Foundation years explained

Dr Ian Turner, Associate Professor at the University of Derby takes us through foundation years, answering the most frequently asked questions and explaining how beneficial undertaking one can be.

I have been teaching on the foundation programmes in the College of Life and Natural Sciences for the last two years and have always received massive personal satisfaction from the levels of enquiry, curiosity and creativity displayed by our foundation students.

Embarking on a foundation programme might not be something you had anticipated you would be considering, so you’re likely to have a lot of questions. Hopefully I can help answer them here.

So, what is a foundation year and how does it differ from a standard undergraduate course?

Imagine a beautiful house set in an equally beautiful landscape with lovely gardens. In order for that house to stand, it needs to have strong foundations. Much like your future home your degree needs strong foundations. A foundation year gives you just that.

A degree with a foundation year is just the same as a standard undergraduate degree, the only difference is that you will study for four years rather than three (as a full time student). The first year provides you with the foundations needed to make sure you can succeed in your degree. Like all students you will become part of the University of Derby’s vibrant student community.

Who is a foundation year ideal for?

Foundation years allow students to achieve their potential. The foundation programmes attract students from a range of backgrounds including:

  1. Those who have just come to the end of their education and have realised their passions have changed. At this point, they might not have studied a necessary subject required for the course they want to study. For these students, the foundation year offers an avenue into their dream degree.
  2. Those who have taken a gap in education, whether that is people who have gone straight into work or for some other reason. For these students, the foundation year offers a way to enter the university and make sure they are fully prepared for exciting journey ahead.
  3. Those students that didn’t achieve their full potential in their previous education. For these students the foundation year offers an opportunity to pursue their dream subject by first making sure the solid foundations are in place.

What are the entry requirements?

Entry to the foundation year is just like any other university course. Each individual programme has a UCAS point tariff. I would advise looking on the University of Derby website and searching for the programme you are interested in. This way you will get the most up-to-date information.

You may notice that the UCAS point tariff is different to the three year standard undergraduate degree. This is to make sure all those people who are interested in the programme have the opportunity to succeed in their chosen subject.

It is worth saying that a foundation year is not for people without any level-three qualifications, such as A-levels, but the University of Derby does has a place for everyone. If you don’t quite meet the entry requirements for a degree with foundation year then you can consider an access course to help kick-start your journey into higher education.

How is the course structured?

A degree with a foundation year follows the same format as a standard undergraduate degree. You will be taught in lectures, tutorials and seminars led by our world-leading academics. You will still take part in practical sessions and fieldtrips depending on your subject. Attending one of our Open Days will give you a chance to see how the course you want to study is structured and all the exciting areas you will be learning about.

Do students have to reapply at the end of the foundation year?

When you come to the end of your foundation year, so long as you pass, you will move straight into second year, which will be the first year of your degree, you will not need to reapply.

How will I be assessed?

Just like a normal undergraduate programme, you will be assessed by a whole range of methods. This could be in the form of reports, essays, practical presentations, videos, performances and even computer-based and written exams. Every degree programme has a clear, coherent assessment strategy which will be made available to the students on the first day of study so they can understand how and when they will be assessed.

How will studying a foundation year support my career ambitions?

Like all our programmes, we are absolutely committed to making sure all our degrees are designed to help you achieve your career ambitions and provide everything you need to be an employable graduate.

Throughout the foundation year, you will receive fantastic academic and pastoral support to make sure you are fully prepared and that you have the strongest of platforms on which to build your degree.

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