University Foundation Programme

• Guaranteed entry to university

• Choose Business Studies or PPE

• Excellent IELTS preparation

• A truly international experience

Key Facts: University Foundation Programme

Age: 16+
Level: From intermediate (CEF B1) to advanced (CEF C2)
Start date: 1 September 2019 (35 weeks) / 27 October 2019 (28 weeks)
Length: 35 or 28 weeks (depending on English language level)
Class: Maximum 12 students
Lessons (hours): 19 (17.42) to 26 (24)  Monday to Friday
Lesson type: English for IELTS and Academic Literacies for Higher Education, choice of three academic subjects, supplementary modules in Global Issues and Basic Statistics, Careers and Higher Education sessions
35 week course fees: From £28,876 
28 week course fees: From £22,904 
Fees include: Tuition, self-catered residence or homestay, 1 IELTS entry, course books and travel insurance
Accommodation: College residence or homestay 
Optional extras: Lunch available Monday to Friday – £46 per week
  One-to-one English language classes – £59 per lesson
  Excursions/Activities – £5 – £30
  Airport transfers from £120 – Depending on pick-up from Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton or Stansted airport
  Courier charge for visa support documents – approx £25


Why choose St Clare’s?

St Clare’s is an international, independent centre of excellence established in Oxford in 1953. Our University Foundation Programme 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

The quality of the curriculum, teaching and learner’s achievements is excellentISI PFE March 2019

Your pathway to university study

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 academic English module, three academic subjects, and two short modules.

Business foundation
English for Academic Purposes or IELTS examinations Business Economics Maths for Business Modules in Global Issues and Statistics


Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) foundation
English for Academic Purposes or IELTS examinations Politics Philosophy Economics Modules in Global Issues and Statistics
Business foundation
English for
Purposes or
Economics Maths for
Modules in
Global Issues
and Statistics


Politics, Philosophy
and Economics (PPE) foundation
English for
Purposes or
Philosophy Economics
Modules in
Global Issues
and Statistics

Apply now

  • 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.

“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

Find out more

University Success and Careers

University Success

Our University Foundation Programme 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
  • Politics, Philosophy and Economics
  • Economics

Careers and Higher Education

You are supported by 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 our foundation programme, 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 our teachers predict for you after module 1 of the course.

Dates and Prices

A full list of term dates and prices for the International College up until the Easter term 2020 can be found here:

International College Term Dates 

If you have any questions please contact us at

How to apply

Entry Requirements

If you wish to study our University Foundation Programme you must have:

  1. completed secondary school in your own country
  2. 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 our 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 our terms and conditions
Course Content: English

A good command of English is the basis of your course. You have two English lessons each morning in a class with a maximum of 12 students. Your English teacher is also your personal tutor and meets you individually 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

Personal Tutor

Your English Language teacher is also your personal tutor. They advise and help you during your studies – 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 our Business foundation (Business, Economics and Maths for Business) or our Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) foundation. 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 we offer 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 Programme 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 UFP 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 us

Please fill in this form to submit an enquiry about our University Foundation Programme.

You may also wish to get in touch to arrange a campus tour or find out what it is like to live and study in the city of Oxford.

Contact Manuela on:
+44 1865 517706
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This course is perfect for you if you wish to prepare for a university degree.

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St Clare's, Oxford