University Foundation Programme

Why choose St Clare’s?

The college exceeds expectations for the quality of education – ISI PFE December 2022

St Clare’s is an international College with over 65 years of experience. Our University Foundation Programme prepares you for university study all around the world.

Key benefits include:

  • Small class sizes – helps you stay focused on your studies in a dynamic, interactive group
  • 65+ years of experience welcoming international students to Oxford
  • Your Personal Tutor gives you personalised academic support through regular one-to-one meetings
  • Dedicated support from our team of Careers and Higher Education Advisors, who are members of the Career Development Institute (the UK’s professional body). They guide you through the global university application process
  • 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, international College with around 60 students from many different countries.
  • Choice of residential or homestay accommodation
  • Full programme of activities and trips
  • Excellent reports from inspecting bodies – more info
  • When you graduate you can further expand international connections and your professional networks through our alumni association St Clare’s Connect.

“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.”

Why study our University Foundation Programme?

  • Prepare for university study with our University Foundation Programme
  • 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 – these Academic Literacies are 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 Advisors meet you individually to prepare you for your university applications to the UK, Europe, USA or anywhere in the world.
  • We are independent – we find the right course at the best university for you.

Course Content:

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.

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.

  • 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

  • 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.


  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • What is psychology and how do we study it?
  • Psychological theories and approaches
  • The human brain
  • Sleep and dreams
  • Learning and behaviour
  • Memory
  • Language
  • Development (cognitive, attachment and theory of mind)
  • Morality
  • Social cognition and influence
  • Health
  • Psychopathology

University Pathways Stories

Danny’s Story

The reason why I chose St Clare’s is because of the atmosphere, it’s very homey. I love Oxford; I am looking forward to staying here for the next four years studying Politics and Philosophy at Oxford Brookes University.

“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.”

Careers and Higher Education support

Our Careers and Higher Education Adviser offers personalised advice and support throughout our University Foundation Programme. This includes providing your with access to an extensive range of online resources. During the first term the weekly Careers and Higher Education lessons focus on experiential learning, which helps you to explore your personal attributes and skills, so you can make well-informed decisions about further study and future careers. This could include further study at university, ‘dual study’ programmes (which combine paid work with part-time learning), gap year programmes and apprenticeships.

We help you choose the university and course to support your future career aspirations

Our experienced careers team offer support and guidance on personal statements, CV writing, covering letters, worldwide university applications, assessment tests and interview techniques. We also host our own Higher Education Fair which is attended by 65 universities, gap year providers and career development professionals from all over the world.

“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.”

Your pathway to university study

Our University Foundation Programme prepares international students for university study worldwide.

We guarantee entry to university if you successfully complete our University Foundation Programme. You can choose to study 3 academic subjects from the following subject areas Business, Economics, Maths for Business, Philosophy, Politics and Psychology. The programme includes a module on Global Issues and Statistics.

Our University Foundation Programme also covers a module in academic English where you can focus on English for Academic Purposes or preparation for IELTS exams. 

You will receive personalised Careers and Higher Education advice and support from specialist staff who help you apply for any university in the UK, Europe, USA and the rest of the world.

University success for our University Foundation Programme students

Our University Foundation attracts students from a wide range of countries and this year is no exception. Our graduating class includes students from 10 different countries, including Israel, Laos, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Germany, among many more!

Excellent results from the class of 2022

We are pleased to announce that 2 students received all A grades and 80% achieved grades A*-C.

University destinations

We are excited that following an excellent set of University Foundation Programme results our students have accepted places at Santa Clara University, Bocconi University, University of Amsterdam, University of Lincoln and University of Roehampton.

With a significant proportion of the students studying in their second language, we are also thrilled by the range of pathways our students are progressing onto including Econometrics, Law, Mathematics and Computer Science as well as Economics and Social Science.


Entry Requirements

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

  1. completed secondary/high school in your own country
  2. 16 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
  4. provide satisfactory school transcripts (grades/reports)

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.


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 am impressed with the student-focused, holistic nature of the course, this has been a highlight every year; tutors really know their students and I get the feeling the students come to identify strongly with St Clare’s.” Dr Steve Gascoigne, University of Warwick, July 2021
  • “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

At a Glance




28 or 35 weeks (depending on English language level)

Start dates

2 September 2023 (35 weeks) / 29 October 2023 (28 weeks)

Type of qualification

Level 3 Certificate and IELTS Examination Entry

Class size

Maximum 15 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

Tuition fees


English language level

From IELTS 5.0 intermediate (CEF B1) to IELTS 7.0+ advanced (CEF C2)

Sample timetable

Term dates

Optional extras

Lunch – £49 per week
Breakfast and dinner everyday – £99 per week
One-to-one English language classes – £59 per lesson
Excursions/Activities – £5 to £30
Airport transfers depend on pick-up from Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton or Stansted – From £120
Courier charge for visa support documents – approx £25

Calculate course

Calculate the cost of your course

Terms and Conditions

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