Course overview

Want to study a science degree, but you took the wrong A-Levels? This course is designed to give you all the knowledge you need to progress on to one of our science undergraduate courses. If you have taken the right A-levels, but have not met the grades for your desired subject, you're encouraged to apply if you also meet our contextual offer criteria. Unlike other universities, successful completion of your foundation year guarantees you progression on to your chosen undergraduate degree.*

You'll benefit from an accelerated study, meaning you'll only be taught the information you'll need to succeed in your chosen undergraduate degree. You'll also be able to have the "university experience" from day one, allowing you to join societies, clubs, and social events alongside your peers.

Tutors on this course have experience in secondary and higher education, giving them the insight into how best to bridge the gap between the two.

*Some courses do require you to pass an additional interview.

Please note this course does not accept international/EU applications. 

Why choose this course?

  • Guaranteed progression on to your chosen undergraduate course on successful completion of the foundation year
  • Choice of over 35 BSc and integrated masters (MSci) courses
  • Over 85% of students who progressed to an MSci Degree achieved a 2:1 or higher
  • Start your BSc or MSci with greater confidence and improved skills from experiencing a year of university already
  • Over 80% of students over the past five years have passed the Foundation Year

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2023 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level BBB/ABC

Please note: Applicants whose backgrounds or personal circumstances have impacted their academic performance may receive a reduced offer. Please see our contextual admissions policy for more information.

IB score 30

A levels

BBB for students who have studied subjects which do not allow direct entry to a degree programme. Those interested in progressing on to pharmacy and dietetics courses are required to also pass an interview.

Additional A level requirements

If you have studied subjects which would allow direct entry to a degree programme, your application will only be considered if your predicted grades are below those needed for direct entry on to the degree you would like to study AND you meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Attend a state school and live in a low participation neighbourhood / disadvantaged areas or have attended a sustained Widening Participation programme or have refugee status
  • Have been in care for at least three months
  • Are eligible for the university’s elite athletes programme

If you meet these criteria, you will be required to achieve grades BBC in your A Level subjects.


Five GCSEs at 5 (B) or above, including maths, biology and chemistry (or double science; core and applied science; science and additional science). Plus English language 4 (C) or above.

Additional GCSE requirements

GCSE requirements vary for progression on to specific science degrees taught at Nottingham:

  • Psychology and Pharmacy require 5 (B) in English

Students with other qualifications including BTEC and Access courses with a strong science element will be considered on an individual basis.

Mature Students

While mature students are encouraged to apply, we ask for evidence of recent study of a scientific subject. 

Students with other qualifications including BTEC and Access courses with a strong science element will be considered on an individual basis.

Foundation progression options

We expect students to have an idea of the course they would like to progress on to before starting. You can progress onto a range of degrees, including:

  • Biology, Biochemistry, and Neuroscience Courses (Including Genetics and Zoology)
  • Sport and Exercise Science
  • Biosciences Degrees
  • Chemistry Degrees (excluding Chemistry and Molecular Physics)
  • Medical Physiology and Therapeutics
  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychology
  • Cancer Sciences
  • Natural Sciences

A full list of course pass requirements can be found here.

Mature Students

At the University of Nottingham, we have a valuable community of mature students and we appreciate their contribution to the wider student population. You can find lots of useful information on the mature students webpage.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Teaching methods

  • eLearning
  • Field courses
  • Lab sessions
  • Lectures
  • Practical classes
  • Problem-based learning
  • Self-study
  • Seminars
  • Small group learning
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

How you will be assessed

Typically, examinations count for around 50% of the module mark and coursework contributes the other 50%. All teaching is carried out on University Park Campus by the same academic staff who teach on the main degree programmes.

Assessment methods

  • Coursework
  • Examinations
  • Formative assessments
  • Lab reports
  • Practical exams
  • Practical write-ups
  • Presentation
  • Short project

Contact time and study hours

17-21 hours per week of contact time with approximately one day a week of independent study.  You will study in relatively small class sizes, including 1-1 tutorials, allowing your tutors to get to know you quickly.

Study abroad

You may be able to undertake a study abroad or placement opportunity depending on the course you choose to progress to.

Study Abroad and the Year in Industry are subject to students meeting minimum academic requirements. Opportunities may change at any time for a number of reasons, including curriculum developments, changes to arrangements with partner universities, travel restrictions or other circumstances outside of the university’s control. Every effort will be made to update information as quickly as possible should a change occur.


Core Modules

Students who do not meet the IELTs criteria for their selected UG course will have to undertake the English Language module alongside the core modules. Those that do meet the criteria will not have to take this module.

Successful completion of this year will allow you to move on to your chosen course.

Students will study either 

  • Foundation Biological Sciences


  • Foundations of Human Biology
Foundation Biological Sciences (40 credits)

This module will provide you with an introduction to life at the molecular, cellular, physiological organismal, population and community levels and provide the background to enable you to enter a range of degree programmes in biological and environmental sciences. You will gain practical experience in labs. Practical work is a vital component of foundation science and students have the opportunity to develop various lab techniques.

Foundations of Human Biology

This module will provide you with an introduction to life at the molecular, cellular, physiological, and organismal levels and provide the background to enable you to enter degree programmes with a focus on human health.  You will gain practical experience in labs. Practical work is a vital component of foundation science and students have the opportunity to develop various lab techniques.

Foundation Year Chemistry (40 credits)

You will learn to use the periodic table to make predictions about elements, the basics of chemical bonding and the forces between molecules and their shapes. Experimental work will enhance understanding and skills development. You will learn quantitative aspects of chemistry based on laboratory activities, including appreciation of experimental error. In this module you will develop the knowledge and understanding of safe laboratory practice; familiarity with common techniques and equipment; an appreciation of physical, inorganic and organic chemistry; the need for careful recording of observation and measurements; an appreciation of sources of error; and conventional approaches to reporting experimental work.

Mathematics for Foundation Science (20 credits)

This module will provide you with the knowledge and competence of core mathematical topics, and experience of relevant quantitative aspects prior to embarking on a course in biological and chemical sciences. This module covers algebra and algebraic manipulation; linear algebra; functions and trigonometry; differential calculus; integral calculus; simple modelling; elementary probability; and statistics.

Studying Science at University (20 credits)

This module introduces students to the nature and processes of studying science at University. It will address the transition into university study and the qualities necessary to be a successful scientist. Skills developed will include finding, evaluating and summarising sources on the internet and in the library, strategies for reading efficiently, making notes effectively and writing scientifically, time management, teamwork and exam techniques, and making enquiries using the scientific method. Students will develop these academic skills whilst studying topics as diverse as genetics, animal behaviour, environmental issues, psychology and human health.

English Language (20 credits)

International students who require extra support for English language during the foundation programme will study these modules. Topics covered include essay writing, laboratory reports and presentation skills.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Tuesday 17 January 2023.

Fees and funding

UK students

Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2022*
Keep checking back for more information

*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

Additional costs

£5-£10 in transport costs for the field trip.

£5 for the printing of a poster.

Scholarships and bursaries

Foundation years are covered by standard government student loans and will not need to be funded independently.

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships


Please refer to the careers section on the course you wish to progress on to e.g Biology, Pharmacology, Environmental Science.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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" I owe my academic progression to all the science foundation staff as they equipped me with various skills which were proven to be more than valuable. "
Nasia Kafa, Biology BSc

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Important information

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.