What is the Urban Studies Capstone Experience?

The Urban Studies capstone experience gives students the opportunity to explore a specialised topic by way of supervised, independent research. The capstone project can explore any aspect of urban life or processes of urbanisation, past and present. Projects may involve primary research, the analysis of existing data sets (quantitative, geospatial, visual or textual) or theoretical approaches, reviews of policy, or other agreed upon formats or foci. Guidance will be provided by the Head of Study on the scope and range of topics supported in the Major.

How am I supported in my capstone?

The Capstone Project in Urban Studies is supported in two ways.

1. In semester one, you attend Urban Studio, which is a regular seminar in which students read, report and peer review their developing projects. The Urban Studio supports the development and realization of the Capstone Project, culminating in the submission of a written assignment that includes the research proposal a methodology statement, a literature review, and other materials as required. There is also a capstone proposal presentation.

2. One-on-one supervision by a capstone advisor. Throughout the year your research efforts are supported by your capstone advisor.

Identification of project and advisor

Students should begin to think about possible Capstone Projects during their Junior Year or before, and you are fully supported in the development of a topic. In developing a topic the following steps are useful.

1. Think about a topic or area that would sustain your interest for two semesters.

2. Think about a topic that is do-able. Small enough, accessible, and where the data needed can be attained.

3. Think about a topic that is related to the themes of the major. It is useful to consider that an urban topic may be either:

  • of the city – meaning about processes of urbanization and their effects (political and economic, social or cultural, architectural or environmental)
  • in the city – meaning about phenomena and processes that occur in the city, and sometimes uniquely so (political and economic, social or cultural, architectural or environmental)
  • contemporary or historical
  • Based in Singapore or elsewhere

4. Think of a topic that you have encountered already through your course of studies thus far (Urban Studies or elective or common curriculum modules), and which you wish you could learn more about or understand better.

5. Think about topics that match the interests of the faculty in Urban Studies. We encourage students to bring their passions and interests to the capstone, but we also encourage students to consider selecting topics related to the following thematic and topical areas of faculty expertise:

  • Peri-urbanisation and village development
  • Community organisation and development
  • Planning history and theory in Singapore
  • Heritage, memory and tourism
  • Architecture, built form, infrastructure & society
  • Creative, smart & innovative cities
  • Water and waste
  • Poverty and informality
  • Environment and Development
  • Mobilities and transport
  • GIS and spatial analysis
  • Urban demography
  • Development & urbanisation in the Global South
  • Transnational planning and policy mobilities
  • Urban Governance
  • Housing
  • Youth in city
  • Urban representation through pop cultures

Research proposal

A first draft research proposal is required early in Semester 1, Year 4. Students may change their topics only once after Year 4 commences and normally no later than Week 7, Semester 1, Year 4.

Format(s) of final product

Students majoring in Urban Studies can elect to submit their final assessed work in any of the following formats:

1. A 10,000 word written report in academic format, with an Urban Studio final presentation;

2. A multimedia work (e.g. film, photographic essay) with a 5,000 word written report, with an Urban Studio final presentation;

3. A visual analysis/design proposal (e.g. GIS, CAD, etc.), with a 5,000 word written report, with an Urban Studio final presentation;

4. A 9,000-word policy report (+ 1,000-word executive summary) written for an external organisation to address a particular need/problem/question it is facing and that ties back to the foci of the Urban Studies major, with an Urban Studio final presentation.

Students seeking to complete a capstone in formats 2, 3 or 4 should notify the Head of Study.


Participation in Capstone Urban Studio during Semester 1 (10%); Proposal inclusive of literature review and methodology, submitted end of Semester 1 (20%); Final Outcome Paper, with presentation (70%).

The formal specifications for completing an Urban Studies capstone can be found here.