I recently successfully completed the Foundation Programme at Durham University and will be progressing into the first year of my Physics degree in October 2020. It has been a crazy year, but I am proud for all I have achieved in such a short space of time. During my time at Durham however, I have had to explain to lots of fellow students, as well as my friends and family back home exactly what the Foundation Programme is.
What is a Foundation Year?
A Foundation Year, sometimes called Year 0, is a non-traditional entry into university, often for mature students, those who did not obtain the required A-Level results or studied different subjects not relevant for their chosen degree, or even individuals who have had a break from studying. Those who enroll on the programme at Durham University are full members of the University just like any other student and are affiliated to a college, as well as enjoying full access to the extensive extra-curricular opportunities Durham has to offer.
I found out about this non-traditional entry to university from a friend. Originally, I had the ambition to return to university to become a Naval Architect and was looking to apply for a Foundation Year at Southampton University. In summer 2018 I took a leap of faith when I decided to retake my GCSE Maths, teaching myself via YouTube. I sat for the exams in November 2018. However, whilst learning Maths I realised how closely linked it was to Physics and began to question if I should investigate the possibility of studying physics instead. After all, I have always enjoyed watching physics documentaries on TV and the internet. Plus, what could be more challenging, right!? I began to familiarise myself with the basics of Physics, having not studied the subject since my GCSEs a decade ago!
Studying at Durham
Having stumbled across the Foundation Programme at Durham University I did some research and applied, having never studied A Level Maths or Physics, but I did have lots of ambition and dedication. In January 2019 I was invited for an interview and immediately fell in love with Durham. It is such a beautiful city. A few weeks later I was offered a place, which I was thrilled to accept, if a little nervous too. Before moving to Durham from my home in Colchester, Essex, I continued to teach myself more Maths and Physics. As a small business owner, it was difficult to let go of my business and focus on my studies more, but I knew in the long run it would be for the better.
I moved to Durham in September 2019 and spent my first year living at Josephine Butler College. It was a scary time, but I should not have been worried. I could not have asked for better flatmates and I made some good friends on the Foundation Year too, who had a range of different educational backgrounds. Before long Durham felt like home and I settled right in.
Be prepared to work hard
The Foundation Programme was not easy. At first, we covered the main parts of GCSE Maths and Physics before moving onto A Level Maths and Physics, along with plenty of content from the Further Maths A Level too. All this in around 8 months! It was intense to say the least!! I may not have passed every exam first time but with lots of hard work I got there in the end.
I am very thankful to the staff who taught and supported me during the Foundation Year, particularly those who kept in regular contact when classes moved online due to Covid-19. Things will certainly be a little different still during my first year of the Physics degree but I am still excited to learn lots more and continue my adventure!
Find out more about the Foundation Programme and the courses on offer here.
Download our prospectus here.