Foundation-year courses in science and engineering

Waterfalls at Sigöldugljúfur Canyon, Iceland

What is a foundation year?

A foundation year forms part of a four-year degree and provides the understanding and basis needed to embark on the full degree, for those that have had a break in study, have qualifications other than A levels for consideration or did not get the grades they hoped for in their A levels.

Second year marine biology students quantifying biodiversity in the Ria Formasa, Portugal. Our study contributes to a national database and will help to show whether the region’s diversity is changing – as a consequence of climate change, for example.

Why study a foundation year in science or engineering?

You will be taught on campus by University lecturers and so you will be a member of the University community right from the start. Our expert staff will help you hone your skills so you are able to start on the first year of one of our degree courses with confidence.

The foundation year places an emphasis on developing understanding and logical thought – we explain not only how a technique works but also why it is true. All of this helps our students to reach their full potential.

Preparing you for success

Our aim is to prepare you for success in your degree and to help you on your way to becoming a skilled and employable science or engineering graduate. In return we require a commitment to study and a proactive contribution to the course.

The foundation year comprises compulsory components in key skill areas, including mathematics plus optional modules (chemistry, biology, physics and statistics) to align with your chosen degree programme.

Our foundation students perform very well and go on to be some of the best performing students throughout the degree programmes. 

  • H You will benefit from focused discipline-specific teaching by leading academics in their respective fields
  • H Take advantage of our city-centre campus location
  • H Many of our foundation courses are predominantly coursework centred and are integrated into our full degree courses


“Science is not only a disciple of reason but, also, one of romance and passion.”

Stephen Hawking

At the heart of our teaching philosophy is the desire to give you a deep understanding of the material and the best preparation for future years. Courses are taught by researchers who are at the leading edge of their fields.

Where appropriate, practical work is as hands-on with our equipment as possible, so as to develop skills as well as knowledge. Also some courses include fieldwork and we are lucky to have a location that supports our field-based programmes.

<p>Gannet feeding square</p>
We cover biological sciences, marine biology and marine sciences. Our talented and highly motivated students share our drive and our passion – visit the School of Biological and Marine Sciences
<p>

</p><div>Circuit board. Electronic computer hardware technology. Motherboard digital chip. Tech science EDA background. Integrated communication processor. Information CPU engineering 3D background.&nbsp;Image courtesy of Getty Images.</div>

<br><p></p>
We have an excellent track record in teaching and research and our expertise spans computing, electronics, mathematics, robotics, statistics and theoretical physics – visit the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics
<p>

Landscape of Guilin, Li River and Karst mountains. Located near Yangshuo County, Guilin City, Guangxi Province, China. Image courtesy of Getty Images.<br></p>
We are committed to research-informed teaching: you will have the opportunity to learn from, and interact with, world-class scientists – visit the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
<p>Wind turbines square</p>
We provide many professionally accredited courses within the subject areas of civil and coastal engineering, mechanical, marine and materials engineering and navigation and maritime science – visit the School of Engineering

“The foundation year was a fantastic experience as it allowed a smooth transition into university life. I did really well in the foundation year, which really built my confidence, and it meant I hit the ground running when it came to starting the first year of the mechanical engineering course.”

Find out more about graduate Blair's foundation year experience

“The foundation year does make the minimum time in a course four years, which I was worried about before I started talking to people who had been at uni longer than me, but they all conveyed the same thing: university and getting the education you want is not a race.”

Read Joseph's blog post about his experience studying chemistry with a foundation year.