‘As a department we aim to be a key node of geographical knowledge production and dissemination, through both teaching and research, within Asia and globally’
Located in one of the most culturally diverse and technologically advanced cities in the world, at the centre of an extremely dynamic and exciting region, Geography at the National University of Singapore has a long and proud history. This history dates back to 1928, when Geography became one of the first subjects offered in the Faculty of Arts at Raffles College, and what was eventually to become National University of Singapore. Having recently celebrated our 90th birthday, we are now firmly established as Asia’s leading Department of Geography and are consistently ranked among the top geography departments globally. This reputation is in part built upon research excellence in three key areas: tropical environmental change, social and cultural geographies, and political and economic geography. It is also, however, a product of a long-standing commitment to collegiality, inclusion, safety and mutual respect.
No academic department in any top university can build its reputation without outstanding people or in the absence of institutional support. We are very fortunate to have this unique combination of outstanding faculty, staff, students and alumni, and a highly supportive university that is willing to invest in both its people and infrastructure. Our department is located in a state of the art campus with world-class laboratory facilities. We are a vibrant community of faculty and staff representing a broad range of nationalities, including a substantial number of Singaporeans and long-time residents. Many have previously studied and worked in some of the very top departments of Geography in the world. This diversity in our faculty underpins our great intellectual strength and international outlook.
We are also home to a growing graduate community of approximately 80 students, encompassing taught Masters, Masters by research and PhD student). We also have a thriving undergraduate programme that typically has 90-100 students in the final Honours year. Each year we offer around 50 undergraduate modules in addition to advanced modules for our graduate students. We host Singapore’s first, and still only, dedicated graduate programme in GIS (MSc Applied GIS), launched in 2016. These modules provide 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. We 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).
Our teaching through fieldwork reflects our commitment to understanding the region in which we are based (i.e. Southeast Asia) but also Asia more broadly, and its growing prominence in the world. We run overseas field studies modules for undergraduate students to Thailand, and other countries that form the catchment for the Mekong. Our students also have the opportunity to develop their field-based observational and research skills in more distant locations, including through an undergraduate field studies-based module that focuses on the Great Rift Valley of eastern Africa.
For almost 70 years the Department has been home to the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography (SJTG, published by Wiley-Blackwell), which we see as an important part of our international visibility and contribution to the discipline. In addition to the long established and distinctive focus on tropical environments, the SJTG 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 SJTG 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 alumni have attained outstanding achievements and contributed much to Singapore and elsewhere. We look forward to more interaction with our alumni in future. We recognise the valuable role that alumni can play in inspiring 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 in one of the most amazing and dynamic cities in the world. We 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.
Professor David Taylor
Head, Department of Geography