Programme Description

The Arts and Humanities Major at Yale-NUS College is an interdisciplinary program that combines the theory and practice of artistic expression across a variety of different media including but not limited to painting, sculpture, photography, creative writing (poetry, fiction, drama, nonfiction), music, dance, and theater. It offers modules grouped in three Tracks: Art History, Art Practice, and Creative Writing. These tracks are a way of planning for greater depth and breadth within a particular field of study within the arts and humanities. They are also mutually permeable, in the sense that a student interested in different aspects of the arts can select modules from different tracks in a flexible manner.

Students in this major will learn to understand the history and evolution of artistic practice; to demonstrate literacy in textual and non-textual forms of thought; to describe and interpret artistic processes and methods; to recognise the relationship and relevance of art to society and community; and to re-imagine the world through artistic perception and practice. This major prepares students for work in several fields: creative production, writing and publishing, art administration, academia and art education, advertising and design.

Students who complete the Arts and Humanities Major should be able to:

  • Identify form, structure, and other principles of art;
  • Use theory as a way of clarifying various modes of self–expression;
  • Understand, and communicate through non-textual forms of thought and feeling;
  • Recognise the relevance and relationship of art to community, society, and traditions;
  • Describe, interpret, and implement artistic processes and methods;
  • Appreciate the integral importance of history to all artistic processes;
  • Demonstrate literacy in the analysis of different modes of art; and
  • Learn to reimagine the world through artistic lenses by making art.

Collectively, these capacities will enable students to think creatively and critically about the arts.

Students will pursue these learning objectives in two ways: by gaining breadth across the Major, and depth within any one or two tracks of particular interest to the student.

The Art History TrackThis track will introduce students to art as a historical and critical discipline. Students will examine artworks in their historical, social, political and religious contexts through a number of different theories, methodologies, and interpretative approaches. Students will gain both visual literacy and an understanding of the foundational principles of current art historical research and writing. They will engage important questions such as: What does a work of art mean, to whom, and why? How does the art-object function in culture, and how does culture function in art? In our global society today, how does the traditional history of art play a role in the context of new ideas? In tackling these questions, this track aligns with the broader objective of the Arts and Humanities major to equip students with the fundamental tools to critically think, analyse, and approach a wide range of artworks from different time periods and cultures.

The Art Practice TrackThis track focuses on integrating the plasticity and inter-relationality of space, time, and place from the perspective of an art practitioner. Students will be enriched by the artistic processes they experience, and learn to take risks with new modes of creative expression to become more familiar with positioning one’s work in the contemporary world. This track consists of a synthesis of various methods, forms, processes and creative approaches concerning art practice. The projects that students will embark upon will involve individual and collaborative efforts that can push beyond the frontiers of current art practices and discourses. Student projects will engage in critical and reflective thinking in relation to community, context, and society. The breadth of exposure to various practices, as chosen by the students, will help shape meaningful projects that are presented publicly.

The Creative Writing TrackIn the Creative Writing Track, students will initially familiarize themselves with a genre or genres, learning the history and traditions of the forms, using published models as touchstones for their own creative work. As they progress, students will gain experience through the workshop format. Students will also engage dynamically with aspects of voice and style in their work. Students will learn to view their work flexibly, emphasizing writing processes as opposed simply to produce. By the upper levels they should be able to develop and design writing projects that reflect a degree of professionalism that reflects their abilities to self-critique in a way that might eventually lead them to work of near publishable quality. They will likewise be expected to critique the work of others at a professional and constructive level. At all levels, craft at the sentence level will be emphasized and by the upper level, students should only be submitting work that displays an innovative approach in terms of form, content, and engagement with the world.



Introduction to the Arts Module

All students Majoring or Minoring in Arts and Humanities need to take this module as early as possible during their studies at Yale-NUS College.

This module is intended as an introduction to various forms and modes of artistic practice, history, and theory. Each iteration will focus on a different broad theme that will inform the various lectures, seminars, studio exercises, and assignments over the semester. The module allows students to experience and recognise the practices and traditions of the representative tracks, and form connections between them. Students will learn how to apply their knowledge of several of these forms of their choosing, in a final portfolio that demonstrates their capabilities in at least in one theoretical mode and two practical modes and includes reflection on and self-assessment of their processes.

This course will allow for the development of skills that will enable a student to:

  • Identify elements, forms and structures in different art forms;
  • Describe and communicate diverse artistic practices;
  • Analyse artworks with reference to the specific medium and its conventions;
  • Reflect on the development of artistic processes and practices through time;
  • Demonstrate the skills and techniques needed for the practice of an art form; and
  • Conduct critical analysis of one’s own and other student’s work.



Every student doing this major will undertake a capstone project for which thorough guidance will be provided in semester one of the student’s final year at the College in a Capstone Seminar module. An Arts and Humanities capstone research project can take several different forms, depending on a student‘s area of focus. The Capstone Seminar module will support the implementation of the capstone project through the development of self-regulated research excellence. Students taking this module will pursue their projects together, learning to critique and improve each other’s written proposals in a seminar setting. Over the semester, students will fine-tune research skills and oral and written communication skills collaboratively.

Refer to the A&H capstone document for more information.



Graduation requirement for Class of 2019 onwards: 45 MCs + Capstone (10 MCs) = total of 55 MCs.

Structure of the major for Class of 2020 and onwards:

  • There is one compulsory Introduction to the Arts module for the major.
  • There is one compulsory Capstone Seminar module for the major.
  • There are 3 tracks to the major: Art History, Art Practice, Creative Writing.
  • There is no need for a student enrolling for the major to declare a track.
  • The distribution (of the 55MC graduation requirements) for the major is divided as follows:
    • 5 MCs:  Introduction to the Arts (to be taken as early as possible after declaring the major)
    • 5 MCs:  at least one module in Art History
    • 5 MCs:  at least one module in Art Practice, and
    • 5 MCs:  at least one module in Creative Writing
    • 5 MCs:  at least one module at 4000 level, in any one of the three Tracks
    • 10 MCs:   Capstone project [in or across Track(s])
    • 20 MCs:   the remaining MCs (worth 4 modules) to be selected by students from among the three Tracks

Structure of the minor for Class of 2020:

  • Students enrolling for the minor must complete a total of 25 MCs (5 modules).
  • 5MCs: Compulsory: Introduction to the Arts
  • 15MCs: At least three modules at either 2000 or 3000 level in any two from the three tracks.
  • 5MCs: An additional module at 4000 level in the major.

Structure of the minor for Class of 2021 and onwards:

  • Students enrolling for the minor must complete a total of 25 MCs inclusive of at least 5MC at the 2000 level and at least 5MC at the  4000 level.
  • The 25 MC should be drawn from minimum two of the three tracks

Pre-requisite policy for the major:

Students who wish to access a 4000 level module in any of the three tracks must have completed at least one module. This must be either (a) at the 2000 level in the corresponding track, or (b) at the 3000 level in the corresponding track, or (c) a student must get prior approval for waiving (a) and (b) from the module instructor and the Head of Study.