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What is a Foundation year?

29 Oct, 2020
What is a Foundation year?

In this article, we’re going to learn more about what a Foundation year is, who it’s for, and whether you need to take one.

Table of Contents

What is a Foundation year?

What are the benefits of a Foundation year?

Foundation year vs Foundation degree: Which one should you choose?

Who should apply for a Foundation year?

What are the entry requirements?

Success stories from students who studied a Foundation year at Kings

Frequently Asked Questions

Ready to start your Foundation year?

What is a Foundation year?

Foundation years are programmes which generally span one academic year and are designed to help students develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to apply for, and embark on, an undergraduate degree at a UK university.

Students who complete a Foundation year are usually required to start their full degree from the beginning, as direct entrants would.

Foundation years for international students, such as those at Kings, often include an English language component, giving students the opportunity to focus specifically on communication and study skills relating to higher education before starting their undergraduate courses.

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What are the benefits of taking a Foundation year?

There are countless benefits to completing a Foundation year, particularly for international students. They include the following

You can focus solely on your studies when you start university

Completing a Foundation year and becoming acclimatised to their new country in advance of starting the first year of university means that when students start their actual undergraduate course, they can focus completely on their degree programme .

You can choose exactly the right university for you

Studying a Foundation programme in the UK also means that students can attend university open days, which means they can be confident that their chosen university is the right fit for them, and get an insight into university life first-hand.

You can acquire subject-specific skills and knowledge

Foundations such as those offered at Kings allow students to choose specific-subject modules to study in preparation for their chosen university course, helping them further their knowledge in the subject area, as well as becoming familiar with terminology and vocabulary associated with it in English. This all helps the transition to degree-level study, and means that they are more likely to be more successful.

There are many types of Foundation available to international students in the UK, but studying a Foundation year with Kings specifically has the following benefits:

A rigorous academic syllabus

The syllabus is based on A-levels, and assured by Pearson, and is therefore considered extremely academically rigorous.

Acceptance by a wide range of universities

The Advanced Level Foundation is accepted by almost all UK universities, meaning students can aim as high as they wish. Previous Foundation students have gone on to study at many of the Top 10 universities in the United Kingdom, including St Andrews, Durham, Warwick and LSE. Degree course choices span all subject areas, from Business Management to Criminology and Computer Science.

Small classes for optimum support

Small class sizes ensure maximum teacher-student interaction, which allows students to make the best possible progress.

Specific modules in university study skills

Kings Foundation courses include two specific study skills modules that ensure students are fully equipped with the general study skills required at university level. These skills (ranging from proper referencing in a thesis to modelling in Excel) are really valuable for degree level study in the UK.

Expert university advice and application support

Foundation year students at Kings also benefit from expert advice and support when applying to university through UCAS, meaning they select the best and most suitable universities for their goals and needs. And that they submit the best possible personal statement and application, giving them the best chance of success.

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Foundation year vs Foundation degree: which one should you choose?

Foundation degrees usually take two years to complete full-time and tend to focus on a particular job or profession. They generally combine academic and workplace skills, therefore could widely be described as vocational. For this reason, they tend to attract people already employed or resident in the UK, so in most cases wouldn’t appeal to international students.

Foundation years are generally completed by international students, who benefit from the additional time it allows them to transition into the UK higher education system. Some subject-specific foundation courses however, such as Art and Design, are also open to UK residents.

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Who should apply for a Foundation year?

A Foundation year is an excellent bridge for many international students who would like to complete a UK university degree, and have done at least 11 years of schooling in their home country.

The Kings Foundation is particularly suitable for students who would like to further their chances of attending a highly ranked university, or who would like the option to learn more about the UK and the UK higher education system before committing to a specific university.

The Foundation courses can also be very useful for students who are considering university study in a subject that has not been a large part of the curriculum in their home country, such as Art and Design, or Social Sciences, for example. Whilst the Kings Advanced Level Foundation offers students the choice of a range of elective subject modules, specialist Foundation year courses in Law, Science and Engineering, Business and Art & Design are also offered.

Hear from students who have chosen the Kings Foundation.

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What are the entry requirements?

Students applying for the Advanced Level Foundation, or the Law Foundation, at Kings must have:

  • Completed 11 - 12 years of schooling (GCSE or equivalent)
  • Attained a minimum IELTS score of 5.5 (5.0 in Reading and Writing) or equivalent

Students applying for the Science and Engineering, or the Art and Design Foundation at Kings must have:

  • Completed 11-12 years of schooling (GCSE or equivalent)
  • Attained a minimum IELTS score of 5.0 or equivalent

Students applying for the International Business Foundation at Kings must have:

  • Completed 11-12 years of schooling (GCSE or equivalent)
  • Attained a minimum IELTS score of 4.5 or equivalent

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Success stories from students who studied a Foundation year at Kings

“My UCAS counsellor made me really research my choices, to look at the rankings and the campuses, which helped me in deciding what universities I would choose."

Muhammad, from Nigeria, won a place on a BEng in Aeronautical Engineering at Loughborough University

Read Muhammad’s interview

Frankie"I thought by studying in England there would be a much greater chance for me to gain a broad experience, rather than just staying in Korea. Also in Korea it would be more focussed on American modules in Economics and Politics, rather than Europe and the western world.”

Youn Ju Cho (Frankie) from South Korea is studying for a BA Hons in Economics and Politics at the University of Leeds.

Read Youn Ju’s interview

“At Kings we study in small groups, so it’s easier to concentrate and the teachers are more focused on you. They prepare a lot of assignments and presentations for us, so it’s easier to get into universities.

Kings helped me a lot. The assignments, and the presentations helped as there are a lot to do at university. It’s easier for me to do them after the Foundation."

Vivian, from Malaysia, is studying for a BSc in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol.

Read Vivian’s interview


"I learned how to write a good essay, I extended my vocabulary and I even learned how to do really good presentations. It taught me the basics of how to start a course at a UK university.”

Oscar from El Salvador is studying Actuarial Mathematics at the University of Leeds.

Read Oscar’s interview


“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Kings. They seriously changed my life completely. The staff are really helpful, every time I had a problem I could run to them and they would help me immediately. For example Adam (my course director), if it wasn’t for him, I really wouldn’t be here! They help you every step of the way, so you’re not alone in the process, especially because you’re alone without your family..Sofia, from Venezuela, studied Psychology and Criminology at the University of Southampton.

Read Sofia’s interview

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Foundation year in the UK?

Foundation years are programmes which generally span one academic year (3 terms) and are designed to help students develop the skills, knowledge, and confidence to apply for, and embark on, an undergraduate degree course at a university in the United Kingdom.

2. Is a Foundation year the same as a Foundation degree?

No, a Foundation year prepares students for a university degree and is often undertaken by international students. A Foundation degree is longer, generally 2 years, and is generally completed by domestic students who are looking for a vocational university qualification – often alongside an existing career. Foundation degrees often attract mature students.

3. Is Foundation easier than A Levels?

The Kings Advanced Level Foundation is based on A-level syllabuses, therefore is considered to be at the same academic level. The Advanced Level Foundation is designed specifically for international students though, which means content is all developed with a mixed international audience in mind and aims to avoids cultural or linguistic references that might impede comprehension and learning for non-UK students.

Whilst A-levels tend to be completed over a two year period, Foundation courses are usually only a year, meaning the study can be even more intense.

4. Do universities accept Foundation years?

Yes, the majority of universities accept students who have successfully completed a Foundation year programme – including the majority of those that are ranked in the Top 10.

5. Can I do a Foundation year without A Levels?

Yes, with the exception of some specific Foundation years, such as the Art and Design Foundation, A-levels are not a pre-requisite. Post-A-level Art Foundation courses are required for most art-related degree programmes at university, whether students are from the UK or overseas.

The Kings Art and Design Foundation however does not require A-level study beforehand and ensures entry to the first year of an Art Degree

6. What happens if you fail a Foundation year?

The small class sizes and personalised approach to learning at Kings does mean that the pass rate for our Foundation programmes is generally very high, however measures can be put in place to help students re-do their year of study, or certain components of it, should they not be successful the first time.

7. How long is a Foundation year?

A Foundation year is generally an academic year in length, which usually spans 3 terms. Occasionally a 2-term option is possible.

Equally, those students who require additional English language input are able to study for an additional 1-4 terms.

8. Where can you study for a Foundation year?

Kings Foundation programmes are offered in four UK locations: London, Oxford, Brighton and Bournemouth.

Our colleges are all located in safe, convenient areas of some of Britain’s most welcoming, thriving and accessible cities. Our students benefit from a mix of international and British classmates, and close contact with local communities means that they can learn a lot about UK life during their studies.

All Kings schools offer a range of accommodation options for overseas students, including modern residences and local host families.

9. How much does a Foundation year typically cost?

Tuition fees for Foundation programmes at Kings are currently £21,780.

10. How many hours per week should I expect to study on a Foundation year?

At Kings, students have lessons for an average of 21 hours per week, plus homework and private study.

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Ready to start your Foundation year?

At Kings, it is possible to start the Advanced Level Foundation course in September or January.

We hope that this article has helped you understand more about what Foundation years are, who they are suitable for, and the universities and courses that you can progress to after completing them..

If you’re ready to apply, or would like to receive more detailed information about the Kings Foundation courses, or about our colleges in the UK, get in touch today.

  1. Send an email to
  2. Complete the contact form on our website
  3. Send us a message using LiveChat

Read more about the Kings Advanced Level Foundation.

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