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 examinations and one oral examination.

The Written Examination

  1. The written examination will consist of two papers: theory and methodology, and a paper in the area of specialisation related to the dissertation. Each paper will be of a four-hour duration.
  2. The exam will be open-book. CNM will provide office space and a computer so the student can write the papers.
  3. 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 tends to include book chapters, journal articles, reports and books in candidate’s area of specialisation and chosen theoretical and methodological approaches.
  4. The student will have one week (Monday through Friday) to complete the written examination portion. 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 Department a preferred time schedule at least 21 days before the examination week. The student is also required to submit a 30 to 50 pages thesis proposal at least 3 weeks before the actual date of the exam.

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.