Social Sciences and Humanities (International Foundation) September 2019 entry

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. Based on their future degree intention, students will typically choose academic subjects such as Psychology, History, Sociology, International Relations, Literature and Philosophy.

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.

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: 9 September 2019
End date: 29 May 2020

This course is for:

International students (not from the UK or EU) who are academically able but 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 should have left school within the past 18 months and have not yet studied at college or university

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No, but candidates should have strong grades in any subjects relevant to their intended degree subject.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Typical academic requirements (PDF)  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. 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 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
  • 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 Sunday 30 June 2019. You must 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.

Course information

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
  • 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.

Working on projects to develop research skills, along with 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.

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 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 different types of assessment. 


The International Foundation programme in Social Sciences and Humanities has six compulsory modules. 

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 - introduces students to the preferred style and structure of work produced for assessment on an undergraduate degree.
  • Language and Criticality in Social Sciences and Humanities - gives each individual student the opportunity to identify and work on their own linguistic strengths and weaknesses.
  • Social Sciences and Humanities: Academic Core - weekly one-hour lectures and tutorials in subjects such as 'Introduction to Social Sciences and Humanities', 'History', and 'Psychology'. 

Through the study of literature and sociology, you will learn how to approach studying an academic subject at undergraduate level. You will then be 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.

For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2018–2019 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2019 entry.

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 - builds on the key skills and strategies covered in the Academic Skills module in Semester 1.
  • Communicating in Social Sciences and Humanities - students develop the ability to select and evaluate sources for essays and presentations.
  • Social Sciences and Humanities: Academic Electives - students will study the core subjects (Social Sciences, History, Psychology) and will also be able to choose their own options from a list which typically includes: International Relations, Philosophy, Film Studies, Art History, Literature, and Psychology.

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.

For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2018–2019 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2019 entry.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2019 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.


Teaching format

Classes take place from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. You will spend approximately 18 to 20 hours per week in class. During this time, you will experience a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials, and classes, with your maximum class size likely to be between 14 and 16 students.

As well as your timetabled classes, you will be expected to complete a further 20 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 within the University's online learning environment (known as Moodle).

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 experience of different ways of being examined. These may include: 

  • essays
  • multiple choice tests
  • interviews
  • presentations
  • formal examinations.

You will have regular coursework assignments throughout both semesters, and some of these will contribute towards your final grade.

You will also have two sets of examinations, one set at the end of each semester. You will be given feedback on practice tasks and tests to help to prepare for the 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. 

2019-entry fees: £27,300 

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
  • 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.

Your future

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:

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