FAQs

Questions about Majors

What is Physical Sciences?

Physical Sciences explores some of the most fundamental processes in matter, energy, space and time. How did the universe emerge? What is the structure of matter? What physical laws determine the properties of the matter that comprises our planet and its life forms? The major emphasises the ability to understand physical concepts deeply and to solve real world scientific problems, which necessitates clear critical thinking, mathematical reasoning and empirical observation. The tangible skills acquired while pursuing the major including scientific research and technical problem solving, numerical simulation and theoretical modelling are attractive to employers in both scientific and non-scientific sectors.

Where can I look for good information on studying Physical Sciences?

The American Physical Society http://www.aps.org/careers/physicists/undergraduate.cfm and the American Chemical Society https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/students/college.html both have excellent resources about studying Physical Sciences.

Is Physical Sciences a professional programme?

Physical Sciences is not a professional degree, although it is a gateway to professional degrees in engineering.

Can I go on to graduate school after a major in Physical Sciences?

Data from the American Physical Society shows that more than 50% of Physical Sciences Bachelors enrolled in graduate school after receiving their degrees.  For various reasons, we expect the number of Yale-NUS Physical Science graduates going on to graduate studies to be significantly higher.

What can I do with a major in Physical Sciences? (Also see under Career Information)

In the United States, more than 95% of Physical Sciences majors in 2013-2014 (the latest year for which this data is available) were either in graduate school or entered the workforce.  There was roughly an equal number who enrolled in graduate programs as those who entered the workforce immediately after the completion of a B.S. degree.  For those in the workforce, about two-thirds obtained employment in the private sector (with 35% were employed in the engineering sector, and more than 25% were employed in the area of computer and information systems).  With the exception of Computer Science, starting salaries for Physical Science graduates are higher than that of any other major.  See:  (https://www.aip.org/statistics/physics-trends/whats-bachelors-degree-worth).

In Singapore, data gathered by NUS shows that Physical Sciences majors who directly enter the workforce span a wide range of sectors including: teaching (28%), managerial positions (22%), engineering (13%), information technology (11%), and finance (4%).

What do I have to do for a Physical Sciences major?

All majors at Yale-NUS College require the completion of 9 courses plus a capstone research project.  For the Physical Science major this includes general physics, general chemistry, mathematical methods for physical scientists, statistical thermodynamics and either classical mechanics or organic chemistry.  For additional details see: https://www.yale-nus.edu.sg/curriculum/majors/physical-sciences/

Who do I contact with questions about the major?

 Any of the faculty members in the Physical Science major would be happy to talk with you.  Check them out at https://physicalsciences.yale-nus.edu.sg/people/our-faculty/

Who do I contact if I don’t know my major advisor’s name?

Please contact the Head of Studies for that information.

What Physical Sciences courses are being offered in AY 2017-18?

Semester 1
Semester 2
[General Physics] Electronics and non-linear dynamics
Introduction to optics and imaging

Organic chemistry

Electrodynamics

Physical chemistry

Quantum mechanics

Advanced classical mechanics

Solid state physics

[General Chemistry] molecular structure and reactivity

Survey of high energy physics

Classical mechanics

Inorganic chemistry

Statistical thermodynamics

Experimental physics laboratory

Instrumental analysis

Organometallic chemistry

How often will you offer the core courses?

The following courses will be offered each year:  general physics, general chemistry, organic chemistry, classical mechanics, electrodynamics, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, experimental physics laboratory and quantum mechanics.

What if I have course conflicts?

Speak to Registry and the Head of Studies as soon as you find a problem.  Not all conflicts can be resolved, but we hope to resolve those that we can, or be flexible if possible.

Must the required courses or Physical Sciences core courses be taken before elective courses?

Courses in physical science have a specified  prerequisite chain. See: http://physicalsciences.yale-nus.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/11/Prerequisite-chains.pdf

What if I am interested in taking elective courses offered by another major at Yale-NUS College? Can I count this towards the requirements of the Physical Sciences major?

One suitably advanced MCS module at the level of math methods for physical scientists or higher can be counted towards the Physical Science major.  Please come talk with the Head of Studies.

What if I am interested in taking elective courses offered by a faculty outside of Yale-NUS College? Can I count this towards the requirements of the Physical Science major?

Physical Science majors are encouraged to take advanced courses at NUS Physics or NUS Chemistry or while on study abroad. These elective courses offer students with a greater breath than what we would be able to offer at Yale-NUS College.

What if I am interested in taking elective courses while on a study abroad programme? Can I count this towards the requirements of the Physical Science major?

Study abroad is encouraged.  Courses taken away from Yale-NUS can count towards the major if it overlaps significantly with a core physical science module (and taken in its place) or if the course can be considered a sufficiently advanced module in a physical science related discipline.

How do I track my progress to meeting major requirements?

Please come talk with your Head of Studies.

Can I or should I take courses at NUS?

We are fortunate to have NUS next door with a large physics and chemistry department. We offer a wide variety of courses here, but if there is something that is of particular interest to you that we don’t offer here, please do take advantage of their offerings.  These advanced elective courses offer students with a greater breath than what we would be able to offer at Yale-NUS College.

 

How do I go about registering for NUS courses?

Registration for NUS courses is subject to approval from the respective NUS Faculty/School and while this is not guaranteed it has never been a problem for Physical Science students.  Students should complete and submit the Module Registration Form to their respective Vice Rector well in advance of the start of the semester.

What if I want to study a topic for which no course is offered or under development?

Please explore the course catalog at NUS or at one of our many partner institutions for study abroad.

 

Questions about Minors

I want to major in another subject. Can I also minor in Physical Sciences?

Absolutely! We have designed a minor specifically for students who are interested in Physical Sciences, but are committed to another major.

What are the requirements to earn a Physical Sciences minor?

In order to earn a Physical Sciences minor, you must complete 5 courses (25 MC) within or related to the major. At least half of these courses (12.5 MC) must be taken at Yale-NUS College. The Head of Study must approve these courses, and these courses must be taken for a letter grade unless there exists an eligible exception.

How do I track my progress to meeting minor requirements?

Please come talk with your Head of Studies.

As a Physical Sciences minor, do I also have to take the required courses for Physical Sciences majors?

At the time of writing, the only specified requirement for the Physical Sciences minor is 25 MCs of which at least half must be taken at Yale-NUS College.  Please be aware of pre-requiste chains for Physical Sciences modules:  http://physicalsciences.yale-nus.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/11/Prerequisite-chains.pdf

What if I am interested in taking elective courses offered by another major at Yale-NUS College? Can I count this towards the requirements of the Physical Sciences minor?

At the time of writing, only 5MCs from the MCS major (either math methods for physical scientists or a suitably advanced MCS course) and the 5 MC biochemistry module from the Life Science major can count towards the Physical Science minor.  But you can not double count the same course for your major and your minor.

What if I am interested in taking elective courses offered by a faculty outside of Yale-NUS College? Can I count this towards the requirements of the Physical Sciences minor?

This is strongly discouraged. Come talk to the Head of Studies to evaluate specific courses outside of Yale-NUS College prior to your enrollment in these modules. Retroactive permission for courses to count towards the physical science minor will not be permitted.

What if I am interested in taking elective courses while on a study abroad programme? Can I count this towards the requirements of the Physical Science minor?

Selected courses taken while on a summer or semester study abroad programme can count towards the requirements of the minor. However, this is contingent on the prior approval of the Head of Studies.

What if I do not know who is my Physical Sciences advisor?

Please come talk with your Head of Studies.

Academic Integrity

What are the academic integrity code/guidelines at Yale-NUS?

Please visit the following link to find out more information: https://studentlife.yale-nus.edu.sg/policies/academic-integrity/

How do I conduct research in a safe and ethical way?

Please visit the following link, Conducting Safe and Ethical Research: https://studentlife.yale-nus.edu.sg/policies/conducting-safe-and-ethical-research/

Academic Support / Learning Accommodations

How can I find out more about academic support such as writing support?

Please visit the following link with the Writer’s Centre to find out more information concerning writing support:  https://writerscentre.yale-nus.edu.sg/.

How can I find out more about learning accommodations support for students at Yale-NUS?

Please visit the following link with the Center for Teaching & Learning to find out more information concerning learning accommodations support: https://teaching.yale-nus.edu.sg/student-support/learning-accommodation/.

Research & Research Opportunities

Can you tell me more about your policy on research ethics?

Please visit the following link, Conducting Safe and Ethical Research: https://studentlife.yale-nus.edu.sg/policies/conducting-safe-and-ethical-research/

How can I go about securing a research attachment with a faculty in my major?

Almost every student in the Physical Science major has done some research with a faculty member. Please come talk to your faculty members about opportunities (only some of which are listed at https://cipe.yale-nus.edu.sg/summer-opportunities/summer-research-programme/).

Capstone Projects

Where can I find information about capstone projects?

Please see the programme description or talk with the Head of Studies.

What kinds of capstones have been done in the past?

Physical Science capstones require original research.  Please talk with the capstone coordinator.

How to find an idea?

Read widely. Choose topics that you are intrinsically interested in. This takes time. Ask faculty members, including your faculty advisor, for ideas. The following Yale-NUS library link may be a good starting point as well: http://library.yale-nus.edu.sg/start-your-research/.

Where can I find general research advice and guidance on things like how to manage a large research project, track my sources, avoid plagiarism, etc?

Of course, you can speak to the capstone coordinator and other Physical Science faculty about these issues. The library also has resources we encourage you to use. Please see the following link: http://library.yale-nus.edu.sg/start-your-research/.

What if I wrote a paper in one of my courses? Can it be used as my capstone project?

It is highly unlikely that a single assignment for a single course will have the same intellectual output as a year long 10 MC research activity.

Where can I look for background date/information?

Please talk with the capstone coordinator.

I need help with Stata. Where should I look?

To find out more information, go to Stata Resources and Marginal Revolution.

What is the role of the Capstone Supervisor? How and when do I find a Capstone Supervisor?

The Capstone Supervisor supervises and supports the research process of the student. The student should discuss this process with the supervisor. Please see the following link for more details: https://students.yale-nus.edu.sg/2016/04/06/capstone/. In your junior year, you should start thinking about your Capstone topic and contacting potential faculty members for advice. The Head of Studies will also advise you on the scope and viability of your project, and recommend potential Supervisors. You need to submit a proposal and find a Supervisor by the beginning of your senior year.

What happens when the professor I want to work with goes on leave during the academic year?

If an advisor agrees to supervise your Capstone, the understanding is that the faculty member will also be the one to read and assess your final project, even if he or she is on leave the second semester. If your primary Supervisor is on leave in either semester, you will work with a Co-supervisor.

May I work with a professor at NUS or another external advisor on my capstone project?

Yes, with the permission of the Capstone Seminar Instructor, who will monitor and evaluate your progress internally. You may also work with a professor not from Yale-NUS or NUS under a similar arrangement, though it is worth considering that this may be more difficult than working with advisors in the same physical location.

What should I do if there are no faculty members whose expertise necessarily matches my areas of interest?

The capstone project is not a doctoral dissertation and your topic does not need to match the research expertise of your Supervisor. They will guide you through the process, but you should write on a topic that interests you, instead of choosing one from our current faculty’s own research projects.

What is the role of the Capstone coordinator for the capstone project?

The Capstone coordinator organises research seminars and workshops as part of the capstone module in which group interactions and presentations are conducted.

May I collect my own data?

Absolutely.  Make sure you have obtained the necessary ethics approvals.

Is there any funding related to capstone projects?

It may be possible to get a small amount of funding if needed for your project from the Dean’s Office. Please speak with your Capstone supervisor.

Is it possible to do something that combines my capstone with my junior summer experience?

Yes, please speak to CIPE and the Head of Studies or potential Capstone supervisor as soon as possible about possibilities.

What if the library doesn’t have the resources I need?

Please speak with your Head of Studies or potential Capstone supervisor as soon as possible.

What should I do if I’m having problems with my capstone project?

Please speak with your Major Advisor/Head of Studies, Capstone supervisor, and your Vice Rector as soon as you start to have concerns. There is a lot of support available to you – please make use of it.

Can you suggest some helpful resources for Physical Sciences capstone project?

The best resource is your capstone supervisor.  You should meet at least every other week with your supervisor.

How will my project be graded?

The following criteria will be considered:
1. Scientific Communication.  To what extent did the student explain their capstone research project?  This item includes explaining the main findings in appropriate language, information delivery techniques, a well-planned organization of the presentation and any visual aids, and appropriate use of references.
2. Original research.  Judging ONLY the work that was done in the 8 months between August and March of the following year, how impressive was the research accomplishment?  This item includes the degree of innovation and creativity, the difficulty of the project, the independence of the student, originality of the approach, and the degree of success towards answering the research questions.
3. Question and Answer.  Did the student demonstrate mastery of the subject?  Did they answer questions with sufficient clarity?  Did the answers reveal intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm?  Was there sufficient depth and breadth of the subject matter?
4. Overall score.  Please use the back of this page to provide a narrative commentary expanding on any aspect of the capstone presentation.  Looking over the numerical scores above and the narrative feedback below, combine these into a single numerical score ranging between 1 (poor) and 10 (excellent).  Note: There need not be an exact mapping between the overall score you provide and the numerical scores provided above.

How long should the project be and how will I know what is an appropriate project?

Capstone thesis can be between 30 pages and 100 pages (although much of that might just be results and data).  The format is typical of any scientific communication and would typically include an abstract, an introduction, details of experimental or theoretical methods, results, analysis, discussions, conclusions  and appendices.

Study Abroad

What about spending a year abroad? How do I apply? Where should I go?

Contact the Centre for International and Professional Experience (CIPE) for a lot of great information, and they can also help you through the application process.

When should I go abroad?

We recommend that you go abroad in either semester of your junior year.

Can I count courses taken abroad toward my major?

Yes, Contact CIPE for more details. There is also a form that must be signed by your Head of Studies to permit this. Please submit the course syllabus with the form to the Head of Studies for consideration. Note that at least half of your major courses must be taken at Yale-NUS.

Internships

Where can I find information on internships?

The Centre for International and Professional Experience (CIPE) offers internship opportunities for the most prominent and also varied places: finance sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), public sector, consulting firms, etc. You can find details on all these opportunities here.

Postgraduate Studies

What kinds of courses should I take if I want to go to graduate school and/or pursue a PhD?

Please talk with your head of studies.  We have specific recommendations for courses for those who want to pursue a PhD in either Physics or Chemistry.

Career/Alumni Information

What careers can I pursue with a major in Physical Sciences?

In the United States, more than 95% of Physical Sciences majors in 2013-2014 (the latest year for which this data is available) were either in graduate school or entered the workforce.  There was roughly an equal number who enrolled in graduate programs as those who entered the workforce immediately after the completion of a B.S. degree.  For those in the workforce, about two-thirds obtained employment in the private sector (with 35% were employed in the engineering sector, and more than 25% were employed in the area of computer and information systems).  With the exception of Computer Science, starting salaries for Physical Sciences graduates are higher than that of any other major.  See:  (https://www.aip.org/statistics/physics-trends/whats-bachelors-degree-worth).  In Singapore, data gathered by NUS shows that Physical Sciences majors who directly enter the workforce span a wide range of sectors including: teaching (28%), managerial positions (22%), engineering (13%), information technology (11%), and finance (4%).

What are good job search resources?