What is a Foundation Degree?
Alistair Stafford

What is a Foundation Degree?

Foundation Degree FAQs

First published date November 25 2013 Amended date October 05 2015

Is there a subject you’re passionate about? Always dreamed of going to university but lacked the grades? If you’ve always wanted to experience the student lifestyle or have been keen to study a subject at degree level, then it’s never too late to enrol. So, if your previous exam results at secondary school or college weren’t what you’d hoped for, then perhaps your route into university is by taking a foundation degree.

A foundation programme allows you to study either full time or part time a subject you love, ending with you gaining a degree. Not sure how it works? Our foundation degree FAQs will give you more information...


What level of qualification is a foundation degree?

A foundation degree is a qualification in its own right, but is also the equivalent of the first two years of an undergraduate degree. With many courses, you’ll have the option of going on to continue your education and completing a full honours degree, although that does vary on the subject you’ve studied and where at. If choosing to carry on education, you may have to complete an additional short course first before going onto the final stage of undergraduate study.


Am I suitable for a foundation degree?

If you’re passionate about a subject but either don’t have the right qualifications to enrol for it or you feel you’re not ready degree study, then a foundation degree is for you. Not only will it give you a qualification, but by getting used to learning again (especially relevant for mature students) it can prepare you for potentially going on to further study if you wish to.


How much do they cost to study?

The course cost varies depending on which university you’re enrolling to and the subject you’re planning on studying. The cost a university charges ranges from less than £3,500 to the £9,000 maximum, so it’s worth looking around to find a course at a location and price to suit you.


Can I get funding to study a foundation degree?

Like any full time undergraduate student, you should be entitled to a tuition fee loan and a means-tested maintenance loan and grant through student finance. The loans will then be repayable once you’ve graduated and are earning above a certain threshold. Different universities offer their own bursary schemes, so it’s worth checking to see if you’re eligible to apply for one of those. In many cases, scholarships may also be available.


What type of person takes a foundation degree?

A foundation degree is usually best suited to students who want to gain a further qualification with a particular profession in mind. The courses often combine academic learning with hands-on work experience, with many degree programmes being directly linked to a particular employer.  The courses are often studied part time, so students can continue employment while learning, to improve their future job prospects.


What qualifications do I need for a foundation degree?

The entry requirements aren’t as strict with a foundation degree as they are to enrol on an undergraduate course. Students are expected to have at least three GCSE A*-C grades (including Maths and English), although equivalent NVQ qualifications will be accepted for those that don’t have them. Applicants will usually be asked for some kind of A Levels or BTEC, but the grade boundaries tend to be much lower. In some cases, industry experience will be considered more important than previous qualifications.


Why take a foundation degree?

Not only will a foundation degree significantly boost your career and job prospects, but it also allows you to gain a qualification while continuing to work and do other things in your life. 


Do I get letters in front of my name like other degree programmes?

Once you’ve completed your foundation qualification, you’ll also be able to use letters in front of your name to show your new graduate status. Art foundation graduates will use FdA, while science students will be able to add FdSc to their names.


How long does a foundation course take to complete?

If studied full time, a foundation degree typically takes two years to complete. However, if you decide to study the programme part time (which many students do) or through distance learning, it’s likely to take considerably longer.


Where can I study for a foundation degree?

Virtually all universities offer foundation programmes as part of their available courses, with these taking place either on the main campus or at one of the universities partner colleges. An advantage of studying at a partner college is that they’re usually off campus, so are often cheaper and far less busy than the main site.


Alistair Stafford

With a BA in Journalism, Alistair has a passion for writing, especially if it's got anything to do with football or other sports. In his spare time, he's big on exercise and he once completed the London Marathon.