University Foundation Course

• Guaranteed entry to university

• Choose Business Studies or PPE

• Excellent IELTS preparation

• A truly international experience

Course information

Age: 17+
Level: B2+
Length: 28 – 35 weeks
Class size: maximum 12 students
Lessons: 21+ per week (19.25 + hours)

Why choose St Clare’s?

St Clare’s is an international, independent centre of excellence established in Oxford in 1953.  Our University Foundation Course prepares you for university study at highly ranked universities in the UK, Europe and beyond.

  • Small class sizes – your classmates typically come from 5 or more different countries
  • 65+ years of experience welcoming international students to Oxford.
  • Close support through one-to-one meetings with your Personal Tutor and help from an expert team of careers and higher education advisers, who guide you all the way to your university destination.
  • Excellent location – in a safe, desirable suburb north of the city. Oxford is one of the most international and cosmopolitan cities in the UK.
  • small, friendly and international – around 100 students from 20 countries.
  • Choice of residential or homestay accommodation
  • Full programme of activities and trips
  • Excellent reports from inspecting bodies – more info

“Mixing with people from different cultures while speaking in English all the time was challenging at first, but it has helped me feel really confident about my future studies. Once at university, I’ll be living on my own in an international environment – St Clare’s has prepared me for this very well.”

Johanna, Germany

Your pathway to university

We guarantee entry to university if you successfully complete our University Foundation Course.  Choose either the Business Foundation or the Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) Foundation.  Each Foundation includes an English for Academic Purposes course, three academic subjects, and two short modules.

Business Foundation
English for Academic PurposesBusiness StudiesEconomicsMaths for Business or PoliticsModules in Global Issues and Statistics


PPE Foundation
English for Academic PurposesPoliticsPhilosophyEconomicsModules in Global Issues and Statistics
  • English for Academic Purposes is an intensive preparation for university-level study in English.
  • We improve your IELTS score and make sure you leave us with the academic and study skills you need to be a successful, independent undergraduate.
  • You do not need a school background in these subjects except for Maths.
  • Academic subjects are taught by specialist teachers who cover the topics you need to be prepared for university study, and know how to help you reach that standard.
  • Your three academic subjects (and the two six-week modules in Global Issues and Statistics) teach you to research, write essays, give PowerPoint and poster presentations, debate and think critically – learning skills is as important for your future as learning course material.
  • Oxford is one of the greatest centres of learning in the world and your teachers include museums, lectures and cultural visits to help you make Oxford your classroom.
  • Our Careers and Higher Education team both run classes and meet you individually to prepare you for your university applications to the UK, Europe, U.S.A. or anywhere in the world.
  • We are independent – we find the right course at the best university for you.

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University Success and Careers

University Success

Our Foundation Course prepares international students for university study worldwide.  Most of our students progress to university, with some preferring an apprenticeship or ‘dual study’ programme combining paid work with part-time learning.  You receive personalised careers advice from specialist staff who help you apply for any university in the UK, Europe, U.S.A. and the rest of the world.

The Business Stream can lead to a university course in:

  • Business Administration
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Accounting and finance
  • Economics
  • International development
  • Law
  • Social sciences
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Psychology
  • Hotel management and related areas
  • Fashion business and marketing


The Politics, Philosophy and Economics Stream can lead to a university course in:

  • Politics
  • International relations
  • Law
  • Sociology
  • Social anthropology
  • Psychology
  • Liberal arts
  • Social sciences
  • Media and communications
  • Philosophy
  • PPE
  • Economics


Careers and Higher Education

Students at the International College are supported by a team of two fully qualified careers advisers, who are members of the Career Development Institute (the UK’s professional body) and experienced in the demands of global university applications.

  • Melanie Moorhouse is the Head of Careers and Helen Forey is the dedicated Careers Adviser for the International College, who leads on careers education, information, advice and guidance.
  • You can attend Higher Education talks from a wide range of global universities, access an extensive range of online resources, and take part in the St Clare’s Higher Education Fair which is attended by 65 universities, gap year providers and career development professionals from all over the world.
  • When you leave St Clare’s, your professional and academic network is linked through our alumni association, ‘St Clare’s Connect’.
  • During the first term, a weekly lesson focuses on Careers and Higher Education. This helps you consider your strengths, explore educational and career options, and analyses your skills so you can make well-informed decisions about your future.
  • Throughout the foundation course, the Careers and Higher Education Adviser is available to advise you individually about courses and careers, and the preparation of personal statements, motivation letters, application files, interview and assessment tests.
  • Our aim is to support you as you choose the right higher education course at the right institution for you.

“I always knew that I wanted to work in hotel management, and Helen Forey helped me with the university application process – she contributed a lot to my application, actually – and I was accepted, thanks to her.”

These are some of the universities that our graduates have chosen for their future studies. Many are ranked among the world’s Top 100 Universities by the Times Higher Education Supplement.

UK Universities

  • Cardiff University
  • City, University of London
  • Imperial College London
  • New College of the Humanities
  • Oxford Brookes University
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • Queen’s University, Belfast
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • SOAS, University of London
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Sussex
  • University of St. Andrews
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York
  • Westminster University

Europe and worldwide University destinations

  • Maastricht University, Netherlands
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich
  • Bocconi University, Italy
  • KU Leuven, Belgium
  • Munich Business School, Germany
  • University of Seoul, South Korea
  • University of Oregon, USA
  • Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium
  • École hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Hotel Management School, The Hague, Netherlands

All UK universities (excluding Oxford and Cambridge universities) will consider an application from our students and base their admissions decisions on a range of criteria, including your academic history from the age of 15, your motivation and aptitude to study the course as demonstrated in a personal statement or motivation letter, and the grades that St Clare’s teachers predict for you after module 1 of the course.

Dates and Prices

Students can choose to study for 28 or 35 weeks. Each student’s level of English will be tested before a place is offered on the course. Those students with a specific IELTS score will be given the choice of starting the course in late October and follow a 28 week course. Those students who need to improve their IELTS score will need to start the course in early September and follow a 35 week course; the first 6 weeks will be intensive English preparation.

Students may register for the course if they have the correct standard of school qualification and if they turn 18 in the first term of the course (ie. before the end of December). Students who are still age 17 when they start the course will be required to live in homestay until they turn 18.

Course dates and fees

2 September 2018 to 15 June 201935 weeks
28 October 2018 to 15 June 201928 weeks

College holidays

Autumn 2018Monday 22 October – Friday 26 October 2018
Christmas 2018Saturday 15 December – Sunday 6 January 2019
Spring 2019Monday 8 April – Friday 19 April 2019

Accommodation fees

Type of Accommodation36 weeks28 weeks
(includes all text books, one IELTS entry, fees and travel insurance)
College Accommodation
(self catering)
36 weeks
(includes accommodation during autumn break)
28 weeks
Twin Standard£8,568£6,664
Twin superior£10,404£8,092
Single Standard£11,052£8,596
Single Superior£13,536£10,528
Homestay Accommodation
(breakfast & dinner every day)
36 weeks
(includes accommodation during autumn break)
28 weeks
Single Standard£8,568£6,664
Single Superior£11,304£8,792
Meals35 weeks28 weeks
Lunch Monday to Friday £44 per week£1,540£1,232

Some course elements may incur additional costs:

Personal Language Training
Students can add one-to-one English language lessons to their course. Lessons last 55 minutes and are charged at £57 per lesson.

Examination fees
Fees for the following examinations are currently between approximately £150-£210. Please contact Manuela Williams, Admissions Registrar, for more details.


Cambridge Examinations

  • B2 First (FCE)
  • C1 Advanced (CAE)
  • C2 Proficiency (CPE)

Other examinations


Optional college weekend trips / theatre visits / excursions, etc.

  • Day excursions at weekends — free to £40
  • Theatre tickets and transport — £25 to £45
  • Weekend trip with overnight stay (two nights) — £70 to £300
  • Additional sports and other activities — £10 to £15 per week
  • Stationery/book purchase (loan of books is included in fees)
  • General spending money — allow around £80 per week
  • Remember, key deposit, police registration (for students from countries outside the EU) and book purchase all need to be paid for in the first week

Other costs

  • Stationery/book purchase (loan of books is included in fees)
  • General spending money — allow a minimum of £80 per week
  • Bus travel: single trip from £2.00; 1 week £14.50; 4 week 49.00
  • St Clare’s sweatshirt £20

Please note: Prices are approximate please contact us at if you have any questions.

Registration Fee£100Non-refundable
Deposit£500Refundable after the end of the course less any
outstanding charges
To confirm acceptance of an offered place. The deposit is forfeit if a place is accepted but subsequently not taken up. The deposit is refundable after the second semester when all charges have been met, including the cost of avoidable loss or damage to the College and its property. In case of withdrawal without due notice the deposit is forfeit.
Balance of feesThe balance of your tuition and accommodation fees are due for payment not less than three weeks before your course begins. You will not be able to attend classes or take up residence in St Clare’s accommodation if there is any outstanding balance.

Please read our Terms & Conditions

What the Accommodation fees include

College houses

  • Accommodation from the day of arrival to the morning after the last day of the course; bed linen and towels; room cleaning (weekdays); heating and lighting.
  • Accommodation fees include your stay in your house during the mid-semester breaks but not the two week spring break.
  • If you have chosen to include meals you are entitled to lunch Monday to Friday (excluding the semester breaks)


  • Fees include accommodation as a guest with a local host (appraised and inspected regularly by our Student Services Officer), single room, bed linen and towels, laundry facilities, breakfast and dinner every day (lunches can be bought in college Monday to Friday) and support provided by the Student Services Officer in college. Some of our hosts offer a single superior option (ensuite facilities).

Travel Insurance
All students studying on our academic year courses are covered by our travel insurance. This insurance policy covers, for example, medical expenses, personal accident, cancellation expenses, personal belongings and travel delay. This detailed Travel Insurance policy document lists those items that are covered. There is no extra charge for this insurance. All students are advised to take out personal possessions insurance for items such as laptops, cameras, mobile devices, and phones.

How to apply

Entry Requirements

Students wishing to enrol on the University Foundation Course must:

  1. completed secondary school in your own country
  2. be 17 years or over
  3. have a knowledge of English at or above the following:
    • for entry in September; IELTS score 5.0 or equivalent CEFR B1
    • for entry in November; IELTS score 5.5 or equivalent CEFR B2

If you are unsure of your level of English or have any questions please contact us

Application procedure

  1. Complete this online registration form and pay the £100 registration fee
  2. Send your high school leaving certificate and / or most recent transcript of grades
  3. Show proof of English level, either by:
    • sending an official English language test certificate or
    • by completing the St Clare’s grading test and have an interview via SKYPE
  4. We assess your application and if successful you will receive an offer letter detailing the fees
  5. Once you have accepted the offer and paid the deposit of £500, you will receive full course confirmation with useful pre arrival information and visa support documents (if necessary)
  6. If needed, apply for a visa. If you have questions about your visa please do not hesitate to contact us.
  7. Full fees are due three weeks before the start of the course
  8. Please read the terms and conditions
Course Content: English

A good command of English is the basis of your course.  You have two English lessons every morning throughout the course in a class with a maximum of 12 students.  Your English teacher is also your Personal Tutor and meets you individually for tutorials to check on your progress.  The course begins with intensive English, which both improves your IELTS score and builds the academic skills in English you need to be successful at university.

English for IELTS

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is recognised worldwide by more than 10,000 institutions in more than 120 countries, including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is the single most important English language requirement for non-native speakers who wish to study at university in the UK or other countries where English is the medium of instruction.

  • In September and October, you focus on boosting your score in Academic IELTS before starting your academic subjects.
  • Our English Language teachers have many years’ experience in preparing students for IELTS and success rates in the exam are extremely high.

English for Academic Purposes

Your English lessons explore contemporary, culturally interesting themes such as Child Labour or Endangered World Languages and help you improve your English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and study skills. Through engaging topics, you practise and develop the key Academic Literacies required at university including:

  • note-taking, researching, evaluating and selecting source material
  • critical thinking
  • discursive and dialogic learning, independent learning
  • analysing essay questions, paragraphing, developing arguments, referencing, avoiding plagiarism
  • developing reading strategies, building academic vocabulary
  • presentation skills and strategies

The assessments during the course include:

  • formal and informal writing activities
  • an extended essay based on your own research
  • academic oral presentations

Student quotation [See page 18] 

Personal Tutor

Your English Language teacher is also your Personal Tutor. They are there to advise and help you during your time at St Clare’s – to help you set goals and check your progress. As well as regular, more formal academic tutorial meetings, you can also talk to your Personal Tutor at any point about difficulties or problems in your studies or in your life outside of class.

Course Content: Academic Subjects

Students choose either a Business Foundation (Business, Economics and either Maths for Business or Politics) or the PPE Foundation (Politics, Philosophy and Economics.)  These subjects are taught by highly qualified and experienced staff.  The work you do in these classes will demonstrate to universities that you can make the step up to academic study in English at university.

  • Classes are small – never more than 12 students – to make sure you receive the personal help you need to progress and succeed.
  • Each subject is divided into modules and clearly structured to help you if you are new to these subjects.
  • The final grade is based on 60% assessed coursework and 40% final exam.
  • Your assessed work is designed to ensure you have the study skills as well as the subject knowledge you need to be ready for university from formal essay writing and PowerPoint presentations to business case-studies.
  • The two six-week modules you take, Global Affairs and Statistics, supplement these skills as you learn to create and present a ‘poster’ on a global topic and learn to understand how statistics are used and interpreted.
  • Your academic subject teachers work closely with both your Personal Tutor and our higher education staff to ensure we can present strong, detailed university applications which highlight your academic strengths.

    “I really enjoyed studying Politics. I had never had the chance to study that subject, so it was completely new and exciting. I wasn’t prepared to go to university last year, but spending a year in Oxford was the perfect way to build my confidence, develop my academic skills, and prepare myself for the university experience.”

What topics would my academic subjects cover?

Please expand the accordions below to check the full range of topics.

Meet your academic subject teachers

Find out more about our academic teaching staff.

Course Content: Business Studies
  • Introduction to the functions of business
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Business structures, plans and stakeholders
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Human Resources
  • Understanding markets and market research
  • Marketing, branding and consumer behaviour
  • The Marketing Mix
  • Business strategy
  • International marketing
  • Operations management, production and technology
Course Content: Maths for Business
  • Algebra: lines and equations
  • Functions: quadratic, exponential, logarithmic, and rational
  • Transformations and graphs
  • Arithmetic and geometric sequences and series.
  • Statistics: descriptive statistics; uni-variate: tables, plots, summary by numbers; Bi-variate: scatter plots and regression lines
  • Probability: modern probability theory; combined and conditional events
  • Calculus: differentiation; basic rules, tangent and normal lines, turning points, motion in a straight line, optimisation
  • Integration: basic rules, definite integral and areas, linear motion, rate of change problems
  • Trigonometry: circular measures, trigonometric ratios and functions, calculus of trigonometric functions.
Course Content: Economics


  • Demand and supply for goods
  • Markets at work
  • Production, specialisation and exchange
  • Market failure
  • Private goods, public goods and externalities
  • Government intervention in the economy and the problem of government failure


  • Objectives and instruments of macroeconomic policy
  • Economic growth and the economic cycle
  • Aggregate demand and the circular flow of income
  • Aggregate demand and aggregate supply macroeconomic model
  • Employment and unemployment
  • Price stability and inflation
  • Balance of payments
  • Monetary policy, fiscal policy; supply-side economics and supply-side policies
Course Content: Politics
  • Origins of politics: Plato and Aristotle
  • Political participation and key concepts: state, nation, people, populism
  • Political ideologies
  • Totalitarianism and the radicalization of ideologies
  • Liberal democracy: political systems and branches of government
  • Constitutions
  • Political parties, elections, pressure   groups and social movements
  • Role of the media in contemporary politics
  • The Modern state: domestic and international politics
  • International political economy, the UN, EU and globalization
  • Theories of international relations
  • Contemporary global issues
Course Content: Philosophy
  • Empiricism and rationalism
  • Knowledge of the external world
  • Scepticism
  • Mind-body problem
  • Free will and determinism
  • Problem of evil
  • Concept of God
  • Moral philosophy
  • Crime and punishment
  • Freedom, rights, the law and morality
  • Abortion and euthanasia

Philosophers studied include: Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Kant, Bentham, Rousseau, Burke, Mill and Marx.


Inspection Reports

These rigorous inspection reports confirm that St Clare’s offers the highest levels of academic provision and pastoral care:

  • The British Council Inspection focuses on teaching and course design for English Language classes. Read the Report here
  • The Independent Schools Inspectorate (Private Further Education) focuses on the quality of the curriculum, teaching and learners’ achievements and student welfare. Read the Report here


External Examiner Reports

Each year our University Foundation Course is assessed and moderated by an External Examiner based at UK university.  This offers assurance to both students and the universities our students subsequently attend that the programme is of the highest standard:

  • “I have been impressed with the programme and the quality of provision. The students are exposed to high quality teaching within a cosmopolitan environment which is caring and supportive. The standards within the Programme are rigorous and systems are in place to maintain a high standard.  I am particularly impressed by the attention given to each student and the support and care they receive.”Dr Steve Gascoigne, University of Warwick, July 2017
  • “I am pleased to commend the UFC as a quality programme that prepares small cohorts of international students very well for University study in the UK as well as for a variety of overseas universities.”Dr Liz Wilding, University of Reading, September 2016
Contact the Department
This course is perfect for you to prepare for a university degree. If you have any questions orneed more information please contact us.

Manuela Williams
Admissions Registrar
+44 1865 517706
Louis Jobin
Client Relations Coordinator
+44 865 517184

Register Interest

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