About the course

The Foundation in Arts and Social Sciences has three ‘pathways’, each of which leads to different groups of degree programmes: 1. Arts and Humanities; 2. Social Sciences; 3. Economics and Finance (click here for information on what happens after the Foundation programme). During the application process, you will be asked to indicate which pathway you wish to study. All the pathways share some units in common.

Throughout the course you will be introduced to a range of study skills that are essential for studying the arts, humanities and social sciences at undergraduate level.

You will also receive a broad introduction to the subjects covered by the course and how these have developed over time. On the Arts and Social Science pathways, by examining specifically what it means to be human, now and in the past, you will explore how the society we inhabit and the culture we share has been shaped by ideas, historical events, political and social movements, and works of art. On the Economics and Finance pathway, you will take two mathematics units that will enable you to develop knowledge and skills equivalent the A-Level in the areas of Mathematics most often used in the Social Sciences, and an Economics unit which runs across the whole programme, and introduces you to key concepts, topics and methods in Economics. In addition, you will work alongside students from the Social Science pathway in developing a collaborative research project on the unit Global Bristol. Students on all pathways complete an ‘Individual Project’ – a piece of research on any subject, most often related to the degree subject to which students are seeking to progress.

Course structure

On the course, you will take four or five compulsory units and choose one optional unit. You can find the current course structure and unit descriptions here:

Unit and programme catalogue.

Applicants to the Economics and Finance pathway will need to have a good recent GCSE or equivalent in Mathematics, or demonstrate an equivalent level of knowledge by taking a diagnostic test during the admissions process. In order to progress to most language courses, including Classics, some proficiency in languages is required and you may need to take the language options within the programme before progressing to a degree. It is not possible to progress to a Music degree unless you already have Grade 8 Music Theory or Grade A in A-Level Music, or are able to complete one of these in parallel with the Foundation in Arts and Social Sciences.

Period of study

Teaching dates

Duration of courseAttendanceTaught seminarsIndependent studyEmployment
One year, full-time only Normally two days per week at the university Up to eight hours per week Minimum of ten hours per week Maximum of 22.5 hours per week

Who will be teaching?

Everyone who teaches on the course will be a specialist in one of the course’s subject areas. In addition, experts on key skills, such as essay writing and library use, will also contribute sessions.


During the Foundation, we aim to introduce you to the different types of assessment you might find on an undergraduate degree. Lots of support and guidance is available, and we’ll talk you through every stage of the process, from planning an essay to sitting an exam.

  • For ‘Introduction to Study in the Arts and Humanities’ and 'Introduction to Study in the Social Sciences', you will be assessed through an essay reflecting on your experience of returning to education;
  • For each of the ‘What Does it Mean to be Human?’ units and 'Global Bristol', you will complete two or three assessments, including essay plans, essays, presentations, and an exam / timed assessment;
  • For the ‘Individual Project’ unit, you will complete one essay in a subject area of your choice, as well as giving a short presentation.
  • For the ‘Representations’ unit, you will have the option of a standard essay, or a ‘creative response’ (creative writing; photographs; music).
  • On the Economics pathway, the mathematics units are assessed by exams, and the Economics unit by an essay and an exam.
Edit this page