International Foundation in Biomedical, Life and Environmental Sciences

A quality assured course offering direct entry to the first year of your bachelor's degree at a leading university. 

Why apply for the International Foundation programme?

There are two course options available:

  • International Foundation (3 terms) – this is the standard option
  • Extended International Foundation (4 terms) – this option features an additional term of English at the beginning for extra language support

What is special about the programme?

The Foundation leads to the award of the Foundation Certificate and combines academic study, intensive English language teaching and study skills to prepare you for entry into the first year of a university degree.

As well as a conditional offer from the University of Exeter for successful students and full access to all the university facilities you'll benefit from:

  • a quality assured university programme
  • full university status
  • a conditional offer of a place on the first year of a relevant undergraduate degree at the University of Exeter
  • the highest levels of personal care and support

You'll receive support from your tutor on personal and academic issues, including advice on your studies. The International Liaison Office will help with your application to the University of Exeter and arrange visits to your academic college, so that you can learn more about your chosen degree programme.

Teaching methods

You will benefit from science modules taught within our own modern laboratory in the INTO Centre, allowing you to carry out practical work and conduct experiments. Lessons include small group activities and giving presentations, and encourage you to question what you are taught. We have strong links with undergraduate courses across all three of the University’s campuses, and arrange visits to appropriate departments at the University throughout the year.

Who should apply for the International Foundation programme?

If you have completed secondary school education in your home country, the International Foundation programme provides academic preparation for first year entry and ensures that you meet the minimum English language requirement for entry to your chosen undergraduate degree programme. In some circumstances you may be able to enrol on the Foundation programme in order to change your specialist subject.

What will I study?

Compulsory modules:

English Language for Academic Study

All students will study English language skills for academic study. The module provides the core skills in English needed for university-level study and runs the length of the course.

Introduction to Biological Science

This module will provide an overview of key concepts and subjects in biology in preparation for proceeding with a degree programme in the Biological Sciences or Psychology. The module will develop your understanding of biological structures and processes from the cellular to organism to system level. Topics will include: cellular structure; DNA replication and cell division; genetics; cellular energy generation and evolution; diversity; and ecology. There will be laboratory-based sessions designed to support the taught material.

Foundation Mathematics

Learn the foundation of mathematics, ideal for degrees in accounting, business, economics, engineering, mathematics, psychology or science. Topics will include: geometry, logarithm and exponential functions; differentiation and integration; statistics; and using Microsoft Excel.

Study Skills

This will help you work in groups, present ideas, manage your time, conduct research, take lecture notes, organise the content of essays and dissertations, and evaluate your own work.


You will also be able to choose to study one of the following:

Introduction to Chemical Sciences

Develop your understanding of chemical principles and processes that are relevant to everyday laboratory work. The material will start from the fundamental principles before proceeding to more complex areas. Topics will include: basic organic and inorganic chemistry; classification of organic compounds and their reactions; energy; enthalpy, and dynamic equilibrium; reaction kinetics; and spectroscopy and its interpretation. There will be additional laboratory-based sessions designed to support the taught material.

Mathematics 1

Build on the Foundation Mathematics module to provide stronger background in the mathematics required for higher study of a science-based discipline. Topics will include: algebra; vectors and matrices; further geometry, differentiation and integration; and more statistics.

Introduction to Psychology

Learn a range of fundamental issues and concepts drawn from general psychology with a particular emphasis on their relevance to issues that arise in everyday life. An indicative list of topics includes the following: the nature of psychology as the study of behaviour and mental processes, both normal and abnormal; theories and research methods focusing on the main perspectives – cognitive, behaviourist, Freudian and biological; the role of culture; perception, memory and intelligence; and ethical issues.

Human Biology

This module complements the Introduction to Biological Science module, extending your knowledge of the basic physiology and functioning of human body systems. There is no practical work but you will develop your ability to interpret data. This module will prepare you for degrees in bioscience, medical sciences and related disciplines.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed in each module. Assessment is both formative and summative, designed not simply to pass or fail students, but to help you build on our success and meet the requirements for entry to the the first year of a degree. Marks from the Foundation programme do not count towards the final degree but they help the University assess your abilities in your chosen field of study.

You are assessed by a combination of examination and course work, which may include:

  • essays
  • reports
  • practical
  • exercises
  • group and individual research projects
  • portfolios
  • oral presentations
  • seminar discussions
  • class tests
  • problem solving exercises

Through formative assessments you receive feedback on your performance which will enable you to improve before the final summative assessments.

How do I qualify?

Academic requirements:

You need to have completed 12 years of schooling (or the local equivalent to meet the same standard) with very good grades, including minimum Year 12 pass in maths.

To find out more about country specific entry requirements contact us now.

 English requirements:

Three term programme: IELTS 5.5 (with a minimum 5.0 in writing and no less than 4.5 in all other subskills) or equivalent.

Four term programme: IELTS 5.0 (with a minimum of 4.5 in all other subskills) or equivalent.

From 6 April 2015, the Centre can only accept a UKVI approved IELTS test for this course.  Read more about UKVI IELTS or contact us for more details.

If you do not meet the minimum English language level you can apply for our Academic English course.


17 years and above.

Students must turn 17 by the end of their first term of study.


When can I start?

Start date Term dates Fees
July 2017 start
(4 terms)

Term 1: Mon 03 Jul 2017 to Fri 08 Sep 2017 

Term 2: Mon 18 Sep 2017 to Fri 15 Dec 2017 

Term 3: Mon 15 Jan 2018 to Thu 29 Mar 2018 

Term 4: Mon 16 Apr 2018 to Fri 08 Jun 2018 

September 2017 start
(3 terms)

Term 1: Mon 18 Sep 2017 to Fri 15 Dec 2017 

Term 2: Mon 15 Jan 2018 to Thu 29 Mar 2018 

Term 3: Mon 16 Apr 2018 to Fri 08 Jun 2018 

October 2017 start
(4 terms)

Term 1: Mon 02 Oct 2017 to Fri 15 Dec 2017 

Term 2: Mon 08 Jan 2018 to Thur 29 Mar 2018 

Term 3: Mon 16 Apr 2018 to Fri 15 Jun 2018 

Term 4: Mon 25 Jun 2018 to Fri 31 Aug 2018 

January 2018 start
(3 terms)

Term 1: Mon 08 Jan 2018 to Thu 29 Mar 2018 

Term 2: Mon 16 Apr 2018 to Fri 15 Jun 2018 

Term 3: Mon 25 Jun 2018 to Fri 31 Aug 2018 

Tuition fees do not include:
  • text books and other learning materials: an additional charge in the region of £210 per academic course (3 term), £290 per academic course (4 term)
  • enrolment fee: an additional charge of £150 per academic programme (to be charged upon confirmation)
  • lab fee: an additional £400 per year fee to cover the use of laboratory facilities (only applicable to science-based courses)


Is accommodation included in the fees?

Accommodation is not included in the fees. View our accommodation options.

How do I pay?

You can pay by bank transfer or by credit card. Please contact us for bank transfer details.

What's the difference between the 3 and 4 term course?

The Extended International Foundation 4-term course has an additional term of English at the beginning and will typically have a lower English language entry requirement.

How do I apply?

You can apply online or by post. Find out more about how to apply.

Where will it take me?

Our progression guarantee:

We guarantee to find you a place to study on an appropriate degree and university if you successfully complete your International Foundation programme, follow professional advice offered by INTO staff and meet minimum attendance requirements.

As a successful pathway student, you’ll have access to a number of university progression options. Each progression option will follow a specific pathway and specific requirements for both English/study skills and overall grade. You’ll also find some courses have specific requirements, such as:

  • successfully completing an interview;
  • having previously studied a relevant discipline;
  • having previously completed a degree; or
  • having IELTS 6.0 or equivalent in English language.
14th in the UK for Biological Sciences
(The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017)

This course leads to the following undergraduate degrees at the University of Exeter:

College of Life and Environmental Sciences

BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour

MSci (Hons) Animal Behaviour

BSc (Hons) Biochemistry

BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences

BSc (Hons) Biological and Medicinal Chemistry

BSc (Hons) Conservation Biology and Ecology

MSci (Hons) Conservation Biology and Ecology

BSc (Hons) Evolutionary Biology

MSci (Hons) Evolutionary Biology

BSc (Hons) Zoology

BA/BSc (Hons) Geography (Cornwall Campus)

BA (Hons) Geography (Streatham Campus)

BSc (Hons) Geography (Streatham Campus)

BSc (Hons) Psychology

MSci (Hons) Applied Psychology

BSc (Hons) Environmental Science

MSci (Hons) Environmental Science

BSc (Hons) Exercise and Sport Sciences

BSc (Hons) Marine Biology

BA (Hons) Human Sciences

BSc (Hons) Human Biosciences

BSc (Hons) Applied Geology

MGeol (Hons) Applied Geology

BSc (Hons) Geology

MGeol (Hons) Geology

BSc (Hons) Engineering Geology and Geotechnics

MGeol (Hons) Engineering Geology and Geotechnics

BSc (Hons) Psychology with Sport and Exercise Science

BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences

MSci (Hons) Natural Sciences

Medical School

BSc Medical Sciences


General, UK and China enquiries: +44 (0)1273 876 040 [email protected]
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