For students  admitted prior to Semester I, 2009/2010, the QE should be taken before the end of the second year of the PhD candidature. A second attempt may be taken no later than six months after a first, failed attempt. This applies to both full-time and part-time candidates.

For students admitted from Semester I 2009/2010, the QE should be passed within the first two years of the PhD candidature. Within this period, a second PhD QE may be attempted should the candidate fail at the first attempt. This applies to both full-time and part-time candidates. For research scholars, the scholarship will only be suspended upon the recommendation of the Department.

The thesis committee comprises the supervisor and two other faculty members, both of whom can be from any department within NUS (including CNM).

CNM’s QE requirements are that candidates have two written comprehensive examinations and one oral examination.

The Written Examination

Comprehensive Examinations (CE) – Communications and New Media


The written examination consists of TWO papers – one on theory and methods, and another paper on the area of specialisation.

There are two possible formats for the CE. Your supervisor will choose the format most suitable to your field:

1.            Open-book exam of 2 papers, four hours each, to be completed in 1 week (no Internet access).

2.            Take-home exam of 2 papers to be completed in 1 week. Each paper should be 5000-6000 words long.

The open-book CE would be conducted at the CNM Department. The student will have one week (Monday through Friday) to complete the written examination. For the open-book CE, students can choose when to take the exam within that week (i.e. one paper every other day, two papers in one day, etc.). The student should submit to the CNM admin a preferred time schedule for the exam at least 21 days before the examination week.

In preparation for the QE, the student must produce a reading list in consultation with his/her supervisor, and approved by his/her committee. The questions for the written examination will be set by the supervisor in consultation with the other QE faculty members and broadly based on the final reading list. The reading list tend to include book chapters, journal articles, reports and books in candidate’s area of specialisation and chosen theoretical and methodological approaches.

The student, in consultation with supervisor and thesis committee, must ensure that 1) the reading list is finalised at least 1 month before the examination week and 2) the final questions for the two papers submitted to the CNM admin by the supervisor at least 2 weeks (14 days) before the examination week.


Comprehensive Examinations (CE) – Cultural Studies in Asia


For Cultural Studies in Asia students, the CE comprises two open-book take-home review essays on topics related to Cultural Studies in Asia, to be completed by the end of the students’ 21st month of candidature, leaving them at least 3 months to re-take the exam in case of failure.

One of the topics should be a substantive field relating to the candidate’s chosen area of specialisation, while the second topic could be another substantive field arising from the exposure that the candidate would have gained from the coursework component. The review essays should each be of a journal essay length of about 6000-8000 words.

The CE questions and reading lists will be developed by the supervisor(s) or thesis committee members. It is recommended that the reading lists ought to be compiled by the end of the second semester.

The Oral Examination

The oral examination will cover issues that were not clearly articulated in the written examination. It will take place no later than four weeks after the written examination is completed. The committee members will inform the student of the issues which the student will have to address during the oral examination so the student can prepare adequately.

The candidate is expected to orally present his/her thesis proposal to his/her QE committee members during the oral examination and respond to any queries the faculty members may have. The examination should, typically, take 15 minutes for the proposal presentation by the student, 30 minutes for question and answer, and 15 minutes for discussion between the QE committee members only.

The oral presentation should cover the following:

  • A brief overview of the thesis and its significance and their connections to the research objectives.

  • Discussion of key literature and relevant theoretical frameworks.

  • Justification of methodology proposed.

  • Implications of study for research, practice, policy, or other applications.