Social Sciences and Humanities (International Foundation) September 2020 entry

The International Foundation programme for Social Sciences and Humanities is designed to equip students with the intellectual and linguistic skills appropriate to the demands of an undergraduate degree programme.

Based on their future degree intention, students will typically choose academic subjects such as Psychology, History, International Relations, Literature and Philosophy. If you are more interested in the scientific study of Psychology, you may also wish to read the Science (International Foundation) page.

Teaching and learning experiences introduce students to their future degrees and possible future careers.

The programme has a high success rate with an average of more than 85% of students completing the programme successfully over the past three years. Graduates have gone on to study for single and joint Honours degrees at St Andrews and other top UK universities.

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Course type

International Foundation programme

This is the University’s own pre-degree programme which prepares international students for undergraduate study in the UK and at the University of St Andrews in particular.

Course duration

Nine months, full time

Course dates

Start date: 7 September 2020
End date: 28 May 2021

The schedule for this programme differs slightly from the standard University semester dates. All weeks from the programme start date to end date are teaching or assessment weeks, other than the following:

  • independent learning week: 19 to 23 October 2020
  • winter vacation and inter-semester weeks: 21 December 2020 to 15 January 2021
  • spring vacation: 22 March to 2 April 2021.

If you started this programme in September 2019, you can find information about 2019 entry on the 2019 Social Sciences and Humanities IFP page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

This course is for:

International students who are academically able, but whose high school qualification is not recognised for application to an undergraduate degree at St Andrews. Foundation students typically use English as an additional language. 

Applicants will normally meet the following criteria:

  • be designated 'overseas' for fees purposes by the University (not 'Home/EU' or 'Rest of the UK')
  • have a national high school qualification or mixed-curricula qualifications not recognised for application to an undergraduate degree at the University of St Andrews. If you have three A Levels, the HKDSE, a full IB Diploma or any qualification type that is recognised for degree entry, you will not be eligible for an International Foundation programme, irrespective of the grades you have achieved.
  • be due to leave school soon or have left school within the past three years
  • have not previously studied on a foundation programme in the UK
  • have not previously studied at university.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No, but candidates should have strong grades in any subjects relevant to their intended degree subject.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Typical academic requirements (PDF)  are listed alphabetically by country. If your qualification is not shown here, please email about the grades needed from your high school system.

You can demonstrate that you have met the academic requirements with a high school transcript. Any high school qualification you use as evidence of your academic ability should be from the last year you attended high school and dated within the previous three years.

You should apply before your final results are available, as the University can make you a conditional offer based on your past exam performance and predicted grades. 

English language requirement

An IELTS (Academic) test report form with a minimum of 6.0 overall and no component score below 5.0.

If you require a visa, your IELTS test must be for UKVI purposes. See an overview of the English language requirements for foundation applicants.

You do not need to have your result when you apply, as this can be a condition of any offer made by the University.

Application requirements

The University requires you to provide the following documents as part of your application:

  • your most recent high school transcript
  • a personal statement outlining why you wish to study Social Sciences and Humanities at St Andrews and reflecting on your life and learning experiences to explain why you feel you would be successful on this programme
  • an academic reference from your high school on their letterhead or from a school email
  • your IELTS (Academic) test report form.

Application deadline

The deadline for applications is Wednesday 15 July 2020. You only need to provide your high school transcript and personal statement when you first apply so that the University can consider your application. Your academic reference and your English language evidence can be provided later.

How to apply

Course information

The aim of the International Foundation programme for Social Sciences and Humanities is to prepare you for the demands of an undergraduate degree programme. The combination and integration of academic study skills and academic lecture courses is designed to give you a broad base of academic subject knowledge from various disciplines as well as the intellectual skills to critically analyse concepts to a high level.

Students study a range of issues, including:

  • politics
  • economics
  • law
  • media.

These subjects provide an extremely useful basis for all academic disciplines in the Social Sciences and Humanities and allow you to understand some of the underlying political, philosophical and economic ideas which underpin many of the subjects you can study at St Andrews.

Using academic texts based on these issues, students develop the skills to read and interpret texts and develop the language and techniques to structure arguments so that they become more skilled at writing assignments and speaking and presenting in seminars.

Working on projects to develop research skills, along with the course's integrated approach to language and academic subjects, will allow you to develop a more analytical approach to your studies.

In particular, this programme provides:

  • the potential for progression onto a single or joint Honours degree programme
  • a thorough grounding in classical and sociological issues pertaining to a range of disciplines in the arts and humanities
  • small group teaching with highly experienced teachers
  • intensive and academic teaching designed to help you develop the skills to succeed
  • a strong emphasis on criticality, improving analytical skills, time management and writing in authentic academic contexts.

By the end of the programme you will have a strong foundation on which to base your undergraduate degree studies. You will have a clear understanding of the key political, philosophical and economic ideas that underpin many of the subjects that you will be going on to study. You will also have knowledge of the university system and experience of different types of assessment. 

Download the International Foundation Programmes brochure (PDF)


The International Foundation programme in Social Sciences and Humanities has six compulsory modules. 

In Semester 1, modules concentrate on the key study skills you will require as an undergraduate student. These include reading for essay writing, listening to take part in seminars and discussions, academic vocabulary and expression, and language accuracy.

There are three modules in the first semester:

  • Communicating in Academic Contexts 1: helps you develop and practise productive and receptive academic spoken communication skills to use within the Foundation programme and in your undergraduate programme. 
  • Research and Writing for Social Sciences and Humanities 1: helps you develop the key skills you will need to succeed in the main types of assessment in your undergraduate degree programme. 
  • Academic Subjects 1: follows the structure of first-year undergraduate degree modules with weekly lectures and tutorials in three core academic disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Typically, these courses include:
    • Great Ideas
    • History
    • Psychology
    • UK Culture and Society.  

In Semester 2, you will be encouraged to become a more independent learner, and you will read and research for the purpose of completing a range of written assessments. There is also a project where you will be assessed through presentations on topics chosen in consultation with your tutors.

There are three modules in the second semester:

  • Communicating in Academic Contexts 2: helps you further develop and practise productive and receptive academic oral communication skills that you will need to draw on in your degree programme.
  • Research and Writing for Social Sciences and Humanities 2: builds on your academic skills by allowing you to undertake reading and research into topics specifically related to your undergraduate degree subject. 
  • Academic Subjects 2: introduces students to a variety of academic subjects in the social sciences and humanities. Typically, these may include philosophy, history, international relations, psychology, economics, statistics, and English literature.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2020 entry. 


Teaching format

Classes take place from Monday to Friday between 9am and 6pm. You will spend approximately 16 to 18 hours per week in class. During this time, you will experience a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials, and classes.

For lectures, there will be up to 40 students. For other classes, your maximum class size will likely be between 14 and 16 students. 

As well as your timetabled classes, you will be expected to complete approximately 20 to 25 hours of independent study each week. As a fully matriculated student, you have access to the University’s libraries and study areas, but you will also work within the University's online learning environment (known as Moodle).

The University’s student services team can help students who have additional needs resulting from disabilities, long-term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.


The programme includes a variety of types of assessment to give you experience of different ways of being examined. These may include: 

  • essays
  • multiple choice tests
  • interviews
  • presentations
  • formal examinations.

You will have regular coursework assignments throughout both semesters, and some of these will contribute towards your final grade.

You will also have two sets of examinations, one set at the end of each semester. You will receive feedback on practice tasks and tests to help you prepare for the assessments. 

Meet us in your country

Staff of the University of St Andrews are always pleased to meet prospective students in person. We visit many schools, colleges and higher education fairs to talk about the University and provide support and information for those thinking about applying.

Meet us in your country

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us on a talk and tour to explore the town and find out about the courses and opportunities we offer.

Talk and tour


Combined fee

The International Foundation programme offers an all-inclusive fee package which covers all the major costs of the foundation year so that there are no hidden extra costs. 

2020-entry fees: £29,200

The all-inclusive fee package includes:

  • tuition
  • accommodation, including a bedding pack
  • a catered meal plan with 14 meals per week
  • access to all University facilities
  • a transfer from Edinburgh or Glasgow airport, or Leuchars train station, when you first arrive
  • the use of course books, handouts and other course materials
  • 24-hour emergency phone number
  • programme-led and seasonal social events.


Kinnessburn Scholarship

For students moving from an International Foundation programme to a degree at the University of St Andrews.

Students who successfully complete the International Foundation programme with a distinction grade and move onto a degree at the University of St Andrews are eligible to apply for the Kinnessburn Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to one student annually in June and provides a partial fee waiver for each year of study on an undergraduate programme at the University.


The fee package for the International Foundation programme includes catered accommodation, which the University arranges on your behalf so you do not need to apply for accommodation.

All foundation students are allocated a room in David Russell Apartments (DRA). In each apartment, there are five study bedrooms, each with its own private shower and toilet, and a shared living space and fully equipped kitchen.

Bedding pack

A bedding pack will be delivered to David Russell Apartments, for each foundation student. The bedding pack is for a standard double bed (UK size) and contains:

  • one duvet (10.5 tog)
  • one duvet cover
  • one flat sheet
  • two pillows
  • two pillowcases.


Foundation programme students are on a catered meal plan that gives them 14 meals per week during the semester.

Breakfast and an evening meal are served every weekday; breakfast and lunch are served on Saturdays and Sundays.

See a sample menu for the 14-meal plan.

Your future

In order to progress onto a degree at the University of St Andrews, students must achieve a final overall grade of 11.0 or above on the University’s 20-point scale. Other specific progression requirements are provided in the course handbook at the start of the programme.

Students have the potential to progress onto a single or joint Honours degree programme. Popular degree options for students on the Social Sciences and Humanities International Foundation programme include:

Students who pass the foundation programme but do not wish to stay in St Andrews can receive advice and assistance with applications to other institutions in the UK.


International Foundation programmes

International Education Institute
University of St Andrews
Kennedy Gardens
St Andrews 
KY16 9DJ

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2255

International Education Institute website

Page amendments 

The academic requirements pdf was updated on Friday 18 October 2019 with amendments to Hong Kong typical entry requirements.  


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online (PDF, 84 KB).