So now that I’ve almost reached the half way point for semester 1, I thought it was about time that I provided a little insight into studying law in Singapore. I’ll start by saying that it’s a world apart from studying law in Edinburgh (and I guess, physically, I’m almost half a world apart from Edinburgh…so that makes sense).
Legally Blonde Seminars (they exist!)
I love the way classes are taught here, but that might be because I’ve never had a seminar before. So far my classes in Edinburgh have been typical ‘ordinary’ courses; lecture and tutorial style. Lectures and tutorials are fine, but I’ve always felt like something was missing from my law school experience. Maybe because I always envisioned classes being interactive…like in Legally Blonde…I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought this.
Well seminars are definitely interactive! The ratio of professor to student speaking time is about 1-1. I absolutely love it. It’s so nice to get to speak to your professors and get to know them, it’s much more personal. Having said that, it’s much more obvious when you haven’t done the reading, or when you’re drifting in class (when they last for 3 hours, it happens).
I do not like the fact that classes typically last for 3 hours here…Having only experienced 50 minute lectures previously, this was definitely a shock to the system.
People say ‘Prof’ here…I hate that =P
I love that NUS is such an international university. There is a Centre for International Law and about 50 international law subjects within the law school. You really feel like you’re getting a wide and varied education. My two international subjects this semester are Ocean Law & Policy in Southeast Asia and International Police Enforcement Cooperation.
That leads me to another thing I love about NUS law…the professors! They’re all incredible. And this seems to be a pretty universally held opinion. My professor for police enforcement was actually the Secretary General for INTERPOL…Not only that but he took pictures with the class on his last day and posted them on the INTERPOL website. Madness!
Here are 100 AMAZING courses you could be studying in semester 1…now pick 4!
Another great thing about studying law in Singapore is the range of courses on offer. I swear there must have been over 100 for semester 1 alone, and they’re all very specialist and really interesting. My favourite course so far is called Comparative State and Religion in Southeast Asia. It’s really fascinating. It’s also nice learning something with an Asian twist without getting caught up in a Singaporean private law course.
One thing I’ve found quite challenging about the seminars here is just how on the ball all the other students are. Pretty much all the classes here have a class participation grade, and everyone wants good grades! Back in Edinburgh I’ll often give quite a lot of answers in tutorials, but I’m finding that in Singapore, I often don’t have time to process my thoughts before someone has jumped at a question. To be honest, this isn’t really always a bad thing. You don’t get classes with awkward silences and there is always really fascinating discussion to be had. My rights class in particular is very small (about 12 people) and we always end up spending our 15 minute breaks talking to each other about and debating the content of the seminar (read; trying to make sense of what on earth was said over the last hour and a half).
I’m painfully aware that I’m studying in a tropical paradise!
The last thing I’ll talk about, and it’s probably my favourite thing about studying at NUS, is the campus. The law campus is called Bukit Timah and it just so happens to sit smack bang in the middle of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. They’re astounding! Not only that, but the law school has showers so it’s easy to use your lunch break to go for a run, or use the campus gym (oh yeah, there’s a gym in the law school =P). Even the campus quads are outstanding. The best thing is that the locals are so used to the amazing scenery and the warm weather that the outdoor benches are always fair game for study space! I’ve attached a picture of where I sat today working on my first mid-term essay…The terror of mid-terms somewhat subsides when you’re in such an amazing space!