Cultural Studies in Asia PhD Programme


Cultural Studies in Asia is a field of teaching and research which challenges conventional disciplinary boundaries to rethink received knowledge on existing issues and to address emergent concerns thrown up by the rapid changes and impact on cultural practices, brought on by new technologies and the new phase of global capitalism. Adopting a multidisciplinary methodology, the programme will provide teaching and research skills in the analysis of the flows and exchanges of popular cultural practices in contemporary Asia, across fluid and porous national and cultural boundaries. The aims of this graduate programme are to:

  • Promote specialist and expert study and research of contemporary cultural practices in Asia, and
  • Provide the necessary intellectual training that equips individuals for a variety of careers in the creative industry, in both the private and public sectors.


Research candidates pursuing full-time studies are expected to commit themselves to at least 40 hours per week of study. The University does not encourage full-time students from taking up employment during term time that might interfere with their studies. Foreign students pursuing studies on a Student's Pass must pursue their studies on a full-time basis.

The maximum period of candidature for a doctoral candidate is 60 months from the date of the registration. The maximum period of candidature is inclusive of periods of approved study leave, but may exclude periods of approved leave of absence, subject to Faculty approval. It is inclusive of any period of preparatory study that may be required by the Department where the candidate is pursuing his/her studies.



Candidates must spend a period of residence in Singapore for a minimum of 18 months for the PhD degree during their candidature. Period of study leave and overseas fieldwork do not count towards residency.

Please note that candidates who are awarded NUS scholarships must reside in Singapore throughout the duration of the scholarship award.



The candidature of a student can be terminated when:

  • Performance in coursework and/or research is unsatisfactory; or
  • A disciplinary case is brought before the Board of Discipline.

Students whose candidature are terminated from the University after Instructional Week 2 of the semester will be liable to pay fees for the entire semester. Please refer to this website for information on the fees payable upon termination of candidature.



Candidates admitted must pursue in the University a course of advanced study comprising no fewer than 8 modules and research approved by the Faculty under the supervision of one or more academic staff of the Faculty.

Three core modules are compulsory for all candidates, so as to provide a common grounding in the field. All elective modules will be drawn from existing relevant postgraduate modules on offer from the different departments in FASS. In addition, one special topic module will be conducted each academic year by a visiting scholar.

For PhD students, at least 50% of the total MC requirements must be at level-6000. Up to 25% of the total MC requirements may be at level-4000. The remaining MCs must be at level-5000 or -6000.



All PhD candidates are required to pass the Qualifying Examination (QE) within the first two years of their candidature. They must satisfy the conditions set by the Faculty before proceeding to the PhD QE which comprises:

  • Comprehensive Examinations (CEs) as determined by the programme
  • An Oral Defence of the PhD thesis proposal (for which a 30- to 50-page thesis proposal is expected)
  • Additional programme requirements, where applicable



Other than completing the required coursework and Qualifying Examination (QE), a candidate is also required to complete and submit a thesis for examination within the maximum period of his/her candidature after completing the course of advance study and research.

A thesis should not exceed 80,000 words (including footnotes but excluding appendices, bibliography, maps, charts, statistical tables, graphs, illustrations, etc.). All theses must be written in English.



A candidate's Cumulative Average Point (CAP) should not fall below 3.00 for two consecutive semesters or 3.50 for three consecutive semesters. Termination of candidature will result if a student fails to maintain the minimum CAP as stipulated. For any semester in which a candidate's CAP falls below that required for graduation (3.50 for a doctoral degree), he/she will be issued a warning. If, in the following semester, the candidate's CAP again falls below the graduation requirement, but not sufficiently to warrant immediate termination, he/she will be placed on probation.

A candidate may also be issued a warning or placed on probation for poor performance on the Qualifying Examination (QE), research thesis or other programme requirements.



  • Obtain a minimum Cumulative Average Point (CAP) of 3.50 for the required modules;
  • Must not fail more than two modules;
  • Where applicable, obtain satisfactory grades (at least grade C) in the graduate English modules conducted by the Centre for English Language Communication at advanced level, with the exception of students from the Department of Chinese Studies who are required to achieve an intermediate level of proficiency;
  • Pass Qualifying Examination;
  • Pass PhD thesis; and
  • Pass Oral Examination.

A candidate will be recommended for award of degree once he/she has met the requirements stated above. A candidate may read more than the minimum necessary modules (comprising all required modules within the curricular requirements and in the subject/related disciplines). Generally, only the grades for the minimum necessary modules shall be considered in assessing whether the student has met the degree requirement.



CSA6101 Cultural Studies Theory and Analysis*

This is a foundational module aimed at providing a common conceptual ground for all the candidates in the PhD programme in Cultural Studies in Asia. It examines the works of various theorists from which Cultural Studies draw its concepts and analytic frameworks. It examines how these concepts and frameworks are utilised in the analysis of particular cultural practices and interventions in contemporary societies. Students gain additional depth as they work through the concepts and frameworks in the research papers for this module.


CSA6102 Cultural Studies in Asia*

This module will examine the various areas of research in Cultural Studies conducted by Asian scholars or scholars locating their research in Asia. It will examine the histories, concepts and analytic strategies that these scholars deploy in the analysis of the changing cultural landscapes and practices in contemporary Asia. Abiding themes of the module will be the conceptual constitution of the idea of 'Asia', the emergence of 'trans-Asian' practices and the possibility of 'pan-Asian' identities that these trans-location practices might engender.


CSA6770 Graduate Research Seminar*

This is a required module for all PhD candidates in Cultural Studies in Asia programme. It is a forum for candidates to engage each other in critical discussion of their dissertation and other research projects. Each candidate is required to present a formal research paper. Active participation from each is expected. The module will be graded 'Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory' on the basis of a candidate's presentation and participation in discussions throughout the semester.


CSA6880 Topics in Cultural Studies in Asia

This module is to be taught by an eminent visiting scholar appointed as William Lim Siew Wai Fellow in Cultural Studies in Asia for one semester. The content of the module will vary according to the specialised interests of the fellow. Past visiting fellows include Professor Maila Katrin Stivens, who taught 'Genders, Sexualities and Globalisation: Emerging Asian Perspectives', Professor Mike Featherstone, who taught 'Consumer Culture: Issues in Social and Cultural Theory', Professor Peter van der Veer, who taught 'Religion and the Asian City: Aspiration and Urbanization in the 21st Century', and Professor Meaghan Morris.


Elective Modules

This list of modules is drawn from existing modules offered across disciplines in FASS, their suitability will be reviewed periodically. New modules introduced by the different departments will also be considered at regular curriculum reviews. Students may also propose other modules to be read as electives, but should first discuss this with their supervisor.


Chinese Studies
CH6226 Chinese Literary Theories and Movements
CH6261 Chinese Studies in the West

English Language and Literature
EL5253 Textual Construction of Knowledge
EL6882 Topics in Language and Society
EN5231 Asian and Other Modernities
EN5232 Ideological Approaches to Literature
EN5234 The Postcolonial Novel in English
EN5252 Movies, Spectatorship and Subjectivity
EN6102 Advanced Critical Reading
TS5212 Asian International Cinema

GE5214 Southeast Asian Cultural Landscapes

HY5303 Problems in Cultural History
HY6206 Community Formation in SE Asia

Japanese Studies
JS5203 Japanese Literary and Performance Studies

Malay Studies
MS6201 Literature and Art in Malay Society
MS6204 Capitalism and Malay Culture

PH5650 Topics in Continental Philosophy

Communications and New Media
NM5218 Cultural Policy
NM6201 Communication as Culture

SC5209 Sociology of Everyday Life
SC5219 Tourism: Culture, Society and the Environment
SC6102 Sociological Theory and Social Reality
SC6212 Global Transformation
SC6214 Gender, Culture and Society
SC6215 Religion In The Contemporary World
SC6216 The Anthropological Perspective
SC6222 Topics in Transnationalism

Southeast Asian Studies
SE5221 Southeast Asian Cultural Landscapes
SE5226 Race and Ethnicity in Southeast Asia
SE6227 Postcolonialism in Southeast Asia



As the Cultural Studies in Asia PhD programme is multidisciplinary, there is therefore no specific restriction on the applicant's academic subject background. However, the minimum criteria are as follows:

  • A good Masters degree in a relevant discipline or an NUS Honours degree (at least a Second Class Upper division) or equivalent (e.g. a four-year Bachelor degree with an average grade above B) in a relevant discipline, subject to approval by the Faculty on a case-by-case basis;
  • A deep interest in the Cultural Studies in Asia;
  • An original research thesis proposal;

Please note that admission is highly competitive – meeting the minimum criteria for admission does not imply automatic acceptance into any of the programmes hosted by the Department. Only shortlisted candidates will be notified for interviews, either face-to-face or via telephone. There are two ways to submit an application for admission.



Online: Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply online. Please access the online system and complete the application, after which the form must still be printed out and mailed together with the payment and relevant supporting documents. The main advantages of an online submission are that the application fee is cheaper, and you will be saved the hassle of waiting for written references, as the system automatically sends a request to each of your indicated referees. For more information on the application procedure, please visit the FASS website.


Paper: If you are unable to apply online, please write to for the application materials. Please complete the application form and mail it together with the payment and relevant supporting documents by the given deadline.



There are a variety of NUS research scholarships available to postgraduate applicants. Please visit FASS website to learn more.



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