Diverse career pathways for arts graduates: Singapore’s first arts university introduces eight new degree programmes and a common curriculum –  Press Release

  • Five bachelor’s and three master’s degree programmes are set to drive new areas in the creative economy
  • A common curriculum will foster career readiness and enhance interdisciplinary collaboration
The University of the Arts Singapore (UAS) unveiled eight new degree programmes in emerging areas within the global creative economy:
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Art Histories and Curatorial Practices: Asia and the World
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Biophilic Design
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Contemporary Chinese Theatres
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Design for Social Futures
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) International Contemporary Dance Practices
  • Master of Arts Arts and Ecology
  • Master of Fine Arts Fine Art
  • Master of Arts Music Therapy
The new programmes prime graduates to thrive in creative, high-growth sectors such as the digital, green and care economies1 , museum development and global arts.

These programmes will be offered by the University’s founding members LASALLE College of the Arts (LASALLE) and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), adding to their extensive portfolio of degree programmes in the creative arts. Taking an interdisciplinary and research-oriented approach, these signify a commitment to push the boundaries of and foster excellence within the cultural and creative sectors in Singapore and the region.

UAS will also be introducing its Common Curriculum, which complements learning in specialised fields. The Common Curriculum brings together students from LASALLE and NAFA in joint classes for the IN-depth Programme and the Career Skills Curriculum.

The IN-depth Programme focuses on developing Interpretive and Narrative skills, combining critical reasoning, creative thinking and “futures literacy2”. Students across disciplines will explore how contemporary issues are framed and presented to different audiences. Through interdisciplinary collaboration, students will deepen and broaden their perspectives as they work through dilemmas in life and society.

The Common Curriculum also comprises an internship programme. Together with the Career Skills Curriculum, these are designed to equip students with the soft and hard skills—including personal branding and hands-on industry experience—needed to navigate the professional world.

Professor Kwok Kian Woon, Vice-Chancellor, UAS, said: “UAS students should cultivate a willingness and nimbleness to engage with the evolving world in the decades ahead, making sense of past conditions, responding to present-day complexities and imagining plausible futures. In grappling with the challenges of our time, our graduates will be equipped with capacities for critical judgement and responsible action”.

New programmes from LASALLE

LASALLE's pioneering undergraduate programmes in art history, dance, and design and postgraduate programmes in ecology and music therapy aim to prepare students to excel in the highly digitised, globalised, and eco-conscious creative industries. The institution aims to empower students to become empathetic leaders capable of fostering sustainable and situated creative enterprises in Singapore and the world.

BA (Hons) Art Histories and Curatorial Practices: Asia and the World
The BA (Hons) Art Histories and Curatorial Practices: Asia and the World is the first of its kind in Singapore and Southeast Asia. The programme fosters a symbiotic relationship between art history and curatorial practice in an increasingly expansive intellectual, artistic and curatorial space, embracing independent and situated knowledge-making and digital exhibitory practices. Informed by art history that acknowledges that global paradigms transform how the arts are practised, presented and collected, students will develop a critical understanding of the function and reception of art within specific cultural contexts.

BA (Hons) Design for Social Futures
The BA (Hons) Design for Social Futures aims to produce and field design leaders who are creative problem-solvers and empathetic voices focusing on innovation in and through design to forecast and foreground future design trends and their role in society and the economy. The programme will be an incubator where multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary pathways come together to equip students with critical design sensibilities as well as a broader range of skills in digital technology, strategy, user experience, content creation and social innovation. This programme responds to increasing global demand for design-inspired criticality in service sectors, healthcare, finance, creative tech, and government as well as specific research and development areas.

BA (Hons) International Contemporary Dance Practices
Jointly delivered by LASALLE and the renowned London Contemporary Dance School (LCDS), this programme speaks to an increasingly integrated dance practice on a global scale. It aims to develop dancers with an awareness of global citizenry and an understanding of how the development of cultures impacts them as artists and people. Drawing from the multicultural, multi-ethnic mix of Singapore and London, the focus of the programme is on helping students discover new transcultural and intercultural expressive languages to become independent artists with international careers. Students will study at LCDS for Year 1 and at LASALLE for Year 2 and 3.

MA Arts and Ecology
JA first in Singapore and Southeast Asia, the MA Arts and Ecology is a studio-based programme for creative practitioners and ecologists who seek to respond to the environmental crisis and ecological challenges through contemporary arts and creative practices. Placing the arts centrally in the environmental conversation in Asia, the programme positions arts practices and research within real-world situations and fosters collaborative and field-based research and art-making. It encourages students to engage in independent learning that is socially relevant to the current ecological crisis.

MA Music Therapy
MA Music Therapy will be Singapore’s first postgraduate music therapy training programme, to produce professionally registered music therapists. Students will receive a comprehensive education in music therapy coursework and clinical experiences that are rooted in the cultural and social contexts of Singapore. While honing their clinical and therapeutic skills, students will build on their musical skills with LASALLE’s School of Contemporary Music, where they will be able to tap on faculty specialising in classical, popular, jazz and electro-acoustic music.

Dr Venka Purushothaman, Deputy President & Provost, LASALLE College of the Arts, said, “The five new programmes from LASALLE signify a bold step forward for arts education. This is to situate arts higher education within the context of wider global, digital and social issues and respond to demographically different learners. Against this complex but exciting backdrop, there has never been a better time to pursue an arts education in Singapore as we seek to respond, expand and redefine the creative sector.”

New programmes from NAFA

NAFA’s new bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes are designed to spearhead a creative movement that is defining Southeast Asia and beyond. Marked with the unique Southeast Asia identity and paired with a forward-thinking curriculum and experienced faculty, students will experience a holistic transformational journey which inculcates in-depth knowledge and future-ready competencies. Through industry collaborations with leading international organisations and institutions, the academy provides students with international exposure and diverse opportunities for growth, endowing students with a global outlook to become leading changemakers in their fields of expertise.

BA (Hons) Biophilic Design
A first of its kind in Asia, the three-year BA (Hons) Biophilic Design programme nurtures spatial designers for the future, as imminent societal and environmental challenges demand organic and nature-inspired design for human well-being. Through an interdisciplinary and practice-led curriculum developed in partnership with CPG Corporation, one of Asia’s leading infrastructure design and development firms, students will gain comprehensive professional training by engaging with industry experts through masterclasses, workshops, and collaborations. These diverse opportunities ensure a comprehensive understanding of the industry which will prime them for an increasingly dynamic design industry. Capstone projects and work-integrated learning programmes will sharpen their practical skills as they apply their research in real-world scenarios.

BA (Hons) Contemporary Chinese Theatres
The BA (Hons) in Contemporary Chinese Theatres will be the first bachelor’s programme in Asia to produce versatile thespians with cultural and artistic awareness in the understanding of the history, cultures, and languages of modern-day Chinese theatres. Students will gain an excellent balance of theoretical and practical training, to create compelling original works that respond empathically and professionally to industry demands of Chinese theatre. Through this enriching three-year-programme, students will emerge as theatre experts, ready for diverse professional roles in Singapore and the Southeast Asian region’s performing arts industry with creative, technical, research, administrative or policy-related capabilities.

MFA Fine Art
A first of its kind in Singapore, the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Fine Art studio programme advances forward-thinking and culturally progressive approaches to artmaking and art practice, as part of a broader journey of exploration that interrogates the artist’s role in today’s world. The MFA Fine Art programme focuses on developing students’ fine art approaches and refining their discursive strategies, informed by contemporary sociocultural contexts. They will engage in diverse art practices of Southeast Asia through an intensive regional study trip, cross-disciplinary labs, workshops and seminars that foster collaboration across cultures, and be equipped to address regional issues and contribute to the creative economy as versatile and confident artists and creative practitioners in the region.

Jerry Soo, Vice President (Academic) & Provost, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts said “NAFA’s new programmes emphasise our bold commitment to innovation and relevance. They are forward-looking to anticipate future needs and demands yet, deeply anchored in our cultural and creative sensitivities and sensibilities. Designed to be highly interdisciplinary, the programmes will stimulate new thinking, learning and exploration in our artistic talents. Learning and growing in a supportive and caring community in NAFA, our students will be empowered and inspired to seize new possibilities, unleash their artistic potentials, and bring positive impact to a rapidly evolving artistic landscape.”

News coverage:

University of the Arts Singapore to offer 8 new degree programmes; common curriculum to include internship opportunities

新加坡艺术大学推出八个新学位课程 | 早报 (zaobao.com.sg)
Lianhe Zaobao, 13 September 2023, '推动创意经济及加强跨学科合作: 新艺大明年开课 推出八新学位课程'
Universiti Seni S’pura perkenal 8 kursus ijazah, siap graduan kemudi ekon kreatif

*Source: Lianhe Zaobao, Berita Harian © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

1 These areas were identified as high-growth economies in Singapore, within the Skills Demand for the Future Economy Report 2022.
2 Futures Literacy is defined by UNESCO as a skill that allows people to better understand the role of the future in what they see and do. (en.unesco.org/futuresliteracy/about)

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