Study an extra year to ensure success

Nathan Pine image

What is a foundation year?

If you don’t have the necessary entry requirements to enter on to the first year of a degree, you may be offered a place on a degree course with an integrated foundation year. This means that you will be studying for four years instead of three. During your first year, you will be improving your skills and increasing your knowledge of the subject. You will then go straight on to the main degree course. When you graduate, it will be as though you’ve graduated from the three-year degree course and your qualification will be BSc (Hons) Computer Science, or BSc (Hons) Biology etc.

Will studying a foundation year mean I am behind other students?

Not at all – many of our students who have studied a foundation year out-perform students who start on year 1 of the main degree. Many go on to get firsts, are brilliant ambassadors for the University and are highly valued by their department.

Nathan Pine, Physics alumni, graduated in 2017 with a first and an amazing final result of 92%. Nathan was also listed as a co-author on a research paper, alongside his tutor and a PhD student. Not bad for an undergraduate! Nathan says

‘I didn’t reach my full potential at sixth form and so over my foundation and first year at Swansea I realised my true priority was my studies slowly building my grades higher and higher. This gave me a strong work ethic going into second and third year allowing me to obtain very high percentage grades consistently across a variety of modules.’

What other skills can I learn in my foundation year?


third year Marine Biologist

Depending on your subject, you can brush up on other skills that you might need. For instance, if you want to study Physics, but your Maths at A level let you down, the foundation year gives you a great opportunity to get your maths up to scratch. You will also become more confident in your own abilities. April Hollamby, who is a third year Marine Biologist says

‘The foundation year was my safety net after A-levels and although it meant studying at Swansea University for an extra year it provided the chance to recap on past skills learnt at school as well as new and more advanced scientific techniques. There was also a variety of modules that I found interesting and ultimately it meant that I have a greater confidence in my abilities to perform at a higher level in my marine biology degree.’
Phil Reynolds, a Computer Science graduate loved his extra year.

‘The foundation year is awesome. Not only did it give me an extra year at uni but I learnt more on that year that any other. Not only does the foundation year teaching set you up well for the rest of the degree but the flexibility of the syllabus means you can learn more industry relevant material. I graduated with a first this year and I now work as a Developer Advocate for Veeqo, and the foundation and degree as a whole set me up perfectly for my dream job!’

Geography Foundation students

Swansea Geographers have the following to say about the Foundation programme:

“The Swansea Geography Foundation Programme got me into university, because we were a smaller group, we got more staff contact time which I really needed.”

“I really appreciated the way the Foundation year eased the transition between the Secondary School method of education and the University method. Also the extra skills that are needed for the further three years are studied in the Foundation Year meaning there's a head start on the skills that we'll need in the future.” Geography Foundation student now in Level 2.

The Swansea BSc Geography (with Integrated Foundation) (FL87) is designed for students who do not have the entry requirements needed for the 3-Year degree programmes. The Foundation programme gives students an extra year to build on skills, improve knowledge and gain confidence. Extra support is offered in areas like maths and practical study skills.

What are the alternatives to a foundation year?

You could try another university with lower entry requirements, or take a year out and resit your exams. However, if your heart is set on coming to Swansea University and studying a particular course, a foundation year is ideal. You won’t miss out, can go to your first choice university at the same time as your friends and graduate with a high value degree at the end of it.

What are the downsides?

The only downside to studying a course with an integrated foundation year is that you will be studying for four years, instead of three and will have an extra year’s tuition fees and living costs to cover. The same student finance package applies to foundation years as to the standard three year degree so you’ll still be able to apply for the standard loans and grants. 

Phil Reynolds, foundation year Computer Science graduate, talks about his project