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The basics
THE UK: Subject Guides

Foundation Programmes in the UK – a step towards the perfect degree

An explanation about why foundation courses could be the perfect way to set off your study abroad experience in the UK.

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Foundation-level study creates a passage between the qualifications you have and those you need to enter onto a full undergraduate degree course in the UK. They can be really useful if you don’t quite manage to obtain the entry requirements to go straight into your desired university, but still wish to study there.


A foundation degree gives you the basic qualifications and understanding needed to be accepted onto an undergraduate course.


There are hundreds of Foundation Degree courses available all around the world and they cover a huge range of subjects - from engineering and e-commerce, to health and social care, or veterinary nursing.


Why Study a Foundation Programme in the UK?


Studying a foundation course in the UK is great because there are lots of great providers offering the programmes. But here are some of the top reasons why you should consider taking a foundation programme:

  1. It gives you a route of acceptance into a degree course at world-renowned institutions – repeating Higher Studies such as A levels is avoided.
  2. It is ideal for international students having language difficulties, as you can improve your English language before being thrown into essay writing and other testing learning techniques.
  3. Settling in to the area is made much easier. As a foundation programme gives you a year in your desired city before moving onto an undergraduate course, you will have a full 12 months to immerse yourself in the city, make friends and understand the culture so that you have a smooth transition into further study.


How does it work?

Both UK and international students can undertake this degree - which is usually three semesters (a full year) in duration (although some universities offer foundation programmes that only take two semesters). The assessment is usually done throughout the course by essays, presentations, group work etc. and sometimes with end of term exams.


At the end of the year, you will be given your final result. Examination and grading is similar to the A-levels in the form of credits or 4 grades – this means that just the attending the foundation course will not grant you a place in the undergraduate degree course; you must also pass.


Entrance Requirements

Entry qualifications for foundation and pathway courses vary throughout the UK. Typically, international students are expected to have completed at least 12 years of school-level education in their home country beforehand. Some institutions require the students to have covered the basic high school syllabus (e.g. if choosing Science Foundation Year, the student must have studied science subjects previously).


Foundation programmes require an IELTS score of 4.5 to 6.0. Have a look at this link for details about when and where you can take an IELTS test. English skills can be improved by attending a summer school or English Language course before the foundation programme begins.


Keeping an eye on the latest immigration laws is also important, as it is forbidden to extend your permission to stay in the UK for more than two years on courses that are below degree level, and less than one year's duration. Make sure to check this with your chosen institution.


The ideal way to apply for the foundation programme is through UCAS. After selecting the course, make sure you complete an application form before the closing date – which is usually in June for the September term.  


View the complete list of Pathway courses




Have a look at this article if you need more guidance on how to choose which subject to study abroad with Hotcourses Abroad.


There is also a Clearing process carried out through UCAS in August and September where universities have some places that have not been filled so they can offer to students who did not previously apply there. Clearing can also be handy if you are not sure about the university that is your first choice – so it is certainly worth a look as an option.


Convinced about foundation degrees? We thought you might be. Start having a look through your options here!  


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