Medical, Life and Geo Sciences Pathway

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 Medical, Life and Geosciences pathway will lead students into a number of undergraduate degrees that have excellent reputations for research and teaching.  Life Sciences have a profound impact on individuals and communities around the globe, including areas such as conservation, food security, medicine, exercise and sport. At Birmingham you will be at the forefront of important global research and benefit from purpose-built facilities, specifically equipped for work within your chosen field.

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

*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 Pathways programme.

**You will also be required to take an IELTS test for Physiotherapy only. There are also non-academic requirements students must meet.

***If you wish to progress onto our Medicine and Surgery programme please be aware that you will be required to meet additional entry requirements to be accepted onto the Foundation Pathway.

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

Successful completion of the foundation year will 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.

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See the Medical, Life and Geo Sciences Pathway progression table 2019-20 for more information about the undergraduate degrees available for a Foundation Pathways student choosing this pathway and the compulsory and optional 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

The University of Birmingham has 11 Nobel Prize winners and is leading research in physics, rail and health. 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 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.

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.

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.

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. Please note the following non-academic additional requirements for Physiotherapy

Please note: This pathway does not lead to Nursing (BNurs) or 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 meet the following advanced entry and progression requirements.

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

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.

Pharmacists at work

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 environmental planning, nature conservation, environmental health, hydrogeology, pollution control or the oil and mineral industries.

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.