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LIBF blog What is a foundation year?

19 June 2024

6 minute read

Ever wondered how a foundation year prepares you for higher education?

Man in orange shirt uses laptop to search for a foundation course at the same university he's studying at.

Are you considering higher education but feel you might not be ready to study at degree level? Leaving school soon and not sure you meet the entry requirements for an undergraduate degree? Or are you looking to make a career change and need formal qualifications in a new field? A foundation year programme could be the perfect stepping stone.

Whether you're a full-time working professional or a prospective undergraduate student, a foundation year offers a unique opportunity to enhance your skills, build confidence, and gain the knowledge necessary to succeed in your chosen degree.

Find out what a foundation year is, how it differs from a foundation degree, and the benefits it can offer.

What is a foundation year?

A foundation year is a study programme designed to equip you with the necessary study skills and subject knowledge to progress onto a full three-year degree course.

The foundation year curriculum generally includes a mix of subject-specific modules and broader study skills development, such as critical thinking, essay writing, and research techniques. By the end of a foundation year programme, you should feel prepared to successfully embark onto a degree course in your chosen subject.

Woman in light blue blazer preparing to change subjects and study a university degree in computing.

Does a foundation year count towards degree?

A UK undergraduate degree covers three 'levels':

  • Level 4: usually complete in year 1

  • Level 5: usually completed in year 2

  • Level 6: usually completed in year 3

A foundation year is a single year of study at Level 3 that prepares you for degree-level study before you start a full degree. So while it doesn't count directly towards your final degree, it is an ideal solution if you could benefit from an extra year to prepare for your degree.

Man in denim shirt with young son explores foundation years and other pathways to university.

Is a foundation year the same as foundation degree?

A foundation degree isn't the same qualification as a foundation year. Instead of being a one year programme to prepare you for degree study, a foundation degree is a standalone qualification equivalent to two years of an undergraduate degree at Levels 4 and 5.

Foundation degrees can be a great option if you don't want to commit to a three year degree, but are looking to develop vocational skills in a specific subject or for a particular job. However, you won't graduate with a degree. For example, to reach the equivalent of a full undergraduate degree you will have to complete your final year of study with a one-year top-up course, in addition to your foundation degree.

Woman on sofa with laptop considering a foundation year course at university.

What is a foundation year course, or bachelor's with foundation year?

Foundation year courses typically combine both a foundation year and a full undergraduate degree. In these cases, students on an undergraduate degree with foundation year will effectively complete a four year degree, transitioning seamlessly from their integrated foundation year onto their full undergraduate degree.

At LIBF, we will soon be launching foundation years that are taught in combination with our undergraduate degrees, so you can study foundational subjects that will be relevant to your chosen degree.

What are the entry requirements for foundation years?

Male university student in yellow hoodie plans for foundation study.

The entry requirements for foundation years are typically lower than the requirements for direct entry onto an undergraduate degree.

Many universities and degree providers ask for students to have completed secondary education, with passing GCSE grades in key subjects like maths and English.

Some degree providers also consider vocational qualifications, work experience, or equivalent qualifications as well as set entry requirements.

What are the advantages of a foundation year?

Accessible entry requirements

One major advantage of a foundation year is that it offers an alternative pathway to your chosen degree, typically with lower requirements than an undergraduate degree. With more accessible eligibility requirements, it allows you to start your academic journey and work towards a full honours degree, while picking up skills that will help you succeed in your studies.

Smoother transition to degrees

A foundation year can equip students with a better understanding of their subject area, improving their study skills, and easing the transition into degree studies. This preparatory year can be especially beneficial for students who are returning to education after a break or those who need additional support to meet the requirements for a university course.

Opportunities for all students

For full-time working professionals and mature students, a foundation year offers a flexible and supportive environment to return to education. Many courses are designed with part-time and flexible study options, allowing you to balance your studies with work commitments. This can be an excellent opportunity to complete a degree and open up new career prospects.

Are foundation years worth it?

Foundation years provide valuable preparation for studying for a university degree. A foundation year could be the perfect pathway to higher education for you if you:

  • don't yet meet the requirements for an undergraduate degree.

  • want to build your confidence in your academic skills or subject.

  • have been out of education for a while.

  • are looking to change your career path.

Ready to start your degree journey with a foundation year at LIBF?

Man at office desk in cream jumper prepare for future career after completing his degree.

At LIBF, we will soon be launching foundation years that are tailored to provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in your chosen field. The foundation year serves as your first year in a comprehensive four-year BSc programme, ensuring a smooth transition into your degree. By choosing to study for a foundation year at LIBF, you’re setting yourself up for success.

With the flexibility of 100% online learning and a curriculum designed to fit around your life, we’re here to support you every step of the way. As an example of our commitment to your progress, you also get an extra year of support from your personal tutor, study coaches and careers experts.

Ready to take your first step towards progress?

Download a prospectus

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