Public Policy and Global Affairs

Chen Chung An

Graduate Coordinator, Public Policy & Global Affairs

Assoc Prof Chen Chung-An
[email protected]

Gain Personal and Professional Growth through Inspiring Conversations and Research

Public Policy and Global Affairs (PPGA) offers full-time and part-time Ph.D. by research. It is a fast-growing research programme in Asia with a vibrant research community. Current faculty research interests include but are not limited to: Foreign Policy Analysis, Regionalism and Regional Integration (European Union, ASEAN), Chinese Foreign Policy, China-Africa Relations, Religion and Politics, International Security, Interstate Conflict, Contemporary Political Theory, Public Servant Motivation, Public Budgeting and Finance, Talent Strategies and Management, City Planning and Design, Smart Nations, Healthy Ageing, and Health Financing Reforms. 

Our programme rigorously trains students to acquire a solid mastery of the theoretical, methodological and analytical tools to conduct independent research. Students develop their research skills by attending local and overseas conferences, giving research assistance, and preparing papers for presentation and publications. Many of our graduates pursue successful academic careers in renowned universities in Asia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Besides, some graduates have been employed in local and international think tanks. Some work in other employment sectors such as national and international governmental bodies, non-profit sectors, and private sectors in different regions.

The Ph.D. programme in PPGA is MOE-subsidised.
  • A good Master’s degree and Bachelor degree in Public Policy, Public Administration, Law, Political Science, International Relations or related field from a highly ranked university, with Honours (Distinction) or Second upper Honours and the ability to pursue research in the candidate's proposed field of advanced study.

  • A good language proficiency score: IELTS score at least 7.0 (on all subtests); TOEFL score at least 105 – Internet Based Test Score or 580 – Paper Based Test Score. IELTS is preferred.​ The IELTS/TOEFL score must have been attained within 2 years prior to application. 
  • Applicants who fulfilled either of the following criteria are exempted from the IELTS or TOEFL submission:

    - Native language is English
    - Bachelor's or Master's Degree (must be at least 3 years of study) where English is the medium of instruction*

    * A letter from the respective universities is required with the following details:

                  - Duration of Studies   
                  - Programme
                  - Medium of Instruction

    Applicants whose Bachelor's degree is from NTU, NUS, SMU or SUSS need not submit the letter.

  • It is strongly recommended for applicants to contact one of the faculty members whom they wish to work with. Applicants can discuss their proposal with the faculty member and ask for suggestions and feedback prior to submitting the application.


  • The University recognizes the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition, TOEFL ITP Plus, IELTS Indicator, IELTS for UKVI and GRE Take Home Test online tests strictly administered by ETS. The test score reports must be dated no later than 31 December 2023. Other test such as GMAT, GATE and other English proficiency tests are not acceptable.

Candidates may start applying online from 1 October for consideration to the following August intake. The application deadline is on 15th November for the Nanyang Research Scholarship (RSS) (same portal for self-financing students), and the Nanyang President's Graduate Scholarship (NPGS)​. All applications received after 15 November will be processed for the next August intake as the PPGA programme has one intake (August) only.

Candidates who would like to be considered for Scholarship should meet the stipulated deadlines. Candidates applying for the Nanyang President's Graduate Scholarship (NPGS), need not submit an additional application for the Nanyang Research Scholarship (RSS). However, RSS candidates will not be considered for the NPGS unless application has been made directly for the NPGS.

All graduate research applicants will have to pay an application fee of S$50.00. Only the first choice of the application will be processed. Candidates who wish to be considered to more than one subject area will have to make separate applications. 

Incomplete applications will not be processed by the School. Please ensure that your referee is aware of your application and is prepared to make the referee report submission as soon as he/she receives the automated official email from NTU. Applications will only be considered upon the receipt of the referee reports.

Applicants have to ensure the accuracy of all data before submission is made as no amendments are permitted once the application is submitted. 

Admission depends on the quality of the application as a whole, including the academic record, relevant experience, and research proposal​​. The research proposal is the essence of the application. Applicants need to design their proposal with clarity and sound judgement on the scope of the research in the subject area that they want to undertake. Please use this template to input your research details. 

Decisions on admission to the University are made on academic merit, the availability of an appropriate supervisor and/or availability of scholarship. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed to ascertain their holistic suitability for graduate studies. The School considers every application carefully before making recommendations for admission. Successful candidates will receive the offer from the University’s Office of Admissions. Candidates shortlisted for admission will be notified of the outcome anytime between March to May for the August intake and November to December for the January intake (if applicable).

The Research Programmes in the School of Social Sciences are MOE-subsidised​.

For more information, please visit the Research Programmes Admission Guide page.

Enquiries can be sent to [email protected]

Ph.D. students must complete and pass the following:
  • Six Courses: One of the following: HA7009 Selected Topics of Research Methods In Public Affairs or HA7010 Qualitative Methods for Public Affairs or HA7011 Quantitative Methods for Public Affairs I or HA7012 Quantitative Methods for Public Affairs II; HA7888 Independent Study; HA7889 Directed Readings in Political Science and Public Policy and Three Electives.
  • Other Degree Requirements
  • Qualifying Examination
  • Thesis​
  • Oral Examination

Typically, Ph.D. students must complete the coursework requirement within the first three semesters. The timeline should be discussed with the Supervisor and/or Graduate Coordinator). They should maintain a minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.50. Other degree requirements include: ERI701 Epigeum Research Integrity (online course), HWG703 Graduate English course(unless exempted), HWG702 University Teaching for Teaching Assistants, Scholarly Communications and Impact (online course), Communications Courses, 3 Minute Thesis Symposium and attend research seminars. Students on scholarship might have additional requirements to fulfil. Students are encouraged to work closely with their supervisor and the graduate co-ordinator to ensure timely completion of all the requirements. 

Ph.D. students will have to submit and defend their thesis proposal as part of the Qualifying Examination (also known as the Confirmation Exercise). The Qualifying Examination should be completed within 18 months from start of candidature. The final completed thesis will be examined by a panel of internal and external examiners, after which, an oral examination will be held. Refer to latest e-guide for more instructions.

Graduate Assistantship Programme (GAP)

Students receiving scholarship from the Ministry of Education (MOE) – RSS / NPGS / Grants – are required to fulfil the Graduate Assistantship Programme (GAP). GAP is a set of hours divided into Teaching /Research /Development duties determined by the type of scholarship and nationality of the student. The GAP is a form of in-service obligation effected for Cohort 2014 and onwards and has to be completed 6 months before the submission of the thesis.​ 

The following courses are offered by Public Policy and Global Affairs. Not all courses are offered in an academic year.

HA7001 Theories of Public Policy
This course addresses the theoretical underpinnings of public policy. It discusses the role of different theories in understanding public policy, including institutional theory, group theory, elite theory, system theory, rational theory, incrementalism theory, and public choice theory.

HA7002 Theories of Public Administration
This course discusses the intellectual development of public administration as a discipline. It will discuss the theory of bureaucracy, politics and public administration, theory of public management and theories of public organizations, postmodern theory, critical theory, public institutional theory, theories of governance, decision theory, and rational choice theory.

HA7006 Introduction to History of Political Thought
This course will introduce students to the political philosophies of the leading representatives of the history of political thought. Authors studied will include figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, Mill, and Marx. The course will consider the unique philosophical contributions of each author in the context of his historical situation, thus looking to clarify and articulate the relation between philosophy and political reality. Students will also, however, be encouraged to reflect upon the continuing practical relevance of the canonical texts, interrogating the conceptual material with respect to their potential application to the study of current political realities. Some of the issues which will be focused on include the nature of the human being, the status of individual rights, the foundation of state authority, and the meaning of such concepts as equality, freedom, and justice.

HA7007 Theories of International Relations
This course is a mandatory course for PhD students in PPGA. It aims to 1) acquaint students with knowledge of social science theories, 2) train students to gain in-depth understanding of mainstream IR theories: realism, liberalism, and social constructivism, 3) enable students to grasp the academic development of IR theories, and 4) teach students to apply various IR theories to explain global affairs, especially East Asian regional affairs.

HA7009 Selected Topics of Research Methods In Public Affairs
This course introduces students to qualitative and quantitative methods for collecting and analysing data in the social sciences. Practical skills of data collection and analysis will be illustrated based on faculty members' own research projects. The course is designed to prepare students to be independent researchers who have the ability to collect valid and reliable data and conduct data analysis to inform their own research.

HA7010 Qualitative Methods for Public Affairs
The purpose of this course is to prepare students as an independent researcher not only to understand the philosophy of qualitative, non-statistical social science research, but also to design methods of qualitative research.

HA7011 Quantitative Methods for Public Affairs I
This course aims to advance students' understanding of basic concepts of descriptive and inferential statistics. Based on data-based exercises and practices, this course will help students understand quantitative journal articles that use statistics as a written language for communication.

HA7012 Quantitative Methods for Public Affairs II
This course is prepared for those who complete HA9011 and desire advanced knowledge of statistics. For those who want to finish their dissertation with advanced statistical analysis, this course is a must. HA9011 ends with multivariate linear regression. HA9012 will expand the discussion of linear regression in the first couple of weeks. In the following weeks, the instructor will move to non-linear regression when dependent variables are not continuous in nature.

HA7107 Policy Evaluation
Policy evaluation constitutes a key element of contemporary policymaking and refers to a comprehensive, often multi-year study of program/policy function and outcomes. This course will expose students to the complexity and scope of policy evaluation and the methods of policy and program evaluation. The social, political, and ethical contexts of evaluation will also be covered in the class. Throughout the semester, we will look at evaluation examples that have been conducted on public issues, programs, and policies to demonstrate key points. 

HA7108 Selected Topics In Health Care and Ageing
This course aims to develop students' understanding of key concepts, principles and theories of health care and ageing that are essential for health-related policy analysis and pursuing careers in the health care field. In addition, it aims to develop students' reflective capacity and enable them to link theory to practice through examining case studies in different countries. It covers hot topics such as COVID-19 and crisis leadership, medical tourism, digital health, and healthy aging.

HA7208 ASEAN’s Institutional Evolution: History, Functions, and Roles 
This seminar aims to offer students the in-depth, comprehensive knowledge and analyses of potentials, strengths, and limitations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Through class discussions, students will learn history, characteristics, and functions of ASEAN from the material and ideational perspectives. With these knowledge, students will gain an ability to analyze the ASEAN’s utility (potentials and limitations) and raison d'être by employing not only International Relations (IR) theories, but also theories in other fields (e.g. psychology, sociology, history).

HA7209 Regional Integration in Europe
This course introduces you to the politics and policies of European integration. By taking this course, you will learn about the historical motivations that led to the emergence of the European Union (and which alternative models were considered), the design and structure of European institutions (and how they have evolved over time), the core policy areas regulated at the EU level (and why some are outside of the formal EU institutional framework), as well as extant theories that attempt to capture these complex and multilevel interactions. 

HA7210 Quantitative Methods In International Relations (IR)
This course is a research seminar in quantitative approaches to international relations. We will learn how to use R in the first few class meetings. Then we will cover relevant scholarly articles to study the recent development in the field of international relations. It covers a wide range of topics and methodologies, which helps students to find and develop their research project.

HA7211 Crisis Diplomacy
This course is an applied seminar for students aspiring to careers in foreign affairs. Through a series of simulations, discussions and lectures, you will become acquainted with the practice of statecraft and diplomacy on a practical level. From the perspective of policymakers, we will tackle several of the most pressing issues in contemporary international security, ranging from traditional security issues like inter-state and civil war, nuclear proliferation, and the rise of great powers to more non-traditional, newer issues like terrorism, climate change, and “human security.”  Students will explore the intricacies, challenges, and possibilities of diplomacy during international crises through an active learning approach using simulations. Any student interested in pursuing a career in statecraft and diplomacy would benefit from this class.

HA7212 China and Global Governance
This course examines interactions between the rise of China and the changing international political economy over the past four decades, which has witnessed substantial transformations in globalization and technological innovation. It focuses on three inter-connected themes: 
1) the rising China and its domestic and diplomatic dimensions; 

2) the implications of a rising China, including the China model of development and its “Belt and Road Initiative,” for the Asian regional order, Chinese diaspora and new international migration; and

3) the impact of global governance and international political economy (IPE) on China, and vice versa. 
This course intends to introduce a series of theoretical concepts and methodological devices in the IPE in the attempt to grasp with these changing processes and their implications for policies and social sciences.
This course is organized by way of a series of special topics pertaining to IPE theories and methodologies, modern/contemporary China, the Chinese diaspora and their changing relations with China, social and business networks, China’s place in Asia and the world, and Singapore and China’s economic development. Students’ active participation, including formal presentations, forms an integral component of this course.

HA7301 Democratic Theory
This course will provide students with a theoretical interrogation of the concept of democracy, particularly as it relates to the issue of social division. Throughout the history of political thought, theorists from Plato to John Rawls have recognized that division is the essence of the sphere of politics: divisions continually emerge between different parts of the political community, between those who claim different titles to govern, those with differing desires and needs, those with opposing visions of the common good, and so on. With few exceptions, however, the tradition’s canonical thinkers have seen this plurality as a condition that needs to be overcome, not as one to be affirmed. In this course we will study a variety of twentieth-century political theorists who have not only recognized the fact of human difference, but who argue that the realization of democracy depends upon precisely the affirmation of this difference.  Democracy is thus essentially related to the effort to give an expression to the multiplicity of social forms of doing, being, and thinking that internally differentiate all political societies. Students will be encouraged to contrast this understanding of democracy with those contemporary ones that emphasize the values of social harmony and consensus, providing them with a ground to critically probe actually existing political institutions and orders. 

HA7302 Psychoanalysis & Politics
In this course students will examine a selection of some of the most influential contributions to the study of the intersection of psychoanalytic and political theory. Mostly eschewing Sigmund Freud’s own political analyses, we begin with an investigation of some of the most notable articulations of his metapsychology, or the philosophy of the psychical apparatus. The psychoanalytic starting point is the recognition of an unconscious, an inner subjective life that fundamentally structures our specifically human existence in indeterminate ways. This recognition poses fundamental challenges to various established models of political reason. It can no longer be taken for granted, for example, that political determinations may be potentially grounded in transparent and rational processes of reflection and deliberation that are capable of fully revealing to us our collective interests and goods. Rather, political theory must recognize the unconscious desires, emotions, affects, and motives that subterraneously influence our outward behaviours and orientations. Through the study of various 20th century clinical analysts as well as social theorists influenced by psychoanalysis – such as Wilhelm Reich, Herbert Marcuse, Norman O. Brown, Cornelius Castoriadis, Franz Fanon, and Jessica Benjamin –  we will investigate various important political issues complicated by the Freudian discovery of the unconscious, including the psychology of fascism, the desire for voluntary servitude, the nature of autonomy, the ground of gender hierarchy, and many more. After having completed the course students will have gained a deeper appreciation of the psychological factors and motivations which influence the decision-making of political actors.

HA7303 Comparative Politics In Asia
This course will discuss and investigate politics in Asia using a comparative approach. We will be exploring the regions of Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Central Asia. We will study the continent through themes such as development, authoritarianism, ethnic violence, civil society, religion, inter alia. Empirical cases will be delved into as well, in order to ground the module in real-world occurrences. 

HA7888 Independent Study
This course provides students with an opportunity to engage in independent research related to their proposed thesis/dissertation. The content and requirements of each Independent Study module is determined by the student and assigned faculty member. The actual topics in each syllabus will depend on the area of interest of the student and faculty member. In this course, students are expected to read widely both classical and contemporary readings under guidance of the faculty.​

HA7889 Directed Readings In Political Science And Public Policy
This course is tailored for students wishing to conduct an in-depth examination of a topic that is not covered by existing graduate courses. It enables students to explore a body of literature on their chosen topic under the guidance of their supervisor or course instructor. The topic can be related to their proposed dissertation or any topics relevant to political science, public administration or public policy.

The content and requirements of each directed reading course are determined by the student in consultation with his/her supervisor or course instructor. These include the reading list, assignments to be completed, timeline, arrangements for frequency of meetings, and mechanism for feedback. The final detailed syllabus will be subject to the approval of the Head of Programme, prior to the commencement of the course.

  • Courses and requirements are subject to review and change. 
  • Not all courses are available in one given semester. 
  • ​Courses will be offered on the basis of student intake, research areas and availability of faculty.