Programme Description

The goal of the Global Affairs major is to help students understand how our increasingly interconnected world works and how it could work better. The major does this by providing a rigorous academic programme that grounds students’ learning in international relations and international development, and culminates in a capstone project. The capstone project allows students to demonstrate their mastery of the knowledge and skills they have acquired to analyse a global issue of their choosing within a specific national, regional, or global context.



The Global Affairs major is comprised of nine courses and a capstone that will count as two additional courses. Students can count one language course toward their major if it applies to their capstone research project.

Class of 2019 and Class of 2020: Requirements for GA Major

  1. Introduction to Global Affairs
  2. Methods in the Social Sciences
  3. Student chooses at least TWO out of the SIX core courses:
    • Globalisation on the Ground
    • International Political Economy
    • International Relations
    • International Security
    • Global Governance
    • International Development
  4. 3 electives – at the 2000 or 3000-level. Up to 2 of these 3 can be cross-registered outside of Yale-NUS (Study abroad, NUS or LKY SPP)
  5. 2 x 4000-level courses
  6. 1 year-long capstone project [equivalent to 10 Modular Credits (MC)]

Class of 2021 onwards: Requirements for GA Major

  1. International Relations
  2. International Development
  3. Methods in the Social Sciences
  4. One more specialized methods course of the student’s choosing:
    • Ethnography
    • Historian’s Craft
    • Econometrics
    • Qualitative Methods in Global Affairs (new course to be offered from Semester 2 of AY2019-2020)
  5. 3 electives – at the 2000 or 3000-level
  6. 2 x 4000-level courses
  7. 1 year-long capstone project [equivalent to 10 Modular Credits (MC)]

Up to 4 courses can be cross-registered outside of Yale-NUS (Study abroad, NUS or LKY SPP)



To earn a minor in a Yale-NUS major, a student must complete 25 MC or 5 courses.

Class of 2019 and Class of 2020: Requirements for GA Minor

  • Introduction to Global Affairs
  • 2 out of the 6 core courses in the major
  • 2 additional GA courses – these can be cross-registered courses

All minor courses must have a letter grade. The Head of Study must approve exceptions in writing. Global Affairs minors cannot gain credit for language study.

Class of 2021 onwards: Requirements for GA Minor

  • International Relations
  • International Development
  • 3 additional GA courses

Up to two of these five courses can be cross-registered courses. All minor courses must have a letter grade. The Head of Study must approve exceptions in writing. Global Affairs minors cannot gain credit for language study.



Introduction to Global Affairs: This course introduces students to the key theories, issues and challenges in Global Affairs. Students considering majoring or minoring in Global Affairs, or those seeking greater knowledge about how the world works, should take this course. Students will learn about the networks and pathways of globalisation. They will learn about the international system, theories of inequality and development, and about key state and non-state actors in Global Affairs. An interdisciplinary approach to understanding transboundary problems such as climate change, human trafficking, and security, is applied. Students will also gain skills in how to critically assess global news sources on current issues and how to write about contemporary issues while integrating a historical context. Key skills in problem solving and oral communication will also be developed through an infographic research assignment. Assessment: Class Participation/Reading Summaries; Class Debate; Infographic Assignment; Map quiz; Final Exam. (NOTE: Students in the Class of 2021 and beyond who have taken this course can count it as a GA elective. It will subsequently be renamed “Introduction to Globalisation.”

Methods in the Social Sciences: This course equips students with basic skills in both quantitative and qualitative research approaches. Students will be introduced to mixed-methods research in the social sciences, focusing on five primary techniques: Survey methodology, quantitative data analysis, participant observation, in-depth interviewing, and textual analysis. This will be essential preparation before students embark on their capstone projects and will provide a strong foundation for more advanced methodology courses they may take in subsequent semesters.  This course is to be taken in Year 2 or 3. Students must have completed Quantitative Reasoning as a prerequisite.

International Relations: This course provides an overview of the evolution and history of international politics. Students taking this course will survey some of the major issues that are the terrain of international politics, from war to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to international trade and finance, to the management of international and intergovernmental organisations. Students will also be introduced to various theories that seek to explain international politics, including realism/neo-realism, different systems theories (anarchy vs. balance of power), and rational choice theory.

International Development: This course addresses causes of (under)development in the developing world, looking at the determinants and mechanisms through which poor countries develop. Students will examining factors at the state and sub-national level the influence poverty alleviation. Students would examine long-term and short-term causes of poverty, issues that are common in developing countries such as authoritarian regimes, civil wars, and corruption. Students will critically analyze the ways in which various attempts at ameliorating poverty by various actors have been attempted and explore when and how they worked or failed. Case studies in the course will explore the development of political structures that enhance human dignity. Prerequisite: CSI, MST and International Political Economy

International Security: This course focuses on the use of armed forces to resolve international security/conflict situations, and the threats and risks involved for the countries involved in such conflicts, the military personnel on the ground, and civilians caught in the crossfire. Students in this course will learn to analyse any given international security situation to determine whether or not involving armed forces is appropriate, especially in crisis management situations.

International Political Economy: This course introduces students to how states and non-state actors (such as multinational corporations and international institutions) influence the production, distribution, and consumption of scarce resources over national borders. Students will analyse the knotty problem of how domestic and international politics influence inter-state economic relations, and how economic relations between states influence international and domestic politics in return. Topics covered in this course include exchange rate regimes, trade policy, international monetary systems, foreign direct investment, sovereign debt, and foreign aid.

Global Governance: This course introduces students to the history and evolution of international institutions – from formal organisations such as the United Nations to international norms, treaties, and agreements – and the changing nature of diplomacy in the contemporary world. A particular emphasis will be given to understanding different diplomatic strategies, and the role of both states and non-state actors in diplomacy.  Prerequisite: International Relations.



Through their advanced electives, students in the GA major can start to focus on a particular area of interest e.g. security studies, development policy, international migration, trade, and other issue areas.

Politics of Identity in Developing Countries: This course offers an introduction to the study of identity and politics in political science. Students will become familiar with the various theories and approaches to understanding the construction and mobilisation of identities: ethnic, national, linguistic, religious, and sexual. Drawing on the empirical literature on the politics of identity in Southeast and South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, students will learn to evaluate how identities are shaped, and how they in turn determine outcomes such as violence, voting behaviour, allocation of public services, inequality, and inter-group trust and cooperation.

Chinese Foreign Policy: Students will gain a deeper understanding of the major contours of the debate and discussion on China’s contemporary international relations. The course examines the political, diplomatic, military, and economic challenges facing China under conditions of uncertainty in the regional and international system and the processes through which China responds to and manages these external challenges. The course will analyse how existing theories of international relations and foreign policy analysis apply to China to gain a deeper appreciation of the factors that undergird conflict and cooperation in Chinese foreign policy.

Human Rights: What are human rights? Where did the idea of human rights originate? How does the notion of universal human rights interact with ideas of state sovereignty? Who should police human rights and how? These are some of the questions covered in this course, with a heavy emphasis on case studies sourced from around the world.

International Migration: In this course, students grapple with the questions of why and how people leave their home countries and move elsewhere, and the impacts these people-flows have on both origin and sending countries. The course allows students to investigate and unpack different migrant typologies, such labour migrants vs. refugees, high- vs. low-skilled migrants, and legal vs. undocumented migrants. It also exposes students to emergent patterns of international migration (such as circular, stepwise, and return migration) that are becoming increasingly prevalent in our globalized world.

Globalisation on the Ground: This course takes an ethnographic approach to the study of globalisation, focusing on the impact it has had on the daily lives of individuals, families, and communities around the world, and how they have responded in turn. Over the course of the semester, students will focus on different manifestations of globalisation in consumption and production patterns, transnational labour markets, international migration, inequality, crime, religion, and social movements. At the same time, students will be expected to conduct their own semester-long ethnographic investigations into globalisation in Singapore. This course is distinct from the Introduction to Global Affairs course because of the methods used and level of analysis emphasised.


A cross-registered course is a course taken outside of Yale-NUS, such as at NUS or during study abroad. For the Class of 2021 onwards, up to 4 cross-registered courses can count toward the major.


A relevant foreign language course can count for 1 course (5 MC) credit toward the major. A foreign language is relevant when it is necessary to undertake research toward a student’s capstone, and is taken at either the intermediate or advanced level. Written approval from the Global Affairs Head of Studies is required for this to apply.