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Start your journey to uni

Learn how a foundation year works and where it can take you

Don't meet the entry requirements for a Bachelor's degree or returning to study after a break? A foundation year course might be for you.

Taking a foundation year course offers you a different pathway to uni and gives you a taste of what university is like. You'll get the knowledge, skills and tools to succeed at uni and pursue what you're passionate about.

When you finish your full degree with a foundation year, you'll come out with the same qualification as someone with a straight bachelor's degree. And your decision to take on a foundation year shows that you can persevere and handle challenges that come your way.

Why a foundation year is worth it

A foundation year course gives you your first step into university, where you'll study a wide range of topics in your chosen field.

On your foundation year you'll:

  • Get used to the way lectures, tutorials and uni life runs
  • Relearn the ropes if you've been out of education for a while
  • Use the same equipment and expert knowledge as other uni students
  • Get access to support services so you know you have the tools you'll need to succeed

Accessible entry requirements

If you didn't get the UCAS score you were aiming for, lower entry requirements on foundation year courses give you the option to still go to university. We'll consider any Vocational A levels (AVCE), BTECs and Access courses in your application.

If you're applying through UCAS you'll also need to write a personal statement. It's a written submission that shows your chosen universities why you'll make a great student and why they should make you an offer.

What a foundation year is like

The academic year runs from September to early June with breaks at Christmas and Easter. It's divided into 2 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:

  • September to December – teaching block 1
  • January – assessment period 1
  • January to May – teaching block 2 (includes Easter break)
  • May to June – assessment period 2

It depends on what course you're doing but in a week studying in foundation year you'll:

  • Attend classes focused on developing core skills for your discipline and your study skills
  • Have roughly 8 – 15 hours in lectures, guest lectures, seminars, and tutorials
  • Conduct independent study like research, reading, coursework and project work either alone or in a group
  • Aim to spend a total of 35 hours a week in classes or studying

If you're studying on campus you'll also be able to experience everything that comes with student life

Progressing to your Bachelor's degree

If you successfully complete your foundation year, you'll progress straight onto the first year of your Bachelor's degree.

You may be asked to attend an interview before continuing onto your Bachelor's degree after completing your foundation year.

In addition to this, some courses may have some additional entry requirements between completing your foundation year and starting the course. For example, our Science with Foundation Year course requires you to pass an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and Occupational Health clearance before you progress to the degree.

Before applying for a foundation year course, contact our admissions team for information on what courses your foundation year will allow you to progress to, and if progression requires an interview or any additional checked.

Browse our foundation year courses

Funding your foundation year

If you're studying a UK or EU student studying a foundation year course full-time, you'll likely be eligible for a student loan. This includes a tuition fee loan to cover your course tuition fees.

You might also be eligible for a maintenance loan to help cover your living costs up to £9,203 a year. It’s paid directly into your bank account in 3 instalments throughout the year.

If you're studying part-time, you can get a tuition fee loan if you’re studying at least 25% of a full-time course (30 credits a year). Ask us if you’re not sure how many credits you’re studying.

Find out more in our student loan guide and check your eligibility for Student Finance.

Alternatives to a foundation year

If you're checking out alternative pathways to university, it's important to know all the options available to you.

Foundation year vs foundation degree

Despite the similar names, a foundation year is a one year course that gives you a bridge into a bachelor's degree. It covers broad topics in your subject area and key skills you'll need as a uni student.

A foundation degree is a two-year course that combines academic and vocational qualifications.

Only certain universities offer these degrees and they're sometimes in partnership with external organisations. It's a standalone degree that's equivalent to two-thirds of a bachelor's degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND).

Distance learning

Distance learning means you study online at a time that fits your schedule and commitments.

You learn using digital course material, streamed lectures and online forums, and live chats with your teachers and peers.

Distance learning has great benefits, such as:

  • You can usually decide when, where and how much you study
  • Lower tuition fees than courses on campus
  • You can study anywhere that you have an Internet connection 

HNDs (Higher National Diplomas)

An HND qualification is equivalent to a foundation degree (FdA) or 2 years of a 3-year Bachelor's degree. You can study an HND at a university, at a college in partnership with a university or an independently run college course.

Once you complete an HND, you can use your qualification to go straight into work. Or use your knowledge and skills to top-up your HND to a Bachelor's degree.

Find out more about alternative ways to get a degree.