Non-Credit Courses


To ensure that the students on the ITT and MBOT tracks benefit from a holistic learning experience, ITI@SMU organises non-credit courses (also known as guest seminars) to complement the knowledge that the students acquire in the classrooms.

The non-credit courses are delivered by industry practitioners to equip students with additional real-world knowledge. These courses are not graded, but attendance is compulsory.

ITT and MBOT students must complete at least THREE (3) non-credit courses to fulfil the track requirements. Students taking double tracks (e.g. ITT and MBOT) must complete FIVE (5) non-credit courses. 

One of the speakers, Mr Punit Oza, Director of Klaveness Asia Pte Ltd, shared with the students on the Changing Geopolitical Risks and the Impact on Shipping Trade Flows.

Read more about his session below.

Geopolitics, Shipping & Trade – Connecting the dots & asking the right questions!

I remember reading somewhere, “Questions are more important than answers because questions seek and frame and expose while answers at their best are temporary responses whose accuracy changes and shifts and decays over time, needing to be reformed and remade and reevaluated as the world itself changes”. Nothing is truer than this observation and that is why the non-credit course that I teach at Singapore Management University – “Geopolitical Risks and their impact on Shipping & Trade Flows” – is more about questions than answers! Questions like:

  • What will happen to trade flows if one of the key critical pathways like Suez Canal is closed for business?
  • What will happen to do the global grain trade if the world moves away from consuming meat to meat substitutes?
  • How has the reduced demand for cars in COVID times impacted trade flows of Aluminum, Rubber, Nickel, and a host of other bulk commodities, which are needed to produce various parts of the cars?
  • How has the surge in demand for electric cars created a huge demand for lithium batteries, whose basic raw material is a previously untraded commodity called Spodumene?

Maritime and Trade are very closely related to each other and in this mix, you also have the geopolitical risks as an angle. A country cannot change the geography that it inherits - the topography, the resources, and various other factors, which create their own demand and supply opportunities and therefore the trade flows and resulting shipping flows.

The course that I teach reflects my own experiences of the maritime industry and the way it is impacted by geopolitical risks. Far too often, we see a “geopolitical” headline in the newspaper, and we are served a political or an economic angle to the story. Hardly any attention is paid to the trade or shipping aspect. Let us take an example of China refusing to import Australian coal. Most of the publications talk about the political fallout of the Australia-China spat or discuss which companies are going to benefit from this and which companies are going to suffer due to this decision. What we also need to be discussing is the impact on Capesize and Panamax markets, the alternative sourcing possibilities of coal for China and the impact on shipping and trade flows.

In this course, I will look at geopolitical impact points and how they shape the global trade flows. Impact points such as barriers to trade like tariffs or quotas, critical pathways like Suez Canal, demographics, economic imperialism, birth of new trade flows, new technologies, and wild cards such as COVID, Brexit and Trump!  I also explore, with real life examples and cases, how data can be harnessed to make sure that we always get the most updated information and most importantly, learn from the historic data in order to make informed decisions.

This is not a course which gives you the answers! This is a course that makes you ask the questions. If ask the right questions, you will most likely end up with the right answers, but if you don't ask the right questions, you will definitely not get the right answers!

An understanding of geopolitical risks and their impact on trade and shipping flows is fundamental to decision making for both trading and shipping companies. As you broaden your knowledge and horizons, you see the bigger picture and benefit from it.