Asia in Global and Transnational Perspectives; Modern and Contemporary China; Sino-Southeast Asian Interactions; Chinese Diaspora and Migration; History of Singapore; South Asia; History of Science, Technology, and Medicine; Business History; Environmental History 
MA Students 

  • Coursework Requirement: 3 Courses or 9 AUS 
  • Submit a Thesis before graduation.
  • Students on scholarship will usually submit their thesis one year before the maximum period of candidature. 


  1. Completing 3 courses with a CGPA of 3.00 or more
  2. Passing the Confirmation Exercise 
  3. Satisfactory completion of a dissertation of approximately 30,000 words. 40,000 is the maximum word limit for an MA thesis at NTU. 


PhD Students 

  • Coursework Requirement: 6 Courses or 18 AUs 
  • Submit a Thesis before graduation 
  • Students on scholarship will usually submit their thesis one year before the maximum period of candidature. 


  1. Completion of 6 courses with a CGPA of 3.50
  2. Passing the Confirmation Exercise
  3. Satisfactory completion of a dissertation of 75,000 to 85,000 words.


HH7101 Transnational History: Theories, Methods and Practices

This course will offer an introduction on major theories, ideas, methods, practices and problematics associated with the transnational turn in the historical analysis (and the humanities in general). There are 3 main components to this course. The first, a critical review on the conventional nation-state history that emerged in the 19th century and has dominated much of historiography until recently. The second part examines the emergence and characteristics of the "transnational turn" and the key themes in transnational history. The third part will uses cases from various world regions to show how transnational history has been applied to the study of globalisation, regionalisation, technological transformations and provide an alternative to national history.

HH7102 China in Regional and Global Perspectives

The course is concerned with approaches to contemporary China from multi-disciplinary and transnational perspectives. It will trace the origins and evolutions of China/Asian studies since the end of World War II and examine the ongoing debates between area studies and disciplines. It will look at East Asia as an evolving historical and cultural entity from regional and global perspectives and discuss multi-faceted patterns of interactions between nation-states and different sub-regions, with a focus on historicity, culture, network and contact zone. Attention will be given to the impact of globalisation and transnationalism upon Chinese/East Asian studies and the responses from the field. This course will also critically introduce variouse new geocultural frameworks of understanding modern Asia, especially China, Southeast Asia and Japan, as well as their complex interactions since 1900.

HH7103 The City: Theories in Urbanization and State Formation

This course covers advance theories which examine the phenomenon of urbanism in global history; in particular, it encourages students to examine a range of theories and theoretical models which span over time and space. The idea is to challenge students to discard their "modern" conceptualisation of a city and to realize the city is a problematic entity.

HH7104 The "Big Man" and Moral Legitimation of Power in Southeast Asia

This course examines major themes pertaining to the study of political authority and moral legitimacy of power in Southeast Asia from ancient times to the present days. The characterisation of the "Big Man" capture the essential ideas pertaining to the figure of political and moral authority in the region; the "Big Man" is not only an ascribed status but an achieved on as well. The course gives students the historical context within which modern political figures of authority place themselves.

HH7105 The History of Gender in South Asia

Considering gender as a social construction that has evolved over time, the course examines the pre-colonial and colonia periods of South Asian history. The long time span allows students to analyse the disjunctures and continuities of gender constructions in the pre-modern and modern periods.

HH7106 Mughal India 1526-1707

This course involve a thematic investigations of the period of the first six Mughal rulers of India, 1526-1707. Themes that will be addressed include the establishment of the courtly society; the use of religion as a political tool; the negotiation of gender roles; slavery and service; the creation of emperor cults; the politics of culture and interconnected nature of the pre-modern world. Throughout the course, comparisons will be made to developments else where in the Islamicate world - including amongst the Safavids and Ottomans, and developments further afield, including in Europe and Southeast Asia.

HH7107 The United States & Asia: Contemporary History & International Relations

The United States has played a crucial role in the evolution of Asian international relations and patterns of intra-regional governance since the end of World War II. This graduate seminar examines the United States changing policies towards Asia and the complex diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Asia as a regional entity and a consortium of nation-states with differing ideologies and political systems. It seeks to help students appreciate the nature and outcome of the U.S. involvement in Asia since 1945.

HH7108 Migration in Global History: Changing Themes & Evolving Approaches

This course offers an in-depth analysis of modern migration in global history, focusing on the courses, processes, changing identities, and mechanisms of international migration and various transnational networks linking the migrants with their ancestral homelands. Attention will also be directed to the formation of various migration and various immigration regimes and how migrants have adapted in their residing societies, including social organisation, entrepreneurship and political participations.

This course provides graduate students with an advanced introduction to the current debates on historiography. The course focuses primarily on discussion of the major topics that form historical studies of the twenty-first century. Books, articles and themes will be discussed in the context of global history and the history of localities.

In any given year in which the course is offered, the topic(s) chosen for discussion may include, but not necessarily limited to one or more of the following:

  • Economic History
  • Social and Cultural History
  • Historical Globalisation and Local History
  • Theories of History

HH7110 China & the West, 1512-1911


This course provides students a critical understanding of China's interaction with the West. Students will learn different approaches to the question of encounters between societies and cultures. The course focuses on key issues and debates surrounding China's relations with the West before the 1911 revolution. The course will enable students to access the rich variety of letters, memoirs, journals, newspaper reports, and translated archives that give detailed accounts of the encounters. During seminars, we will discuss broader questions fundamental to the course, such as extraterritoriality, the technical and political issues of translation, and the cultural aspects of these encounters. Upon achieving the course, students will have the ability to use the archival material to form their own judgments about China's historical relations with the West.

HH7111 Cold War Research Seminar

This course introduces students to the diverse techniques and analytical frameworks used to study the international history of the cold war. Apart from acquiring an understanding of the origins, course, and consequences of the cold war, students reading this course will be trained and equipped with the analytical tools to undertake international history research and conduct foreign policy analyses.

HH7112 Readings in Science, Technology & Society

This course is an introduction to the field of “science and technology studies” at the postgraduate level. The course will draw on readings from STS, anthropology of science, history of science, sociology of science, and history of technology. This course is aimed at students who may wish to develop a thesis project on topics related to science and technology.​

HH7113 Advanced Directed Readings in History

This course is designed to provide a student with a more individualized course of reading that goes beyond the existing graduate courses. In this course, students are expected to read widely in their chosen field under the guidance of their supervisor/instructor. HH9016 is intended to provide students with a more advanced reading course than HH7888. Students whose research speaks to multiple audiences within and beyond history may also explore another sub-field or a differing approach to history than they examined in HH7888. The content and requirements of each directed reading course are determined by the student in consultation with his/her supervisor/instructor. The reading list, written work, and meeting times will be negotiated between the supervisor/instructor and the student. The final detailed syllabus will be subject to the approval of the Head of Division, prior to the commencement of the course.​

HH7114 Archives

This course introduces students to archival methods, practices and theories. It will address a broad range of different approaches to archives that have emerged in recent decades. Students will explore both conventional, institutional archives—which have been the mainstay of the historical profession—as well as a much wider range of archival practices. Key questions include: how do historians think about archives and how has this shifted over time? How do power relations shape the formation and operation of archives? How do archives construct particular narratives? How has digitization impacted upon historical research? How do historians make their own archives in the absence of, or in addition to, ‘brick-and-mortar’ archives? What is the relationship between the history discipline and family, community, organisational and activist archives?

HH7115 Advanced Reading in the History of Science & Medicine

This course offers an overview of the key book-length studies in the history of science and medicine. The history of science and medicine has made a persistent progress since the early twentieth century. The course instructor will assist students in their critical reading of the major literature constituting the mainline historiography of this field. Students will read and discuss one book per week, and write reviews. In each week, there will also be a presentation of a student’s critical reading of a book, which will be a basis of further discussion during the class.​

HH7200 Historical Methods

Graduate students of history need to develop a range of research and writing skills. These include not only those directly relevant to their dissertation project, but also the ability to research and write articles, to give convincing talks and conference presentations, and so on. This module will prepare students for their professional lives as academics. ​​​​​​

HH7001 Historiography: Theories and Methods

This course will build on students’ knowledge of the practice of history by introducing them to classic works of historiography and the theoretical approaches, which such works take. Each week the course will focus on one key work, which will be contextualised in terms of its contribution to a wider historical and theoretical debate. Approaches covered will include Marxist history, the Annales School, Historical Sociology, the history of Nationalism, Micro-history, The Cultural Turn, Gender history, Subaltern Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, the history of the Senses, and Oral history.

HH7002 History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Modern East Asia

This course will introduce the evolution of science, technology and medicine in East Asia (STMEA) and its relationship with the making of modern nation-state from the late 19th century to the present. The course will cover central questions in this evolution, such as the changing approaches to STMEA, the formation of modern scientific knowledge in the East Asian context, the intimate and complex relationship between science, democracy, and modernity, the role of science and technology in Japanese empire building, public health and population policy, and encounters between the West and East in the transfer of scientific knowledge, etc. This course will also study recent developments in STMEA including China’s Space Programme and SAR epidemics. The course concludes with an analysis of the domestic and international politics of STMEA and a discussion on science fiction in China and Japan.

HH7003 Migration and Diaspora: Chinese experiences in historical and comparative perspective

There are approximately 46 million ethnic Chinese living outside the Mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau today. This course will examine the emergence and transformation of Chinese international migration in the global context of China’s interactions with the outside world and diaspora’s changing patterns of political, social and cultural adaptations. Although it will trace the historical origins of modern Chinese migration dating back to the mid-19th century, this course focuses on the post-1945 era, particularly the period after 1978 when China began its economic reform and opening-up. Apart from examining the linkages with the homeland and transnational ties that connect the Chinese diaspora globally, this course pays special attention to the regions of Asia, Europe and North America. The central themes to be explored in this courses include the historicity of modern Chinese migration, changing faces/fates of Chineseness, complex ethnic and cultural identities and the emergence of Chinese transnationalism, cross-border social and business networks, diaspora’s role in China’s economic development and foreign relations, and comparative and theoretical approaches to Chinese international migration.

HH7004 Comparative Business History

This course covers early modern and modern history, drawing on case studies from the UK, Europe, America and Asia. This course takes a comparative approach to explore the development of modern businesses across Western and Asian societies. Business historians investigate both small and large enterprises and their management practices. Importantly, they also consider the economic, political and social environments in which these businesses operate; this will also be our approach over the semester. The scope of this course is from the late 18th Century through until present times; we’ll trace the development of modern business and business networks in Europe, UK, America and Asia. Case studies from historical and contemporary sources allows students to see the relevance of this field of study to our understanding of businesses in the present day.

HH7006 The United States in the Modern World

The course begins with a general introduction to the competing “origin myths” of American history, which appear to be complementary, but on further investigation reveal an image of the US as a relatively recent political formation. The course covers a historical timeframe from the 17th through the 21st centuries. The arrival of the Mayflower at Plymouth (Plimouth) in November 1620 marks the beginning of this course’s coverage of American history; the signing of the Mayflower compact marked the establishment of self-determining government in northeast America. The European view of “America” clearly began to differ from those of the pilgrims and other settlers, and it culminated in the American revolution of 1776 which established a new geopolitical entity, though there was still no unified concept of the United States of America. The formation of the US was to continue to develop over the next century. The second part of the course emphasizes the empire-building aspects of the US’s history and its role in the modern era. Over a few lectures, American empire building programs will be compared and changes in US strategies and perceptions of their role as an emerging political and military superpower discussed. Also covered in this course are the socio-economic transformations which were taking place within the US during its rise to prominence in the international arena. Rapid industrialization and the formation and flourishing of cities should be observed and examined in tandem with US development into a global superpower. The impact of US imperialism is not restricted to the political, economic, and military spheres, but also extends to the cultural sphere. Among countries most affected by the American way of life are Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines (former US colony). The last lecture will bring the subject to the 21st century and explores the US role in the future.

HH7007 Southeast Asian-China Interactions

The course is divided into three parts. In the first two parts of the course, early historical texts and archaeological artifacts will be used to inform the students’ understanding of early relations between China and Southeast Asia. The last part covers the period of interactions from the 19th century through the present. This is a three-hour weekly seminar. The weekly seminar will be structured in the following sequence: a one-hour lecture followed by two hours of students’ presentations and discussions. Each student is expected to select a reading (usually an article or in the case of a book, a chapter) every week to present during the following week. The only exceptions will be the first week (which will be a two-hour lecture followed by discussion on the allocation of assignments and readings), and weeks during which field trips or other class activities are scheduled (see course outline).

HH7008 Modern South Asia

This introductory course will provide an outline of major events and themes in modern Indian history, from the rise of the East India Company in the 18th century to the partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947 and the emergence of the modern nation states of India and Pakistan. The course will discuss the following themes: the rise of the English East India Company’s control over Indian subcontinent in the 18th century; its emergence as a colonial power and transformation of India into a colonial economy; social and religious reform movements in the 19th century; the emergence of elite and popular anti- nationalisms; independence and the partition of the subcontinent.

HH7010 Biotechnology and Society

This course will introduce students to selected research and commercial applications of modern biotechnology in order to discuss the broader social, ethical, risk, and regulatory issues that arise from them. A range of topics will be covered in this course, including genetic engineering, cloning, stem cell research, xenotransplantation, the production of pharmaceuticals, the human genome project, genetic testing, assisted reproductive technologies, and synthetic biology. Students will consider debates that have taken place in the wider community about ownership, commercialisation, identity, governance, animal welfare, human well-being, and expertise in relation to these applications of modern biotechnology.

HH7011 The Silk Road: Old and New

This course will examine the fascinating and complex history of the ancient Eurasian trade routes and the social, religious and political histories of the civilizations, which developed alongside these routes. Taking a thematic rather than chronological approach, the course is divided into two halves: in the first, we will look at the early history of the Silk Road including the trade in silk, musk and other luxury goods, the links between religion and material culture, the travelers, traders, monks and scholars who traversed these routes; the nomadic populations of Central and Inner Asia; religious co-existence and conflict as well as art and architectural productions. In the second half we will consider the strategic and economic importance of Central Asia and the expansion of Britain, Russia and China into these areas from the 18-21st Centuries. The rise of Islam after the fall of Communism and the continuing struggle of the great powers for mineral wealth forms another topic of discussion. Finally we will end with a consideration of the contemporary relations between the two emerging global and economic powerhouses: China and India.

HH7012 The Transnational Sea: The Indian Ocean in History

The Transnational Sea examines a subject which has become a growing field of study in the discipline of history: the sea as a body of water which has dualistic qualities—it unites as well as divides. The Transnational Sea could be characterized as one segment in a series of lectures which revolve around bodies of water such as the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, the South China Sea, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. For this course, only the Indian Ocean will be examined. The course looks at the most influential studies which have been produced by scholars including K.N. Chaudhuri (used here as a core textbook), Michael Pearson, and Engseng Ho, which deal with some similar themes, but have different emphases: trade, migration, and have a changed perspective in that they look at the interconnections in the Indian Ocean region from the perspective of the sea rather than from the land. The themes examined in the lectures are selective, but offer a wide array of means of looking at the roles played by oceans and seas, in this case, the Indian Ocean, in the history of the world.

HH7013 Culture and Heritage: Perspectives from History

Culture and Heritage: Perspectives from History is a three-hour seminar. The course will address issues which pertain to the debates and discussions of culture and heritage. One of the most neglected resources in any society is the intangible aspects of its cultural and historical heritage. Some countries and regions within countries have been quite successful in marketing certain segments of their cultural and historical heritage. One of the most successful examples in Southeast Asia is Bali, which manages to promote both older and more recently created cultural practices and performances as “traditions”. Today Bali can still be considered a living heritage site in the sense that the Balinese continue their daily ritual practices and routines. However the authenticity of some of the art forms and performances can be questioned. Though this course will address theoretical issues and examples from various places in the world, class discussions and case studies will come predominantly from Asian examples. Some questions to be addressed include the following: what can be considered cultural and historical heritage in each society? Can these be divided into categories such as good and bad, marketable and non-marketable, representative and non-representative, etc? How does a person use heritage tourism as a means of preserving cultural and historical heritage of people who are gradually “losing” their pasts?

HH7014 The Green Earth: Issues in Environmental History

The Green Earth covers some of the most important themes in environmental history which have informed academic scholarship during the last 20 to 30 years. The course begins by examining the impact of the environment on early human evolution and development of early complex societies in the world. It explores the recent proliferation of works on world history which argue that climate change (in the form of a period of warming around 12,000 years ago) led to the stimulation of human actions which had brought about early agriculture and settled complex societies. The bulk of the course focuses on human transformation and exploitation of the environment in various regions of the world as well in through different ways. The lectures are organized according to elements, starting with agriculture (“land”) and proceding to water and fire. The subject of environmental history is closely linked not only with human history and continuous desire to harness energy, but also the subjects of biological exchange (germs and pathogens) and the impact of human actions on the environment including animals, particularly with reference to the extinction of species, deforestation, and the destruction of the earth’s greenery. The course examines how these human actions over several millennia, which have been most deliberate and strongest in the past 200 years, have lasting repercussions on the earth (Gaia), particularly in the form of climate change. Current debates on climate change and strategies to save the environment will be covered at the end of the course.

HH7015 International History of the Cold war

This course is about the history of Southeast Asia and the Cold War. It aims to enlighten students on the origins and course of the conflict in the subregion. It also seeks to help students appreciate the cultural, diplomatic, economic, political, and social impacts of the twentieth century global conflict on Southeast Asia. In addition, the course will analyze the effect that the turn of events in the area had on global and international developments. To those ends, the course will pay particular attention to the multidimensional attempts by external powers to expand their influence in Southeast Asia as well as the ways that peoples within the area furthered their personal and national ends by exploiting, adapting to, and resisting the Cold War powers’ involvement in their societies. By studying developments within twentieth century Southeast Asia from global, international, transnational, and national perspectives, therefore, we will discover that inasmuch as external forces had shaped the subregion, Southeast Asians had also made significant impacts on the course of global and international history.

HH7016 Revolution and Social Changes in Modern Times

Revolutions and Social Changes in Modern Times is a three-hour weekly seminar. The course will challenge students to critique the key theme: revolution. What is a revolution? What makes an event, a process, or movement “revolutionary” whereas another is deemed a “revolt”, “rebellion”, or “uprising”? Does the term “revolutionary” suggest a fundamental transformation in the institutions and structure of what existed previously? Students will be asked to evaluate the revolutionary quotient of some events, movements, and changes which have taken place. The revolutions covered in this course are not restricted to political movements, but also include socio-cultural, intellectual and technological phenomena. The course begins with a general introduction to important concepts students must know when studying the subject of revolutions. The rest of the course is divided into two main parts: one which deals with case studies of polit​ical and socio-cultural revolutions, and the second which examines intellectual and technological revolutions. The course adopts a diachronic approach which allows students to survey the important political, socio-cultural, technological, and intellectual transformations in human society. At the same time, specific case studies allow students to appreciate the detailed background, factors, contexts, and consequences of these revolutions. The end of course will bring the study of revolution into the 21st century as the challenge of environmental concerns and sustainability confronts us. The last seminar will address works which look at the ecological, “green”, “clean”, ‘industrial”, and “sustainable” revolutions of the future.

HH7090 Special topics in History: Global Asia

This course is to be offered by both regular and visiting faculty in history. The particular topic and reading list will be determined by the faculty member and may vary from year to year. It will be conducted in a seminar style, through extensive reading of key texts in the subject and intensive discussions in the class. Students will be required to write two review essays and one research paper and to present their findings in the class. It is anticipated that through students will gain a better understanding of the specific topics and historical discipline through the combination of close reading, critical thinking, intensive discussion and debates, and rigorous training in writing and presentation.

HH7091 Special topics in History: Interdisciplinary History

This course is to be offered by both regular and visiting faculty in history. The particular topic and reading list will be determined by the faculty member and may vary from year to year. It will be conducted in a seminar style, through extensive reading of key texts in the subject and intensive discussions in the class. Students will be required to write two review essays and one research paper and to present their findings in the class. It is anticipated that through students will gain a better understanding of the specific topics and historical discipline through the combination of close reading, critical thinking, intensive discussion and debates, and rigorous training in writing and presentation.

HH7092 Special topics in History: World History

This course is to be offered by both regular and visiting faculty in history. The particular topic and reading list will be determined by the faculty member and may vary from year to year. It will be conducted in a seminar style, through extensive reading of key texts in the subject and intensive discussions in the class. Students will be required to write two review essays and one research paper and to present their findings in the class. It is anticipated that through students will gain a better understanding of the specific topics and historical discipline through the combination of close reading, critical thinking, intensive discussion and debates, and rigorous training in writing and presentation.

HH7888 Directed Reading in History

The course is designed to provide students with a more individualized course of reading that goes beyond the existing graduate courses. In this course, students are expected to read widely in their chosen field under the guidance of their supervisor.

The content and requirements of each Directed Reading course are determined by the students in consultation with his/her supervisor. The reading list, written work and meeting times will be negotiated between the supervisor and the student.