Chemistry with Foundation Year

Start date
4/5 years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Foundation, Single Honours

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2020/21 are as follows:
£9,250 (UK/EU)
Further information

This Chemistry with Foundation Year is a one-year course designed for students whose qualifications are not appropriate for direct entry on to one of our Honours degree programmes. This programme may also be attractive to mature students who may need a period of retraining before embarking on a degree.

Chemistry with Foundation Year

The Chemistry with Foundation Year is an integrated foundation degree, giving you access to our highly ranked chemistry undergraduate courses. Once you’ve completed it successfully and have met the subject-specific progression criteria, you can elect to join your chosen first-year course.

At Birmingham you’ll learn first-hand from world-renowned researchers who are pushing the boundaries of knowledge in areas from nanoscale chemistry and chemical biology to green polymers and chemical imaging. The Chemistry with Foundation Year is multidisciplinary and offers a broad programme of study, providing a solid level of knowledge across science, engineering and mathematics. You will also take modules in physics, engineering and computer science. As well as leading to specific degree courses, these modules will help you develop many transferable skills including teamwork, confidence-building in technology and numeracy, computer literacy and presentation skills.

We’ve been at the forefront of chemistry teaching and research for more than 100 years, producing several Nobel Prize-winners along the way, and we have some of the best facilities and equipment in the country. No wonder our students regularly place us among the top chemistry departments in UK for student satisfaction (95% overall student satisfaction, NSS 2018). What are you waiting for?

The course will be attractive to:

  • students whose A-level qualifications are incompatible (either in respect of grades or subjects) with the normal entrance requirements of our honours degree programmes;
  • students with alternative qualifications such as Access to Higher Education and BTEC diplomas;
  • mature students who may wish to undertake a period of retraining before embarking on one of our honours degree programmes;
  • students from EU countries whose pre-university qualifications are not considered for direct entry on to one of our honours degree programmes.

The first year of this course functions as a Foundation Year, successful completion of which allows automatic progression on to one of our three-year BSc honours programmes. Progression on to one of our four-year MSci programmes is also possible depending upon performance. 

Why study Chemical Engineering with Foundation Year at Birmingham

Chemists at Birmingham adopt a broad, multi-disciplinary outlook to their subject, which is vital if we are to solve the problems of the 21st Century in healthcare, medicine, sustainability and the environment. Birmingham has a leading research rating and is committed to excellence in teaching: your lecturers are not only experts in their fields but also passionate about chemistry and committed to inspiring you!

Read more about why you should study Chemistry at Birmingham

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest updates and FAQs for future students and offer-holders

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The first year of this course functions as a Foundation Year, successful completion of which allows automatic progression on to one of our three-year BSc honours programmes. Progression on to one of our four-year MSci programmes (e.g. MSci (hons) Chemistry (F101)) is also possible depending upon performance. The length of this programme is therefore 4 years, should you choose the BSc pathway, or 5 years if you choose to follow an MSci (hons) programme.

The first (foundation) year contains 120 credits of taught material, delivered in modules that are worth 10 or 20 credits.

Core modules:

  • Mathematics I (10 credits)
  • Materials (10 credits)
  • Science and Engineering Skills (10 credits)
  • Mechanics (10 credits)
  • Science and Engineering Laboratories (10 credits)
  • Stats and Data (10 credits)

Optional modules:

Choose 60 credits. Example modules:

  • Foundation Electronic and Electrical Engineering (10 credits)
  • Waves (10 credits)
  • Elementary Computer Programming (10 credits)
  • Introductory Organic Chemistry (10 credits)
  • Introductory Inorganic Chemistry (10 credits)
  • Group Project (10 credits)
  • Individual Project (10 credits)
  • Maths II (10 credits)
  • Calculus (10 credits)

All of the course material is delivered by staff from the University of Birmingham.

Upon successful completion of the first (foundation) year, students then choose a degree pathway and undertake the same modules as chemistry students enrolled directly on that degree programme. Our degree programmes contain modules that cover the fundamentals of the subject and include a significant practical component, which not only allows you to develop your practical skills and techniques, but also to consolidate the associated theory from your lectures.

The remaining credits in each year comprise modules designed to support these core courses and include optional chemistry modules, mathematics courses, project work, laboratory modules, and courses which focus on communications skills and employability.  Details of the modules for each programme may be found on the individual degree programme webpages

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2020. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to core modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


Annual tuition fees 2020/21

UK/EU students - £9,250

Visit our  tuition fees page for more information.


The University offers a range of additional financial support for students studying at Birmingham in the form of other bursaries, grants and scholarships.


For students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the website.

How To Apply

Apply through the UCAS website using code F103.

UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

View advice on how to apply for undergraduate courses.

International Requirements

A Levels

BBB. Students taking Mathematics are not considered, General Studies not considered


Minimum 6/B in GCSE Mathematics

Access to Higher Education Diplomas 

In Engineering, Combined Sciences (with at least 12 credits in either Chemistry or Physics), Chemical Sciences or Physical Sciences with 60 credits overall with at least 45 at Level 3 out of which 30 are at Distinction.

International Baccalaureate

32 overall with HL 5,5,5 – 5,5,4 to include Chemistry. Offer will depend on combination of subjects offered.


DDD Extended Diploma in Engineering, Applied Science or Computing with entry test
Others accepted alongside A Levels as above.

Other qualifications

These are considered – learn more about entry requirements or contact a member of the Admissions Team for more information.

International Students

Please note this course is only open to UK/EU students. International students may apply to one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages

We have benefited from significant investment in our teaching and research laboratories and analytical facilities. The newly opened £40m Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL) hosts all our lab teaching, while £2.5m has been spent on state-of-the-art equipment dedicated for chemistry teaching, making the CTL better equipped than most research environments, both in academia and industry.

There are many reasons to study chemistry at Birmingham: Our ground-breaking research has an international reputation for excellence, and this cutting-edge research informs our teaching and course content; we boast world-class facilities and state-of-the-art equipment; we put great emphasis on multidisciplinary working to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and we have strong collaborative links with industry. We’re also getting a new £80 million home for the School of Chemistry, which will house sector-leading research facilities to take us even further to the cutting edge and beyond.

How you will learn

Our teaching is guided by the latest research, and we employ many teaching innovations to enhance students’ learning. We have developed an innovative, skills-based curriculum to turn you into highly skilled practical chemists.

You will learn in a range of settings, including lectures, workshops, small-group tutorials, self-study, peer-group learning sessions and through laboratory and project work. Lab-based practical work is an integral part of the School’s degree programmes: in your final year, you’ll also complete a research-related project, while MSci students will carry out a major research project, joining a research group and conducting novel scientific experiments.

Away from the lab, you’ll be able to join our vibrant chemistry society, known as ‘ChemSoc’, which organises a range of social and charity events, guest lectures, industrial trips and an annual ball.

How you will be assessed

Each module is assessed independently. Most contain a component of continuous assessment, which usually contributes a quarter to one-third of the module mark. Methods of assessment are tailored to best assess the learning outcomes of the module and can include end-of-year examinations, written assignments, oral and poster presentations, computer-based tests and/or laboratory and project reports. Some modules are assessed completely by coursework.

Your personal tutor

 As soon as you join us, you’ll be assigned a personal tutor who will remain with you throughout your studies. They will meet with you at least once every semester to assess your academic progress and how to develop your transferrable skills. You can also talk to your personal tutor or one of our welfare tutors about anything that is troubling you.

Seminars and tutorials

Small-group tutorials run alongside our lecture courses, providing a chance to discuss specific problems with your tutor and to consolidate and test your understanding of lecture material through problem-solving exercises.

Enquiry-based learning (EBL) provides an environment where the learning process is driven by enquiry, with the lecturer acting purely as a facilitator. EBL is especially useful for teaching aspects of chemistry, such as the use of spectroscopic techniques in structure elucidation.

Lecturers and world-leading researchers

Our School is home to many internationally leading researchers working in a wide range of areas including synthesis of therapeutic molecules, functional nanomaterials and hydrogen storage and fuel cells. Birmingham chemists are leading the development of new materials to provide for our ever-increasing energy needs in an environmentally sustainable manner, as well as working with environmental scientists to understand the likes of pollution and climate change. Crucially, our research influences our teaching: our academics draw upon their scientific findings to inform their teaching and provide the cutting-edge content for our degree programmes.

Contact Hours

Depending on the modules you select, each week you will have 15-21 hours of lectures and  classes/labs per week, plus possible timetabled extra support classes for some students.

The information below relates to graduates from our BSc/MSCi courses:

As a chemistry graduate from Birmingham, you’ll be in great demand from a variety of industries. Many of our graduates go on to become professional scientists, but the problem-solving and transferrable skills you develop on our programmes – from written and spoken communication to complex data analysis – mean the career possibilities are numerous.

Birmingham Chemistry has strong research links with many chemical companies, which we can exploit to help you to gain industrial experience whilst studying. Whilst you may choose to undertake a Summer placement as part of your degree, our  Chemistry with Industrial Experience MSci programme is a more popular degree choice should you wish to gain experience of working during your degree. On this programme, you spend your third year in paid employment. Working and studying in an industrial setting provides you with valuable experience, whilst at the same time improving your career prospects.

Graduates who have studied our courses:

Example employers

  • Astrazeneca
  • Johnson Matthey Akzonobel
  • Glaxosmithkline
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Ernst & Young
  • Reckitt Benckiser
  • Severn Trent Water
  • RBS
  • HSBC

Example careers

  • Analytical scientist
  • Chemist
  • Lawyer
  • Accountant
  • Business retailer
  • Marketing executive
  • Public service manager
  • Web designer
  • Computing and IT expert
  • Investment analyst
  • Publisher

I have very fond memories of my undergraduate days at Birmingham and the quality of teaching there was outstanding. I currently work at Nature Publishing Group in London and after spending a couple of years as an associate editor at Nature Nanotechnology, I have been made chief editor of Nature Chemistry.

Stuart Cantrill (Chemistry and Bioorganic Chemistry BSc) Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry

Careers Network

We provide a wealth of opportunities to develop your career. From your first day at Birmingham to after you graduate, the Careers Network  is here to help you identify and achieve your individual career aspirations through its wide range of services.

Our dedicated careers team brings you information, advice and guidance tailored to your specific needs. Careers advisers offer one-to-one advice appointments where you can discuss your career plans and explore your options. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning  Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Visit the Careers Network website for more details


Our multi-award-winning work experience team has dedicated internship officers to help find the right work experience for you. Make the most of these opportunities and apply for our Work Experience Bursary Scheme, the Birmingham Undergraduate Internship Programme or one of our successful mentoring schemes. 

The video below talks to students, staff and employers about their internship experience:

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