Astrophoria Foundation Year logo
Astrophoria Foundation Year logo

Oxford’s Astrophoria Foundation Year Programme

About Oxford’s Astrophoria Foundation Year

Oxford University is committed to improving opportunities for talented students from all backgrounds to be able to access its exceptional education. Oxford's Astrophoria Foundation Year is a new programme in our range of initiatives aimed at increasing access to Oxford for students from under-represented backgrounds.

Oxford’s Astrophoria Foundation Year is a one-year foundation programme for UK state school students with significant academic potential, who have experienced severe personal disadvantage and/or disrupted education which has resulted in them being unable to apply directly for an Oxford undergraduate degree programme.

It will enable motivated students to reach their academic potential through a supportive and challenging academic course aimed at developing their skills, self-belief and academic confidence.

The programme will support students financially. Just like undergraduate students, Oxford’s Foundation Year students will belong to an Oxford college, but their accommodation will be provided free of charge. Students will not have to pay course fees and will receive a non-repayable bursary to cover their living costs.

Up to 50 places will be offered on the programme each year, with the first students being admitted for entry in September 2023.  

Students will apply for their chosen degree course with a foundation year (for example Materials Science with Foundation Year). During the foundation year they will follow one of the following courses:

For 2023-entry, students will study at one of ten Oxford colleges:  Exeter, Jesus, Keble, Mansfield, Lady Margaret Hall, Somerville, St Anne’s, St Hugh’s, Trinity and Wadham.

Successful applicants for Oxford's foundation year will be allocated a college at the offer stage. They will be admitted to participating Oxford colleges and will be a fully integrated member of their college community with all of the benefits this includes.

All applicants for 2023 entry to our Astrophoria Foundation Year courses must apply via UCAS by Wednesday 25 January 2023 6pm UK time

By the end of the foundation year, students are expected to have developed the skills and confidence to meet the challenges of a demanding undergraduate degree. On condition that they have completed their foundation year at the required level, they will progress onto the undergraduate degree course at the University of Oxford, if they wish to, without the need to re-apply. Alternatively, they will be awarded a nationally recognised Certificate in Higher Education (CertHE) and will be supported in their applications to undergraduate degrees elsewhere.

The programme is open to UK state school students who are ordinarily resident in the UK and meet the eligibility criteria. International students are not eligible to apply.

Go for it and don't doubt yourself or whether you are good enough or not. The foundation year has been so beneficial for my self growth, not just as a student but also as a person. For example, it allowed me to become more independent in my learning. The tutorial system is also very beneficial and unique to Oxford. If you enjoy interesting academic conversations and one-to-one teaching, this course is for you.” Aneela (LMH foundation year pilot programme student)

Background

Oxford’s foundation year draws on experience from running the pioneering pilot foundation year programme at Lady Margaret Hall (LMH). Now entering its seventh year, 59 students have participated in the LMH foundation year before going on to a range of undergraduate courses at both Oxford and other selective universities. The Astrophoria Foundation Year has been designed using the experience and expertise from across the Collegiate University as well as working closely with an external advisory board of educational and foundation year experts.

Oxford’s Astrophoria Foundation Year is one of two major programmes announced by the University in 2019 to increase access, and follows the successful launch of Opportunity Oxford. The two programmes are aimed at different  students: Opportunity Oxford is suitable for students who are ready to start Oxford degrees with modest support, while Oxford’s foundation year aims to give more substantial support to students who have experienced significant educational and/or personal disadvantage and so need more sustained intervention to prepare them for degree level study at a highly selective university. Opportunity Oxford launched in 2019, and since then over 500 Oxford offer holders have been selected to participate in this academic bridging programme which supports the move from school or college to our university. The launch of the Astrophoria Foundation Year is expected to have a similar positive impact on the participating students.

Finding out more

To join the Astrophoria Foundation Year mailing list to hear more about the programme please complete the sign up form.

Questions

If you have any questions about the foundation year please get in touch at foundationyear@admin.ox.ac.uk

Why apply?

The Astrophoria Foundation Year is a brand-new programme at the University of Oxford, welcoming its first students in September 2023. The course is open to students ordinarily resident in the UK (with home fees status), and you must meet the eligibility criteria.

Our foundation year is free for students, including tuition, term-time accommodation in one of Oxford’s colleges, and travel to and from Oxford at the start and end of each term. You will have access to the University’s amazing facilities and you'll get a non-repayable bursary for you to cover your living expenses. Your study costs are taken care of, leaving you able to focus on enjoying your studies and settling into your new learning environment.

Oxford’s foundation year is designed to be a one-year intensive academic course which will bridge any gaps that might exist between school and our academically challenging undergraduate courses. The programme is carefully designed to build and develop your study skills, subject knowledge and capacity for independent study. You will have your own academic mentor and will be joining a supportive environment where we will help you access any academic guidance or welfare support you might need.

“The Foundation Year has helped me to mature, as a person and academically. And also to be more confident in myself. To add to that, it’s also helped me to realize the importance of setting my ambitions high.”  Ras.I (LMH foundation year pilot programme student)



As a foundation year student at Oxford, you will be a member of one of the University’s undergraduate colleges. Our colleges are one of the things that makes Oxford such a special place to live and study as you have the benefits of being part of a large university in a buzzing and student-focused city but also a small and supportive academic community to call home. Beyond your college, you will be part of the wider foundation year cohort of up to 50 Astrophoria Foundation Year students. You will also have access to everything students expect at university including facilities (like libraries, labs, museums and IT), clubs, societies, sport, support and welfare services.

Oxford is a great place to study. You will find plenty of people who love their subject and enjoy discussing it with anyone who shares that interest. People here generally love learning, and everyone finds their favourite places to study in the colleges, departments or elsewhere in the city.

Students that pass the course will be awarded a nationally recognised Certificate in Higher Education (CertHE) qualification. If you pass the course at the required level, you will be automatically admitted to your chosen undergraduate degree course, if you wish to be, without the need to re-apply. If you are unlikely to pass the course at the required level for Oxford, or you decide that Oxford is not for you, you can apply to other universities using your CertHE qualification (and we will help you with the process of doing this). Oxford’s foundation year programme is designed to help you thrive at undergraduate level at whichever university you study.

Benefits of the Oxford’s Astrophoria Foundation Year courses include:

  • All tuition and accommodation are provided free of charge and you’ll receive a bursary for other living costs
  • Living and studying in an Oxford college alongside the wider undergraduate community
  • Being immersed in Oxford’s learning environment so you can develop your study skills, subject knowledge and capacity for independent study
  • Access to the University’s internationally renowned teaching facilities and experience of lectures, seminars, labs (where appropriate) and our distinctive and supportive tutorial system
  • Your own academic mentor to support you throughout the year, with guidance on academic writing, presentations and communication
  • Full access to the University’s support services, facilities, societies and clubs
  • If you pass the course at the required level you will automatically enter your chosen degree course at Oxford
  • If you decide to go elsewhere, your CertHE qualification will be accepted at other universities.

For 2023-entry, foundation year students will study at one of ten Oxford colleges:  ExeterJesusKebleMansfieldLady Margaret HallSomervilleSt Anne’sSt Hugh’sTrinity and Wadham.

What subjects can I study?

There are four foundation year courses available for 2023 entry. You will apply for your chosen degree course with a foundation year (for example History with Foundation Year). In the foundation year you will take one of the following courses:

During the foundation year you will select modules that follow the relevant subject pathway in preparation for the undergraduate course you intend to progress on to. Together with this subject pathway, all foundation year students will follow Preparation for Undergraduate Study modules designed to prepare you academically for your undergraduate degree. 

“If you're passionate about any of the subjects on offer, there is no harm in applying. The foundation year is a fantastic opportunity and I'm glad I decided to apply.” Robert (LMH foundation year pilot programme student)



Course Choice

There are four foundation year courses available for 2023 entry, leading to 22 courses at undergraduate level at Oxford.

Course - Astrophoria Foundation Year: Chemistry, Engineering and Materials Science (CEMS)

For those preparing for undergraduate study in:

Course - Astrophoria Foundation Year: Humanities

For those preparing for undergraduate study in:

Course - Astrophoria Foundation Year: Law

For those preparing for undergraduate study in:

Course - Astrophoria Foundation Year: PPE (Politics, Philosophy & Economics)

For those preparing for undergraduate study in:

Course Outline

Preparation for undergraduate study

All foundation year students will follow Preparation for undergraduate study modules designed to prepare you academically for your undergraduate degree. 

The preparation for your undergraduate study course comprises a number of core modules that focus on the development of key academic skills as well as consistently enhancing academic and personal confidence. Oxford’s foundation year allows you to experience tutorial teaching which will prepare you to thrive during your undergraduate degree at Oxford, or at another university. These modules will include the opportunity to build on your written and verbal communication skills with support for academic essay writing, giving presentations and taking part in tutorial discussions.

You will also meet with an individual academic mentor to talk about your progress. The overall aim of this course is to equip you with tools to thrive on your undergraduate degree at wherever university that is.

Astrophoria Foundation Year: Chemistry, Engineering and Materials Science (CEMS)

The foundation year CEMS course is designed to give you a solid grounding in key areas, with particular focus on the assimilation of the underlying concepts in these topics so that they can be effectively applied to solve real-world problems. You will follow a subject specific pathway taking modules relevant to the subject you aim to study at undergraduate level, alongside essential maths modules. You will develop subject specific problem-solving skills and undertake an independent mini project.

For more detail please see the Astrophoria Foundation Year: CEMS course page.

Astrophoria Foundation Year: Humanities

The foundation year Humanities course will offer the opportunity to explore a number of subject specific modules across Classics, English, History, and Theology & Religion. In the Humanities course you’ll take part in modules to build on your knowledge from school or college, develop subject-related skills, have the opportunity to learn a language or improve your maths proficiency and complete an extended project in a subject related topic of choice. 

For more detail please see the Astrophoria Foundation Year: Humanities course page.

Astrophoria Foundation Year: Law

The foundation year Law course will enable you to build towards becoming a more independent learner, supporting you to become more adept at and confident in dealing with unfamiliar problems. The course begins with a broad base and a general introduction to three subjects studied as part of the undergraduate Law course (Criminal Law, Constitutional Law and Roman Law). You will study a selection of cases from a variety of subjects and will also complete an extended essay.

For more detail please see the Astrophoria Foundation Year: Law course page.

Astrophoria Foundation Year: PPE

The foundation year Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) course is designed to give students an introduction to PPE before moving to become more subject specific. You will take a Foundations in PPE module, two modules in each of the constituent subjects and a mathematics for PPE module that runs throughout the three terms. The course will build fundamental writing, reasoning, critical thinking, critical discussion, and communication skills. With a carefully curated syllabus, you will be guided through problems and arguments and given the opportunity to deploy the concepts and skills you have learned.

For more detail please see the Astrophoria Foundation Year: PPE course page.

Course Costs

Our foundation year courses are fully funded. While on the foundation year students will not be required to pay tuition fees, accommodation will be paid for by the programme and you will receive a bursary for living costs.

The bursary will mean that you do not need to take out student finance for the foundation year, but if you continue to an undergraduate degree course you may need to apply for student finance.

If you continue to study at Oxford by progressing to a degree course you will need to pay the course fee. Find out more about our course fees.

You will also be given guidance on being assessed for one of our generous Oxford-specific undergraduate bursaries and scholarships.

How do I apply to Oxford’s Astrophoria Foundation Year ?

Oxford’s Astrophoria Foundation Year is designed to support students with high academic potential who have experience of severe personal disadvantage, disrupted education or other specific circumstances shown to have negatively impacted their educational attainment.

The programme is open to UK state school students who are ordinarily resident in the UK and meet the eligibility criteria.

Application Process Overview

  • Applicants must apply via UCAS by the January deadline. For 2023 entry, this is 6pm UK time on Wednesday 25 January 2023
  • After applying, students must also complete a Foundation Year Additional Application Questionnaire (FYAAQ). This is your opportunity to provide evidence of your eligibility and further information about your suitability for the course
  • Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview. For 2023 entry, interviews will be held in March 2023
  • Successful applicants will receive their offer via UCAS in April. 

“The teaching is great - my tutors were lovely and were really dedicated to helping me learn a wide range of content that was interesting and also helpful for undergraduate study. The sessions in study skills and undergraduate writing were also good and the tutors seemed keen to help us get as much out of the sessions as possible. The amount of time the staff give to invest in your educational development is so helpful and will help you in every aspect of university life, and they really care about giving you the best chance possible to do well at Oxford. It is a life changing thing and the fact that it is fully-funded is incredible. (LMH foundation year pilot programme student)

Application steps

All applicants for 2023 entry foundation year courses must apply via UCAS.

Applications close on: Wednesday 25 January 2023 (6:00pm UK time)

Step 1: Check you meet the academic entry requirements

In order to be eligible to apply to the foundation year courses, applicants must have or be projected to meet the academic entry criteria.

Please see the relevant foundation year course pages for more information:

Course

A levels

A levels

Standard offers will range from AAB to BBB depending on the course.

Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers

Standard offers for Highers will be BBBBB (supplemented by two or more Advanced Highers).

Standard offers for Advanced Highers will be BB/BBC.

IB

Standard offers will range from 35 to 37 (including core points) with between 555 and 665 at Higher Level depending on the course.

Astrophoria Foundation Year: PPE

Standard offers for BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma will range from MMM to DDM depending on the course.

Standard offers for BTEC Level 3 National Diploma will range from MM to DD plus B/A at A level depending on the course.

Standard offers for BTEC Level 3 National Subsidiary Diploma will range from M to D plus BB/AB at A level depending on the course.

Access to HE Diploma

Standard offers will be for completion of Access to HE Diploma with all the level 3 credits taken at Merit, and A or B grades in any A levels taken, depending on the course.

Step 2: Check you are eligible

The aim of Oxford’s Astrophoria Foundation Year is to mitigate the education attainment gap associated with an individual student’s background and circumstances. This makes it particularly important that we can contextualise a student’s grades in relation to their background.

Offers on Oxford's Astrophoria Foundation Year courses are awarded on academic suitability, and applicants must also meet the eligibility criteria relating to socio-economic and educational disadvantage. The foundation year is designed to address the education attainment gap associated with factors relating to socio-economic and educational disadvantage experienced by eligibile applicants. The Astrophoria Foundation Year will make academic offers specific to this one year of intensive study, and the offers will take into account the educational disruption experienced by these students. The courses aim to provide a year of academic study that will help support successful students transition to their chosen undergraduate course.

Currently the programme is open to UK state school students who are ordinarily resident in the UK (home fees status) and meet the academic and eligibility criteria.

Evidence of meeting the eligibility criteria is required during the application process and can be supplied by applicants via the Foundation Year Additional Application Questionnaire. This will be accessible through the foundation year webpages in due course. There will also be a full guide to assist in the completion of the questionnaire.

There are four categories of eligibility criteria:

  • Category 1: Socio-Economic indicators
  • Category 2: School/College characteristics
  • Category 3: Individual experience
  • Category 4: Care experience

Checking your Eligibility 

Applicants should be a state school educated student who is ordinarily resident in the UK (with home fees status) and would usually:

  • meet either the criteria outlined in categories 1,2 and 3
  • or meet the criterion of category 4
Category 1: Socio-Economic indicators
You must meet at least one of the criteria in Category 1Your home postcode (where you live the majority of the time) should fall into POLAR4 Quintile 1
Your home postcode (where you live the majority of the time) should fall into ACORN category 4 or 5
Being eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) at any point in the last six years (also known as Ever 6 FSM)
Category 2: School/College Characteristics
You must meet the criterion in Category 2Attended, normally for all secondary education, non-selective state-funded schools with a high percentage (e.g. above or near to the national average) of students eligible for Free School Meals (FSM)
Category 3: Individual experience.
A verified individual level measure of socio-economic disadvantaged background and/or experienced a disrupted education which may include:
You must meet at least one of the criteria in Category 3being eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) any point in the last six years (also known as Ever 6 FSM)
having refugee status or humanitarian protection
being a child in need
having care responsibilities for a sustained period of time
being pregnant or having parental responsibilities whilst in education
having a medical or health issue that has resulted in long absences from school or college (more than six months)
being from a Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showman or Boater background
being a child of a military family
being a service leaver or veteran
being from a household with an income of less than £25,000
experiencing bereavement of a close family member during secondary education
being an estranged student
becoming homeless whilst in education
having experienced time out of secondary school or college education (over one year)
having a late diagnosis of Special Educational Needs (within the past two academic years)
Category 4: Care Experience
(State educated applicants with experience of being in care are automatically eligible. You do not need to meet the criteria in categories 1, 2 or 3, but you may wish to provide us with information in those other categories so that we have a comprehensive understanding of your educational experiences.)
If you meet this criterion in category 4 you are automatically eligibleYou have spent any length of time in local authority care and have been at UK state schools

Note: Exceptions to these criteria may be made where there is university specific activity.

For full details about eligibility and how it will be verified please see our Eligibility Guide for Applicants.

Check if you are eligible before starting your application.

Step 3: Submit a UCAS application for your course with a foundation year

Oxford’s foundation year will admit its first students for entry in October 2023.

From May 2022 you can register with UCAS and start your application for 2023-entry. However, you will not be able to submit your application to UCAS until September 2022. All applications for the foundation year courses must be submitted via UCAS by the 25 January 2023 deadline.

Your UCAS application will include a Personal Statement. If you are applying to a foundation year course at Oxford as well as other courses at other universities, your Personal Statement can focus on the subject you are interested in and it does not have to mention your motivations for studying the foundation year specifically. You will get the chance to expand on this in the Foundation Year Additional Application Questionnaire (FYAAQ)

Find out more about applying through UCAS.

Guidance on how to write a UCAS Personal Statement.

Step 4: Complete the Foundation Year Additional Application Questionnaire (FYAAQ)

Applicants will be able to provide information relating to the eligibility criteria by filling in an additional application questionnaire.  This will be accessible through the foundation year webpages in due course. There will also be a full guide to assist in the completion of the questionnaire.

When completing the FYAAQ, you will be asked to indicate which criteria you meet, and to upload evidence if required. Only applications we have verified as eligible can be assessed further.

 

Questions

If you have any questions about the Foundation Year please get in touch at foundationyear@admin.ox.ac.uk

 

What else are we doing to widen access to Oxford?

Oxford’s students come from every background imaginable. There are around 24,000 students from over 140 countries at Oxford, studying here as undergraduates and postgraduates.

However, some groups are still under-represented in our university and we want this to change. There is widespread recognition within our university that we need to make further progress in diversifying our student body. Only by doing this can we be sure that we are offering our outstanding education to the most academically-talented students from all backgrounds.

Oxford runs thousands of free events and programmes every year to give you a chance to learn about studying and student life at Oxford. Take a look at our range of free events and resources for students.

You can read more about what the University is doing to improve access on our Oxford Access page.