: tropical environmental change, social and cultural geographies (with a particular focus on Asian cities), and political and economic geography. This excellence is showcased by the wide range of high quality research and publications that we produce every year and their high impact and visibility in the academic communities throughout the world.
No academic department in any top university can build its reputation without outstanding people, from faculty and staff to students and alumnus. We are very fortunate to have this unique combination of outstanding people and institutional support. We are a vibrant community of some 50 people—40 academic faculty members ably supported by 10 administrative and technical staff. Our world-class faculty members comprise more than half Singaporeans and long-time residents. Our international faculty members have come from many of the best departments of Geography in the world. This diversity in our faculty underpins our great intellectual strength and international outlook.
On the educational front, we are home to a growing graduate community of approximately 75 students (encompassing taught Masters, Masters by research and PhD students) and have a thriving undergraduate programme that typically has 90-100 students in the final Honours year. The long-established NUS Geographical Society is a lively part of our community, organising several key events every year including the countrywide NUS Geography Challenge quiz for secondary schools. Each year we offer around 50 undergraduate modules in addition to advanced modules for our graduate students. These modules give a broad base with offerings in all key areas of contemporary geography, but also allow for specialisation in topics that relate to the research strengths of the Department. Our teaching also reflects our commitments to understanding the region in which we are based (i.e. Southeast Asia but also Asia more broadly) and to fieldwork, as seen in the 6-week field studies module in Thailand that we run each year. We also offer Minor degrees in Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Urban Studies, Geosciences and Aquatic Ecology, and in collaboration with the Department of Biological Sciences we deliver the cross-Faculty Bachelor of Environmental Studies programme (BES). And in August 2016 we launched our inaugural taught Masters programme in Applied GIS.
For 65 years now the Department has been home to the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography (published by Wiley-Blackwell), which we see as an important part of our international visibility and role. In addition to the long established and distinctive focus on tropical environments, the Journal has increasingly become a key forum for critical work on the histories of tropical geography, postcolonial perspectives and the rethinking of the geographies of development. This has been developed through a set of special issues and Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography lectures held at international conferences.
Graduates of NUS Geography have gone on to be leaders in society and the wider world. From politicians and business leaders to university president and principals of leading schools in Singapore, our alumnus have attained outstanding achievements and contributed much to Singapore and elsewhere. We are extremely proud of you. We look forward to more interaction with you in the near future and hope you will feel a “sense of place” again through these home-coming events and activities. We need your gracious support to inspire the next generation of geography students!
In short, Geography at the National University of Singapore is a long-established and thriving research and learning hub. I hope you enjoy finding out about our activities from these webpages. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to know more.
Acting Head, Department of Geography