Geography PhD scholarship funding at NUS

The QS World University rankings (2013) place National University Singapore (NUS) in the top 25 universities in the world and number one in Asia.  In the same rankings, the Department of Geography, NUS, is ranked in the top ten Geography programmes globally.

Research in the Department of Geography, NUS, falls into three major themes (Politics, Economy and Space; Social and Cultural Geographies; and Tropical Environmental Change), with researchers also working together in a fourth, crosscutting theme (Nature and Society).  Graduate students have made a profound contribution to research activities in the Department; this contribution is projected to increase in coming years as the Department looks to build upon its reputation for world class research targeting major problems currently facing humanity across the range of geographical scales.

Fully funded PhD scholarships (fees and maintenance) of up to four years are currently available in the Department of Geography at NUS.  Opportunities also exist to apply for additional funding to support fieldwork and laboratory costs, if relevant, to participate in international conferences and to contribute to the Department’s teaching programmes.  Graduate research students in the Department follow a semi-structured programme, which involves a taught component in the first two years of registration.  For information on how to become a PhD student at one of the world’s top universities in one of the most culturally diverse and technologically advanced cities in the world, at the centre of an extremely dynamic and exciting region, see:

Information on research in the Department, including sub-themes accommodated within the main research groupings and the interests of individual members of faculty and current graduate research students, can be accessed via:

Please note that there are two application deadlines each year: 1 November and 15 May (for entrance in, respectively, August and January of the year following the application deadline).

For further information, please contact in the first instance Ms Pauline Lee .  Pauline is the administrator in the Department with responsibility for providing support to the Graduate Studies programme in Geography.

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I am particularly interested in advising Masters/PhD candidates in the following research areas, although broader topics relating to geographies of finance, global cities and advanced business services are also welcome.

The development of Singapore as a financial centre
This PhD project will develop an historical geography of Singapore’s trajectory as  a financial centre; from colonial times to the present day and examine its contemporary social and economic geography, both as an area within Singapore and as a node in regional and global financial networks. Particular moments and foci would be specified in the course of the research, but could include; the late 1960s and early 1970s development of an Asian Dollar market, contemporary Renimbi trading, the physical expansion of the financial district and its relationship to spatial planning and real estate markets in Singapore. It is expected that the research would draw on a mixture of archival and ethnographic methods.

Private wealth management and the high net worth (HNW) market in Singapore
Singapore is now the world’s fastest growing wealth management hub with $1.3 trillion assets under management, and is slated to overtake Switzerland as the world’s largest offshore wealth center by 2020. Its rise into the realm of ultra-wealthy global cities also reflects a broader economic shift as Asia becomes an increasingly important centre for growth and consumption. Capitalising on these trends, government policies over the past decade have focused on the development of financial services, retail sectors and lifestyle amenities aimed at attracting high net worth individuals (HNWIs). Asset management, private banking, insurance and financial advisory services have grown steadily despite the 2008 global financial crisis. The HNW sector is also evident in the increasing number of luxury cars on the roads, yacht clubs and marina property developments, glamorous new casino resorts, celebrity chef restaurants and hallmark events like the Formula One night race, global golf tournaments and regattas. Potential thesis projects could include: examining the private wealth management sector in Singapore (and the roles of different service providers e.g. private banks, fund management companies, legal and accounting firms, insurance and financial advisory business), comparing characteristics and impacts of regional wealth (e.g. from China, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines) and local HNWIs, competition with Hong Kong to become the leading wealth management centre of Asia, the economic and urban impact of HNW consumption and lifestyle sectors, and HNW market and philanthropy.


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