Capstone Details

Capstone co-ordinator: Professor Naoko Shimazu

Office: RC3-01-03B

Email for appointment


By the end of Semester 2 in their third year of study, students would have conducted preliminary discussions with prospective supervisors to discuss what they wish to work on for their capstone project.

In Semester 1 of their fourth year of study, students will take the History Capstone seminar, which is compulsory for History majors and graded (20%). It is intended to provide a structure for preparing the History capstone project, which is worth 10 [modular credits (MC)].

Most students will be working towards a dissertation of 9,000 to 11,000 words in length, including endnotes/footnotes, but excluding abstract, table of contents, appendices and bibliography. For those who wish to work on non-dissertation based work, there should still be a written component of at least 4,500 to 5,500 words, including footnotes, but excluding bibliography. Although it is ultimately the decision of the student to pursue the dissertation or the non-dissertation route, students who wish to pursue graduate studies at a future date are strongly encouraged to opt for the dissertation route.

Students have access to S$50 allocation of capstone funds to cover costs relating to capstones. If the supervisor considers it beneficial, the student can apply to the Dean of Faculty for further funding of up to S$500 to be spent on research activities (including archival trips outside of Singapore). Students must fill in the form attached in the Capstone Guidelines document, with detailed costings, and obtain the approval of their supervisor and capstone co-ordinator to make the application. If the student opts to apply for the S$500 funding, then, they are not eligible for the S$50 allocation.

Academic integrity is the basis of academic work. Students are required to submit their work through CANVAS (turnitin) as the College has a zero-tolerance approach towards plagiarism. Potential breaches of academic conduct including plagiarism, will be referred to the College’s Committee on Integrity and Discipline (CID). If students are unsure of what plagiarism is, they must seek advice in the first instance from their supervisor or the capstone coordinator.


Dissertation Projects: 20% Semester 1 Capstone Seminar, 70% final dissertation, 10% final oral presentation.

Non-dissertation Projects: 20% Semester 1 Capstone Seminar, 35% aesthetic and technical excellence of finished product, 35% written report, 10% final oral presentation.

Capstone Seminar in Semester 1:

The capstone seminar is intended to be a highly interactive learning environment, where students share work in various stages of progress with fellow students. In order to make each seminar meaningful, students must come prepared with a substantial amount of independent work before they attend the seminar. ‘Behind the scenes’ independent work would consist: developing timeline for their projects, building up an annotated bibliography, allocating time to undertake primary sources research, notetaking of archival research, planning outline for the project (chapter breakdowns, etc.), and writing a literature review of the topic.

In the seminars, students are expected to share their work with fellow capstone students. This will entail developing effective oral presentation skills in order to communicate research findings. Moreover, seminars provide an important forum to acquire and develop critical thinking to provide constructive comments on fellow student presentations. It is absolutely critical that students do not simply criticise the work of others but must strive to be constructive. In this manner, students learn how to participate in discussions, and be part of the creative thinking process, as budding scholars in the field of history.

Students are expected to take the initiative in agreeing with their supervisor early in Semester 1 to come up with a draft schedule, to ensure completion of the project. Students must consult their supervisor and come up with a schedule of meetings which should take place once every two to three weeks. These meetings can take the form of email exchanges or Skype communication when necessary.

By the end of Semester 1, students are expected to have completed the annotated bibliography, a draft literature review, completed most of their primary source research, and have a first outline of their project (breakdowns of chapters, with some description of what will be included in these chapters) in place. In the last seminar, each student will be asked to do a 10-minute presentation on their progress-to-date. The seminar includes a Q&A session from the audience, which comprises students and History faculty.

The 20% assessment grade given for the capstone seminar will be the result of a consultation between the capstone coordinator and the supervisor, based on the progress made by the student, including seminar activities such as class attendance, participation and presentation.

Independent Capstone Work in Semester 2:

In Semester 2, students will be working mostly with their supervisor through independent work. It is particularly important that students follow their schedule of work in order not to fall behind their schedule. Independent work is not an easy task, and students must ensure that they dedicate the minimum required time per week (and possibly more for research work of this nature) in order to ensure completion on time. As capstones are primarily student-led projects, students are expected to take the initiative in contacting their supervisor for meetings, as well as the capstone coordinator, should the need arise.

There will be an additional meeting of capstone students organised by the capstone co-ordinator in the middle of the semester as a progress-to-date session. Moreover, the capstone coordinator will have individual meetings with capstone students in Semester 2 for a one-to-one discussion on their projects, and above all, to ensure that enough progress is being made.

Students can expect to meet with their supervisor once every two to three weeks, and they should make firm plans with their supervisor to reach targets.