HASS PhD Requirements

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The Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) PhD in SUTD offers exciting opportunities for students who wish to pursue an interdisciplinary post-graduate program focusing on understanding social, behavioural, and technological transformations through empowering lenses of humanities and social sciences.

HASS faculty represent a wide range of disciplines in the humanities and social science, including psychology, communication, history, comparative/English literature, digital humanities, anthropology, sociology, etc.


Coursework must be completed within the first two years of candidacy. HASS PhD students are required to take 2 mandatory courses and 3 electives as follows:

2 Mandatory courses

02.542 Smart Global City – Urban Symposium: Leadership and Planning in Singapore

30.505 Design Science

* PhD students who have already taken these (or similar) courses would need to take a substitute course to fulfil these requirements (a suitable course to be selected in consultation with advisor)

3 Graduate electives

Choice of PhD elective from other pillars/ HASS MUSPP elective/Independent Study Module

* No credit transfer allowed; “Independent Study Module” (for letter grade) is counted as one of the three electives, while “PhD Research Pre-candidacy Module” (for satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade only) is not.

Seminars (*applied for new PhD students since September 2021 Intake)

Attend 2 series of seminars organized by HASS (or any equivalent series of seminars organized by other pillars, clusters, and centers in SUTD per supervisor’s acknowledgement). The course code is given respectively (by pillar/cluster) and the submission of a list of seminars is required for the completion of this seminar course for satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade only.

Qualifying exam (QE)

The student must take and pass the qualifying exam by the end of the second year in order to continue with the candidacy. The QE shall comprise:

  • an oral defense that will comprise a 20 minute presentation, followed by a 30 minute question and answer session with the primary and secondary thesis supervisors, and one additional faculty member from within SUTD deemed to have the domain/cognate expertise;
  • A dissertation proposal comprising a literature review, research questions and a description of the proposed research method, of no longer than 10,000 words;
  • and two written exams of up to 2 hours duration each:
    • One written examination on the academic literature relating to the student’s dissertation;
    • One written examination on research methods relating to the student’s

Guidelines for thesis evaluation

Oral examination

The Thesis Examination Committee (TEC) shall be constituted at the QE and shall comprise four individuals:

  1. Chair (tenured faculty, not reporting to advisor of student)
  2. Supervisor/Advisor (the primary thesis supervisor from HASS)
  3. 2 SUTD members (within or outside HASS, of which one of them must be tenured/tenure-track faculty)
  4. Optional – External member (this member will be a faculty member in an external institution in or outside of Singapore.)

Thesis format

The thesis format shall adhere to the “Guidelines for Thesis Evaluation, Oral Examination and Thesis Format for PhD, Engineering Doctorate and Master of Engineering (Research)” with one suggested addition specific to HASS, underlined as follows:

Word Count

  • No more than 50,000 words for the PhD thesis and 80,000 words for HASS theses and the Architecture and Sustainable Design’s “History, Theory and Criticism” (HTC) thesis excluding abstract, acknowledgments, table of contents, list of figures, list of tables as well as appendices, notes and bibliographic references.

Please apply online at: http://www.sutd.edu.sg/Admissions/Graduate/PhD-Programmes/SUTD-PhD-Programme/Application.

For enquires relating to application, admissions and scholarship matters, please write to Graduate Programme Office.

For other enquiries, please write to phd@hass.sutd.edu.sg