Monday, May 23

A Good Foundation for Law and Psychology


Dhanesh Balakrishnan advocates a strong foundation for aspiring lawyers.

Foundation programmes have clear advantages over pre-university courses like the A-Levels, STPM and Diploma. The duration is usually only one year, compared to the other options which could take up to two years.

In addition to staples like English, IT and Maths, they cover a variety of major academic subjects such as business studies, accounting, psychology, economics, law, biology, chemistry and physics. These subjects give students a foretaste of what subject major they would like to choose for university study, enabling them to make a more informed choice. A full year of study in an intended major gives a solid foundation and a clear edge over other pre-university courses which offer fewer subjects.

HELP University offers two Foundation programmes: the Foundation in Arts and Foundation in Science.

Despite its shorter one-year duration, they are no less rigorous as a preparation for university study. In fact, the HELP Foundation offers some clear advantages.

It has been designed to suit the academic and assessment patterns of any modern university degree course.

Apart from essential subjects like English, Maths and IT, it includes modules like Study Skills, Critical Thinking Skills, Personal Development and Leadership, and Culture, Arts and Politics. They provide academic knowledge but also develop thinking and critical minds, personal and leadership qualities and well-informed individuals who are cognizant of contemporary culture, arts and politics.

Another advantage is the large number of electives to prepare students seamlessly for admission into subject majors in the university. In the Foundation in Arts, they include Legal Studies, Psychology, Accounting, Business, Economics, Early Childhood Education, TESL, Communication, Maths, Calculus and Programming.

Legal Studies and Psychology are popular choices for students to major in these same subjects at degree level at HELP.

“For students interested in Law, the best way to find out is by taking the Legal Studies module at the Foundation level”, said Dhanesh Balakrishnan, Dean of University Foundation Studies at HELP, who is a lawyer himself.

“The students can take it in the second or third semester. They will experience at first-hand what the study of Law is really about. Many students take up law and find out to their detriment that it is not their cup of tea. Alternatively, students who did not consider doing law have opted to do so after doing the module at the Foundation level”.

Dhanesh cites the classic example of Emeline Khoo who did not plan to pursue a law degree until she sat in his class and found the subject fascinating.

Emeline went on to join the UK Law Degree Transfer Programme at HELP’s Faculty of Law and Government and completed her studies in the University of the West England, Bristol (UWE), graduating with First Class Honours.

“The Foundation in Arts helped me to decide my career path in Law”, Emeline admitted. “I met some of the most dedicated and passionate lecturers who were not only concerned with the syllabus and academic materials, but also ensured the development of soft skills so essential at the workplace”.

Emeline also achieved another mark of distinction when she won the prestigious Lord Templeman Scholarship tenable at UWE.

The contents of the Psychology module in the Foundation in Arts provide a rich conspectus of the field that explains the allure of the subject for many Foundation students to choose the BPsych degree at HELP.

It includes how the brain affects behaviour, development across the lifespan, states of consciousness, conditioning and learning, how we remember and how to use memory effectively, intelligence, motivation, stress and coping strategies, the various psychological disorders and therapies, social influence and scientific method in psychology.

Among enthusiastic adherents of the HELP Foundation to Psychology pathway is Sita Lakshmi. Her passion for the subject saw her transfer from HELP to Flinders University in Australia to complete her Bachelor of Psychological Science degree, jointly awarded under the HELP-Flinders University collaboration.

“My dream of pursuing a degree in Psychology started with the HELP Foundation in Arts. Its wide array of interesting electives provided a good starting point for my career in Psychology. The staff were supportive and challenging. Within one year, this foundation prepared me well to excel in my academic journey”, said Sita Lakshmi, who stayed on at Flinders to pursue postgraduate studies.

Flinders University is rated top in South Australia for Psychology. Accreditation of its Bachelor of Psychological Science degree, awarded jointly with HELP University, by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) permits graduates to apply directly to any Australian and NZ university for postgraduate studies.

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