What are ISMs?

What are Independent Study Modules (ISMs)?

  • ISMs, or Independent Study Modules, are modules which provide opportunities for USP students to obtain a personalised specialization on a specific topic. The student is given the freedom to work independently and to design the ISM in consultation with the faculty member to determine the assignments and research required for the module topic. The student is required to write a culminating essay or report at the conclusion of the module.
  • ISMs must be pegged at level 3000 or higher.
  • USP students must read at least one ISM but no more than three.
  • USP students on DDP (between USP partner faculties), USP Special programmes (Waseda DDP, cultural immersion at LSR/HC), and NOC/ilead who are granted the module waiver of 2 HSS + 2 ST Inquiry modules (including ISM requirement) will not be allowed to read any ISMs (or ISMs ride-on) to double-count towards major/faculty requirements. Please contact USP Office if you have any queries.
  • Individual faculties* have different regulations/guidelines regarding ISMs. Please refer to your faculty for prior advice and approval before embarking on your ISMs.

* All FASS students must read at least one ISM and up to a maximum of two ISMs, each of level-3000 or higher. Students from ELL department should not pursue more than one USP ISM at level-4000. USP History Honours students may not do USP ISMs at level-4000. Students are advised to speak to their department ISM coordinators and administrators on their department’s guidelines on ISMs. Please note that departmental ISMs (those with module codes ending with 4660, eg EC4660, HY4660) are not USP ISMs. You will not be allowed to double-count the departmental ISMs as USP ISMs. Department ISM also precludes Honours Thesis. More info on USP ISMs (for FASS students) can also be found HERE.

Forms of Independent Study Modules

Independent Study Modules (ISMs) may take one of the following forms, as elaborated below.

  • Individual or Small Group Study

    A student can undertake an individual reading, research or project course under the guidance of a faculty member. A mutually agreed-upon proposal must be drawn up between the student and the mentor. This study proposal must state clearly the student’s obligations, the agreed-upon mode of assessment and the relevance of this module to his or her major. The student is required to write a culminating essay or report concerning the findings of the module topic, and should be actively involved in the presentation and discussion of the material.

    A small group of (not more than seven) students may also undertake an ISM collectively but the group ISM must have a significant component of individual assessment. Group members may submit individual reports or a joint report, depending on the requirements of the mentor and the home faculty.

  • Riding on existing modules

    Faculties with a large number of students and insufficient resources may mount ISMs as follows. Existing level 3000 and 4000 modules can be enhanced by a department into ISMs *. Although the student attends the same lectures as his or her non-USP coursemates, he or she participates in separate or additional tutorial sessions with the mentor, covering more material (at least twenty per cent), at greater depth, and involving his/her active participation. The USP student takes the same examination as the other students taking this module, but the examination should constitute a smaller percentage of the USP student's overall assessment. The USP student should be assessed more rigorously in the area of continual assessments, e.g. projects and term papers which pay particular attention to the student's active involvement and independence.

    * ISMs ride-ons are not applicable to FASS and FOE students.


Procedure for ISM / ride-on ISM application

You can start registering for your ISMs in the following manner:

  • Start formulating a topic of interest well in advance and approach your prospective supervisor (with relevant research interests) to discuss and write a proposal for the ISM.
  • Start working on the project several weeks before the start of the semester so as to have sufficient time for any project revision if necessary.
  • Upon agreement with the supervisor, you can apply for an ISM using the ISM contract form (from the respective home faculty website).
  • Obtain endorsement from the relevant departmental ISM co-ordinator (prior to the deadline as stipulated on the ISM application form).
  • Submit the endorsed ISM application form to your faculty Dean’s Office. Please refer to the respective faculties’ website for details on the timeline. You may also refer to the Registration Details for more info.
  • If you encounter any difficulties when embarking on a cross-faculty ISM, you may approach USP for assistance.


Some Common Questions on ISMs FASS Biz SOC FOE FOS
What is the minimum number of ISMs I have to do? 1 1 1 1 1
What is the maximum number of ISMs I can do? 2* 3 3 3 3
What are the forms of ISMs I can undertake ?
  • Only Newly-designed ISMs
  • Newly-designed ISMs
  • Ride-on ISMs
  • Newly-designed ISMs
  • Ride-on ISMs
  • UROPs
  • Only Newly-designed ISMs
  • Newly-designed ISMs
  • Ride-on ISMs
  • UROPs
Must I submit an ISM application/contract form ? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Where do I submit a cross-faculty ISM ?
USP ISM application form
Where do I submit my endorsed ISM application/contract form? Dean’s Office Dean’s Office Dean’s Office Dean’s Office Dean’s Office
What can my ISM count or double-count towards (subject to faculty’s approval)? Major or UE Major or UE Major or UE UE only Major or UE
When is the deadline for submission of ISM application? Please check with your faculty Please check with your faculty Please check with your faculty Please check with your faculty Please check with your faculty
Must the ISM be at least level 3000? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes


*Different departments in FASS have different regulations. Please approach your departmental coordinators for department-specific guidelines before embarking on the ISM.

Please note the following:

  • For USP+Law students, the Directed Research will be double-counted towards USP ISM requirements.
  • For USP+SDE students, certain major modules will be double-counted towards USP ISM requirements. Please refer to the SDE website for more information.

ISM Guidelines

Click here to view more

Special Arrangements (ESP and SPS students)

Engineering Science Programme (ESP) Students

  • Student Matriculating From AY2012-2013:
  • For Engineering Science Programme (ESP) students, the following ESP modules can be counted towards an inquiry tier USP Science & Technology module:
    • ESP 2109 or
    • ESP2110
  • Two of the following ESP modules can be counted as USP ISMs in the Science and Technology domain, thus substituting for two more inquiry tier USP Science & Technology modules
    • ESP3901
    • ESP3902
    • ESP3903


Special Programme in Science (SPS) Students

  • Students Matriculating From AY2012-13 and onwards:
  • From this AY onwards, USP will be under the revised curriculum. The Advanced Curriculum will cease to exist, and SPS modules will be used to fulfill USP inquiry modules. For USP students matriculating from this AY onwards who are in SPS:
    • Any two of SP2173, SP2174, SP3175 and SP3176 will count as regular Inquiry modules in the Sciences & Technologies (S&T) domain; in addition,
    • SP3172 will count as an ISM in the S&T domain

ISM Coordinator

Each participating faculty in the University Scholars Programme will appoint ISM coordinator(s) for its faculty.

Specific responsibilities of ISM coordinator:

  • To ensure that the department has sufficient ISMs for its scholars for each semester.
  • To assist and advise staff in the department who want to offer ISMs.
  • To answer students' questions regarding what students can or cannot do (regarding ISMs) in their departments/faculties, and to act as student advisor.
  • If possible, to assist the faculty advanced module committee to propose and launch new course based modules. Currently, the departments in a faculty may not fully coordinate their activities with the faculty committee, and hence may not be aware of advanced modules offered and policies at the faculty level. This lack of coordination not only creates confusion within the faculty, but also among the students.

Faculty ISM


Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

For more information on reading newly-designed ISMs at FASS, please go to:

School of Business

For more information on reading newly-designed or ride-on ISMs at BIZ, please go to:

Faculty of Science

For more information on reading newly-designed, ride-on and UROPS-based ISMs at FOS, please go to:

School of Computing

For more information on UROP-based, module-based ISMs, or ride-on ISMs at SoC, please go to:

Faculty of Engineering

For more information on reading newly-designed at FOE, please go to:

School of Design and Environment

For more information on modules read to fulfill ISMs at SDE, please go to:

Faculty of Law

For more information on modules read to fulfill ISMs at Law, please go to:

Sample of ISM Titles for AY2015/2016

ISM Undertaken in AY2015/AY2016

S/No ISM Titles Registered by Student from:
1 Corporate Finance and Technology Firm Valuation BIZ
2 Determining Successful Crowdfunding: Understanding Consumer Motivation in Successful Crowdfunding BIZ
3 Level Up for Conscious Consumption Games BIZ
4 Party Brand Perception amongst first-time voters in Singapore BIZ
5 Rohingyas: Illegal or Marginalized Citizens? BIZ
6 Technopreneurship - Prototyping Hygiene Monitoring System BIZ
7 Themed Passenger Carriages: Promoting Commuters' Happiness on Rapid Transit Systems through Ambient and Aesthetic, Singapoe BIZ
8 A Qualitative Assessment Of Motivations Of Jfl Learners FASS
9 A Study Of Singapore'S Outbound Medical Tourism FASS
10 A Year After Work Support: A Qualitative Study FASS
11 An Evaluation Of The Social Value Of Connect Tuitions FASS
12 Anticipating Singapore's Future Economy FASS
13 Back From The Digital: Performing The Digital Archive FASS
14 Beyond Organisational Synergy: Conditions For The Generativity Of Social Capital In The Workplace FASS
15 Biological Bases Of Early-Stage Romantic Attraction FASS
16 Board Games In The Classroom: Learning Through Choices FASS
17 Case-Study:"'Hands Up, Don'T Shoot' Was Built On A Lie" FASS
18 Changing Conventions In Picture Books FASS
19 Chinese Privilege In Multiracial Singapore FASS
20 Codeswitching And Gender Performance In Singapore FASS
21 Coercion And Global Distributive Justice FASS
22 Community Development And Mapping Aspirations, Needs And Assets; A Case Of Kelantanese New Village, Pulai FASS
23 Community Resources For Isolated Persons With Disabilities (Pwds) FASS
24 Copayment In Singapore's Healthcare System FASS
25 Dirty Hands: The Right Of Political Leaders To Do Wrong FASS
26 Disciplining Queerness Through National Citizenship FASS
27 Effects Of God Primes On Blame And Emotions FASS
28 Elites And Economic Integration In East Africa FASS
29 Esrd-Dm Patients: Prevalence Of Depression And Anxiety FASS
30 Ethnographic Tools In Migrant Political Spaces FASS
31 Examining The Role Of Religion In Couple Satisfaction FASS
32 Exploring Vernacular Practices Around Photography FASS
33 Force Or Farce? Mediating The European Ideal In Fyrom FASS
34 GE2015: Mapping The Online Space FASS
35 Globalizing Asia-Pacific Identities FASS
36 Hopeful Tragedies:The Modernist Paradox In Fitzgerald FASS
37 Hosting Sporting Events And The Singapore Identity FASS
38 How Celebration Affects Future Goal Pursuit Behaviour FASS
39 Is Medicine Really A "Calling"? FASS
40 Malay/Muslim Undergraduates' Perceptions Towards Mmos FASS
41 Misperceptions Or Existing Gaps: An Assessment Of The Perceptions Of Lower Income Malay/Muslim Household Towards Social Assistance By Malay/Muslim Organizations (Mmo) FASS
42 Moderating Effects Of Mindfulness And Self-Compassion FASS
43 Outcome Trajectories In Hed Smart FASS
44 Patients With Dual Diagnoses-Challenges And Strategies FASS
45 Personhood In The Daodejing FASS
46 Pragmatism And Ideal, Managing Religious Issues In Singapore FASS
47 Reading 'Black' British Herstories From The 70S & 80S FASS
48 Re-Examining The Multicultural Hypothesis FASS
49 Religious Identity Transformations Among Chinese-Singaporean Uniersity Students-An Exploratory Study Of Christian And Secular Youth FASS
50 Resemblance FASS
51 Schooling Inputs And Student Outcomes FASS
52 Sexual Assault In Singapore'S Legal System FASS
53 Singapore's Ageing Population:Revise The Voting System? FASS
54 Social And Health Issues In Eldercare By Foreign Domestic Workers (Fdws) FASS
55 Social Disclosure In Adoptive Families In Singapore FASS
56 Social Return On Investment (Sroi) On Wecare@Marineparade'S Existing Network Of Aids To The Community FASS
57 Sociolinguistic Investigation Of Singlish Particle Sia FASS
58 Spatiotemporal Constraints Of Female Carers FASS
59 Spelling The Writing Mother FASS
60 The Long-Term Effects Of Job Displacement On Wages FASS
61 The Subalterns Of Singaporean Gay Literature FASS
62 Tigers Burning Bright: The Dioramas Of Haw Par Villa FASS
63 Transcode Me To Me: Negotiating Agency In Text-To-Film FASS
64 Understanding Writing Centre Interactions FASS
65 A Narrative Approach To Examining Cultural Dynamics Among International And Local Students In NUS FOE
66 An Image Processing Study Of Deformation Behaviour Of Mooring Chain Coupons Under Low-Cycle Fatigue FOE
67 Automated Generation Of 2D Markings From 3D Revit Model FOE
68 Data-Orientated Sleep Apnoea Detection Method FOE
69 Design, Analysis And Construction Of The Propulsion Component In The “Machine Impossible” Project FOE
70 Designs And Applications Of Miniature High-Speed Laser Scanners FOE
71 Developing A Control System For A Robot Arm Powered By Dielectric Elastomer Actuators FOE
72 Formal Aspect Of Quantum Mechanics FOE
73 Interactive Board To Facilitate Learning Of Bharathanatyam FOE
74 Interpreting The War Film: Examining American And Japanese Perceptions Of World War II FOE
75 Modeling And Simulation Of A Cooling Tower FOE
76 Modeling Macroscale Fluid-Solid Interactions Using Mesoscale Techniques FOE
77 Modelling Hydrodynamic Behaviour Of A Fluidized Bed Using Cfd Software FOE
78 Optimisation Of Planning And Distribution Of Newspapers Copies In Singapore Context FOE
79 Prognostics And Health Management Model For Lithium-Ion Battery FOE
80 Race Car Suspension Design And Vehicle Dynamics FOE
81 Reducing Ordinary Trash In Recycling Bins FOE
82 Social Integration Through Religion: A Case Study Of Chinese Students And Christianity In Singapore FOE
83 Social Smart-Situating Smartphone Usage In A Cultural Context FOE
84 Test And Development Of Efficient Blades For Use In Long Entrance Multi-Rotor Vtol Aircraft FOE
85 A Social Return On Investment Analysis On Brahm Centre'S Virtual Hospital Programme FOS
86 Can Butterflies Learn To Prefer A New Phermone Blend? FOS
87 Characterisation Of Persistent Mycobacteria During Nutrient Starvation FOS
88 Characterising Elderly Nutrition In Singapore FOS
89 Chromatin Structure And Marks Affecting Ezh2 Localisation FOS
90 Cytotoxic Profiling Of Ruthenium (Ii) Arene Schiff-Base Complexes And Investigation Into Their P53-Dependence And Er Stress Inducing Ability In Ovarian Cancers. FOS
91 Fundamentalism And Secularism In A Pluralistic World FOS
92 Habitat Associations And Community Structure Of Freshwater Fish In Bukit Timah Nature Reserve And Surrounding Areas FOS
93 How Singapore Can Be The Fintech Hub Of Asia FOS
94 Investigating The Atomistic Mechanism For Tin Atom Diffusion In Germanium Substrate FOS
95 Magnon-Photon Coupling In Feromagnetic Thin Films FOS
96 Molecular Characterization Of Gogat From The Giant Clam Tricdacna Squamosa, And Effects Of Light On Its Expression FOS
97 Plant-Pollinator Networks In Rooftops Gardens And Ground-Level Restoration Plantings FOS
98 Robust Pattern Formation Of The Butterfly Wing FOS
99 Special Topics In Experimental Semiconductor Materials Analysis And Characterization FOS
100 A Generic-Based Simulation Model Of Crowdfunding Platforms SOC