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International Foundation Programme for Social Sciences and Humanities

The overall aim of the International Foundation Programme for Social Sciences and Humanities is to provide a bridge between high school and university and to equip students with a robust intellectual and linguistic foundation appropriate for the demands of an undergraduate degree programme.

Successful students have the potential to progress onto a Single or Joint Honours degree programme.

Students discussing book in cathedral


The programme comprises six modules:

  1. English for Academic Purposes
  2. Language in Use
  3. Core Academic Subjects
  4. Integrated Skills
  5. Research Skills
  6. Academic Electives

In the first semester we concentrate on the key study skills required of an undergraduate student. These include reading for essay writing, listening to take part in seminars and discussions, and classes to build your academic vocabulary and expression as well as improve your language accuracy. All students take courses in Literature and Sociology, where you will be given guidance on how to approach studying an academic subject at undergraduate level. You are then expected to apply these skills and strategies to your lectures and tutorials in the core subjects of Sociology, History and Psychology. These sessions will introduce you to many of the key theories and concepts in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

In the second semester you will be encouraged to become a more independent learner and you will read and research for the purpose of writing essays and reports. There is also an extended research project where you will be assessed through presentations on both your research methods and findings. You will given different pathways from which to choose your own academic subjects in this semester, and we will provide advice on the most suitable options related to your future degree intention. Common combinations of subjects in this semester are: International Relations, Philosophy and History, and Art History, Literature and Film Studies. We offer other subjects and combinations depending on the needs of individual students each year.

By the end of the programme you will have a strong foundation on which to base your undergraduate degree studies. You will have a clear understanding of many of the key political, philosophical and economic ideas that underpin many of the subjects that you will be going on to study. You will also have knowledge of the university system and experience of undertaking many different types of assessment. Students who have completed the foundation programme have gone on to win academic prizes and awards as well as secure competitive internships that lead on to successful and fulfilling careers.


There are two semesters in the programme. You will have regular coursework assignments throughout each term, and some of these will contribute towards your final grade. In addition, you will have two sets of examinations, one set at the end of each semester.

We use a variety of types of assessment, to give you experience of different ways of being examined - essays, multiple choice tests, short paragraphs, interviews, presentations and so on. 

Entrance requirements

You need to complete high school in your own country and graduate with good grades.  Because we accept students from a wide range of countries, we look at each application on an individual basis (as school systems vary greatly from country to country). 

You can contact us for specific details about the grades needed from your high school system.

You may apply before your results are available and we can make you a conditional offer. We also require IELTS 6.0 or equivalent.

For an overview of language requirements please see our language requirements and pre-degree pages.


Accommodation is included in the International Foundation Programme’s fee package.

Foundation students are allocated a room in a David Russell Apartments (DRA), just a 10-15 minute walk from the Centre for International Foundation Programmes. In each apartment there is a shared kitchen and living space and 5 bedrooms (typically same gender, all foundation students), each with a shower-room and study area.

Undergraduate students have a meal plan giving them 14 meals per week during semester (i.e. not during University vacations). On weekdays (Monday-Friday) students are provided with breakfast and an evening meal, on Saturday and Sunday they are served breakfast and lunch. View sample menus for the 14-meal plan at David Russell Apartments.

Apply for 2017-18

Applications for 17-18 entry will close on Monday 31 July 2017. Apply now to start this September.

Semester dates: 

Start date: Monday 11 September 2017
Christmas vacation: Saturday 16 December 2017 to Sunday 14 January 2018
Spring vacation: Saturday 17 March 2018 to Sunday 01 April 2018
End date: Friday 08 June 2018

Fees: The all-inclusive fee package for 2017 is £24,000. This includes tuition fees, accommodation and meals. For further information see our Fee Package.

CIFP undergraduate brochure (PDF, 8,523 KB)

Programme director: Lorna Fleming

English Language Teaching
Kennedy Gardens
St Andrews
KY16 9DJ
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (1334) 462255
Fax:+44 (1334) 462270