Medical, Life and Geo Sciences Pathway

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

Annual tuition fee for 2019/20:

£9,250 (EU); £16,740 (Overseas)

Our Foundation Pathways are designed for international students who require a preparatory year prior to UK undergraduate study. Foundation students are guaranteed a place on a University of Birmingham undergraduate programme if they meet the progression requirements.


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. 

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:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biological Sciences
  • Biomedical Science
  • Biomedical Materials Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Human Biology
  • Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) *
  • Pharmacy**
  • Physiotherapy***
  • Psychology
  • Sport, Exercise and Coaching Sciences

*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. The additional requirements are detailed in the entry requirements tab of this course page. 

**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.

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. 

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 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.


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
Living Organisms   20
Molecular and Cellular Biology   20
Earth and Environmental Sciences  20
Properties of Matter  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.


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.

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

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

Applications are currently closed for this pathway. Applications will open in the autumn. 

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) 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) are, unfortunately, not available for International students.

Additional requirements for students wishing to progress to Medicine and Surgery (MBChB)

The below only applies to those students wanting to progress from this foundation pathway to Medicine and Surgery MBChB.

In order to be eligible to study Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) after completing this foundation programme, please be aware that there are additional entry requirements and eligibility criteria. Please note that we are unable to consider applicants who are already studying qualifications that would usually be eligible for direct entry to the Medicine programme - including but not limited to: A Levels, International Baccalaureate, SAT/APs, Canadian High School Diploma and the Indian Standard XII curriculum.

Academic requirements


85% including Chemistry and Biology.


8.0/80% including Biology and Chemistry.

Middle East

Thanawiya with an overall score of 95% including Chemistry and Biology.


WAEC with a minimum of 5 A1 grades including Chemistry and Biology.

South Korea

Students with a Senior High School Certificate with a minimum grade of 80% or B (Wu), to include 80% in Biology and Chemistry.  We will also consider students for entry to the Birmingham International Academy who have completed their first year at a recognised institution in South Korea and obtained an overall GPA of 3.2/4.0 or 3.5/4.5 including in Chemistry and Biology. 


An average of 85% in the Senior High School Leaving Certificate. To include 85% in Biology and Chemistry. We will consider students for entry to the Birmingham Foundation Academy who have completed their first year at a recognised institution in the Taiwan and obtained good grades in all subject areas including Chemistry and Biology.


Certificate of Secondary Education/Maw 6 with a minimum grade point of 3 (80%). To include a grade point of 3 (80%) in Biology and Chemistry.


Turkish High School Diploma from selected schools (see school list accepted for direct entry with Turkish High School Diploma) with an overall GPA of 75/100 in year 12 to include 75/100 in Biology and 75/100 in Chemistry in year 12 subjects.


8.0/80% including Biology and Chemistry.


Prospective students must undertake the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) and achieve an overall score of 2550. The UCAT registration closes on Wednesday 18 September 2019,  with the last test date occuring on Wednesday 2 October 2019. It is strongly recommended that you book your test before you commence your studies on the programme. If you do not book and sit the UCAT, you will be unable to progress to Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) and would be offered an alternative programme upon successful completion of the foundation year. 

Please find further information about the UCAT, including registration details, test centres and dates at the following website:

UCAT Test Website - About the UCAT

English language

Demonstrate proof of English language with an overall IELTS score of 6.0, with a minimum score of 6.0 in each band.

Progression requirements

In order to progress from our Foundation pathway to the Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) programme, you will be required to meet the following conditions:

  • Achieve an overall average of 70% in your Foundation pathway.
  • Demonstrate English language proficiency equivalent to IELTS 7.0.
  • Formal confirmation of your UCAT result, which must reach the threshold score (defined above).
  • Complete either paid or unpaid work experience in the health field. You are strongly advised to gain relevant experience prior to commencing the Foundation pathway.
  • Complete a successful Medicine interview during the Foundation year. Please note, you will be guaranteed a Medicine interview if you meet the requirements above and have indicated you would like to progress to our Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) programme.

There is no guarantee of automatic progression for students who are successfully admitted to the Foundation programme who have indicated they would like to progress to the Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) programme. All students wishing to progress must satisfy the conditions outlined above.

Students who do not satisfy the conditions above but meet our standard progression requirements will be eligible to progress onto an alternative course in a related subject.

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.


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.