Nicholas Chan

Matriculation year: 2017

Degree: PhD in Politics & International Studies


"I was awarded the Tunku Scholarship for my doctoral study in 2017. Not only did the Tunku fund cover my studies (without which I will never be able to attend Cambridge), it was generous enough to support my fieldwork as well as provide emergency funding during a particularly difficult time amidst the pandemic. For my doctorate study, I worked with Dr Iza Hussin to examine how Islam’s stigmatisation during the Global War on Terror (GWOT) affected both the discourses and practices of Malaysia’s counter-terrorism. Through historical analysis and fieldwork interviews, my study challenges realist interpretations of Muslim state behaviour that see Muslim elite participation in the GWOT as merely driven by realpolitik interests. I argue that status considerations preoccupied the ways in which counter-terror were articulated in foreign policy discourses and practised even at the micro-levels of security governance. Thus, my research serves as a corrective to international relations scholarship that often neglects the social effects of the GWOT, more so on Muslim actors. "

Life at Catz

"Thanks to the Tunku Scholarship, I was fortunate enough to enrol as part of the Catz community, which was as supportive and as nurturing a college environment any international student can ask for. My study has even been awarded the St Catharine's College Prize for Distinction in Research 2021."

Advice for potential applicants

"I am a first-generation university attendee who applied to Cambridge with very little exposure to elite academia, nor ‘insider’ circuits from which I could gain feedback to hone my application. Despite this, the Tunku Fund took a chance on me. I think this speaks to how inclusive the scholarship is, and that was my experience of the College thus far. To those who may be daunted by the reputation of Cambridge and started second-guessing their chances, I would say, just apply! The odds may be in your favour without you knowing it."