Arts, Social Sciences, Business and Law

Our Foundation Pathways are 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 and provides students with a fully integrated experience; meaning that all of our students are taught by Birmingham academics and have full access to facilities in the University of Birmingham’s stunning Edgbaston campus. Foundation students are guaranteed a place on a University of Birmingham undergraduate programme if they meet the progression requirements.

The Arts, Social Sciences, Business and Law pathway encompasses those degrees subject areas within our College of Arts and Law and the College of Social Sciences, which includes the highly ranked Birmingham Business School. Both colleges are at the forefront of research and innovation, generating new knowledge about society and transforming this in ways that improve wellbeing. Our programmes in the social sciences, arts and humanities explore every facet of human society and culture, from literary criticism to economics to social policy.

The Arts, Social Sciences, Business and Law Pathway will lead you towards a programme in one of the following:

The Arts, Social Sciences, Business and Law Pathway will ensure that you are fully prepared for undergraduate study in the UK by providing you with strong academic training and transferable skills. Successful completion of the foundation year will also guarantee you progression onto your chosen degree.

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See the Arts, Social Sciences, Business and Law Pathway progression table 2019-20 for more information about the undergraduate degrees available for a Foundation Pathways student choosing this pathway and the modules to undertake.

Why study this course

1. You will study and live in our stunning campus

As a student at the Birmingham International Academy, you will have full access to the University’s facilities including a new sports centre offering up to 200 sports and fitness classes, an award winning museum and art gallery and a new library. There are 40 food and drink outlets on campus providing cuisine from around the world.

2. You will be taught by world-leading academics

Birmingham has 11 Nobel Prize winners and is leading research in education, travel and local government. Studying at Birmingham will challenge and develop you so that you can pursue further study with a good level of academic skill.

3. You will join a community with over 6,500 international students

International students have formed some of the University’s most exciting and vibrant student societies. These societies can support you during your time on campus, whether that be through music, food, religious beliefs or a whole range of other activities from around the world. The Birmingham International Academy also has a dedicated welfare tutor who will help all foundation students with any academic or personal issues they may encounter during their studies.

4. You will be guaranteed a place on one of the University’s undergraduate programmes if you achieve satisfactory grades in your foundation year

Successful completion of one of the four foundation pathways will guarantee you progression onto your chosen undergraduate degree. We want to make sure you’re fully prepared for your undergraduate studies, so each pathway will help you to develop important academic and English language skills.

5. You will be part of an exciting city with people, food and cultures from around the world

Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK. We have people from over 150 nationalities living here and there are restaurants and shops letting you try food from around the world. Birmingham has many mosques, temples and churches, and hosts live music, cultural and sporting events that you can attend (or maybe even participate in), including the 2022 Commonwealth Games.


You will take four or five subject-specific modules from the list below plus one of the Academic English & Study Skills modules (or Advanced Academic Skills).

Some modules are compulsory for progression onto certain undergraduate degree programmes.  When you receive and accept your offer, you will be advised about your module choicesThe modules listed may be shared by the different pathways, so you will be studying alongside students from other disciplines.

Modules  Credits
Politics in a Changing World   20
Social Policy, Welfare and Society   20
Business and the Market   20
Quantitative Methods for Business and Economics   20
Learning to Read History   20
Learning to Read Literature    20
Understanding Religion    10
Understanding Law   10

Module descriptions

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

Politics in a Changing World

This module will introduce you to the main issues and debates in contemporary international and global affairs and the changing role and position of nation-states in an increasingly globalised world.

Social Policy, Welfare and Society

This module explores the potential to create the societies in which we would want to live through the development and implementation of policies, which include health, social care, housing and criminal justice.

Business and the Market

This module focuses on the relationship between markets and companies under different competitive conditions. How do markets work and differ, and why do these differences matter?

Quantitative Methods for Business and Economics

While this module has a mathematical foundation, it is not simply about developing your mathematical skills. Rather, the purpose of the module is to show you how you can use these skills to improve your understanding of business problems and to help you make business decisions more effectively.

Learning to Read History  

You will explore two contrasting historical periods to develop your analytical skills. First, examine the social, economic and political issues which have shaped Modern Britain. Secondly, analyse the theme of empire, from Ancient Rome to the rise and decline of other empires, while reflecting upon the role of the USA in the modern world.

Learning to Read Literature  

How do we read literature critically and reflectively? How do we understand and interpret what we're reading? Understand different approaches to reading through a wide variety of early and contemporary literature, exploring a range of key ideas and concepts such as heroes and monsters, epics and romances, the Gothic, Feminism and Postmodernism.

Understanding Religion 

Religion is a significant force in the world. It rebuilds and shapes cultures and nations, but can also be divisive and dangerous - and at the heart of many global conflicts of the last century. You will explore why religion has such influence by exploring the ideas, sacred texts and global practices of different religions, and the political, social and cultural power of these faiths.

Understanding Law

The course will enable students to develop a sound foundational understanding of the structure and practice of key domestic and international law fields.  As part of this overall aim, the students will be introduced to core legal skills such as the analysis of statutes, treaties and case-law, critical thinking and problem solving.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2019-20 are £16,740 (International Fee) and £9,250 (EU Fee)

This includes:

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

Please see information on available scholarships.

Please note: Accommodation will incur additional charges to the above fee.

Entry requirements

Please visit our country pages for specific entry requirements and study information.

How to apply

Apply online through the "apply for this course" button at the top of this page.

Applications open on 15 November 2018 and close on 5 August 2019.

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As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. In 2017, we received a Gold rating by the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), demonstrating our commitment to providing our students with outstanding teaching. The University of Birmingham is proud to count 11 Nobel Prize winners among our staff and alumni, including three prizes awarded in 2016. 

We use a range of teaching methods to help you become an independent and self-motivated learner. You will have access to a comprehensive academic support system that will assist and encourage you, including a welfare tutor who can provide guidance on all academic and non-academic needs.

Your learning will take place in a range of settings, from scheduled teaching in seminars, lectures and small group tutorials, to peer group learning where you may be asked to prepare and deliver a presentation with your classmates.


Arts graduates enter a wide range of careers including advertising, journalism and media, government, law, publishing and teaching. Social Science graduates have pursued a variety of careers including working for national or local governments, international and non-governmental organisations or the media.

Our Business School degrees have long been recognised by major employers across all sectors of the economy, with many of our graduates finding employment in financial services, accounting and a range of management careers.

Law graduates have great career potential, both within and outside the legal profession. Many of our students go on to become solicitors or barristers, or pursue careers in public administration, industry and other professional areas.

Some of our graduates decide to pursue postgraduate study at Birmingham or other leading universities, to specialise in an academic area or train for careers such as law and teaching.

Students in the Birmingham International Academy have come from over 120 nationalities. We have helped hundreds of students from around the world to excel academically, live in safety and enjoy their time as a scholar in Birmingham.

As a foundation student your accommodation is guaranteed. You have a wide range of accommodation to choose from in the University’s three student villages, all of which are a short walk from the International Academy and your academic departments. A catered package is available to students who live in the Vale Village accommodation and can be spent in the 40+ catering outlets on campus.


Students on the foundation pathways have an active social life. The foundation hub in Priorsfield has a common room where you can study, meet friends or listen to music. All students have the option to go on a fun weekend away and to participate in BIA day trips, which have included visits to London, Warwick and Cadbury World. As a fully integrated student, you will also be able to join any of the 250+ student societies, community volunteering groups and associations run by the Student Guild. Students can also participate in sports teams and fitness classes and access the gym and swimming pool based in the new sports centre.

The Birmingham International Academy has taken a number of measures to ensure your safety and wellbeing. The main BIA student accommodation has a 24-hour reception to provide support and information to students every hour of the day. The BIA Welfare Tutor offers guidance for a range of personal and academic problems including: illness, disability, academic difficulties, problems settling and any unexpected events.

If you are under the age of 18 at the start of the programme, it is compulsory for you to stay in University accommodation unless we have received prior agreement for you to live with a designated guardian.