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Medical, Life and Geo Sciences Pathway

Start date
1 year / 4 years
Course Type
Undergraduate, Foundation

Annual tuition fee for 2020/21:

£9,250 (EU); £18,120 (Overseas)

Our Medical, Life and Geosciences Foundation Pathway is the perfect preparation for undetaking a Russell Group education at a global top 100 university. We guarantee your progression to a wide range of our undergraduate programmes if you meet our progression requirements.


Please rest assured that we will make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities described. However, it may be necessary to make changes due to significant disruption, for example in response to COVID-19.

Information for future students and applicants


Our Foundation Pathway provides you with a fully integrated experience, with teaching delivered by academics who are specialists in their field from the University of Birmingham and full access to all the facilities at the Universities stunning Edgbaston campus.

The Medical, Life and Geosciences Pathway will lead you into a number of possible undergraduate degrees that have excellent reputations for teaching and research. 

Life sciences play a fundamental role in the study of life on Earth. From single celled organisms to humans, our degree programmes explore how processes shape and maintain life as well as those that may limit it, such as disease resilience and global climate change. At the University of Birmingham, you will be at the forefront of global research that seeks to push the boundaries of our current understanding and find solutions to the key issues affecting society. For example, our Phenome Centre facilitates the application of metabolomics to study human diseases and ageing, while The Birmingham Institute of Forest Research aims to explore the links between our natural world and its biodiversity to our wellbeing and economic prosperity.

The Medical, Life and Geosciences pathway leads to undergraduate degrees covering a wide range of subject areas, some of which offer further options to specialise in your desired subject. The progression requirements for our programmes are outlined in our progression table

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

  • Biochemistry
  • Biological Sciences
  • Biomedical Science
  • Biomedical Materials Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Human Biology
  • Nursing*
  • Pharmacy*
  • Psychology
  • Sport, Exercise and Coaching Sciences

*If you wish to progress to Nursing, please be aware that you will be required to meet additional progression requirements, as detailed in the entry requirements tab. 

**If you wish to progress onto 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 Pathway.

Please note: This pathway does not lead to Dental Surgery (BDS).

Why Study this Course?

1. You will study and live on our stunning campus

As a student at the Birmingham International Academy, you are a full member of the Birmingham student community, will access to all University facilities and student events. This includes our sports centre offering up to 200 sports and fitness classes, an award winning museum and art gallery and our library. There are 40 food and drink outlets on campus providing cuisine from around the world.

2. High quality teaching

During your foundation year you will be taught by the same world-leading academics who teach on our undergraduate courses. Birmimgham was awarded a Gold rating in the most recent Teaching Excellence Framework, reinforcing our global reputation as an outstanding higher education provider. 

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

Our students come from all across the world. Birmingham has an outstanding global reputation, and is ranked in the top 100 universities in the world in the QS World University rankings 2020

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 our foundation pathways will guarantee you progression onto your chosen undergraduate degree. We want to make sure you are 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.

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

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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
Earth and Envrionmental Sciences 20
Introductory Chemistry 10
Introductory Organic Chemistry 10
Introduction to Health and Social Care 10
Living Organisms 20
Materials 10
Maths I 10
Molecular and Cellular Biology 20

Module descriptions

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

Advanced Study Skills in the Biological Sciences 

This module focusses on introducing students to the academic skills that are needed in the biological sciences (e.g. writing laboratory reports, presentation skills, group work), as well as the underpinning elements of experimental design and data analysis.

Earth and Environmental Sciences

This module will examine the evolution of Earth and its environments; from the formation and composition of the Earth, to modern environmental change. We will explore plate tectonics, earthquakes and volcanoes, the formation of the oceans and atmosphere, and the co-evolution of life and Earth’s environments. The course will comprise both lectures and practical classes, and will introduce rock and mineral identification, and ancient and modern environmental data.

Introductory Chemistry

This module aims to develop a number of fundamental concepts associated with the discipline of Chemistry. This module introduces fundamental features of atomic structure, before extending towards compounds, including concepts of bonding and oxidation states.

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 to Health and Social Care

This module introduces students to fundamental aspects of health and social care practice, within a UK context.  Students will be introduced to themes, such as law, ethics, research, numeracy, professional regulation, health and social care structures within the UK and principles and prevention of cross infection. Completion of this module will prepare the student to contribute effectively in the delivery of health and social care practice. During the module the student will have the opportunity to undertake a range of clinically focussed skills appropriate to their relevant professional body. This core module also addresses key areas in study development for safe numeracy within healthcare practice using a variety of learning strategies to ensure the student can effectively acquire and utilise knowledge.

Living Organisms

In this module students will learn the basis of what organisms are, how they behave and how they are adapted to their environment. Teaching includes lectures, group work, laboratory practicals and a zoo trip that forms the basis of a mini project that includes data collection, analysis and interpretation of results. Assessment is based on exams, in–course assessment and practical write-ups including extended essays.


In this module you will be introduced to some of the basic structures of matter and how these structures affect material properties and their behaviour and uses in science and engineering.

Mathematics I

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.

Molecular and Cellular Biology

This module introduces key concepts in cell and molecular biology, including cell structure and function, and the basic concepts in genetics and biochemistry.


Tuition fees for 2020-21 are £18,120 (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.

You are required to pay a deposit of GBP £1,000* to confirm acceptance of your place. This amount will be deducted from your tuition fee. Read more information about single payment options.

*Please note: due to government funding systems EU, American and Norwegian students are exempt from the deposit,  along with students funded by a recognised sponsor or scholarship organisation.

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

How To Apply

 Applications are now closed for entry to this programme in September 2020. Applications for September 2021 will open later this year. 

Full information on our entry requirements for most progression degrees from this pathway, please visit our country pages for individual country entry requirements and study information.

The below applies to those progressing to degrees with special additional entry criteria: 

Special conditions apply to progression to Pharmacy (MPharm).  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.

Special conditions apply to progression to Nursing. Students will need to undertake an interview during their foundation year, get clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), and complete a satisfactory health declaration, including evidence of appropriate immunisations and Occupational Health clearance if required - further information can be found on our Health and Immunsation Forms page

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

Please note: This pathway does not lead to  Dental Surgery (BDS).


At Birmingham we believe in the importance of developing confident learners who are able to discover and master new academic skills.

Our tutors and staff will teach you using a range of methods that are appropriate to your chosen pathway or course. When you enrol at the BIA, you will be allocated a tutor who will help you to monitor and reflect on your progress. You will also have access to a welfare tutor who can assist with any difficulties you have in your personal life.

The University of Birmingham has a reputation for excellent teaching and is proud to count 11 Nobel Prize winners among our staff and alumni, including three prizes awarded in 2016. In 2017, we received a Gold rating by the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), demonstrating our commitment to providing our students with outstanding teaching.

Academic English and Study Skills

In addition to your academic subject modules you will study on your pathway, you will take a module in Academic English and Study Skills. This will enable you to develop you academic communication. We are a British Council accredited language centre, so you can be assured of the quality of the English language teaching you will receive.

You will be learning in a supportive environment in small classes (maximum 15 students) that are focused on your individual needs. Classes are dynamic, with many opportunities for you to actively develop your communication skills in groups.

Regular one-to-one tutorials provide you with feedback on your progress throughout the module and e-learning workshops allow you to work on specific aspects of academic communication such as constructing arguments and communicating complex ideas. They will also allow you to develop the academic skills needed to thrive in an undergraduate programme at a top 15 UK university.

We will assess your language proficiency at the start of the programme and you will then follow one of two module structures: core or high-level English.

You will take either:

One of three 40-credit modules, or a 20-credit module depending on your current level of English.

Each module will equip you with the English required for your undergraduate degree. All modules will allow students to become familiar with what is expected from excellent Undergraduate students. The lower levels also include work on overall language proficiency.

Please note that all students take one of these modules as an integral part of their foundation year.

You will take a module determined by your initial placement test and your entry qualification (eg IELTS). The decision of the Birmingham International Academy (BIA) is final.

Class times: Classes take place from Monday to Friday. All lessons are 50 minutes in duration followed by a ten minute break. Lessons are scheduled between 9.00am and 6.00pm.

Taught hours per week: Each University taught hour is 50 minutes in duration. Depending on your level, you will be taught for 2,6 or 8 hours per week. In addition you will participate in a 15 minute tutorial every fortnight.

Independent study periods: The number of hours for guided independent study for the English element (1 year pathway) is 160 hours in total.

Non-teaching hours: Teaching is during term-time only. There are no lessons on Saturdays or Sundays, on University closed days and on public holidays

Minimum enrolment age: The minimum enrolment age is 16 years.

Maximum class size: The maximum class size for the foundation is 15 students.


We also offer Presessional English programmes for students who do not yet meet the English language entry requirements.

Presessional courses are offered during term-time and the summer with flexible entry and exit points depending on your current level of English (IELTS score) and the requirements of your main UoB offer for Foundation Pathways.

The length of course you need depends on your existing level of English, and on the score specified in your UoB offer letter.

Assessment Methods

Assessment on the Foundation Pathways is by a combination of exams, laboratory work, coursework exercises, project work and written assignments, depending on the subject. Assessment of your English language progress will be made by the BIA.

If you have made satisfactory progress at the end of your first year at the BIA, and are progressing to an undergraduate degree programme at the University of Birmingham, you will not normally be required to take another English language test.


Upon successful completion of the appropriate pathway, you will be guaranteed progression to an extensive range of our undergraduate programmes in Arts and Law, Engineering and Physical Sciences, Life and Environmental Sciences, Medical Sciences or Social Sciences. Academic and English language progression requirements apply for each programme. For a small number of programmes you will need to pass an interview, workshop or audition, and meet other requirements such as a check for criminal convictions – these are detailed for the individual destination programmes.

Teaching methods

The number of contact teaching hours you will have per week vary by module, and the time of year, but will be broadly based on ~5 hours per week for a 20 credit module. The modules you need to take for your pathway will be delivered equally in Semester 1 and 2.


You will listen to and engage with academics who will introduce you to key facts and ideas in your subject. You may wish to take written notes but most lectures are now recorded, so you can access the information afterwards using our virtual learning environment (VLE).


On some modules you will be encouraged to present and discuss your ideas in small groups and to debate with other students. The number of students in these sessions will vary by module, but will be fewer than 20 students to encourage discussion. 


You will engage in problem-solving and/or data presentation sessions facilitated by a member of academic staff; these sessions usually involve students working in groups.

Laboratory-based work

Students on the Engineering and Physical Sciences or Medical, Life and Geo Sciences pathways are likely to get experience analysing real-life problems in a laboratory setting.


Our Careers Network offers a range of services that will help you identify and work towards your career goals from the day you arrive at Birmingham. This includes a dedicated careers advice and guidance service delivered by experienced and professionally qualified employability consultants and advisors. The University of Birmingham is the second most sought after university by graduate employers. Each year our dedicated Employer Liaison Team organises over 120 employer presentations, graduate recruitment fairs and events. We can also develop work experience opportunities for you, greatly enhancing your employability skills.

Your education at Birmingham will prepare you for a career that has no geographical boundaries. With over 6,500 international students from more than 150 countries, we have one of the largest global student communities in the UK. You will live and study alongside students of all nationalities, enabling you to see the world from a different viewpoint. 31% of our academic staff are non-UK nationals, demonstrating that Birmingham attracts the brightest talent to its academic community from around the globe.

We have longstanding links with universities throughout the world, including membership of Universitas 21, the prestigious consortium of global research-led universities in 16 countries. We have also established networks which promote excellence in global engagement via centres such as the China Institute and Africa Hub.  Once you progress to your undergraduate degree, this network of global partnerships will offer you exciting international opportunities, such as work experience placements and annual summer schools that attract the best students from across the world to engage in an exchange of culture, experience and intellect.

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