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Degree type


Course length

4 years full time


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. W300 BA Music.

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.

Modules of study

  • Concepts, Methods and Theories in Business
  • Scholarship in Higher Education
  • Advanced Scholarship in Higher Education
  • 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.

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 in Arts and Humanities subjects and must have achieved ABRSM Grade 5 theory (or equivalent), or demonstrate their potential to achieve Grade 5 theory by July 31st. An audition is required.

Essential Criteria for younger applicants (under 21 years)

Applicants for this route must have achieved ABRSM Grade 5 theory (or equivalent), or demonstrate their potential to achieve Grade 5 theory by July 31st. An audition is required.

Recommended Criteria for all applicants

Successful applicants for this route are likely to have achieved a GCSE grade 4 or higher in English Language or Literature, or be able to clearly demonstrate their potential in these subjects. Key board skills are advisable, since they aid score reading and analysis, and ABRSM Grade 6 or higher in first instrument is also advisable.

General Eligibility Criteria

Only applicants from under-represented groups in Higher Education, who have not been able to achieve their academic potential, are eligible to study with the Foundation Programme. Evidence of eligibility and academic potential must be provided. Additional academic criteria may apply, depending on the subject to be studied.

To help us identify eligible applicants we use the Office for Students (OfS) definition of under-represented groups:

“Groups of students who share… particular characteristics where data shows gaps in equality of opportunity in relation to access, success or progression” [1]

Our main priority groups are students from Low Participation Neighbourhoods, Low Income or Low Socioeconomic groups, and from the Northeast Region of England.

Low Participation Neighbourhoods

We prioritise applicants from Polar 4 category 1 or 2 postcodes. The Polar 4 classification uses the home postcode provided in your application to measure the proportion of people from the area where you live who attend Higher Education. Categories 1 and 2 denote that fewer people in your postcode area attend higher education.

More information on Polar 4 and Low Participation Neighbourhoods can be found at­area/young-participation-by-postcode/.

Low household income or low socioeconomic status

We prioritise applicants who are entitled to Free School Meals (FSM), Pupil Premium funding and/or discretionary school/college payments, which are directly linked to financial hardship


We prioritise applicants who are from the Northeast of England. This includes the following postcodes areas: DH; DL; NE; SR; TS.

Overall, applications are considered in the following priority order:

  • Applicants from areas of low participation in higher education (LPN based on Polar 4 data) from the Northeast of England.
  • Applicants from areas of low participation in higher education (LPN based on Polar 4 data) from all other areas of the UK
  • Applicants with low household income or low socioeconomic status (based on Acorn and FSM data) from the Northeast of England.
  • Applicants with low household income or low socioeconomic status (based on Acorn and FSM data) from all other areas of the UK
  • Applicants from mature students (over 21 years of age at the start of the course) from the Northeast of England
  • Applicants from mature students (over 21 years of age at the start of the course) from all other areas of the UK.
  • Applications from other under-represented groups within higher education.

If you come from one or more of these groups, you must tell us in your UCAS personal statement. Please note: You may submit a substitute Personal Statement for your application to 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 2023/24 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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