Communities and Engagement Pillar


The NUS Communities & Engagement (C&E) pillar provides a service-learning experience for all students to think deeper about societal issues while taking constructive actions to advance social services and community building. Students learn theories in the classroom and apply them while working with national agencies or community partners. This ‘work’ may be volunteer service work, or field/project work, including research and formulation of action plans. Students then carry out reflections to better understand themselves, the people they serve, and/or the societal issues they address. The pillar would apply to all students from Cohort AY2021/2022 onwards in academic programmes that do not already have a community service component.

Prof TAN Eng Chye, NUS President, and Prof HO Teck Hua, Senior Deputy President and Provost, share their vision and aspirations for NUS C&E in a wide-ranging interview with CNA in Innovating for the Future – S1E9: Education, first broadcast 29 Jun 2022, 2000h (SGT). The relevant excerpt is found here.

Dr Alex Lee, Academic Head of the Communities & Engagement Service Work Modules talks about joys of service learning in the social services sectors. You can find the video here.

The C&E pillar thus provides a rich opportunity for experiential learning through impactful work that gives back to and positively influences the community. In the process, students attain personal growth, establish their own moral compasses, and develop personal and interpersonal effectiveness skills – including empathy, collaboration, time management, communication, negotiation and conflict management.

Through this pillar, the University also hopes to harness the power of our students through youth action to advance Singapore’s social services and community development landscape as part of a wider national effort to build resiliency.

Key learning outcomes

Students will:

  • Cultivate a sensitivity and orientation towards broader community and/or societal issues through an appreciation for diverse perspectives and empathy for others, by stepping out of their own identities and immediate pursuits
  • Apply disciplinary, multi-disciplinary, and/or inter-disciplinary perspectives, theoretical frameworks and approaches to analyse social issues, plan and/or carry out mitigating actions, and engage in after-action reflection
  • Cultivate personal and interpersonal effectiveness skill sets, including empathy, collaboration, time management, communication, negotiation, and conflict management

Who is required to read the C&E Pillar

This is a graduation requirement for all students from Cohort AY2021/2022 onwards, except students from Faculty of Law, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Faculty of Dentistry, Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, and students enrolled in the Bachelor of Pharmacy programme. The academic programmes in these units already have service-learning as part of their graduation requirements.

If you have questions, check out the FAQ, or email the C&E team at

Types of C&E modules

a. Service-work modules. These C&E modules have volunteer service work integrated into the module. The service effort required is usually 60-80h, including preparation time and follow-up work, spread out over up to one year. Their workload is less intense, and, more crucially, the spread provides a better sustained engagement with and support of the community.

These modules typically integrate academic training with impactful service in collaboration with national agencies to support arts & culture, children, community development, total defence, disadvantaged families with children, people with disabilities, and senior citizens.  Students will be fully trained before embarking on experiential service work.

b. Field/project-work modules.

These C&E modules have field/project work integrated into the module, which is usually discipline-based, focusing on specific disciplinary skills and/or specific sectors of the community. The field/project work would typically require engagement with a community through dialogue, research, formulation of an action plan, and preferably implementation of that plan to support or develop the community and/or a common good. The amount of effort required would also be about 60-80h, which will usually be completed within one semester.

Special note on workload accounting: One-semester vs. year-long C&E modules

Some C&E modules, usually the field/project-work modules, are regular intense 4-MC modules with work completed within one semester.

Other C&E modules, especially the service-work modules, are spread out over two consecutive semesters, or up to one year, that is, Semester 1 through Semester 2 to Special Term 2; or Semester 2 through the Special Terms to Semester 1 of following AY.

Such modules will then count 2 MCs in the first semester and the other 2 MCs in the following semester. An ‘IP’ (in-progress) grade will be assigned to modules that extend beyond current examination results release date or beyond one semester. The actual grade will be assigned upon module completion.

Thus, students can always register for these modules on top of their usual planned workload of 20 MCs or so, without breaching workload cap per semester. Students generally do not have to ‘sacrifice’ any Major or other regular modules to read a year-long C&E module.



In general, students are encouraged to follow the academic study plan of their College, Faculty, or School to fulfil the C&E pillar in their third year of study, when they have completed about half of their academic modules and gained exposure to interdisciplinary training and complex problem solving. However, students may also choose to read the module earlier, in their second year, especially if they are in a three-year programme of study, or later, in their fourth year.

Certain Colleges, Faculties, or Schools may impose restrictions on the C&E module required to fulfil Programme requirements. Please see table.

If you are a student of:

You may choose:


Faculty of Law, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Faculty of Dentistry, Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, Department of Pharmacy and enrolled in the Bachelor of Pharmacy programme Exempted – your academic unit will arrange for voluntary service work as part of your graduation requirements 
2 UTCP Cohorts AY2021/22 and AY2022/23 to follow existing UTCP study plan


NUS College

Impact Experience Project



RVN1000/RVN1001 (for Cohort AY2021/2022); a suitable RVN module to be approved for Cohort AY2022/2023 and beyond 


B. Tech. programmes

Special arrangements will be developed by the end of Semester 1, AY2022/2023



You may select any module to fit your inclination, training, and interest from the list here.


Choosing the module that fits you

The university will trial a small-scale pilot launch of the C&E pillar in AY2022/2023 for students from Cohort AY2021/2022. We will further expand the range of C&E modules offered as we develop more C&E modules over the next 1–2 years (2022–2023). To help you in your selection, you may wish to ask yourself one of the two following questions:

1. Would you like to read a service-work module or field/project-work module?

2. Which sector would you like to contribute to through your C&E module?

Arts and Culture


Community development, total defense, etc

Disadvantaged families with children

People with disabilities

Senior Citizens

Some discipline-based modules may simultaneously fulfil both the C&E pillar and a Major, Minor, or Specialization requirements (see here)

Students wishing to read these modules should consult the relevant academic programme for details.