Medical, Life and Geo Sciences Pathway

Our excellent reputation for research and teaching is recognised throughout all schools. You will have access to purpose-built facilities specifically equipped for work within your chosen field.

Advances in the Life Sciences are having a profound impact on our daily lives across the globe, in areas such as conservation, food security, medicine, exercise and sport.

All our degree programmes provide strong academic training and enable you to develop transferable skills that will make you attractive to employers in all sectors:

The Medical, Life and Geo Sciences Pathway leads to undergraduate degrees in all the subject areas outlined here:

*If you wish to progress on the our MPharm Pharmacy programme please be aware that you will be required to have studied Chemistry within your school leaving qualification or higher.  Good grades will need to have been achieved and may be a condition in any offer of a place made for the Foundation Pathways programme

**You will also be required to take an IELTS test for Physiotherapy only.

Special conditions apply to progression to Pharmacy (MPharm) and Physiotherapy.  There are a number of additional entry requirement that would be assessed during your foundation year for both, including (1)  a health check and vaccinations (2) evidence of work experience or insight into pharmacy and (3) Criminal Records Bureau Check or certificate of good standing. 

Please note: This pathway does not lead to Medicine and Surgery (MBChB), Nursing (BNurs) and Dental Surgery (BDS).

Dental Surgery (BDS) and Nursing (BNurs) is, unfortunately, not available for International students.

If you are interested in studying Medicine and Surgery, you will need to apply through direct undergraduate entry only. The University of Birmingham accepts A’Levels, International Baccalaureate or the American high school system. Please check if your qualification is accepted for direct entry to the undergraduate programmes.

Applications for direct entry to UK undergraduate programmes can be made through UCAS.

See the Medical, Life and Geo Sciences Pathway progression table 2016 for more information about the undergraduate degrees available for a Foundation Pathways student choosing this pathway and the compulsory and optional modules to undertake.

Medical, Life and Geo Sciences pathway modules

You will take subject-specific modules from the table below including one of the Academic English and Study Skills modules (including Advanced Academic Skills) amounting to a total of 120 credits.

When you receive and accept your offer, you will be advised about your module choices. Some undergraduate degree programmes will have compulsory modules  that you should take in your programme: 

Modules  Credits
Advanced Study Skills in the Biological Sciences   20
Introductory Chemistry   10
Introductory Organic Chemistry   10 
Introductory Mathematics   10
Organic Spectroscopy   10
Physical Chemistry   20
Organismal Biology   20
Molecular and Cellular Biology   20
Earth and Environmental Sciences  20
The Periodic Table  10

Module descriptions

There are a range of Academic English and Study Skills modules, including advance options.

Advanced Study Skills in the Biological Sciences 

This module will build upon the initial Academic English and Study Skills module to introduce you to the specialist study skills specific to the biological sciences. The focus of this module will be data analysis, interpretation, critical thinking and presentation skills (verbal and written in various formats). Much of your learning will be via student-selected topics that allow you to explore your own interests within the broad field of biology, working in groups and individually.

Introductory Chemistry

This module aims to develop a number of fundamental concepts associated with the discipline of Chemistry. The module will introduce fundamental features of atomic structure, before extending towards compounds, introducing concepts of bonding and oxidation states. The module will then proceed to introduce the general background on physical and chemical changes, in particular what factors need to be considered in such processes.

Introductory Organic Chemistry

This module aims to develop knowledge and skills in basic organic chemistry. Topics you will study include: nomenclature, isomerism, arrow-pushing mechanisms, reactivity of sp,sp2 and sp3 carbon centres and basic organic reaction schemes.

Introductory Mathematics 

This module is aimed at developing your confidence and knowledge in basic mathematical techniques and skills. Topics you will study include: indices and logarithms; basic algebra; elementary geometry; trigonometry functions; vectors; and an introduction to differentiation and integration.

Organic Spectroscopy 

This module is linked to the module Introductory Organic Chemistry. It aims to develop further some of the concepts presented in the introductory module, such as isomerism and arrow-pushing schemes. It also covers structure determination using spectroscopic techniques.

Physical Chemistry 

This module aims to develop your knowledge and skills in the broad area of physical chemistry. Topics you will study include: gas laws, thermodynamics, chemical equilibrium and kinetics. It also includes coverage of acids and bases, solubility and electrochemistry. You will also practise some mathematical techniques within a chemical context.


This module aims to develop your knowledge and skills in the areas of evolution, genetics, organismal and environmental biology. The focus of the module is on animal, plant and microbial biology but, where necessary, it draws comparisons and makes reference to human biology.

Human Biology

This module will examine the biological mechanisms that underpin the workings of the human body and mind. You will study a broad range of topics, from fundamental cell biology and biochemistry to the function and regulation of tissues and the biological bases of behaviour.

The Periodic Table

This module covers important concepts such as periodicity and molecular shapes. It also expands and develops the basic bonding theories presented in the prerequisite module (Introductory Chemistry) in more details.

Why study this course

Our Foundation Pathways combine the highest standards of one of Britain’s leading global universities with a fully integrated student experience. Designed for international students who require a preparatory year prior to UK undergraduate study, the foundation programme is equivalent in learning to year 13 of the UK education system.

Successful completion of the foundation year will also guarantee you progression onto your chosen degree.  The Foundation Pathways will ensure you're fully prepared for your undergraduate programme, immersing you in the university environment and giving you dedicated support in your first year in the UK.

Fees and funding

The Foundation Pathways Package

The cost of the Foundation Pathways Package for 2016–2017 is £14,130 (International Fee) and £9,000 (EU Fee)

This includes:

  • One year’s tuition fees
  • Books and all classroom equipment

Please note: Accommodation fees are not part of the Foundation Pathways Package, and will be at your own cost.

Entry requirements

Birmingham Foundation Academy entry requirements apply

International students:

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through the Birmingham Foundation Academy application process

Pharmacists at work

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, capable of formulating your own ideas and engaging critically with your subject.

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that you will be guided and supported to make the transition to become an independent and self-motivated learner. You will have access to a comprehensive academic support system that will assist and encourage you, inlcuding a tuor in your college who will provide help and advice with any study-related issues, and will help you to monitor and reflect on your progress.

For more information, please visit Learning at Birmingham

All of our degree programmes provide a strong academic training and enable you to develop transferable skills that will make you attractive to employers in all sectors.

Many graduates from Life Science and Medical Science degrees enter jobs allied to the health sector, often in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industries. A substantial number choose to take a further degree, such as a Masters or PhD, which is an essential requirement for many career paths, including careers in research.

Graduating from a Geo Science degree, may enable you to pursue a career focused around environmental remediation, climate change, food security and related themes; all of which pose complex challenges for the future. Increasing numbers of our graduates are also employed in envirnomental planning, nature conservation, environmental health, hydrogeology, pollution control or the oil and mineral industries.