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What’s this E2S2 programme about?

Environmental Earth Systems Science uses the sciences- maths, chemistry, biology, and physics- as a background to study the Earth and environment.

Within the major, there are three specialisations. Geosciences mostly focuses on the solid Earth; with this degree you could go on to do environmental or geotechnical consulting, look for natural resources, or other jobs. Society and the Earth System focuses on how humans interact with the environment, so students who take this specialisation take courses in economics, urban planning, and others on how humans relate to the environment. Students in this specialisation may go on to jobs in government planning, business, or environmental organisations. The Ecology specialisation focuses on the biological and environmental aspects of life on Earth. Students who complete this specialisation may choose careers in NGOs, environmental consulting, government agencies, biotechnology firms, and research.

The E2S2 major is an elite programme, admitting up to 35 students per year. Part of the reason that we will admit such a small group is because we offer programmes like a field course after the first year, where all students in the major programme spend 2 weeks working on environmental problems in Bali.

There are other opportunities for field courses. We also encourage students to conduct a semester of study at another university. In their final year students can choose to do an industrial attachment, or a final year research project in close collaboration with a faculty member. We work closely with each student to place them in internships and jobs, and help them to position themselves for the future they want.

What are the job prospects like?

In designing this major programme, we have worked closely with Stanford University in the United States, which has a programme in Earth systems science that has been in place for over 20 years. What they find when they look at their graduates is that people pursue all sorts of different careers after they graduate, depending on their interests and goals. If you graduate from this programme, you can do anything from exploring for oil, minerals, or other resources, working on underground building in Singapore, to working in business, finance, or insurance, where companies need to plan for a sustainable future. You could also work with a government agency or business that is planning for Singapore’s urban growth and future environment.

Environmental Earth Systems Science is new to Singapore, and so this is part of the reason we plan to have such a small, elite major. This will allow us to work with you individually on your future goals, including helping you to make contacts for internships or jobs.

How is this programme different from Engineering?

Some of our graduates will work on similar problems to what engineers work on. However, instead of focusing on engineering solutions, environmental Earth systems scientists try to look at problems as a scientist and more holistically. For instance, flooding on Orchard Road is more than an engineering problem. Environmental Earth system scientists look at the subsurface and the urban landscape, to understand the root causes of problems. They can work in collaboration with engineers and city planners to generate solutions that work.

How is this programme different from Geography or Environmental Studies?

In our programme, you may study similar issues to those that someone from geography or environmental studies looks at. One main difference is that in environmental Earth systems science, we use quantitative techniques, based on a background in maths and sciences, for these studies. We think that employers will value your quantitative background when you are looking for jobs. This also allows you to work with engineers, city planners, and others to generate sophisticated solutions to complex questions.

How do I get accepted?

We admit 35 students or less each year depending on the applicant pool. Admissions is based on A Levels/Poly/IB results as well as in person interview. See the Admissions page for details. We occasionally admit students with exceptional alternative backgrounds that are relevant to the programme.

What are the minimum requirements for the programme?

Singapore Cambridge A Level students:
H2 Level pass in Mathematics AND
H2 Level Pass in Physics/Chemistry/Biology/Economics/Computing

IB Diploma students:
Mathematics at Higher Level AND
Physics/Chemistry/Biology/Economics/Computer Science at Higher Level

International and other qualifications:
Mathematics at Senior High School AND
Physics/Chemistry/Biology/Economics at Senior High School

NUS High School Diploma:
Major CAP of 2.0 in Mathematics AND
Major CAP of 2.0 in Physics/Chemistry /Biology

Please see the printout of Poly Diplomas that are accepted for the programme.
Because this is a new programme, there is no GPA cutoff yet for this programme. It will be extremely selective, but we are excited for strong Polytecnic students to apply to our programme.

I really like this subject, but am worried about how selective the admission process is. Should I apply?

If you feel strongly that this is the right major programme for you, then we encourage you to apply. We have included the interview in the student selection process because we want to make sure that the students in the programme are passionate about the Earth and environment. If you are concerned about your academic background, we encourage you to prepare for the interview so you can convey to the panel your passion for the programme, and other qualities that you possess that make you a strong candidate.

Do I have to have sciences background to get accepted to the major?

Ideally, students who apply would have a strong background in maths and sciences, and maths and sciences are part of the major programme. However, if you’re a strong student and you really are interested in the programme, we encourage you to apply. One of the reasons we’re doing application by interview is so that we can choose students who have a keen interest in the subject.

We do want you to be prepared- the course will be difficult if you do not have a background in maths and sciences. Officially some of the courses required for the major require prerequisites of A or H2 level maths or equivalent. Although students do enroll in these courses who do not meet these requirements, this does mean that these courses would likely be difficult for you and would require significant effort. NTU does have some resources for students who want help (for instance http://su.ntu.edu.sg/?p=79), and it would be important to line up a study group and these types of resources before you begin the courses. Hopefully other students in the E2S2 major programme could also be a good resource for you. Through our major advising programme, we would help you to structure your studies so your maths and sciences are spread out so you are not too overwhelmed.

That said, if you want to take on these challenges, you will have to be ready in the interview to convince us that you have thought through these challenges and are ready to meet them.

Do I have to have a geography background to get accepted to the major?

The programme does cover similar topics to geography, but to us the maths and sciences background is more important than a background in geography. However, your geography studies are a great way to demonstrate interest in our type of programme, and your enthusiasm for geography may help you express why you are interested in the E2S2 Programme in your interview.

What will the interview be like?

We encourage you to look forward to your interview experience. It is a chance for you to get to know our programme better, and to highlight to us the qualities that make you competitive for admission. Before your interview, you will be placed in a group with other students, and will have a chance to learn more about the programme, take a quick tour of our facilities, and ask any questions you’d like before your interview. For the interview, you will meet with a panel of our faculty. The purpose of the interview is for us to get to know you better, and so most questions will probably centre on your interests, goals, and strengths. Before the interview, we suggest that you think about what you’d like to highlight to us in your interview, but don’t worry about preparing too much.

I am interested in transferring to this programme from another. Is that possible?

Yes! We welcome students from other disciplines who think they are more suited to the Environmental Earth Systems Science Programme. Depending on the courses you’ve already taken at University, it may be possible to finish your studies in three years. However, we suggest that you plan to take four years to complete the programme so you can take full advantage of opportunities in the field, study abroad, and conduct an internship or senior research project. Please note that the programme remains extremely selective for transfer students. Our advice is to keep your grades up as much as possible in your current major programme. If you can demonstrate that you can succeed at University, you will have a better chance of being admitted to our programme.

Once you are ready to transfer programmes, please visit the Change of Programme website to learn more. Please work with Academic Services and the Undergraduate Academic Officer to coordinate the timing of your application. For us, it is often best if the Change of Programme applications come during the application period for Poly and A-level students.