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About this pathway

The International Foundation Year in Humanities, Law and Social Science prepares you for an undergraduate degree at Durham City. This programme lasts for three terms.

Upon successful completion of the programme you can choose from a range of related degrees at Durham University.

Who is this programme for?

This humanities, law and social science foundation year is for international students looking to study a related degree at Durham University but need additional time to prepare.   

  • Improve your academic and English language skills needed for your chosen degree. 
  • Explore concepts, terminology and practical skills needed to succeed at a world-class university. 
  • Study core modules for humanities, social science and law with this foundation year, developing your critical skills and understanding of key themes and models. 
  • Take the time to adjust to the UK education system so you can be ready to start your degree with confidence. 

Key facts


  • Three terms

Entry Points:

Academic: Good high school graduation grades or equivalent, with relevant subjects

English language: Academic IELTS for UKVI 5.5 (5.5 in reading and writing, minimum of 5.0 in all other skills)*

Age: 17+

*We accept equivalent proof of English if you do not need a Student visa, or are exempt in another way.

Visit our entry requirements page for further details.


You can check the associated fees with your chosen programme by visiting our dedicated fees page.

What will you study?

Academic English Skills aims to provide thorough training in the language and related academic skills which will enable international students to best achieve their academic potential at university. Our Academic English programme is validated by UK ENIC, the UK government agency responsible for providing information and expert opinion on qualifications and skills worldwide.

You will develop awareness and competency in a range of language-related academic skills, including the processes of academic writing, effective and extensive reading strategies, effective participation in seminars and delivery of presentations, and listening to and recording information effectively from lectures. You will also develop the accuracy and range of written and spoken language required to use language effectively and appropriately, with clarity and confidence in an academic context.

Alongside your classes, your studies will be supported by an online learning platform, providing you with a range of tasks and activities specifically designed to develop and extend your language and academic skills outside the classroom and to give you more control over your own learning.

This module will allow students to pursue and develop subject specific interests, and encourages students to work independently with supervision in some depth. This module will also allow students to develop methods of research and analysis appropriate to their specific progression route.

Designated modules

Alongside core modules you will study designated modules that relate to your progression degree route. When you successfully complete this pathway and achieve the required grades, you can begin your undergraduate degree at Durham University.


  • Geography
  • Introduction to Ancient History
  • Introduction to Liberal Arts
  • Introduction to Modern History

Classics / Chinese Studies / English Literature / History / Japanese Studies / Liberal Arts / Philosophy / Religion / Society and Culture / Theology and Religion / Visual Arts and Film

  • English Literature
  • Introduction to Ancient History
  • Introduction to Liberal Arts
  • Introduction to Modern History

Combined Social Sciences

  • Introduction to Liberal Arts
  • Introduction to Modern History
  • Politics
  • Sociology

International Relations/Politics

  • Law 1
  • Introduction to Modern History
  • Politics
  • Sociology


  • English Literature
  • Law 1
  • Politics
  • Sociology


  • Foundations of Statistics
  • Liberal Arts
  • Foundations of Psychology
  • Sociology


  • Geography
  • Foundation Biology
  • Foundations of Statistics
  • Sociology

Health and Human Sciences/Anthropology

  • Foundation of Statistics
  • Geography
  • Foundation Biology
  • Sociology


  • English Literature
  • Law 1
  • Law 2
  • LNAT
  • Sociology


  • English Literature
  • Foundations of Music
  • Introduction to Ancient History
  • Introduction to Liberal Arts

Philosophy, Politics and Economics

  • Core Foundation Mathematics
  • Politics
  • Pure Mathematics and Strategic
  • Economics

Sport and Exercise Sciences/Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity

  • Foundations of Psychology
  • Foundations of Statistics
  • Foundation Biology
  • Sociology

Pure Maths and Strategic

This module seeks to introduce students to both Pure and Strategic Maths. Pure mathematics explores the boundary of mathematics and pure reason. It has been described as "that part of mathematical activity that is done without explicit or immediate consideration of direct application," although what is "pure" in one era often becomes applied later. Strategic mathematics involves applying analytical methods to help make better decisions. The approach often involves constructing and using mathematical models and problem structuring methods to represent the wide range of problems encountered in the real world. The results of these models allow decisions that are more informed. 

English Literature

This module will introduce students to a wide variety of literary texts from various periods and cultures, exploring the main literary genres – poetry, prose and drama. It will introduce ways of reading texts which include an analysis of form, narrative perspective, intertextuality, literary theory, and knowledge of the context in which the text was produced. The work they undertake will develop students’ analytical and evaluative skills and increase their confidence in their personal response to literature. It will also develop their ability to write an effective, coherent and convincing argument, as well as increasing accuracy in essay writing. 

Foundations of Music

This module will enable students to extend the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to communicate through music. It will help students to recognise the interdependence of musical skills, knowledge and understanding, and the links between performing, composing and appraising. The module will provide a framework within which analytical skills may be developed. 

Foundations of Statistics

This module will introduce and develop understanding of basic statistical principles to provide a foundation for future study. It will also develop skills that help students to apply statistical tools to real life problems. Ultimately this module will encourage students to develop confidence in their own abilities in statistics.


This module seeks to develop knowledge and understanding of selected human and physical geographical processes. Students will be encouraged to develop observational, interpretative, and independent study skills. They will also use a range of skills and techniques, including the use of maps and images at different scales necessary for geographical study. It will also be possible for students to carry out research and fieldwork as appropriate to the topics selected.

Foundation Biology

This module will encourage students to develop confidence in their own abilities in a science subject, and will develop students' learning skills. A basic bank of knowledge will be introduced, on which students can build either by the process of self study or in further courses of directed study. 

Introduction to Ancient History

This module will provide an introduction and basis for further study of a specified period of Ancient History and culture. Students will be encouraged to investigate central themes and topics of at least one ancient culture. They will gain familiarity with and develop a critical perspective of the studied historical period and the various sources of evidence.

Introduction to Liberal Arts

This module will introduce key theories, ideas and philosophies, that inform present day British and other Western societies; it will also introduce students to the relationship between a range of cultural icons and historical events and the values of society. Students will become familiar with studying primary source materials alongside relevant critical work, which locates these sources in their historical/sociological/artistic contexts as well as within a body of academic scholarship. It will also work to develop students’ ability to demonstrate critical thinking by describing, analysing and evaluating source materials, through convincing and effective academic written work. 

Introduction to Modern History

This module looks to develop knowledge and understanding of selected periods of Modern History as well as the nature of historical sources and the methods used by historians. Students will also gain familiarity with and develop a critical perspective of differing interpretations of historical problems and alternative and conflicting sources of evidence. 

Law 1

This module aims to introduce students to the law and legal system in England and Wales, including its underlying principles, the personnel who administer it, the mechanics of the legal process, and justice in a wider sense.  

Law 2

The Law 2 module will focus on Tort Law & Contract Law. Through the Law 2 module, students will develop a knowledge and understanding of the key topics in Tort and Contract Law and, following on from the Law 1 module, students will also continue to build their understanding of how to use legal sources, statutory provisions and case law.   

Foundations of Statistics

This two-term module covers some fundamental techniques in Statistics. Students will be given an opportunity to apply the skills studied to create a report by analysing a large data set. The module content includes; Sampling techniques, Data exploration, Correlation and regression, Probability distributions and Hypothesis testing.


This module seeks to introduce students to UK politics and government, familiarising students with a range of democratic concepts and contemporary political issues ranging from political rights to executive power. It will also seek to introduce students to political theory and ideologies such as Conservatism and feminism. Students will also have the opportunity to develop important skills such as persuasive argument, critical thinking and evaluative reasoning. 

Foundations of Psychology

Students will be given with an introduction to the psychological processes of thinking and learning, to develop students' knowledge of theories of thinking and learning. The module looks to familiarise students with methods used to assess thinking and learning, and to raise awareness of psychological conditions that can affect the thinking and learning processStudents will be introduced to questions in the application of psychology in real life settings, and will have an opportunity to reflect on their own learning experiences and self-development.


This module looks to encourage students to think sociologically; to stimulate the ‘sociological’ imagination. It will introduce a foundational bank of social science knowledge, paradigms and themes, and it will also provide a framework of academic and analytical skills upon which students can build either in further directed study or by the process of self-study. The module will above all develop confidence and students’ learning and assessment skills.

All students who want to study LLB (Hons) Law after completing the International Foundation Year are required to pass the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT) with a satisfactory performance in Section A and Section B, in addition to achieving the International Study Centre progression requirements. The definition of satisfactory performance for entry to Durham is set by Durham Law School and is reviewed annually. 

What is the LNAT?

The LNAT is used by universities to help them select the right people to take undergraduate law qualifications.

The test doesn’t test your knowledge of law. Instead, it allows for a university assess whether your ability and skills are a good fit to study law.

Section A is a Multiple Choice Questionnaire consisting of 42 questions, based on 12 passages of provided text. You will need to complete the 3-4 questions per passage within 95 minutes.

Section B is an essay. You will be need to answer one of three essay questions and complete this within 40 minutes.

If a student is unable to reach the requirements, they will be unable to progress to Durham Law School, even if they reach their overall grade.

For more information, visit the LNAT website.

Support for students taking the LNAT

As the LNAT is based on UK law and culture, international students with limited experience of the UK can be at a disadvantage. Students at the International Study Centre who are aiming to progress to LLB (Hons) Law are given weekly one-hour LNAT preparation sessions. These sessions are taught by law tutors, all of whom have experience with the LNAT and are in a good position to support and advise students.

Preparation sessions are held up until students sit the LNAT. During the session students will gain an understanding of the background to the questions, and have an opportunity to practice answers and get feedback. They will also be supported with their reading comprehension, critical thinking, and logical and analytical reasoning.

Why study this programme?

This programme leads to a wide range of highly-ranked undergraduate degrees at Durham University. The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 rankings include:

  • 3rd for Archaeology in the UK
  • 4th for History in the UK
  • 5th for Geography and Environmental Sciences in the UK
  • 8th for Law in the UK
  • 8th for Anthropology in the UK

Find out more about these degree subjects, and more, on our subject pages.


(QS World Subject Rankings 2023)

Gwen from Singapore

I feel like this foundation year is really geared towards preparing you for what university really is like in England. In classes, the teachers are always drawing comparisons towards what they’re doing in class now and what classes at university will be like at Durham.

Gwen from Singapore
Studied International Foundation Year in Humanities, Law and Social Science
Now studying LLB (Hons) Law

Progression degrees

When you successfully complete your International Foundation Year and achieve the required grades, you can progress to one of the following undergraduate degrees at Durham City:

Places may be limited so you are advised to apply and confirm as soon as possible.

Degree Programme NameAwardOverall GradeEnglish GradeGrade Module
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Please note:

In addition to achieving the International Study Centre progression requirements, all students wishing to progress to LLB (Hons) Law must sit the Law National Aptitude test (LNAT).

The degree Education Studies BA (Hons) is subject to availability.

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How to apply

Ready to join us? Discover how to apply to study with us and learn more about fees, entry requirements and term dates.

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International Study Centre

Study alongside students from all over the world at Queen's Campus in Stockton-on-Tees. The International Study Centre provides a safe and nurturing place to prepare for your degree at Durham City Campus.

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English preparation

Our Online English Language Preparation courses develop your English skills in order for you to succeed on both your chosen pathway programme and your university degree.


Our student enrolment advisors are here to help with your application and answer any questions you have about studying with us.