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International Foundation Programme for Social Sciences and Humanities

The International Foundation programme for Social Sciences and Humanities is designed to equip students with the intellectual and linguistic skills appropriate to the demands of an undergraduate degree programme. The programme has a high success rate, and graduates have gone on to study for single and joint Honours degrees at St Andrews and other top UK universities.

This course is designed for academically-able international students (not from the EU/UK) whose high school qualifications are not recognised for application to an undergraduate degree at St Andrews. Applicants should be due to leave school soon or have left school within the past 12 to 24 months and not yet have studied at university.

Candidates should have strong grades in any subjects relevant to their intended degree subject.

Summer scene of students sitting on green grass

The aim of the International Foundation programme for Social Sciences and Humanities is to prepare you for the demands of an undergraduate degree programme. The combination and integration of academic study skills and academic lecture courses is designed to give you a broad base of academic subject knowledge from various disciplines as well as the intellectual skills to critically analyse concepts to a high level.

Students study a range of issues, including politics, economics, law and the media. These subjects provide an extremely useful basis for all academic disciplines in the Social Sciences and Humanities and allow you to understand some of the underlying political, philosophical and economic ideas which underpin many of the subjects you can study at St Andrews. Using academic texts based on these issues, students develop the skills to read and interpret texts and develop the language and techniques to structure arguments so that they become more skilled at writing assignments and speaking and presenting in seminars. Doing projects to develop research skills and the course's integrated approach to language and academic subjects will allow you to develop a more analytical approach to your studies.

In particular, this programme provides:

  • the potential for progression onto a single or joint Honours degree programme
  • a thorough grounding in classical and sociological issues pertaining to a range of disciplines in the arts and humanities
  • small group teaching with highly experienced teachers
  • intensive and academic teaching – designed to help you develop the skills to succeed
  • a strong emphasis on criticality, improving analytical skills, time management and writing in authentic academic contexts.

Semester 1

In Semester 1, modules concentrate on the key study skills you will require as an undergraduate student. These include reading for essay writing, listening to take part in seminars and discussions, academic vocabulary and expression, and language accuracy.

There are three modules in the first semester:

• Social Sciences and Humanities: Academic Skills
• Language and Criticality in Social Sciences and Humanities
• Social Sciences and Humanities: Academic Core

Through the study of literature and sociology, you will learn 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.

Semester 2

In Semester 2, you will be encouraged to become a more independent learner, and you will read and research for the purpose of completing a range of written assessments. There is also a project where you will be assessed through presentations on topics chosen in consultation with your tutors.

There are three modules in the second semester:

• Social Sciences and Humanities: Integrated Skills
• Communicating in Social Sciences and Humanities
• Social Sciences and Humanities: Academic Electives

You will have pathway options from which to choose your own academic subjects in this semester, and staff 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
• Art History, Literature and Film Studies

Other subjects and combinations may be offered depending on the needs of individual students each year.

Academic requirement

Our typical academic requirements (PDF, 544 KB) are listed alphabetically by country. If your qualification is not shown here, please email for details about the grades needed from your high school system.

You can demonstrate that you have met the academic requirements with a high school transcript from your final year at school. Any high school qualification you use as evidence of your academic ability should be dated within the previous two years.

You should apply before your final results are available, as the University can make you a conditional offer based on your past exam performance and predicted grades.

English language requirement

An IELTS (Academic) test report form with a minimum of 6.0 overall and no component score below 5.0.

If you require a visa, your IELTS test must be for UKVI purposes. For an overview of the English language requirements for foundation applicants, please see the pre-degree page.

Other requirements

You are also required to submit the following with your application:

• an academic reference from your high school and on their letterhead
• a personal statement outlining why you wish to study Social Sciences and Humanities at St Andrews and reflecting on your life and learning experiences to explain why you feel you would be successful on this programme.

All applicants who are made an offer will be invited for interview, either by video call or in person (in the UK or their home country).


In order to progress onto a degree at the University of St Andrews, students must achieve a final overall grade of 14.0 or above on the University’s 20-point scale. Other specific progression requirements are provided in the course handbook at the start of the programme.

Students have the potential to progress onto a single or joint Honours degree programme. Popular degree options for students on the Social Sciences and Humanities International Foundation programme include:

• International Relations
• Philosophy
• Art History
• English
• Film Studies.

Students who pass the foundation programme but do not stay in St Andrews are advised and assisted with applications to other institutions in the UK.

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.

Bedding pack

A bedding pack is available for collection at David Russell Apartments when students check-in. The bedding pack contains:

  • One duvet (10.5 tog)
  • One duvet cover
  • One flat sheet
  • Two pillows
  • Two pillowcases.


Foundation programme students have a meal plan giving them 14 meals per week during semester (i.e. not during University vacations).

  • Monday to Friday: students are provided with breakfast and an evening meal.
  • Saturday and Sunday: Students are served breakfast and lunch.

See sample menus for the 14-meal plan at David Russell Apartments.

Apply for 2019-20

Apply for the Social Sciences and Humanities programme starting in September 2019.

Deadline for applications: 30 June 2019.


Start date: Monday 09 September 2019
End date: Friday 29 May 2020

Fees: The all-inclusive fee package for 2019-20 is £27,300. This includes tuition fees, accommodation and meals. For further information see our Fee Package.

M‌eet us in your country

Programme director: Lorna Fleming

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

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