Capstone Details

Global Affairs majors are required to complete a Capstone project in their final year at Yale-NUS College that explores a social-political issue or event of global/transboundary significance. Please see details regarding the Capstone requirements for Academic Year 2019-2020 below as well as on the Yale-NUS student portal.

  1. Identification of project and supervisor: Students should consult with their advisor throughout their third year on possible Global Affairs’ Capstone subjects. Examples of possible topics include but are not limited to the following: Natural Resource Endowments and Political Conflicts; US Foreign Policy in Southeast Asia; Power Transition and Regional Security; Global Challenges to State Sovereignty; Electoral Violence; Regionalism, ASEAN, and Global Governance; Greening the Global Shipping Industry; International Education Standards in Southeast Asia; Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia. See also “Capstones in Global Affairs” available from the Global Affairs microsite for examples of previous capstone topics.
  2. Range of topics and formats: There are two kinds of Global Affairs Capstone projects. Students should notify the HoS no later than April 1 of their junior year which option they intend to pursue, and their general area of interest. Either option should utilize an empirically-based social scientific methodology.
    • The first option is an independent research project of 10,000 words, which involves an exploration of a social-political issue or event of global/transboundary significance.
    • The second option is a 9,000-word policy report (+ 1,000-word executive summary) written for an external organisation to address a particular need/problem/question it is facing and that ties back to the foci of the GA major. The GA HoS will circulate a list of pre-approved organisations and research questions in mid-March in students’ junior year. Students are also allowed to propose an organization they would like to work with on their capstone, as long as it has a defined question they want addressed that is connected to the broad foci of the GA major. They will be required to provide a letter of support from the organisation, the name of their contact person, as well as provide a 1-page proposal outlining the particular research question/puzzle they will be tackling for this organisation. Student proposal forms will be available from the Global Affairs microsite or the HoS.
  3. Choosing between capstone options: Students passionate about a particular research topic that they cannot pursue through coursework and students interested in pursuing graduate school are encouraged to take the independent research project option. In Semester 1, students must work with their supervisor to properly scope their capstone projects to be more manageable, and ensure that their research question can be answered at the undergraduate level and within the span of 7-8 months of part-time effort. Students interested in more applied work that has real-world implications and who may not be interested in academic work, or do not have a particular research question of their own, are encouraged to take the policy report option.
  4. Activities as part of project: In the first semester, all students attend a fortnightly capstone seminar. Development of the capstone project is also supported by regular (at least fortnightly) meetings with capstone supervisors throughout Semester 1. Students pursuing the Policy Report option will be expected to meet with their client organization at least once to be briefed on essential background information. For both capstone options, these efforts culminate in the oral presentation of the student’s research proposal and written submission of the proposal, inclusive of a literature review and proposed research design, at the end of Semester 1. It is recommended that students plan to collect at least some of their data during this semester as well. The second semester of the capstone focuses on the data analysis and writing process. Students are expected to work independently with their supervisors in this semester. In March of Semester 2, students will be required to make a presentation of their full project, including their findings. For students pursuing the policy report option, client organisations will be invited to attend their presentation and give feedback. In early April, students will be required to submit their final capstone paper. Again, students pursuing the policy report option will have their client organization invited to give feedback on the final report. However, all formal assessments will be conducted by the student’s supervisor, capstone seminar instructor, and second reader.
  1. Expectations for students/supervisor interactions and work on the project:All students are expected to attend the fortnightly GA Capstone Seminar in Semester 1 and to meet regularly with their Capstone supervisor at least fortnightly in Semester 1 and Semester 2. Prior to each meeting, students should provide a written summary of recent activities and progress to their supervisor.
  1. Format(s) of final product: The final product should include a title page; table of contents; abstract; introduction; literature review; research design/methodology; data; results of analysis; discussion of implications and limitations; conclusion; and references. Appendices (if needed) will be at the end of the document. The independent research capstone option must not exceed 10,000 words. This 10,000-word limit includes all references, footnotes and endnotes, but excludes the capstone title page, tables, and any supplementary material in appendices. The policy report capstone option must not exceed 9,000 words. The 9,000-word limit includes everything including title page, references, tables, footnotes, endnotes, and appendices. There must also be a 1,000-word executive summary accompanying the policy report.
  2. Assessment(s):The Capstone is worth 10 modular credits. The final Capstone grade is comprised of four components:
    • Participation in the Semester 1 research seminar – 10%
    • Capstone proposal submitted at the end of Semester 1 – 20%
    • Presentation/defense of final project in Semester 2 – 20%
    • Final capstone document – 50% The final capstone document is read independently by two reviewers (the capstone supervisor and a second reader assigned by the HoS). The average of their numerical scores is the score assigned for the 50% weight given to the final capstone document.


FAQs about Capstone in Global Affairs