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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


Starting in A.Y. 2019-2020, all incoming SMU freshmen will experience a new Core Curriculum comprising a series of courses and activities that initiate undergraduates into their transformative education. Learn more.

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 one of the following themes and read four courses from the chosen theme. Not all courses will be offered every term. Enrolled students should refer to the course offering when planning their courses.
Choice and Behaviour
The following is a sample of courses that are offered in this theme:
1. Advanced Microeconomics 5. Psychology of Reasoning and Thinking
2. The Economics of Politics 6. Economic Analysis of Law
3. Psychology of Group Processes and Decision making 7. Policy Design and Analysis
4. Probability Theory and Applications 8. Law and Regulation
Global Studies
The following is a sample of courses that are offered in this theme:
1. The Politics of Water in Asia 5. WTO: Law and Policy
2. Foundations of ASEAN Law and Policy 6. Introduction to Chinese History, Culture,
Economics, Politics and the Law
3.International Economics B 7. World Politics
4.Developmental Economics  
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. Health Economics 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. Sustainable Cities  
Distribution and Justice
The following is a sample of courses that are offered in this theme:
1. Stratification and Inequality 5. Economic Growth
2. Gender Politics: Exclusion and Empowerment 6. Macroeconomics of Income Distribution
3. Politics of Food Security 7. International and Comparative Criminal Justice
4. Development, Underdevelopment and Poverty 8. Jurisprudence: Modern and Critical Theories of Law
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


The Internship Programme consists of a 10-week business attachment in a public sector organization or business organization and a 80-hour attachment at a Voluntary Welfare Organization (VWO). As the details of the organization and the time spent in each organization will be reflected in the transcript, students must ensure that they have fulfilled their attachments before filing for graduation.


PLE students who are admitted to the J.D. programme within three years of obtaining their bachelor degree may be exempted for up to 5 course units from the 25 course units of the J.D. degree, if they have completed 5 Law courses at SMU in the undergraduate degree. LGST courses and other universities’ courses taken on exchange do not qualify for exemption. The grade point obtained for the Law courses exempted will be computed into the J.D. GPA. If, in addition to the 5 exempted Law courses, a student has completed other SMU courses listed in the J.D. list of Law core courses, s/he does not have to take those courses again, but will have to replace them with J.D. Law electives, in order to bring the total course units completed in the J.D. degree to 20 course units.


Last updated on 27 Nov 2018 .