Improve your skills before starting your course

A foundation year is a gateway to your undergraduate degree with Essex. Also known as a year 0, this year is 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 through to a full degree programme, our foundation courses are there to help you when you haven't quite got the entry requirements you need or to help you 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, or predicted 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 and complete modules aimed at improving your academic skills. Upon successful completion of the foundation year, you'll automatically progress to Year 1 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 are 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 feels like the only option. Choosing a foundation course however allows you to focus on subjects related to your chosen degree, building a foundational understanding before entering Year 1.  It'll help you grow academically and enhance your skills, by providing you with modules tailored to get you ready for a degree. In short, it gets you into university and studying straight away.

You can still apply for student finance to support your through University and there are also a number of bursaries that as a foundation student your may be eligible for:

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

All of our foundation and year 0 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.

Find a course by subject

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.”