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Medicine (International Foundation) September 2020 entry

This course is closed for applications for September 2020 entry. Course information for September 2021 entry will be available on this page on 1 October 2020.

Incorporating a unique blend of academic skills with medicine-related topics, the International Foundation programme for Medicine has been designed in conjunction with the School of Medicine to develop the intellectual and communication skills necessary for success in a degree in Medicine. 

The programme adopts a holistic approach to preparing for the challenges of medical school. It includes insights into local practice, and you will study a diverse range of subjects, with teaching and learning embedded into Faculty of Science modules. 

The programme has a high success rate with nearly 88% of students completing the programme successfully over the past three years.

Course type

International Foundation programme

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.

Course duration

Nine months, full time

Course dates

Start date: 7 September 2020
End date: 28 May 2021

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 or assessment weeks, other than the following:

  • independent learning week: 19 to 23 October 2020
  • winter vacation and inter-semester weeks: 21 December 2020 to 15 January 2021
  • spring vacation: 22 March to 2 April 2021.

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 St Andrews. Foundation students typically use English as an additional language. 

Applicants will normally meet the following criteria:

  • be designated 'overseas' for fees purposes by the University (not 'Home/EU' or 'Rest of the UK')
  • have a national high school qualification or mixed-curricula qualifications not recognised for application to an undergraduate degree at the University of St Andrews. If you have three A Levels, the HKDSE, a full IB Diploma or any qualification type that is recognised for degree entry, you will not be eligible for an International Foundation programme, irrespective of the grades you have achieved.
  • be due to leave school soon or have left school within the past three years
  • have not previously studied on a foundation programme in the UK
  • have not previously studied at university.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

Applicants must have studied sciences at school, and Chemistry should have been studied in the applicant’s final year at school. If you studied Chemistry only to IGCSE level or Grade or Year 10, you may be eligible for the Pathway to Medicine programme.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Typical Medicine IFP and Pathway to Medicine academic requirements - 2020-2021 entry (PDF) are listed alphabetically by country. If your qualification is not shown here, please 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

An IELTS (Academic) test report form with a minimum of 6.5 overall and no component score below 6.0.

If you require a visa, your IELTS test must be for UKVI purposes. See an overview of the English language requirements for foundation applicants.

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

Work experience requirement

Students are required to have experience that allows them to demonstrate interpersonal skills relevant to the practice of medicine. this may include voluntary or work experience, and clinical observations. Applicants are advised to keep a record (for example, a diary) of this, as students will reflect upon these experiences throughout their foundation programme.

Application requirements

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

  • your most recent high school transcript
  • a personal statement outlining why you wish to study Medicine at St Andrews and reflecting on your life and learning experiences to explain why you feel you would be successful on this programme
  • an academic reference from your high school on their letterhead or from a school email
  • your IELTS (Academic) test report form.

Application deadline

The deadline for applications is Wednesday 15 July 2020. You only need to provide your high school transcript and personal statement when you first apply so that the University can consider your application. Your academic reference and your English language evidence can be provided later.

How to apply

Course information

The International Foundation programme for Medicine has been designed with the University's School of Medicine to develop your sciences and communication skills to prepare you for success in a degree in Medicine.

Central to the Medicine Foundation programme is an ethos of cooperation and collaboration amongst students, which is achieved through group work and projects in the context of a supportive environment for personal and academic growth. 

You will be given personal tutorial slots each semester where you can discuss all aspects of academic work and life. Through these tutorials, you will learn how to adopt and develop positive mindsets and learning strategies in order to help you during the programme and your future degree.

English language teachers will work with you to develop your academic writing, your study techniques and your time-management skills.

Foundation programme classes integrate your science and English language learning through their focus on writing laboratory reports, structuring essays, critical thinking and scientific methods of investigation. In addition, you will practice doctor-patient interaction, including with simulated patients, and have opportunities to:

  • consolidate your learning and attend a workshop to prepare for the multiple mini interviews (MMI) at a mansion in the Highlands of Scotland
  • volunteer with a local charity which provides support and companionship for the elderly and vulnerable in the local area
  • gain an accredited first-aid certificate.

The programme enables international students to function effectively as undergraduates studying Medicine, enhancing their discipline-specific knowledge and skills, and developing critical thinking and reflection.

By the end of the programme students will:

  • demonstrate an overall appreciation of the body of philosophies related to the study of medicine
  • demonstrate knowledge that is embedded in the main theories, concepts and principles of the philosophies related to the study of medicine and apply that knowledge in practical contexts
  • undertake critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of ideas, concepts, information and issues that are within the common understandings of health and medicine
  • demonstrate awareness of own and others’ roles, responsibilities and contributions when carrying out and evaluating tasks related to the study of medicine
  • convey complex information to a range of audiences such as fellow students, medical professionals, and patients
  • exercise autonomy and initiative in some activities in their learning
  • manage, under guidance, ethical and professional issues in accordance with current professional codes related to the medical profession.

Download the International Foundation Programmes brochure (PDF)


The International Foundation programme in Medicine has six modules.

Students will study the same three compulsory modules:

  • Foundations for Medicine 1: focuses on academic research and writing skills along with seminar and project skills. You will study medical ethics in order and understand how this links to clinical practice and medical professionalism. You will also have sessions on effective communication and attend workshops with simulated and real patients in the School of Medicine.

  • Introductory Inorganic and Physical Chemistry: covers the origin of the elements, atoms and the Periodic Table, shapes and properties of molecules, chemistry of the elements, properties of solutions, thermochemistry, thermodynamics and kinetics.

Alongside the compulsory modules, students further develop their science knowledge by studying one of the following modules. What you study will depend on whether or not you have studied on Phase 1 of the Pathway to Medicine programme before joining the International Foundation programme for Medicine:

  • Biology 1: introduces students to molecular and cellular biology. It covers cell diversity and the origins of life, cellular structures and fundamental processes.

  • Fundamentals of Psychology 1: introduces students to the theoretical foundations, historical perspectives and modern developments of psychology; provides an introduction to the variety of subjects which make up contemporary psychology; provides a thorough grounding in the empirical basis of psychology.

All students will study the same three compulsory modules:

  • Foundations for Medicine 2: builds on the skills studied in Semester 1 to enhance confidence and competence in communication, specifically for a degree in medicine. Students continue studying medical ethics. Students will also have a series of lectures on important themes in Medicine which are delivered by staff from the School of Medicine. 

  • Human Biology: covers all the key physiological systems within the topic areas, with an overarching focus on how disease affects these systems.

Alongside the compulsory modules, you will further develop their science knowledge by studying one of the following modules. What you study will depend on whether or not you have studied on Phase 1 of the Pathway to Medicine programme before joining the International Foundation programme for Medicine:

  • Organic and Biological Chemistry 1: includes lectures on the structure, stereochemistry and nomenclature of simple organic compounds, fundamental organic reaction mechanisms, organic functional groups and their reactions, introductory bioorganic chemistry, and organic spectroscopy.

  • Fundamentals of Psychology 2: provides an introduction to the theoretical foundations, historical perspectives and modern developments of psychology; provides an introduction to the variety of subjects which make up contemporary psychology; provides a thorough grounding in the empirical basis of psychology.

Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs)

To prepare for the MMIs held by the School of Medicine in Semester 2, there will be workshops on the various interview stations so that students can develop their interview skills and MMI performance. Students also study medical ethics in order to transition into first-year medicine with an understanding of how medical ethics link to clinical practice and medical professionalism.

Highland trip

At the beginning of Semester 2, you will have the opportunity to attend a study retreat in the Scottish Highlands located in an 18th-century manor house near the picturesque Glen Esk, called "The Burn". As well as enjoying some of Scotland's most beautiful scenery, students will present their findings from a research project and participate in a workshop on the MMIs.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2020 entry.


Teaching format

Classes take place from Monday to Friday between 9am and 6pm. You will spend approximately 16 hours per week on focused learning activities. During this time, you will experience a mixture of recorded lectures, live online or face to face seminars or tutorials.

Class sizes are likely to be between 14 and 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 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.

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


Students are assessed on coursework and end-of-semester examinations. 

Students will experience different kinds of assessment:

  • essays
  • projects
  • presentations
  • laboratory reports
  • class tests
  • examinations.

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.

Meet us in your country

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us on a talk and tour to explore the town and find out about the courses and opportunities we offer.

Talk and tour


Combined fee

The International Foundation programme offers an all-inclusive fee package which covers all the major costs of the foundation year so that there are no hidden extra costs. 

2020-entry fees: £30,300

The all-inclusive fee package includes:

  • tuition
  • accommodation, including a bedding pack
  • a meal plan with 14 meals per week
  • 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
  • laboratory coats and dissection kits, if required
  • 24-hour emergency phone number
  • programme-led and seasonal social events.


Kinnessburn Scholarship

For students moving from an International Foundation programme to a degree at the University of St Andrews.

Students who successfully complete the International Foundation programme with a distinction grade and move onto a degree at the University of St Andrews are eligible to apply for the Kinnessburn Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to one student annually in June and provides a partial fee waiver for each year of study on an undergraduate programme at the University.


The fee package for the International Foundation programme includes catered accommodation, which the University arranges on your behalf so you do not need to apply for accommodation.

All foundation students are allocated a room in David Russell Apartments (DRA). In each apartment, there are five study bedrooms, each with its own private shower and toilet, and a shared living space and fully equipped kitchen.

Bedding pack

A bedding pack will be delivered to David Russell Apartments, for each foundation student. The bedding pack is for a standard double bed (UK size) and contains:

  • one duvet (10.5 tog)
  • one duvet cover
  • one flat sheet
  • two pillows
  • two pillowcases.


Foundation programme students are on a catered meal plan that gives them 14 meals per week during the semester.

Breakfast and an evening meal are served every weekday; breakfast and lunch are served on Saturdays and Sundays.

See a sample menu for the 14-meal plan.

Join a webinar

The International Education Institute offers webinars to prospective foundation students who would like more information about St Andrews, university life and the application process at the University.

Your future

Students are required to meet the following requirements in their assessments to successfully complete the International Foundation programme for Medicine. Results are graded on the University's 20-point scale.

In order to progress onto the BSc Medicine (A100) at St Andrews, students must achieve:

  • an average grade of 11.0 or above for:
    • IFP Foundations for Medicine 1
    • IFP Foundations for Medicine 2.
  • a grade of 11.0 or above for IFP Human Biology.
  • an grade of 12.0 or above at first sitting for:
    • Introductory Inorganic and Physical Chemistry
    • Biology 1 or Psychology 1 (September pathway)
    • Organic and Biological Chemistry 1 or Psychology 2 (January and September pathway)

Students must also meet the following entry requirements of the School of Medicine:

  • a competitive score in UCAT, achieved in the year of entry onto the International Foundation programme for Medicine. If this condition is not met, the competitive score on UCAT can also be achieved in the year of graduation from the International Foundation programme, prior to entry onto A100 BSc Medicine.
  • satisfactory performance on the multiple mini interviews with the School of Medicine
  • Applicants who use English as an additional language and who cannot provide their English language ability through their school-leaving qualifications must achieve 7 in all four components of the International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) exam, to be taken at one sitting. This is irrespective of any other English qualification achieved. The final four consecutive years of secondary or high school education in an English-medium school may in some cases be considered as evidence of English language ability. This will be considered on a case by case basis. IELTS scores have a recommended two-year validity period, and this time limit will be applied.

Additional information

2019-2020 resits are not available for IFP modules. 

Provided that you successfully complete the programme and you meet the above entry requirements for the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews, you will be given an unconditional offer to enter first year of the BSc Medicine (A100).

Students who do not move on to Medicine but meet the academic requirements for the Faculty of Science, may be able to study a science degree (Biology, Chemistry or Psychology) at St Andrews, or to secure a place at another institution. Programme coordinators can assist with advice and UCAS applications as necessary to work towards the best possible outcome for you.


International Foundation programmes

International Education Institute
University of St Andrews
Kennedy Gardens
St Andrews 
KY16 9DJ

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2255

International Education Institute website

Page amendments 

The academic requirements PDF was updated on Friday 20 March 2020.  

The compulsory and optional modules listing, as well as teaching format, was updated on Monday 10 August 2020. 


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online (PDF, 84 KB).

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