Foundation programs, as introduced in Foundation Programs: The Basics, are study programs that enable students whose current qualifications do not meet university entry requirements, to bridge the gap between their existing level of study and the level required for acceptance into their desired course.

These courses span over one year, or in some cases, 6 months intensively, meaning that the maximum time it will take to complete both a foundation and degree program is 4 years full time, or 3 years for a foundation program and diploma course.


All courses are structured in the same way as regular university classes, encompassing assessments in the form of essays, reports, presentations, group work and exams. One major difference is that foundation programs place a slightly lesser weighting on exam grades, which account for approximately 60% of a student’s grade for a single class.

In general, foundation courses run for 32 weeks and are comprised of 3 phases. The first two phases are each 12 weeks long, and the third and final phase is 8 weeks long. In this time, students study a total of 6 modules, including 3 core major subjects and 3 core minor subjects.

Major subjects are courses relevant to a student’s desired degree, and a broad array of subjects are offered. These include, but are not limited to accounting, sociology, psychology, economics, law, further mathematics, physics and business studies, but courses vary from university to university. These specific classes are designed to help students transition into their desired degree following the successful completion of the foundation program.

The other 3 courses cover more general subjects, which are useful for all students studying at a tertiary level. These include English, mathematics and information technology. Students are also taught a range of study skills with broad application, including referencing, essay writing and more, which will continue to prove useful in students’ undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

There are set prerequisites for each foundation course, and these are determined by the university. These prerequisites vary depending on the course an individual student wishes to progress towards, and their own existing skills. Prerequisites may include the successful completion of high school, basic language proficiency, or the completion of high school subjects relevant to a student’s desired degree. In the case that a student has not successfully completed grade 12, some foundation courses may serve as an alternative to retaking grade 12 exams.