Programme Description

Students majoring in Physical Sciences will explore some of the fundamental processes in matter, space and time. How did the universe emerge? What is the structure of matter? What physical laws determine the motions, temperatures, and chemistry of the matter that comprises our planet and its life forms? Students will extend their interdisciplinary preparation in science provided by the Common Curriculum with a rigorous, in-depth sequence of courses that explore advanced topics in physics, chemistry, earth and space sciences. The major adopts an approach to science that integrates multiple disciplines in ways that enable students to continuously question and refine their understanding of scientific issues. The major emphasises the ability to understand physical concepts deeply and to solve real world scientific problems, which necessitates clear critical thinking on different levels. Thus, students who major in physical sciences will be well-equipped for both scientific and non-scientific careers in a wide range of fields. The major also offers excellent preparation for graduate study in the sciences, as well as for graduate study in engineering, law and medicine.


Students will design a pathway in close consultation with a faculty advisor and get approval by the Head of Studies. Pathways leading to graduate study in particular disciplines will be available, as will pathways leading to careers outside the university that require scientific expertise.


All students in the Physical Sciences major are required to complete 54 MC in the following:

1. Either Organic Chemistry or Classical Mechanics
2. Either Mathematical Methods for Physical Scientists, or an appropriate upper division mathematics course
3. Statistical Thermodynamics
4. At least five other courses (a minimum of 25 MC) in the Physical Science major, with at least one course that is laboratory-based, and no more than 2 modules that are introductory
5. A year-long research seminar in physical science course (4 MC)
6. A year-long capstone project (10 MC)


[1] Students can create an individual pathway in consultation with their Academic Advisor and/or Head of Studies. Study abroad is encouraged. Courses taken away from Yale-NUS can count towards the major if it overlaps significantly with a core Physical Sciences module (and taken in its place) or if the course can be considered a sufficiently advanced module in a Physical Sciences-related discipline.

[2] The following are considered laboratory-based courses:  YSC3213 Experimental Physics Laboratory; YSC2212 Instrumental Analysis with Lab; YSC3228 Inorganic Chemistry with Lab; and YSC2222 Organic Chemistry Laboratory.

[3] A maximum of 2 introductory Physical Sciences courses can be counted towards the Physical Sciences major or minor.  The current offering of introductory courses include: YSC2214 Introduction to Optics and Imaging, YSC1207 General Chemistry: Molecular Structure and Reactivity, YSC1213 General Physics: Electronics and Non-Linear Dynamics, and YSC2217 Observational Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Example pathways include the following:

Physics: Classical mechanics, Mathematical Methods for Physical Scientists, Optics, Electromagnetism, Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Thermodynamics, Experimental Methods in Physics, plus two advanced physical science courses at the 3000 or 4000 level.

Chemistry: General Chemistry, General Physics, Accelerated Organic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry Laboratory, Physical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry with Laboratory, Math Methods, Instrumental Analysis with Laboratory, Statistical Thermodynamics,  plus two advanced physical science courses at the 3000 or 4000 level.



In their fourth year, students will complete a guided independent research project in Physical Sciences in consultation with a faculty advisor. The capstone can comprise a new experiment in physics and chemistry of the student’s design, an investigation of astrophysics using international telescope facilities, or a theoretical simulation of chemistry, physics, or earth science. This academic experience will be an opportunity for the students to engage in cutting-edge research in physical sciences while synthesising what they have learned in their courses. The results of the capstone will also be communicated to their peers and faculty, using the presentations and writing styles consistent with practice in the professional scientific disciplines.


A minor requires five courses (a total of 25 MC) in the Physical Sciences.