Foundation Courses at medical schools are designed to prepare you for a medical education. They might also be referred to as a ‘pre-clinical year’.
Some courses are designed for students with a good academic record but lacking a background in science education.
Other courses are simply designed to give you a better chance of getting in to Medical School if, for example, your academic record isn’t as strong as it needs to be.
This page answers the following questions about foundation courses:
- How do foundation courses work?
- Which Medical Schools offer foundation courses?
- Is a foundation course right for me?
How Do Foundation Courses Work?
Foundation courses are slightly different at different schools. There are two main types of foundation course:
- Medicine with a foundation year
This is a 6-year course that normally begins with a 1-year foundation course of science-based teaching, after which you can join the standard 5-year medical programme.
- Extended courses
This is also a 6-year course, but the teaching might be spread out over the entire 6 years. So you’ll be taught the basics alongside the more advanced material.
All foundation courses must be applied to via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
These courses are often means-tested and might require you to be from a particular part of the country, or have a particular parental background.
Which Medical Schools Offer Foundation Courses?
Is A Foundation Course Right For Me?
A foundation course might be right for you if:
- You didn’t take sciences at A-Level
- You didn’t get top grades at A-Level
- You didn’t get into medical school the first time around
- You meet some of the other specific eligibility criteria (for example, the Kings College London’s foundation course requires you to have been in non-selective state education from the age of 11).
Having more than one science A-Level (or similar qualification) will make you ineligible for some foundation courses. However, some courses will require you to have some level of science education.
There is no formula for who is eligible for what course, so it’s best to check the individual course criteria in the university prospectus, or on the website.
There are several good reasons to think about doing medicine with a foundation course. Lots of students say that they feel more than ready to proceed to a full medical degree after their foundation year.
Since their primary purpose is to widen access to the medical profession, foundation courses usually encourage a friendly and open atmosphere, designed to help you succeed. Plus, you will probably have the opportunity to gain practical experience and skills not taught at A Level.
However, not all courses offer a guaranteed place on the 5-year medical programme after completion, and some are more competitive than others. So you will need to take this into account when deciding where to apply.