Improve your skills before starting your course

A foundation year is a gateway to your undergraduate degree with Essex. It's a year specifically designed to enhance your academic skills, deepen your subject-specific knowledge, and thoroughly prepare you for your future undergraduate studies and university life.

Aimed at supporting our UK and EU students to progress to a full degree programme, our foundation courses are there to help you if you haven't quite got the entry grades you need or if you want to develop a deeper knowledge of your chosen subject before starting your degree with us. A similar degree preparation course is offered to international students through our partnership with Kaplan International Pathways.

If you apply to one of our three-year undergraduate degree courses and haven't quite got the grades, to meet the entry requirements, a foundation course will be offered to you.

During your foundation year, you'll study topics relevant to your chosen degree or subject area and complete modules aimed at improving your academic skills. Upon successful completion of the foundation year, you'll automatically progress to year one of your chosen undergraduate degree. A foundation year itself is not a separate qualification but rather the first year of an integrated four-year course.

Why choose a foundation course?

If you're worried that you won't get the grades you need to join year one of a degree programme, often resitting exams or taking a gap year can feel like the only option. Choosing a foundation course however allows you to focus on subjects related to your preferred degree, building the necessary knowledge and skills you need to start year one. In short, it gets you into university and studying straight away.

As a foundation-year student you can still apply for student finance to support your through university and there are also a number of bursaries that you may be eligible for:

You are also guaranteed on-campus student accommodation as long as you apply by our deadline. 

All of our foundation courses are based on our Colchester Campus. You may be based at our Southend Campus for years 1, 2 and 3 if your chosen undergraduate degree is based in Southend.

Explore our foundation years by course

Subject pathways

If you are interested in a certain field of study but aren't quite sure exactly which course you want to join for year one, our subject pathways could be the best option for you. You’ll study a broad range of modules connected to your preferred subject area and then at the end of your foundation year you can choose which related course you want to progress to for year one.

A headshot of Kasey Adu Poku
“My experience during my foundation year in Computer Science has been a blessing. I have studied Computer Science since I was 16; however, I decided to take the route of the Essex Pathways department because I wanted to improve my academic style of writing. I think if I had not taken a foundation year, I would have struggled to reach my full potential. Year 0 has enabled me to improve my academic writing skills, it has increased my confidence in public speaking and it has taught me the fundamental skills I need for my undergraduate degree.”