Life Sciences International Foundation Year

About this route

The Life Sciences International Foundation Year leads to a wide range of degrees in biology and chemistry-related subjects at the University of Surrey.

During the International Foundation Year you will study a core unit of general subject skills, and subject-specific units, which are carefully designed for your academic development.

If you need to improve your English language to reach the required level for your International Foundation Year, you can take our English Language Preparation programme.

Why study Life Sciences with us?

World-class academics
Our Life Sciences pathway leads to progression degrees in a range of exciting areas – each with their own reasons for study. Surrey’s biological degrees are accredited by the Royal Society of Biology, its chemistry degrees are vital to groundbreaking international research, and nutrition at Surrey is ranked second in the UK by both the Complete University Guide 2021 and The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021.

Practical work experience
After gaining a solid foundation on our Life Sciences pathway, you can progress to your undergraduate degree to continue developing your academic and employability skills. One way to do this is by taking a Professional Training Year, where you’ll be able to enter the workforce and put your practical skills to the test. As well as learning even more about your future career, a Professional Training Year is an excellent addition to your CV.

Develop transferable skills
Study with classmates planning to progress onto widely different degrees within Life Sciences. This means you’ll be working with a range of different people, developing transferable skills such as teamwork, problem solving and communication – all valuable attributes when you’re working within a company setting.

Core units

Academic English Skills aims to provide you with thorough training in language and related academic skills, enabling you to best achieve your academic potential at University. These skills include the processes of academic writing, effective and extensive reading strategies, effective participation in seminars and delivery of presentations, and listening to and recording information effectively from lectures. You will also develop the accuracy and range of written and spoken language required to use language effectively and appropriately, with clarity and confidence in an academic context.

Mathematics for Science

In the Mathematics for Science module you will learn to apply mathematical methods, concepts and theories in a range of scientific scenarios. You will develop your ability to approach problems analytically then select and deploy techniques to solve them using the terminology and mathematical notation needed for success in UK University study. You will be inspired by applications of your subject that have changed the world and explore real world case studies such as the innumerable applications of mathematics crucial to space telecommunication and satellites including the work of the University of Surrey’s world-class Space Centre. Indicative module content includes quadratic equations, logarithms, trigonometry, polynomial functions, differentiation and integration.

Cell Biology and Genetics

In the Cell Biology and Genetics module you will learn to identify key connections between concepts, methods and theories in biology. You will build confidence applying theories, methods and principles in biology to a variety of situations and problems, and develop the skills to discuss the significance of experimental results, find solutions and draw conclusions. You will be inspired by applications of your subject that have changed the world and explore real world case studies such the 2020 Nobel-prize-winning work on CRISPR DNA techniques that has transformed gene-editing. Indicative module content includes biochemistry and cell biology, genetics, ecology and experimental technique.

Core Chemistry

In the Core Chemistry module you will learn to solve problems and explain phenomena in chemistry drawing on the knowledge and using the accurate terminology you need for success on UK science degrees. You will build confidence communicating fundamentals scientific ideas, processes, techniques and procedures in chemistry. You will be inspired by applications of your subject that have changed the world and explore real world case studies such as the Haber-Bosch process for nitrogen fertiliser production without which the world's population could only be sustained at just over half its current level, or the PCR, which allows forensic science, genetic sequencing and innumerable medical applications. Indicative module content includes formulae, equations and moles; bonding and forces; redox; transition metals and thermodynamics.

Physiology for Life Scientists

In the Physiology for Life Scientists module you will learn how to apply knowledge of theories, methods, and models in biology to a variety of situations and problems using scientific terminology appropriate to UK University study. You will develop the skills to analyse and evaluate arguments demonstrating an awareness of key areas of debate relevant to research themes within biology. The module will motivate you and build your confidence through problem solving such that you come to see how deepening your understanding of Physiology might enable you to meaningfully innovate as a key actor, scholar and leader of tomorrow. Indicative module content includes energy transfer including glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation; plant tropism; and physiology including nervous, musculoskeletal, endocrine, cardiovascular and immune systems.

Statistics and Analysis

In the Statistics and Analysis module you will learn how to analyse and interpret data using a variety of statistical approaches and then communicate your conclusions and reasoning. You will develop the confidence to justify the suitability of a statistical approach to a problem and explain any limitations using terminology and notation required in a UK University context. As a semester 2 module within this curriculum arc, the module includes a focus on applications, problem solving and innovation within statistics. You will be encouraged to employ critical thinking and creativity as you make links between curriculum elements and apply your learning to simplified real-world scenarios. Indicative module content includes analysing and presenting data, statistical modelling, probability and distributions, sampling and hypothesis testing.

Subject specific units

Route: Life Science

Chemistry Applied

In the Chemistry Applied module you will learn to transfer knowledge of chemistry to real-world situations with a strong fundamental understanding of how science works. You will build confidence analysing and evaluating quantitative and qualitative information to make reasoned judgements, find solutions and draw conclusions. You will be encouraged to employ critical thinking and creativity as you make links between curriculum elements and apply your learning to simplified real-world scenarios. Indicative module content includes chemical equilibria, environmental chemistry, reaction kinetics, techniques such as mass spectrometry, and reaction kinetics.

Route: Life Science with Psychology

Psychology for Life Scientists

In the Physiology for Life Scientists module you will learn how to apply knowledge of theories, methods, and models in biology to a variety of situations and problems using scientific terminology appropriate to UK University study. You will develop the skills to analyse and evaluate arguments demonstrating an awareness of key areas of debate relevant to research themes within biology. The module will motivate you and build your confidence through problem solving such that you come to see how deepening your understanding of physiology might enable you to meaningfully innovate as a key actor, scholar and leader of tomorrow. Indicative module content includes energy transfer including glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation; plant tropism; and physiology including nervous, musculoskeletal, endocrine, cardiovascular and immune systems.

Study plans

September intake

IELTS requirement Length Sept-Dec Feb-Jun Jul-Aug Sept
5.5 2 semesters     Progress to your undergraduate degree

  International Foundation Year   Vacation

January intake

IELTS requirements Length Feb-May May-Aug Sept
5.5 2 semesters   Progress to your undergraduate degree

  International Foundation Year

Progression degrees 

This programme can lead to one of the undergraduate degrees in the table below. Grades and progression degrees are guidelines and subject to change.

All degrees listed include the option to undertake the Professional Training Year programme in year two of a four year degree. You will be able to select the option before you progress to the University. The University of Surrey will provide guidance and support in year one and two in helping you to find the right placement.

Degree Programmes Award Overall Grade English Grade Additional Grade
Biochemistry BSc (Hons) 65% 60% with min 50% in W, 40% all other skills Module minimum 60%
Biological Sciences BSc (Hons) 65% 60% with min 50% in W, 40% all other skills Module minimum 60%
Biomedical Engineering MEng (Hons) 70% 50% with 40% in each skill Module minimum 65%
Biomedical Engineering BEng 65% 50% with 40% in each skill Module minimum 60%
Biomedical Science BSc (Hons) 65% 60% with min 50% in W, 40% all other skills Module minimum 60%
BVMSci (Hons) Veterinary Medicine and Science  BVMSci (Hons) 65% 70% with min. 50% in each skill Minimum module grade 60%
Chemistry BSc (Hons) 65% 50% with min. 40% in each skill Module minimum 60%
Chemistry MChem 70% 50% with min. 40% in each skill Module minimum 65%
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons) 65% 50% with min. 40% in each skill Module min grade 60%
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation MChem (Hons) 70% 50% with min. 40% in each skill Module min grade 65%
Food Science and Nutrition BSc (Hons) 65% 60% with min 50% in W, 40% all other skills Module minimum 60%
Medicinal Chemistry BSc (Hons) 65% 50% with min. 40% in each skill Module minimum 60%

Please note:

There are limited places on offer for the BSc (Hons) Nutrition & Dietetics degree:

  • Suitable applicants are invited to an interview and offers are made based on your performance at interview.
  • If you are not offered a place on the Nutrition & Dietetics programme, you can progress onto the BSc Nutrition or the BSc Nutrition and Food Science programme (subject to achieving the required academic and English progression grades).

There are additional entry requirements for BVMSci Veterinary Medicine and Science:

  • Available for progression from ISC February intake only
  • Applicants wishing to be considered for Vet Med will need to submit their UCAS application by the earlier deadline of 15th October in order to be considered.
  • 4 weeks of work experience being required prior to UCAS application.
  • An interview is also required and offers are made based on your performance at interview. If you are not offered a place on the Veterinary Medicine and Science programme, you can progress onto the Veterinary Biosciences programme (subject to achieving the required academic and English progression grades).

Please see the University of Surrey website or contact admissions@surrey.ac.uk to find out if you are eligible.

Key facts

Course length:
Two semesters

Entry points:
January and September

Term dates: 

January 2022

Semester 1: 31/01/2022 - 20/05/2022
Semester 2: 23/05/2022 - 19/08/2022

September 2022
Semester 1: 26/09/2022 - 03/02/2023
Semester 2: 06/02/2023 - 02/06/2023

January 2023
Semester 1: 30/01/2023 - 19/05/2023
Semester 2: 22/05/2023 - 18/08/2023

Age: you must be at least 17 years old to study at the International Study Centre and progress to the University.

Visit our entry requirements page for a list of academic, English language and country-specific entry requirements.

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