Geology and Environmental Sciences (International Year One) September 2024 entry

Our planet is constantly changing. The study of issues like climate change and environmental degradation is of great importance when ensuring the creation of a habitable future. This is the focus of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University, and the future you could work on if you enter this field.

This programme will introduce you to university teaching and research with the aim of preparing you for the second year of an undergraduate degree in geology, environmental earth science or earth sciences.

In this programme, you will:

  • study topics like oceanography, atmospheric science and alternative energy solutions
  • improve your academic writing, research and communication abilities
  • develop the skills required for progression onto the second year of undergraduate study at the University of St Andrews
  • be introduced to degree-level mathematics
  • attend a six-day residential field trip that will introduce you to the type of research you'll carry out during your degree.

Students who are interested in taking a joint Honours degree, should consider the Science (International Year Zero) programme.

Between the 2019-2020 and the 2020-2021 academic years, an average of 94.9% of International Foundation students passed their programme at the University of St Andrews, and an average of 81.3% started an undergraduate degree at the University.

Start date
9 September 2024
End date
May 2025
Nine months full time
International Education Institute

Course type

International Year One

This is the University’s own pre-degree programme which prepares international students for undergraduate study in the UK and at the University of St Andrews in particular. Upon successful completion, students progress to the second year of an eligible undergraduate degree at the University.

Additional information on course dates

The schedule for this programme differs slightly from the standard University semester dates. All weeks from the programme start date to end date are teaching, in-class revision or assessment weeks, other than the following:

  • independent learning weeks:
    • Semester 1: Monday 21 October 2024 to Friday 25 October 2024
    • Semester 2: Monday 7 April 2025 to Friday 11 April 2025
  • winter vacation and inter-semester weeks: Tuesday 24 December 2024 to Friday 24 January 2025. Please note that January-entry IFP orientation starts on Thursday 23 January 2025.
  • February vacation: Monday 3 March 2025 to Friday 7 March 2025

Dates may be subject to change.

This course is for

International students who are academically able, but whose high school qualification is not recognised for application to an undergraduate degree at the University of St Andrews.

Who can apply

Entry requirements

Academic requirements 

See typical academic requirements for this programme. If your qualification is not shown, email 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 from the last year you attended high school and dated within the previous three 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

All International Foundation applicants must submit a Secure English Test (SELT) as evidence of their English language ability, unless they do not require a student visa to study in the UK.

See a list of approved English language tests and required scores for this programme.

You do not need to have your result when you apply, as this can be a condition of an offer made by the University.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

You need to have studied sciences at school. Strong grades in mathematics, chemistry or integrated sciences would make your application more competitive.

Application requirements

The University will ask you to provide the following documents as part of your application:

  • your most recent high school transcript
  • a personal statement
  • an academic reference from your high school on their letterhead or from a school email
  • your official English language test result.

Application deadline

The deadline for applications is Monday 15 July 2024. You only need to provide your high school transcript and personal statement when you submit your application. You can provide your academic reference and your English language evidence later.

How to apply

Course details

This programme is designed to help international students succeed as undergraduates in the School of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of St Andrews.

The course aims to ensure that you develop the analytical, communication, and research skills, as well as the study techniques, needed for your degree. The structure of the programme will provide you with dedicated support in the first semester when it is most needed, but progressively encourages you to work independently and collaboratively.

The programme's modules will prepare you for your future degree subject and train you to research and communicate your ideas effectively.

Students on this programme, will:

  • look at different academic texts, including research papers, textbooks, webpages and essays, and you will be asked to write some of these too
  • consider how convincing arguments in science are constructed and will discuss the ethical issues involved, including the use of artificial intelligence
  • learn how to present and discuss ideas with other students to improve your confidence in academic tutorials and seminars.


Understanding Planet Earth: introduces the study of Planet Earth, from planetary formation to the present-day processes that control our climate. The course covers topics including the dawn of the solar system, the dynamic nature of the solid Earth, and the surface processes that shape the planet. We introduce oceanography, atmospheric science and the cryosphere to understand how climate has and will continue to change with time.

Mathematics A: introduces you to key concepts and methods that will be required for further study in mathematics and other sciences. It will reinforce your skills in common techniques and a range of fundamental topics. You will look at complex numbers, hyperbolic functions and differential equations and should become competent at evaluating common integrals, plotting various functions and solving a range of complex equations.

Communicating in Academic Contexts 1: helps you develop and practise productive and receptive academic spoken communication skills to use within the International Foundation programme and in your undergraduate programme. 

Research and Writing for Science A: explores a range of academic functions, including features of academic style and organisation, academic grammar and vocabulary. You will learn how to evaluate the reliability of a variety of published texts and develop your own academic voice. The aim is to improve your overall academic literacy but with a focus on the texts you need to write for science.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2024 entry. Module content is subject to change. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

Earth’s Resource Challenges (for degrees in Earth Science or Geology): builds on the understanding of planet Earth gained in Semester 1 and highlights the work done by Earth scientists to solve 21st-century resource and environmental challenges. The module investigates the geological processes that generate Earth's 'traditional' resources, such as metals and hydrocarbons, and their environmental impact. You will study 'new' alternative energies such as geothermal and hydropower, discuss resource requirements of a 'Green New Deal' and consider potential environmental solutions, such as carbon capture and pollution remediation strategies.

Communicating in Academic Contexts 2: helps you further develop and practise productive and receptive academic oral communication skills that you will need in your degree programme.

Research and Writing for Science B: further develops the skills introduced in Research and Writing Skills for Science A in Semester 1. You will be working on more extended research skills using references and learning how to deploy them to support arguments in science. 

Mathematics B: following on from Mathematics A in Semester 1, you’ll learn about matrices, limits, vectors, and sequences and series. The module will also introduce the important concept of mathematical proof.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2024 entry. Module content is subject to change. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.


Classes take place Monday to Friday between 9am and 6pm. You will spend approximately 16 hours per week on focused learning activities. These may be live lectures, laboratory practicals, seminars or tutorials. Seminar classes are typically scheduled in groups of no more than 16 students.

As well as your timetabled classes, you will be expected to complete approximately 20 to 25 hours of independent study each week. As a fully matriculated student, you have access to the University’s libraries and study areas, but you will also work with the University's online learning tools (Moodle and Microsoft Teams).

Students are expected to do the following to prepare for classes and consolidate their learning:

  • read and take notes from online or hard copy textbooks, articles, and other online sources as required
  • undertake additional research and self-study through the University library and online
  • complete a range of homework tasks, individually and in groups
  • engage with feedback on both formative and summative assessments.

There are assessments as part of each module. These may include:

  • academic essays
  • end-of-module examinations (in-person or online)
  • tests
  • speaking and listening exam
  • integrated skills exams (which include reading and writing on a topic)
  • leading and participating in seminars
  • a presentation
  • research projects
  • lab/practical or field trip reports.

The grade from each module contributes to the final programme grade. Each module handbook will include further information on assessment.

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements.

To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long-term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.


The tuition fee for 2024 entry is £25,120. This fee includes:

  • access to all University facilities
  • a transfer from Edinburgh or Glasgow airport, or Leuchars train station, when you first arrive
  • the use of course books, handouts and other course materials.

See further information on how to pay your International Foundation fees

Fee guarantee

Students who progress onto the second year of their degree programme in 2025 will pay the undergraduate fees at the 2024-2025 undergraduate entry price, rather than the 2025-2026 price. Fees will be adjusted annually, typically ranging between 3% and 5%, to reflect inflationary pressures to which we may be exposed.


Next-Step International Foundation programme (IFP) scholarship

Applicants to this programme can apply for a Next-Step IFP scholarship. We offer four individual awards for September-entry students. The award is paid in two payments, one at the start of the foundation programme and another one on progression to a qualifying undergraduate degree at the University of St Andrews.

For students on this programme, the qualifying undergraduate degrees are: BSc Geology, BSc Environmental Earth Science, and MGeol Earth Sciences.

Email for more information.

Kinnessburn Scholarship

Students who successfully complete their International Foundation programme at the University, with the required merit grade, and who move onto a degree at the University of St Andrews, will be eligible to apply for the Kinnessburn scholarship.

This scholarship is awarded to two students annually in July. It provides a partial fee waiver for each year of study on an undergraduate programme at the University, and an Ambassador's role to support future IFP students.

Undergraduate scholarships

During their first semester, students on the International Foundation programme will receive a conditional offer for a degree programme at the University of St Andrews. With this offer, students can apply to any of the undergraduate scholarships for which they are eligible. 

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to students each year.


The International Education Institute recommends that you request an en suite single room with either a self-catered or catered package as this ensures you have a place close to your classes and with other International Foundation students. 

University accommodation is guaranteed for International Foundation students.

See further information on the International Foundation accommodation web page. 

Your future

Studying your degree at the University of St Andrews

Students who meet the requirements for second year entry in the Faculty of Science have the option to progress onto a single Honours degree. 

Students on this programme can progress onto the following degrees:

To progress onto a degree at the University of St Andrews, students must achieve a minimum grade of 11.0 in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) modules, and a minimum grade of 7.0 in all other modules. Modules are marked according to the University’s 20-point scale.

Students may exceptionally request to be considered for entry onto the first year of degree programmes in the Faculty of Science, after completing the Geology and Environmental Earth Sciences (International Year One) programme. These requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account student performance and capacity within the relevant subject area.

Your undergraduate offer

Students entering the Geology and Environmental Earth Sciences (International Year One) programme in September 2024 will receive a conditional offer in Semester 1 for a place on their intended degree programme at the University of St Andrews starting in September 2025. 
When you successfully complete the programme with the required grades listed above, your offer to enter the degree programme at St Andrews will become unconditional.

Join a live question and answer session

The International Education Institute offers  question and answer sessions (Q&A) to prospective International Foundation students who would like more information about St Andrews, university life and the application process at the University.

Meet us in your country

Staff of the University of St Andrews are always pleased to meet prospective students in person. We visit many schools, colleges and higher education fairs to talk about the University and provide support and information for those thinking about applying. 

Find out how you can meet us in your country 

Online information events

Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run.


The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Contact us

International Education Institute

University of St Andrews
Kennedy Gardens
St Andrews 
KY16 9DJ

International Education Institute website