Improve your skills before starting your course

A foundation year is a gateway to your Undergraduate degree with Essex. With a foundation year (also called year 0), you can strengthen your academic skills and develop your confidence. You can write a winning essay, deliver a flawless presentation and research your subject like a pro.

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Guarantee your place on your chosen course if you successfully complete your foundation year at Essex
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What's a foundation year (year 0)?

It's the first year of a 4 year integrated undergraduate degree. It is designed to improve your academic skills and subject-specific knowledge, and fully prepare you for undergraduate study and life at university. 

Who is a foundation year for? 

It's for UK or EU students who want to go to university but don’t currently have the entry requirements to do so. A foundation year allows you to go to university by preparing you academically. Your foundation year is also known as ‘Year 0’. If you successfully complete your foundation year, you are guaranteed a place on your chosen degree. 

I applied for first year entry so why have I been offered a place on a foundation degree? 

If you haven’t quite met the entry requirements or aren’t predicted the grades for your chosen three year undergraduate degree, we may offer you a place on our foundation degree. A foundation year is the first year of an integrated 4 year degree. Once you successfully pass the foundation year (Year 0), you will move into Year 1 automatically.

Why should I take a foundation year instead of resitting exams and taking a year out?

Focus on the subject that thrills you

On a foundation year, you'll study topics related to your chosen degree helping you to build your understanding of the subject before moving into year one. Alongside this we work hard to make sure you make the most of your time at Essex academically, by having modules specifically designed to enhance your academic skills. You'll be ready to hit year one running.

Build relationships 

University isn't just about studying, it's about finding lifelong support networks and nurturing your passions, whether that be sport, culture, art, politics - whatever sparks your interest! Why put that off for a year?

Start working towards your dream career

We start developing your employability skills from day one and you'll have access to professionals to support and guide you in your career choices - keep your life plans on track.

An additional year of results

Completing your foundation year will give you results to reference when applying for work experience placements in the summer prior to starting your undergraduate degree, rather than the summer after. This will give you a huge advantage at the end of your studies when applying for jobs that require previous experience. 


Can I still get student finance for a foundation year?

Yes. If your degree includes a foundation year, you can still apply for student finance.

Where will I be based?

At 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.  

What do I learn during a foundation year? 

You will study topics related to your chosen degree, so that you have a basic understanding of the subject before beginning year 1. You also complete some academic study modules which aim to improve and develop your academic skills. 

What happens when I complete my foundation year?

Upon successful completion of your foundation year, you will automatically progress to year 1 of your chosen undergraduate degree.

Can I leave with a certificate at the end of the foundation year?

Completing a foundation year at Essex won't provide you with a qualification. Successful completion allows you to continue onto year 1 of your chosen undergraduate degree.

Can I live in on-campus accommodation? 

Yes. Students are guaranteed University owned accommodation for their first year, in this case Year 0, as long as they apply by the deadline.

What support is available? 

We offer a lot of support for students. You can find out more by visiting our support pages.


Money matters. We offer a number of bursaries which you may be eligible to apply for as a foundation year student.

Aaron smiling and looking slightly off camera.
"I had a good feeling so I followed my gut."

Meet Aaron, a BSc Computer Science (including foundation year) student.

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“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.”