Nanyang Technological University

NTU-USP

​​The Nanyang Technological University – University Scholars Programme (NTU–USP) provides an intellectually stimulating environment for students who are enrolled in our programme. NTU–USP students sharpen their critical thinking skills and leadership abilities through interdisciplinary academic and co-curricular programmes promising independent learning and immersive intercultural experiences.

This academically rigorous multi-disciplinary programme complements and bridges NTU’s core disciplines, adding breadth to each scholar’s academic experience. Scholars remain in their home programme while concurrently pursuing NTU–USP courses and activities.

The NTU–USP experience offers a vibrant student life. Our co-curricular enrichment activities supplement the NTU–USP academic curriculum through freshmen overseas study, seminars by distinguished professors, and NTU–USP scholar-led initiatives.

Curriculum
The NTU-USP Curriculum is designed to be academically rigorous, intellectually daring and stimulating. Students are given many opportunities to explore many disciplines outside their own domain of study. Class sizes are kept small to maximize interaction and foster creative discussions.​ The NTU-USP curriculum intends for students to move out of their comfort zone and explore other areas of interest, which may or may not be their niche.

 

  • ​​​​​​​​​​Curriculum for Students admitted in AY2014 and before
    Students are required to take five core courses, and select five elective courses of their interest from four academic categories; one course from each category with the fifth course chosen from any category (i.e. total of 10 NTU-USP courses). These courses are to be read throughout the student's length of study.

    The NTU-USP courses offered are listed below. Please note that the NTU-USP elective courses offered in each academic year (AY) may vary depending on the availability of faculty as well as the inputs from existing students.

    Core courses

    • ​​​​Writing and Reasoning ​
    • ​​​​​​​​​​Ethics ​
    • Planet Earth
    • Quantitative Reasoning ​
    • ​​​​​​​​The Great Ideas ​ (for those who matriculated in or before 2013) / Innovation, Enterprise and Leadership (for those who matriculated in 2014)

     

    Elective courses to be chosen from the following categories

    • ​​​Arts, Humanities, and Culture (AHC) ​
    • ​​​​​​​​​​Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) ​
    • ​​​​​​​​​​Science and Engineering (SE) ​
    • ​​​​​​​Social Sciences (SS) ​

    An exception is made only for students from the Nanyang Business School (NBS) due to the nature of NBS programmes which require students to complete an honours degree within a duration of three years. Students from NBS are exempted from Quantitative Reasoning and take only one elective from each category (i.e. total of 8 NTU-USP courses).


  • ​​​​​​​​​​Curriculum for Students admitted in AY2015 and after
    Students are required to take four core courses, and select five elective courses of their interest from two academic categories; two from each category and one more from either category (i.e. total of 9 NTU-USP courses). Core courses will be read in the student's first two years in NTU while elective courses can be read throughout the student's length of study.

    The NTU-USP courses offered are listed below. Please note that the NTU-USP elective courses offered in each academic year (AY) may vary depending on the availability of faculty as well as the inputs from existing students.

    Cores
    • ​​​​Writing and Reasoning ​
    • ​​​​​​​​​​Ethics ​
    • Quantitative Reasoning
    • ​​​​​​​​Fieldwork and Documentation/ Travel Overseas Programme for Scholars (TOPS)

    Elective courses to be chosen from the following categories
    • ​​​Arts, Humanities, and Culture (AHC)
    • ​​​​​​​​​​Science, Technology, and Society (STS) ​

    The electives include a range of diverse modules that are specially planned and produced by faculty fellows across NTU for NTU-USP scholars.

    An exception is made only for students from the Nanyang Business School (NBS) due to the nature of NBS programmes which require students to complete an honours degree within three years. Students from NBS are required to take the same four core courses but will take three elective courses of their interest from two academic categories instead of four; one from each category and one more from either category (i.e. total of 7 NTU-USP courses).

 

Cores

  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0001 Writing and Reasoning
    The class will examine several major essay writers from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, which will work as models to learn about the art of essay writing. These texts will also engage students with historical and cultural issues on which to reflect. Students will also use two textbooks on writing and reasoning. The main textbook will be "Writing to Learn" and the secondary textbook will be "Reasoning and Writing Well".
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0002 Ethics
    This seminar challenges students to think rigorously about morality. The first part of the course explores whether or not moral judgments can be objectively true. Then, we examine several influential philosophical theories of morally right action. Throughout the term, students will be asked to construct and evaluate moral arguments. This will hone the student's ability to reason about issues of moral concern. In this module students will learn about the writings of thinkers who lived centuries ago, as well as important works by contemporary philosophers. It will become apparent that intelligent people can disagree about moral issues, and that no one person's moral views are beyond criticism. However, careful study will reveal that some views concerning morality are more credible than others. The student's task will be to evaluate the various perspectives and form a reasoned judgment as to how the central questions of the course should be answered.
  • SP0005 Quantitative Reasoning
    This course consists of several parts. 1. Introduction; This part introduces the fundamental ideas and challenges in problem solving and decision making, with an emphasis on the roles of qualitative reasoning and quantitative reasoning. 2. Quantitative Reasoning with Complexity; This part introduces students to the problem-solving and decision making process and the basic ideas and techniques in optimization. 3. Quantitative Reasoning with Uncertainty and Risk; This part studies the basic concepts and techniques in decision analysis. We will review the basics in probability and statistics and then introduce students to the basic ideas and techniques in decision analysis including utility theory. 4. Quantitative Reasoning with Conflict and Competition; This part introduces students to decision making with conflict and competitive, and the basic concepts and techniques in negotiation and game theories. 5. Quantitative Reasoning in our Daily Life; The objective of this part is to apply quantitative reasoning to the solution of real-life decision problems.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0007 Fieldwork and Documentation/ Travel Overseas Programme for Scholars (TOPS)
    This course aims to prepare and expose students to the various aspects of conducting a documentation project in the humanities, arts and social sciences. It allows students to explore the following areas: typical research process, research methods, information seeking, ethics, research writing, and media production. The course is project-based, and students work in teams to go through the process of crafting their own subject matter, writing and storytelling, and documenting their findings using mixed media. Moreover, each time the course is taught, it will contain an overseas research trip as central to the overall learning objectives and experiences. In additional to learning research methods, there will be various content learning objectives as well.

 

Elective courses to be chosen from the following categories

  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0012 International Trade
    The course will cover the law of comparative advantage, the gains from trade, the Ricardian model, factor intensity and factor abundance, the Heckscher-Ohlin theory, factor-price equalization, standard and alternative trade theories, product differentiation and intra-industry trade, technological gaps and product cycles, trade and economic development, import substitution versus export orientation, tariff and non-tariff barriers, theory of effective protection, instruments and impacts of trade policy, economic integration, customs unions and free trade areas, international factor movements, and multinational corporations.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0014 Making Sense of Politics ​​
    The purpose of this course is to introduce students to a way of thinking seriously about politics with the goal for them to have a better grasp of essential political ideas and principles. It will explore public opinion, electoral processes, voting behaviour, institutional processes, international law, international organisations, and other areas in the political science discipline. This course will also help students to understand controversial issues in our society today and to draw a distinct line between subjective opinion and empirical knowledge.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0015 Understanding Science in the Media ​​
    This course teaches the basics of the scientific method, how the general public comes to understand science, and how to critically evaluate media representations of science. This course has three main learning objectives. First, students will learn about the scientific method, irrespective of academic discipline. Second, they will learn about public opinion research and the role of public opinion in popular discourse and policymaking. Third, they will study representations of science in the media (e.g., news stories about scientific discoveries) and employ the tools for critical evaluation of media claim. After completing this course, students will have a clearer understanding of the scientific method, which will benefit them not only in their future coursework, but also their appreciation of knowledge. Students will understand broader social phenomena related to scientific discovery. They will learn that society and social change are inextricably linked with scientific discovery and that public opinion can influence the social utilization of science.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0017 The Changing Global Economy ​​
    This course provides an introduction to the current issues that impact consumers, businesses and governments in the global economy. These include economic growth, stagnation, volatility, government policy, international cooperation. As well as inculcating factual knowledge, the course provides a sound background in macroeconomic and trade theory. The objectives of this course are to equip students with: 1. Understanding of the basic principles of economics. 2. Skills in applying economic theory to practical problems. 3. The skills to undertake original economic research in a group project. 4. The ability to articulate and debate economic issues in discussions. 5. The acquisition of knowledge about the world economy that relates to understanding future economic condition. The course proceeds from the study of the market economy to the national income, the circular flow, total demand, money and banking and international economics. It includes discussions of economic problems such as world health outcomes and the ageing population. Students will give presentations on an independent (group) research project and there will be discussion sessions in which the students have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the material covered in lectures and in the textbook.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0019 The Book in the Digital Age: Culture and Technology ​​
    This course is designed to familiarize students with the notion of the book as an evolving technology as well as debate about its place in contemporary society. The course will provide students with opportunities for critical reflection on the role of the book in our own digitally saturated society compared to the past. Some of the topics to be taken up include: What is a book? Geographical and historical perspectives. Looking at the history of the book to see its future. The changing form of the book. The book today. Digitalization of books (Google, Amazon, Apple e-books and readers). Wikipedia and the new encyclopedism. New forms of reading. The role and function of reading today. Legal and ethical issues surrounding ebooks and online reading.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0021 Information Tomorrow ​​
    This course examines the foundations of the information society, the Internet as a driver of change, and the associated challenges and issues it has brought forth, the need to understand and apply an individual role’s in discovering, mixing, creating, sharing new content in the highly interconnected and pervasive information environment. Key topics addressed include information overload, metaliteracy, information sources, metadata for knowledge discovery, data preservation and archiving, roles of information institutions, copyright and intellectual property, digital footprints, and digital citizenry.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0032 Art, Technology, and the Image ​​
    In this course students will be introduced to the traditionally interdisciplinary relationship between art and technology. We will look at the history of technologies that have informed the development of visual media, examining how non-digital media have influenced our understanding and uses of newer digital media today. We will also consider the socio-cultural dimensions of art and technology, exploring issues of identity, our understanding of place and how technology and design thinking can address social problems in a globally mediated culture. Developing the capacity to effectively analyse and communicate concepts not only through writing but visually is a crucial form of literacy across cultures.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0037 Fables, Folklore, and Literature ​​
    Every society has its fables, myths, and folktales which are often transmitted orally. In this class, we will examine the phenomenon of folktales and folk culture from a comparative perspective. We begin with the `discovery' of folk culture in the late 17th & early 18th centuries by the brothers Grimm in Germany, and the brothers Perrault in France. What role did folk culture play in the birth of modernity, and why did these stories acquire such importance for scholars of the Enlightenment? Originally meant for adults, why did they become a vital part of children's education? Following this historical survey, we will examine the diverse perspectives of 20th century scholars: folk tales as archetypes, as reflections of the true character of a people; as the source of stock characters and plots; and as transformations of pagan myths or religious beliefs, or even historical events.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0038 Heritage Studies ​​
    The aim of this interdisciplinary course is to engage students from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds to develop an enhanced awareness of knowledge organization and innovation within a globalizing world, in which they are trained to become active leaders in their major of studies. In the past, human societies embedded their knowledge and values in complex interactions of written, pictorial, sculptural and architectural records, oral memories, and performed rituals. These were their media and in these forms we inherited their arts and science. Now, our society is very close to a fully digital access to all information encapsulated in monuments, museums, galleries, libraries, archives and live performances all over the world and in any language. But to distil data into knowledge, a new generation of scholars, artists, and professionals needs to discuss, test, and implement ICT tools and solutions in correlation with 1) the centuries-old results of each single discipline, which contributes to the domain of heritage science (in humanities, social sciences, architecture, life sciences, engineering, and computer sciences) and 2) the technological potential evolution. The object of this course is to contribute to the training of this new generation.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0040 Maritime Silk Roads: Past, Present, and Future ​​
    The aim of this course is to provide students with an appreciation of the role that the so-called maritime Silk Road(s) had for medieval and modern societies (both in Europe and Asia) and think about the role of new Silk Roads in contemporary and future global societies "as a metaphor for the on-going flow of ideas and knowledge between Asia and Europe, which in turn contribute to the reconfiguration of global economic and diplomatic relationships" (van der Ploeg, J. - G. A. Persoon & H. Liu, p. 6). The course surveys the cartography of Asia (art, science, and ideology) in Western and Asian traditions (1200-today), with focus on the maritime silk road(s). The course will introduce a series of geographical mind sets, which still pervade the contemporary 21st century global system of world ontologies based on both ancient pagan kosmos and Christian mundus. Using the maritime silk roads as a work case, the course examines the geographical, cultural, socio-political and economic contexts, through which the art of cartography served both the need of thinking about the world, describing geographic factors, aggregating and navigating ethnographical knowledge, imaging geopolitical realities, and supporting expansionistic strategies. As a methodological leitmotif the in-class investigation of case studies includes the discussion/interpretation of representations and models of maritime silk roads.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0042 Dramatic Texts: Adaptation and Improvisation ​​
    This course aims to introduce students to the understanding of playwriting by adapting from a previously written published dramatic text. The course equips students with basic knowledge of theatre by introducing them to actual theatre spaces and providing them opportunities to interact with professionals in the field. Students are introduced to the understanding of the importance of adaptation in dramatic texts, and how adaptation advances the notion of cultural mobility. The course also involves improvisation workshops, and discussions on adaptations, two important elements in theatre practice. The students will also be introduced to the idea of cultural mobility, and how adaptation can be an important factor in the negotiation of mobility and rootedness in cultural aesthetics.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0043 What is Art to Us?: The Role of Aesthetics ​​
    This course will address these questions through the exploration of how the nature and appreciation of beauty, especially in art, can change over space and time according to cultural values. Students will explore the philosophy and practical aspects of aesthetics in its evolution. Throughout the course we will explore the political, ethical, and artistic values related the choices that cultures make in honouring one aesthetic over another and our human biological constrains as well, in matter of perception and capacities of perceiving reality.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0044 Health, Culture and Society ​​
    Health, Culture and Society provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of the medical humanities. We look at the roles that literature and cultural studies, clinical medicine, and public health play in efforts to understand and ameliorate health problems around the world. Our understanding of illness is not simply determined by physical symptoms but influenced by class, gender, and ethnicity, and perceived differently by patients, practitioners, and policy-makers. Topics include anxiety, disability, euthanasia, the doctor-patient relation, pain, and mental health. Together we will read a selection of short literary texts and films alongside a selection of material from the history, philosophy, and sociology of medicine. This course reveals unexpected connections between the arts and humanities and current debates on health and healthcare.
    No medical knowledge required.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0051 Astronomy ​​
    This course aims to equip students with key knowledge in modern astronomy and cosmology. Through the course, students will learn about the history of astronomy, navigating the sky, the origin and content of our solar system, and the evolution of stars and galaxies. Topics including the big bang, the geometry and structure of the universe, dark matter and dark energy, will be discussed to give students an overview of current ideas in modern cosmology and for them to ponder about our place in the universe. The course will also present exciting astronomical discoveries in recent time. During the course, students will also have opportunities to learn practical skills in solar observation and star gazing to supplement their learning of the course
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0056 Workings of the Human Body ​​
    This course aims to participants a basic introduction to the human body as well as recent developments in research related to human health. Two systems in the human body covered in detail are the nervous and immune system, including their accompanying diseases which can arise. Other topics include recent developments in genetics, stem cells, ageing, metabolism, cancer, viruses and therapeutic cloning. The topics in the course will be illustrated with everyday relevant examples taken from news articles to develop a better understanding of the topics.This will prepare participants to understand everyday news articles concerning human health, disease and current scientific developments in the life sciences.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0058 Introduction to Programming ​​
    This course introduces programming to students with no prior knowledge in programming. The objectives of this course are to equip students with knowledge of programming concepts, and skills of solving software problems with the use of an object-oriented programming language.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0062 Discerning Biology in Popular Media ​​
    The course aims to bring students through foundational concepts in biology (human anatomy, physiology, molecular genetics and cell biology) and their application to our society, through the analysis of science fiction movies and televised drama series. It also aims to develop a higher level of discernment in handling scientific information incorporated in popular media and a greater awareness of ethical and political issues related to technological advances in future society.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0064 Planet Earth (elective for Students admitted AY2015 and after; classified as core for Students admitted AY2014 and before) ​​
    This course examines the Earth and its systems through lecture, group-based inquiry learning, and individual reading, writing, and research. Content is based on major discoveries by scientists in the broad fields of Astronomy, Geosciences, Geography, and Biosciences. This will provide the gateway for investigation into such topics as the formation of the solar system, the lithosphere, the atmosphere, and climate change, ocean circulation, the biosphere, ecology, and how humans interact with the environment.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0072 Enterprise, Innovation and Leadership (elective for all batches except for Students admitted AY2014) ​​
    This course introduces students to the topics of innovation, enterprise and leadership and how these are interlinked. Not only will students develop a strong conceptual understanding of the frameworks underlying each of these areas but also how these principles are applied and practiced in the real world.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0073 The Great Ideas (elective for Students admitted AY2014 and after; classified as core for Students admitted AY2013 and before) ​​
    This course examines ongoing debates about the great ideas of liberty, equality, and rights. In the summer of 2015, the United States Supreme Court upheld the right to marry a person of the same sex. Explaining this new right, the majority opinion said, "The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times" and referred to "the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning." The court's legal reasoning drew on constitutional amendments written centuries before to extend equal rights to freed slaves. Through interactive seminars and short writing assignments, we examine the changing meaning of liberty in different nations, and we gain practice articulating our own perspectives on these issues. We examine England's Magna Carta (1215), the United States Constitution's Bill of Rights (1789), the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the Singapore Constitution's (1965) guarantee of "Fundamental Liberties" for all. Special attention is focused on rationales for Singapore's approach, sometimes referred to as "Singapore communitarianism," "authoritarian constitutionalism," or "illiberal democracy." We explore contrasting approaches to the law of freedom of expression, freedom of religion, rights to privacy, rights to due process and humane treatment, rights to equality for women and minorities, and rights to personal autonomy in matters such as sexuality. Contemporary debates on issues such as animal rights, recreational drug use, and rights of transgendered persons are also examined.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0077 Creative Writing ​​
    This foundational course introduces students to the major literary genres of poetry, fiction and drama and to the literary techniques essential to success in these genres (including imagery, voice, dialogue, characterization, and narration) as well as to the processes which drive creative productivity. Students will complete original assignments in each of these major genres while learning the procedure for work-shopping each other's products and the benefits of constructive criticism and revision.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0078 Schooling and Culture ​​
    The aim of this course is to explore the origins of Western education: from its four thousand year old roots in the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean basin to the cherished traditions and beliefs of today. We will study education in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, and the changes that took place during the Middle Ages, the Reformation, the Renaissance, and most recently during the 20th and 21st century. As we follow the formalization of the educational system we learn more about these historic societies themselves: how they viewed children and youth, what was considered appropriate for teaching and study, which groups were privileged to attend schools and why, what being educated meant or what education provided access to, or what the benefits were for the society itself. The educational systems of non-Western societies and other times will be surveyed as foils for our own beliefs and assumptions, enabling us to gain a wider perspective and a more critical stance. Examples of non-Western traditions may be taken from ancient or modern China, Japan, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Mexico, and other areas.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0079 Language and Society ​​
    This course explores sociolinguistic issues with a focus on the societal, cultural, political, psychological, and interactional contexts of language use. Students will have a research-based understanding of key theoretical views of language use in society and learn to examine how language use is influenced by social factors and how social categories such as social status, ethnicity, occupation, and gender can be reflected by language use. Students will also learn how to follow sociolinguistic principles to distinguish functions and varieties of language in a sociocultural context.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0081 Culture and Conflict ​​
    Culture and Conflict is a multi-disciplinary course which explores the relationship between artistic production and social / political disorder. It investigates the basic philosophical notion that art thrives in times of war, and expires in peace, then goes on to question whether art, as a form of social barometer, can actually anticipate conflict as opposed to merely responding to it. The course also observes the extent to which culture (especially that derived from conflict) is used to create specific social identities and contemporary concepts of memory. A range of historically and geographically diverse case studies will be used: the Medieval and Renaissance Mediterranean, the First World War in Europe, the `Troubles? in Northern Ireland in the 1980s, and present day Singapore. Whether we are looking at the anticipation of war through the ballet, or increasingly avant-garde sculpture, or observing medieval multiculturalism through a microscopic examination of a painted surface or a virtual reconstruction of Cypriot architecture, we are consistently looking at the relationship between culture and conflict. The media of exploration will be: art theory, painting, sculpture, ballet, popular / protest music, architecture, multi-media / technology and international law. Suitable site visits within Singapore to compliment the course will be provided as part of the experiential learning and appreciation of the issues covered in the course.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0083 Science and Literature ​​
    This course will investigate various treatments of science by literature according to both traditional and contemporary (postmodern) theories within the philosophy of science, especially the works of Hume, Popper, Kuhn and Lyotard. According to Lyotard, science has traditionally been valued either for its emancipatory potential, or according to how it assists in the realization of a unified scientific whole. Texts by Ibsen and Glaspell provide an opportunity for investigating the poignancy of the first of these legitimation narratives, while texts by Ursula LeGuin and John Banville will help us evaluate the second legitimation narrative. Finally, we will conclude the semester by questioning whether scientific knowledge is, as Foucault suggests, "linked in a circular relation with systems of power which produce and sustain it, and to effects of power which it induces and which extend it. A regime of truth;" relevant texts to this discussion are Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 and Darren Aronofsky's Pi.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​SP0085 Gender Roles ​​
    This course offers a multidisciplinary approach to Gender Role Studies within the context of communication, an interdisciplinary academic field that explores critical questions about the representation of gender in society. The ​primary goal of this course is to familiarize students with key issues, questions and debates concerning gender roles, with a particular emphasis on communication and culture

 

Eminent Speakers Series
The Eminent Speaker Series (ESS) is a series of talks and seminars for scholars that aims to provide a higher-level platform for the scholars to connect with world-class professor, industry and business leaders and to learn best practices from the best brains around the world.

ESS topics will be broad-based to cater to the different needs and expectations of the scholars. The topics range from culture and the arts, business and entrepreneurship, philosophy, modern science and technology to politics.

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