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Academics> Academic Pathway Foundation Year Curriculum


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Your first year at Atria University is focused on building an understanding of self - your goals, passions, and skills. We help build a strong knowledge foundation, so you can get the most out of learning across majors. Our intent is to prepare you for life, make you a leader and problem-solver so you can impact change in the world.


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The foundation year helps you discover yourself. You get to experience a range of subjects, identify your interests, and understand your strengths. All students study the same concepts/courses which empower them with the foundational knowledge to build on for the years ahead.

Your first year is focused on:

  • Building an understanding of self – your goals, passions, and skills.
  • Developing the skills to collaborate in learning and doing.
  • Taking action within a complex real world.
  • Giving a foundation of knowledge for learning more in all the majors.

Above all, our intention is to see that whatever you choose to do or learn after this, they will be more effective at it. You will also know how to make informed and well-thought-out decisions for yourself, and the rest of the world.


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In the foundation year, month 1 to 12, all students study the same concepts. Year 1 is an interdisciplinary year designed to be relevant to all students regardless of their future specializations. There are no elective courses this year.

Throughout the year, you will be introduced to multiple disciplines and develop problem-solving skills. You learn through:


Deep dive into courses, 1-3 weeks at a time. Explore foundational courses like Mathematics, Ethics, Foundation in Technology, Application of Sciences, Appreciation of differences, and others. At any given time, a student will be engaged in only one course. Courses are designed to kindle curiosity, enable foundations for real-world projects to happen more meaningfully, and to empower students to learn how to learn. Active learning pedagogies will be used. Year 1 is an interdisciplinary year that is designed to be relevant to all students regardless of their future specializations. There are no elective courses this year.

Year 1 Courses:

  • Ethics
  • Mathematics
  • Foundation in Technology
  • Application of Science (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology)
  • Appreciation of Difference

Workshops, guest lectures, or field visits will happen throughout the year. Experience workshops on Problem-Solving and Design Thinking, Having a sense of place, Communication skills, Critical Thinking, Self-Awareness, Artistry, and Teamwork in Year 1. These enable students to understand self, develop an interdisciplinary mindset, to think and act critically.

Year 1 Workshops:

  • Problem-solving and Design thinking
  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication Skills
  • Self-Awareness and Teamwork
  • Artistry
  • Sense-Making

Taking a real-world problem statement, students will work together to create a meaningful impact on one of the 5 majors. Projects such as these will be designed to mimic the professional working environment in the respective field. Under the guidance of able mentors, projects will normally have elements happening off-campus.
Each project is 3 weeks long. At the end of this, you will have a clearer picture of what kind of opportunities each major has to offer and where your strengths and interests lie.


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A range of learning goals will be explored through the course of the first year. Some are building blocks for all engagements while others will be the main focus of a particular course/workshop/project.

RELATIONALITY | Understanding Context
Ethics Necessarily a situational judgement. Unlike the idea of
morals, ethics is not a series of blind rules but rather a clear
way of thinking, combined with an empathetic and fearless
point of view.
Self Awareness Good action is driven by a clear understanding of how you
feel, who you are, and how much space you are taking.
Learning from Emotional Intelligence, good dialogue
practises, awareness of health and the body, and the ability
to acknowledge your subjectivity and bias, this learning goal
enables you to work with others and be fully conscious of
what drives you.
Artistry The ability to interact with the world and your mind through
art. The medium is up to you, the student. It is the creative
and appreciative lens that we are looking to expand.
Listening/Observation We seek to make problem solvers. In the course of solving a
problem, listening and observation come in multiple phases –
to identify the problem, to empathise with the people
connected to the problem, to identify and build upon the
solutions that are already present in the people.
Team Work This will be an intrinsic quality to every workshop, course, or
project that you undertake. At Atria University, collaboration
is valued over competition. We aren’t just looking to make
you work in groups. We will also enable you to bring your
individuality to a group, work out differences well, and learn
to be efficient in this process.
Leadership A good leader is responsible to see things through, lacks ego,
enables leadership in her/his team, and can influence
collective impact towards team goals. Leadership is equally
about stepping back as much as it is about taking the lead.
Communication Communication boes beyond the written word. It is about
speech, visual arts, presentation skills, body language,
responsive behaviour, pitching an idea, organizing your
thoughts, and knowing your goal. It is also about learning to
read between the lines, non-violent communication, and
understanding you are allowed and welcome to speak up.
Mind, Body and Behaviour How do we behave? What do we think about each other and
our behaviour? We live in a more than rational world. The
several ongoing rational and irrational decisions we make and
enact are at the centre of being a person in a society. We will
delve into cognitive and social psychology.
A sense of place & context What is happening around you right now? Paying attention to
the silos and silences that separate us all. Being aware of the
history and geography that shaped the present we live in.
Knowing how to take action within the ecosystems that you
live in.
Appreciation of differences Ethics is built on the question of personal action/decision
making as situated in society/community, enabling action
with empathy. For us, ethics is situated in historical and
systemic thinking, and thus an appreciation of differences.
We will work through field visits and engagements with
communities in dimensions of ethics, empathy, historical and
systems thinking as both theory and practice.
Sustainability Ensuring the systems we live within are vibrant for the next
many generations. To do this, we need to understand the
interdependence between humans and nature. We will
explore our relationships to a more-than-human world
through naturalist studies, ecopsychology, environmental
justice, climate change, and sustainable living.
PROCESSES | Knowledge and action
Inquiry based learning The dominant education paradigm presents facts and then
asks questions to see if you have understood the facts.
Inquiry based learning empowers you to learn from asking
questions and exploring these questions through
strengthening our own process of observation, thinking,
reasoning, and judgment.
Design Thinking In the steps between an idea and grand success lies design
thinking. Working with design thinking challenges you to
remove the assumptions that we know what is needed and
seek to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine
problems, and create innovative solutions to prototype and
Systems Thinking Gaining an understanding of how systems work – and how
we play a role in them – lets us function more effectively
and proactively within them. The more you understand
systemic behavior, the more you can anticipate that behavior
and work with systems (rather than being controlled by
them) to shape the quality of your life
Demystifying expertise We often switch off our critical thinking when we hear an
‘expert’ speak on a topic. A key aspect of education is
learning how academic expertise is arrived at, how to trust
and critically engage with information and narratives as we
seek and produce them.
BREADTH AND RIGOR | With a skillset or field

Content covered in the first year is intended to develop your understanding and intuition of the basics of the fields. These basics are necessary for studying majors. The first-year STEM courses are a set of fascinating explorations about what makes the world work. Most importantly, the courses will be explored through projects embedded in the real world and not just from a space of theory.


We also recognize that in a class of students from varying backgrounds, several topics will be more familiar to some than others. Our classroom pedagogies are set up so that you will have the opportunity to deepen your knowledge on a topic beyond what the rest of the class might be learning. You will also find support if the subject matter is new to you and you require bridging material.

Foundation in Maths Developing an intuition for and understanding the languages
of geometry, polynomials, and calculus, working a great deal
through visualization and exploration.
Foundation in Science Mechanics, energy, electromagnetism, atomic theory, redox
reactions, cellular biology, evolution, and the biology of
human behavior.
Algorithms and Programming The course provides you hands-on experience in using
computation to solve simple problems. Reinforce concepts
from Mathematics and Physics through interactive
visualizations. It helps you appreciate the limits and risks of
Kinesthetic Doing Our hands and bodies are amazing complex tools, capable of
both great force and of delicate movements. However,
without learning skills involving them, and the practice of
doing them, we don’t explore our full potential. This would
vary from things like basics of typing, stitching to how to
safely handle a fire, or work in a mechanical workshop.
Have a sense of
what is involved
in the majors
Through the course of the first year, you will experience five
immersive, 3 week projects, one for each major. This will
enable you to choose your learning paths and then your
specializations in the second year.Sustainable Life Sciences
Interaction Technologies
Energy Sciences
Digital Transformation
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