A Foundation Course is usually for students who might have missed the entry requirements for the Undergraduate degree, but who still demonstrate academic potential. It’s just one of the various pathways to Medicine that you may want to consider when choosing a Medical School.

What is a Medicine Foundation Course?

A Medicine Foundation Course is designed to prepare you for medical education, and it might be referred to as a ‘pre-clinical year’.

There are two main types of Medicine Foundation Courses:

  • Medicine with a Foundation Year – a six-year course that normally begins with a one-year foundation course of science-based teaching, after which you can join the standard five-year medical programme
  • Extended courses – a six-year course with teaching spread out over the entire six years, which means you’ll be taught the basics alongside the more advanced material.
  • Standalone Foundation Courses – shorter courses taught over one to three years to give you a foundation in science and boost your Med School application. Graduating from some of these allow you to

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Which Med Schools Offer Foundation Courses?

  • University of AberdeenGateway to Medicine
    A one-year course for Scottish secondary schools from widening access backgrounds, that guarantees students a place on year 1 of their Medicine programme, as long as they do well during the course, and perform satisfactorily in the UCAT and MMI interview.
  • University of BristolGateway to Medicine
    For students that have the potential to become a Doctor but they don’t meet the standard academic entry requirements. It’s a widening participation course, so only students from specific schools and colleges, or who have spent three months or more in care, are eligible to apply. There’s a separate International Foundation Programme for Medicine and Dentistry for international students. Successful completion means automatic progression onto the five-year Medicine course.
  • Cardiff UniversityMedicine with a Premilinary Year
    This foundation medicine course is for anyone who demonstrates high academic potential but has taken non-Science subjects, or no more than one of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. You’ll be able to transfer smoothly on to the Medicine course after.
  • University of DundeeGateway to Medicine
    A one-year course designed to support you towards the five-year Dundee MBChB course if you meet relevant criteria. If you don’t meet the criteria, there are other courses you can transfer to.
  • Edge Hill UniversityMedicine with Foundation Year.
    For students from the North West of England who have the potential and aspiration to become Doctors, but whose background means they are less likely to have met the entry requirements. Students must satisfy certain widening participation criteria to be eligible to apply. You’ll transfer to the Medicine course if you pass all assessments and meet the course requirements.
  • Hull York Medical SchoolMedicine with a Gateway Year
    A widening participation initiative designed to facilitate access to Medicine for those from underrepresented backgrounds – so you need to meet their criteria to be eligible to apply. On successful completion, you’ll automatically progress to their five-year Medicine course.
  • Keele UniversityHealth Foundation Year for Medicine
    Aimed at students whose educational and social experiences have prevented them from achieving the GCSE requirements for the standard course, with additional teaching in the first year to enable you to catch up. Check their website for eligibility criteria.
  • King’s College LondonExtended Medical Degree Programme
    For students who are studying A-levels or Access to Medicine at a non- selective state school or who are participants of Realising Opportunities across England. This foundation course offers a more graduated introduction to medical study and provides greater academic and pastoral support. You must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible to apply.
  • Lancaster UniversityMedicine and Surgery with a Gateway Year
    You must fulfil widening participation criteria, or have serious mitigating circumstances that impacted your A-level performance, to be eligible to apply to this Foundation course. It’s designed to prepare you to progress onto the Medicine course.
  • University of LeedsGateway Year to Medicine
    A new Foundation course specifically for students from widening participation backgrounds hoping to take their first steps into Medicine. You’ll move onto the Medicine course if you reach the grades required and complete the year.
  • University of LeicesterMedicine with Foundation Year
    For students who wish to study Medicine at the University of Leicester, but whose background makes it less likely that they will be able to meet the entry requirements. You’ll progress to the Medicine course once you complete the Foundation.
  • University of LiverpoolFoundation to Health and Veterinary Studies
    This Foundation course acts as a pathway for the Medicine course and is for UK and EU students.
  • University of ManchesterFoundation Year
    This course allows you to spend a year preparing for the five-year Medicine MBChB course if you do not have the appropriate science qualifications for direct entry.
  • University of NottinghamMedicine with a Foundation Year
    You need to meet the university’s contextual admissions criteria and be living in the UK with UK home status or indefinite leave to remain or refugee status to be eligible to apply.
  • Norwich Medical School (UEA) – Gateway to Medicine programme
    This Foundation course is designed for students whose circumstances or educational opportunities have prevented them from realising their academic potential. You must meet contextual criteria to be eligible to apply.
  • University of PlymouthBachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery with Foundation
    A new course offering an alternative entry route into Medicine for able students whose education has been impacted by adversity. When you finish, you’ll enrol directly onto the Medicine course.
  • University of SouthamptonMedicine BM6 Widening Participation
    Only open to UK applicants. You need to meet certain criteria to be eligible to apply – for example, if you or your parent or guardian receive benefits, or you are the first in your family to apply for a higher education course. After Year 0, the course is the same as the Medicine one.
  • St AndrewsGateway to Medicine
    You’ll transfer to the Medicine course when you complete this Foundation pathway. It’s only open to applicants resident in Scotland who are classed as ‘Home’ for fee purposes and you meet certain criteria.
  • University of Central LancashireFoundation Entry
    You’ll automatically transfer to the five-year Medicine course when you successfully complete this Foundation course – but it’s for international students only.

Alternatives To Foundation Courses

Some other Med Schools offer standalone Foundation Courses, which will boost your Medical School application. Some will even earn you an interview for Med School once you’ve finished. The following universities offer standalone Foundation Courses:

  • University of Bradfordstandalone Foundation course that’s a formal collaboration with Sheffield Medical School. Students have successfully applied to Leeds, Hull York (HYMS), Brighton and Sussex (BSMS), and Norwich (UEA) medical schools.
  • University of BuckinghamCertificate in Medical Foundation Studies and CertHE Medical Sciences (Pre-Med).
  • Aston UniversitySir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare Programme
    An 18-month programme that you complete alongside your A levels. It’s made up of subject taster days, work experience, and A level revision bootcamps – plus academic tutoring and specialist interview prep workshops. Students can get a contextual offer for Medicine if they attend all events and successfully graduate from the programme.

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 contextual criteria for Widening Participation schemes).

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.

How Do I Apply For A Foundation Medicine Course?

You have to apply for a Foundation Medicine Course via UCAS, just like you would for a standard degree. But before you apply, please check the criteria – most are means-tested.

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