Coronavirus information and guidance

Science (International Foundation) January 2021 entry

The January Science International Foundation programme enables students to experience university teaching and research from the first day of their studies. This programme allows students to complete their studies in time to enter university in September of the same year.

The programme has a high success rate with an average of more than 97% of students completing the programme successfully over the past three years. Graduates have gone on to study for degrees at the University of St Andrews and other top UK universities.

Depending on your degree, there is a wide range of career options available to you. Former Science Foundation programme students have done postgraduate degrees in the UK or USA, or are working in research and private and public companies.

Applications are now closed

This course is now closed for applications for January 2021 entry. Course information for January 2022 entry will be available on this page in March 2021.

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

Seven months, full time

Course dates

Start date: 14 January 2021
End date: 13 August 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:

  • spring vacation: 22 March to 2 April 2021

If you started this programme in January 2020, you can find information about 2020 entry on the 2020 January Science IFP page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

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 be able to offer strong grades in any subjects that are relevant to their intended degree. For example, Maths if you wish to study Computer Science.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements
Typical IFP academic requirements - 2020-2021 entry (PDF)  for this programme 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 requirement 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 be 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 5.5 overall and no component score below 5.0.

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.

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 Science 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 30 November 2020. You only need to provide your most recent 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 January Internation Foundation Programme for Science prepares students to take a positive step towards the goal of studying Science in the UK and understand the expectations and requirements of studying at a British university. The programme offers an intensive route into a wide range of degree programmes in the Faculty of Science at the University of St Andrews.

Students on the Science programme enjoy a friendly and supportive learning environment including experienced and expert tuition. You will study in small groups to accelerate your learning and adaptation to the new culture. A personal tutor will help you manage your time effectively and help you to become an independent and reflective learner.

Foundation programme classes integrate science and English language learning through their focus on writing laboratory reports, structuring essays, critical thinking and scientific methods of investigation.

As a January Science foundation student you will:

  • enhance your school science for degree-level study
  • get to know the School you will study in before starting your degree
  • develop your English for academic purposes by writing extended, critically assessed and academically referenced essays and lab reports.


The modules listed here are the typical modules students must take in order to complete their foundation programme. The choice of academic subjects depends on timetabling, and some subject combinations may not be available for 2021 entry.

All students will study the same two compulsory modules in their first semester:

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

  • Research and Writing for Pathway to Medicine/Science 1: extend your vocabulary, learn how to evaluate the reliability of texts and know how to incorporate other people's ideas within academic writing while allowing your own voice to come through.

In addition to these two modules, students are assigned to Science modules depending on their intended degree route. Staff at the International Education Institute will be able to advise students on module choices, but students must take 20 Science subject credits in total in their first semester. Subjects typically available include:

For example, students wishing to study a degree in:

  • computer science, physics or mathematics will take 'Foundation Mathematics', 'Foundation Statistics' and 'Foundation Economics' as well as choosing one other Foundation module.
  • neuroscience, chemistry or biology will take 'Foundation Inorganic and Physical Chemistry' and 'Foundation Physiology 1'.

All students will study the same two compulsory modules in their second semester:

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

  • Research and Writing for Arts and Science: continues to develop reading and writing skills, but working with more complex text and different types of writing. 

Depending on your degree intention, you will study one or two additional compulsory modules. Students wishing to study:

  • computer science, physics or mathematics will take Critical Thinking in Arts and Science.
  • neuroscience, chemistry or biology will take Foundation Physiology 2 and Foundation Organic Chemistry.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2021 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.


Teaching format

Classes take place Monday to Friday between 9am and 6pm (UK time). 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.


The programme includes a variety of types of assessment to give you the experience of different ways of being tested including:

  • academic essays
  • coursework tests
  • end of module examinations
  • leading and participating in seminars
  • podcasts
  • presentations
  • research projects
  • speaking and listening exam
  • videos.

You will have regular coursework assignments throughout both semesters, and some of these will contribute towards your final grade. Students will also have two sets of examinations, one set at the end of each semester.

Students will be given feedback on their coursework to help them prepare for their assessments.

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. 

2021-entry fees: £28,100 

The all-inclusive fee package includes:

  • tuition
  • accommodation, including a bedding pack
  • a catered 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 a foundation programme to a degree at St Andrews.

Students who successfully complete the International Foundation programme with a distinction grade and move onto a degree at 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 St Andrews.

IFP January Scholarship

If you are coming to study an International Foundation or International Pathway to Medicine programme in January 2021, and you receive your offer on or before Friday 6 November 2020, you can be eligible to apply for this scholarship. Up to five successful applicants will receive £2,000 towards the cost of their foundation tuition fees. Deadline for applications is Sunday 15 November 2020. Find out more about the IFP January Scholarship.


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

All 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, a shared living space and fully equipped kitchen.

Bedding pack

A bedding pack will be delivered to David Russell Apartments for each Pathway 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.


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 on the January Science foundation programme who achieve a final overall grade of 11.0 or above on the University's 20-point scale will receive an unconditional offer from the Faculty of Science at the University of St Andrews to study a degree programme related to their subject choices on the foundation programme.

Popular degree options for students on the January Science foundation programme include:

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.


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 compulsory and optional modules listing, as well as the teaching format section, 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).