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Politics, Law and Economics (PLE) Major

The first of its kind in Singapore, the new Politics, Law and Economics major will be offered by the SMU School of Social Sciences starting from 2016. This innovative major aims to prepare future leaders and thinkers with a deep understanding of global political and economic transformations and the legal frameworks and contexts within which such changes take place. Students will hone strategic and analytical thinking skills and seek innovative solutions to real world problems.

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the major, graduates would be well-equipped with the knowledge and skills to handle multifaceted jobs in their chosen fields of public service, non-government organisations or industry. Possible jobs include careers in journalism, diplomatic service, foreign affairs, public service, consulting and research, amongst others.

The Bachelor of Social Science’s Politics, Law and Economics major consists of 36 course units, a 10-week internship programme, an 80-hour community service commitment, and a series of 7 Finishing Touch workshops. All areas of the requirements are pursued simultaneously throughout the four years.

The table below provides a summary of the structure of the Politics, Law and Economics major:


  Foundation Courses
(3 Courses)
+ University Core
(4 Courses)
+ PLE Core
(10 Courses)
  PLE Major
(4 Courses)
+ PLE Major-Related Options
(5 Courses)
+ Social Science
Capstone Seminar
(1 Course)
  General Education
(4 Courses)
+ Technology Studies
(1 Course)
+ Globalisation
(1 Course)
  Modes of Thinking
(1 Course)
+ Entrepreneurship
(1 Course)
+ Asian Studies
(1 Course)
      SMU Internship


Foundation Courses
The Foundation courses provide students with a basic background in mathematical thinking, economic reasoning, and writing skills. Students who have obtained good grades in equivalent subjects taken previously may be exempted from these courses.
1. Calculus
2. Introductory Economics
3. Programme in Writing and Reasoning
University Core
The University Core is the heart of all SMU undergraduate programmes. Students are expected to acquire an understanding of general business dynamics, gain sensitivity to ethical issues, develop effective leadership strategies, and attain proficiency in their communication skills.
1. Business, Government and Society
2. Ethics and Social Responsibility
3. Leadership and Team Building
4. Management Communication
Politics, Law and Economics Core
1. Intermediate Mathematics for Economics 6. Company Law
2. Intermediate Microeconomics 7. Political Theory
3. Intermediate Macroeconomics 8. Introduction to Political and Policy Studies
4. Legal Theory and Philosophy 9. Research Methods in Sociology and Political Science
5. Business Law 10. Strategic Thinking


Politics, Law and Economics Major Electives
Students must choose 1 of the following themes and read 4 courses from the chosen theme.
Choice and Behaviour
The following is a sample of courses that are offered in this theme:
1. Advanced Microeconomics 6. Psychology of Reasoning and Thinking
2. The Economics of Politics 7. Economic Analysis of Law
3. Evolution of Public Institutions: An Economic and
Historical Analysis
8. Policy Design and Analysis
4. Probability Theory and Applications 9. Parties and Social Movements
5. Psychology of Group Processes and Decision making 10. Law and Regulation
Global Studies
The following is a sample of courses that are offered in this theme:
1. Global Issues in Trade, Law and Development 8. The Economics of Politics
2. Evolution of Public Institutions: An Economic and
Historical Analysis
9. Introduction to Chinese History, Culture,
Economics, Politics and the Law
3. Foundations of ASEAN Law and Policy 10. Global Migration and Human Security
4. International Economics B 11. The Politics of Water in Asia
5. Economic Growth 12. World Politics
6. Developmental Economics 13. Human Rights in International Relations
7. WTO: Law and Policy  
Public Policy and Governance
The following is a sample of courses that are offered in this theme:
1. Law and Policy of Ethnic Relations in Singapore 8. Monetary Economics
2. International and Comparative Criminal Justice 9. The Economics of Politics
3. Public International Law 10. Introduction to Public Policy
4. Constitutional & Administrative Law (1.5 course unit) 11. Public Policy Taskforce
5. Public Sector Economics 12. Public Sector Management
6. Urban Economics and Policy 13. Policy Design and Analysis
7. Evolution of Public Institutions: An Economic and
Historical Analysis
14. Sustainable Cities
Distribution and Justice
The following is a sample of courses that are offered in this theme:
1. Stratification and Inequality 6. Evolution of Public Institutions: An Economic and
Historical Analysis
2. Gender Politics: Exclusion and Empowerment 7. Macroeconomics of Income Distribution
3. Politics of Food Security 8.  Public Sector Economics
4.  Development, Underdevelopment and Poverty 9. International and Comparative Criminal Justice
5. Economic Growth 10.  Jurisprudence
Senior Thesis (2 course units)
Eligible students may choose to do a senior thesis in place of two major elective courses.
Study Mission
Students may choose to do either a Law Study Mission or a Political Science Study Mission in place of one major elective course.
Politics, Law and Economics Major-Related Options
The Politics, Law and Economics Major-Related Options provide students with the flexibility to freely choose five elective courses from the course offerings in the majors in Social Sciences, Accounting, Business, Economics, Information Systems and Law.
Social Science Capstone Seminar
This is an integrative seminar that the BSocSc student is required to take before graduating. This seminar provides an opportunity for the student to integrate the knowledge, skills and learning experiences acquired in the social science programme through relating academic knowledge to important practical applications.


General Education
To broaden their intellectual perspectives beyond the social sciences, students are required to take a total of four General Education courses. The following is a sample of courses that can be taken to fulfil this requirement.
1. Computer as an Analysis Tool
(Compulsory Course under either General Education or Technology Studies)
7. Environmental Science
2. Biotechnology and Bioentrepreneurship 8. Intercultural Communication
3. Creative Writing 9. Introduction to Physical Science
4. Current Issues in Business, Culture and Society 10. Language (e.g. French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Thai)
5. Dance: East and West 11. Music: East and West
6. Drama and Scriptwriting 12. Principles of Coaching  in Sports
Technology Studies
The Technology Studies courses enable students to be perceptive to technological trends and to be cognizant of how technology affects business and society. The following is a sample of courses that can be taken to fulfil this requirement.
1. Computing Technology for Finance
5. Technology and World Change
2. Governing, Managing and Protecting Knowledge in Organisations
6. The Games and Digital Media Industries
3. Intelligent Organisations
The Globalisation courses enable students to develop a stronger sense of global awareness by broadening their exposure to business, political and social practices beyond Singapore.The following is a sample of courses that can be taken to fulfil this requirement.
1. Corporate Responsibility in the Global Era 4. Social Media and Organisations
2. International Law and Global Politics
5. Sustainability Governance and Management
3. Economics of Globalisation
Modes of Thinking
The Modes of Thinking courses aim to equip all students with the intellectual skills needed to operate in a complex and challenging environment. Students are required to take one of the following courses.
1. Managing Volatility, Uncertainty, Change and Ambiguity
3. Critical Thinking in the Real World
2. Analytical Skills and Creative Thinking  
The Entrepreneurship courses enable students to gain familiarity with the entrepreneurial process and acquire practical skills that will help them transform into innovative leaders of tomorrow. The following is a sample of courses that can be taken to fulfil this requirement.
1. Accounting for Entrepreneurs
4. Entrepreneurship and Business Creation
2. Design Thinking and Innovation
5. Enterprise Consulting
3. Entrepreneurial Finance
Asian Studies
The Asian Studies courses provide students with an enhanced understanding of the role of Asia in a modern business environment and foundational knowledge of the multiplicity of countries within the Asian region. The following is a sample of courses that can be taken to fulfil this requirement.
1. Contemporary South Asian Societies
4. Politics of Southeast Asia
2. Exploring Asian Identities
5. Popular Culture in Asia
3. Political Economy of East Asia


Students are required to undertake a minimum of one 10-week internship as part of the process of learning through experience. Within this program, PLE students shall purposefully extend their academic learning by applying and securing an internship with a participating host organisation.

The student will be given work assignments that would be of relevance to both the host and the student's course of studies, in an environment involving on-site work supervision with clear duties with attainment objectives, mentoring/teaching work relationships encouraged, and with a formal evaluation/assessment of the intern's performance.



PLE students only need to read another four more LAW courses from the LLB curriculum (in addition to the PLE core courses) to get the following exemption if they are admitted to the JD programme at SMU within 3 years of undergraduate education: Up to 3 course units (mapped to LAW courses taken previously) would be exempted from the 25 course units of the JD programme, meaning that the PLE student would only need to complete up to 22 course units to graduate with the JD degree. The Grade point of the exempted courses would be computed into the JD GPA. Of the remaining 22 course units for the JD degree, the PLE student will substitute LAW core courses done previously (with a grade of B and above) with LAW electives


Last updated on 14 Sep 2017 .