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Degree type


Course length

1 year foundation, 3 years study


Durham City

UCAS code


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Course details

The Foundation Programme is designed for students from under-represented groups in higher education, who have the potential to achieve the standard for admission to Durham, but who, as a result of educational disadvantage or disruption, do not have the level of attainment or access to qualifications required for entry to a Durham University course. The Foundation Programme is delivered by a dedicated team of academic tutors from Durham’s Centre for Academic Development (DCAD). Each year it provides places for 100 students and supports them to progress to Level 1 study in over 37 academic subjects from every academic department in the university.

The Foundation Programme supports students to develop the skills and subject knowledge required for successful study at degree level. The content focuses on developing epistemological maturity, metacognitive skills, and independent learning, becoming increasingly specialised as the course progresses. On successful completion of the Foundation Year, students will progress to the first year of their degree F800 - Durham University.

Course Structure

The Foundation Programme provides 120 academic credits divided into modules, with 20 hours of taught content and 10 hours of tutorial or small group seminar support for every 15 credits. We also expect our students to engage in a further 100 hours of self-directed study (including assignments and tests) for every 15 credits they study. This is broadly in-line with the majority of academic departments across Durham University, although individual variation does exist between departments.

The modules of study for this course are:

  • Concepts, Methods and Theories in Inorganic Chemistry
  • Concepts, Methods and Theories in Organic Chemistry
  • Concepts, Methods and Theories in Data Science
  • Concepts, Methods and Theories in Physics
  • Scholarship in Higher Education (for STEM)
  • Advanced Scholarship in Higher Education (for STEM)
  • Mathematics 2


This programme provides high-quality teaching and learning in a supportive and productive environment which encourages self-awareness, reflective practice, and cross-discipline awareness. The course is delivered through a mixture of lectures, tutorials/workshops, and practical classes.

Typically, lectures provide key information on a particular area, and this is consolidated through tutorials and/or workshops and practical classes where appropriate, particularly for laboratory skills. The course provides up to 12 contact hours per week, but further consolidation takes place through independent study and/or voluntary workshops provided outside the course’s formal contact hours. Emphasis is placed on developing confidence and classes are generally small, to ensure individual learning needs can be met.

Students who require additional writing and academic support are normally provided with additional contact time and opportunities to take part in small group and individual tutorials.

Towards the end of the year, greater emphasis is placed on independent study, not just in preparation for classes and reading around the subjects, but also with students completing an individual project related to their progression route.

Throughout the course, all students also have access to an academic adviser who will provide them with academic support and guidance. Students will meet formally with their adviser two to three times a year. However, in addition, academic advisors and teaching staff are normally available to meet with students at certain times each week on a ‘drop-in’ basis.

After the initial year, you should refer to the teaching and learning information for your chosen degree subject F800 - Durham University.

Entry requirements

The Foundation Programme is designed to support UK students (including students with Settled Status) from under-represented groups in Higher Education, who have been unable to achieve their academic potential, to access and succeed in studying an undergraduate degree at Durham University. There are both specific and general eligibility criteria.

Specific Eligibility Criteria

Essential Criteria for Mature Applicants (over 21 years)

Applicants over 21 are required to demonstrate potential for successful study.

Essential Criteria for younger applicants (under 21 years)

Students under 21 must have achieved a GCSE grade 4 or higher in Maths and a GCSE grade 5 or higher in a Science subject, or be able to clearly demonstrate potential in these subjects.

Recommended Criteria for all applicants

Successful applicants for this route are likely to have achieved GCSE grades 5 or higher in Physics and Chemistry, and GCSE grade 4 or higher in English (language or literature), or be able to clearly demonstrate their potential in these subjects.

General Eligibility Criteria

All applicants need to meet Foundation Programme: Student Eligibility for study.

Please be aware that Foundation Programme places are in high demand and all eligible applications are considered in open competition to identify those judged to have the greatest potential to give and receive benefit from a Durham University degree course. Applicants may be required to provide evidence in support of their applications and to participate in mandatory pre-offer assessment activities as part of the application process; these usually take place in January and March.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2024/25 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Foundation Programme

Students successfully completing a Foundation Year course will progress directly to their chosen degree programme at Durham University. Our graduates enter a wide range of occupational areas both in the public and private sector, including science, teaching, business and finance. Durham has an excellent graduate employment record, and the skills acquired during study serve as a valuable preparation for life after university.

We have been expanding the range of progression routes to other Durham degrees for Foundation Year students and provide routes into all Durham University departments.

Department information

Foundation Programme

We are committed to making our degrees accessible and inclusive. Our Foundation Programme, run by the Durham Centre for Academic Development, is designed for talented individuals from underrepresented groups or nontraditional backgrounds who are not eligible for direct entry to an undergraduate course.

Whether you missed out on higher education the first time around, or are returning to education, if your qualifications don’t meet our standard entry requirements, you may be eligible to apply for a place on one of our foundation courses.

For more information please see our department webpages.

Durham University rankings

  • Top 100 in The QS World University Rankings 2022
  • 5th in The Guardian, University Guide 2022
  • 6th in The Complete University Guide 2022.


For a current list of staff, please see the Centre web pages.


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

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