Available for January start

Online course details

Study options

Part-time: 1 year

UK fee


International fee


Course level


Start dates

January, September, May



Online course description

The Foundation Certificate in Higher Education is an online 60-credit, level 3 foundation course designed to provide you with the English, Maths and study skills required in order to study at a higher education level.

Why should I take this course?

This course aims to provide you with the transferable skills, knowledge and competence required to gain an accessible route into higher education with the opportunity to progress on to undergraduate or postgraduate courses that require a higher level of English and Maths.

It bridges the gap for any students who do not currently hold the appropriate level or traditional entry qualifications in English and Maths to embark on their learning journey into higher education. It is also ideal for those who already have a wealth of experience and a range of qualifications but may not have previously studied at university level. This course provides you with an opportunity to learn the skills taught at GCSE/AS Maths and English levels or equivalent, while introducing academic study skills that will help you with future higher educational (HE) courses.

You may also be looking to refresh your study skills before taking the next step in education, looking to take this course as part of your continuing professional development (CPD) or to enhance your career employability.

Complete one 20-credit module and achieve a Certificate of Credit

You may wish to complete just one module to update your skills for undergraduate or postgraduate study or as part of your CPD and personal development. You can study all of the modules individually if you chose to but, if you do, they cannot be classed collectively as the Foundation Certificate.

Each 20-credit module can be completed as a stand-alone award and you will receive a Certificate of Credit upon completion in the following:

Access to our undergraduate and postgraduate courses

If you wish to complete a University of Derby Online Learning undergraduate or postgraduate course, we will accept this Foundation Certificate of Higher Education as evidence that you are able to perform at a suitable level of IELTS (International English Language Testing System) 6.0 which will improve your eligibility for a number of our courses, providing you have a IELTS 4.5 and meet all additional entry criteria.

Although this course is not classed as a GCSE equivalent, it will enable you to demonstrate your ability to study at English and/or Maths GCSE level. We recognise that, upon successful completion of this course, you are able to meet the academic requirements needed to study at higher education level for many of our undergraduate or postgraduate programmes, providing you meet additional criteria.

Preparing you for IELTS

If you are an international student, this course will provide you with the opportunity to develop the appropriate academic English language competences needed at Level 3, giving you ideal preparation for undertaking IELTS 6.0 testing at a local centre in your country. Although this course is not an IELTS qualification, you will have an opportunity to underpin your knowledge to complete the IELTS test.

Enhancing your personal development plan (PDP)

This course is also an ideal way to update your personal development planning (PDP). There will be opportunities for you to reflect on your progress and the learning journey within activities set in the academic skills module. The activities will help equip you with the required skills needed in the development of your digital literacy and communication skills and provide you with a foundation for future development in education. During the course, you will be directed to activities that will assist in developing your study and career plans, utilising digital tools and technologies.

The Foundation Certificate is an ideal course to undertake if you are new to higher education or if you want to refresh or improve your skills. The course also offers the opportunity for you to take individual Certificates of Credit in each of the skills – ideal if you do not need to refresh all of your skills.

What you will study

For the Foundation Certificate, you will need to study two core modules:

You can then choose one of two optional modules:

Alternatively, you can choose to complete individual Certificates of Credit in each of the skills.

We will advise you of your study plan when you are invited to enrol.

Stage 1Stage 1

Code: 3PE500

English for Academic Purposes

This module content aims to equip students with the necessary academic skills, required for future progression.

Module learning outcomes

Students will develop their academic English skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking in a range of contexts in preparation for study in higher education.

It aims to build on existing levels of English and provides students with sufficient English skills to enable them to engage confidently with modules.

By the end of the module, successful students will be able to communicate (both orally and in writing) to a minimum standard of B2 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  1. Understand a variety of texts which include unknown vocabulary to consider the writer’s message
  2. Produce written English accurately and fluently showing awareness of academic writing style
  3. Engage in an academic conversation, orally present your own perspectives using virtual media

Module content

This module content aims to provide the opportunity for students to discuss topics of interest, structuring speech appropriately and paying attention to range and accuracy of vocabulary, and to pronunciation.

It will support students' preparation for further undergraduate studies in order to: read effectively and efficiently through skimming, scanning, increasing speed, predicting content and reading with a purpose.

Identify language when reading: recognise discourse markers to follow a text; infer meaning and deal with unknown words; recognise cohesive devices such as connectors and pronouns.

Build academic vocabulary through reading and use this vocabulary in speaking and writing.

Plan and write effective paragraphs, focusing on clear topic sentences and supporting sentences and cohesion as well as range and accuracy of grammar and vocabulary, and accuracy of spelling and punctuation.

Plan and write a variety of essay types, focusing on structure and cohesion as well as range and accuracy of grammar and vocabulary, accuracy of spelling and punctuation.

Take effective and organised notes while listening, identifying key points and representing these through use of key words, symbols, abbreviations etc.

Recognise descriptions of data whether in numeric, table, graph or diagram form.

Prepare for a group seminar discussion, following others’ contributions in the discussion and participating in the discussion according to a number of functions.


  • Communication using a range of written and verbal formats
  • Self-awareness and reflection activities
  • Demonstrating analysis, problem solving and reasoning

Digital skills

  • Demonstrating accurate and appropriate referencing
  • Demonstrating the ability to create a personal environment incorporation elements of UDOL digital practices at appropriate level
  • Demonstrating the use of a range of sources appropriate to the discipline
  • Distinguish between functions and uses of common mobile communication devices, eg phone calls, texting, messaging to individuals or groups, using smart phone, ipad, etc
  • Distinguish between instances of public (eg social networking sites) and private (eg email) online communication
More information
20 Credits

Code: 3PE501

Study Skills for Higher Education

This module will enable students to develop the skills necessary to become a flexible and autonomous learner in preparation for study in higher education. They will be encouraged to successfully manage their time, prioritise workloads, and cope with stress as well as acquiring practical skills such as accessing materials for self-study, and developing their abilities in using primary and secondary sources for research.
  • Students will be expected to work collaboratively in groups and develop the ability to work in a team
  • Students will develop understanding of academic English skills in writing, reading and presentation in a range of contexts, including report writing, reflecting and referencing for academic purposes
  • They will receive guidance in skills such as analysing assignment tasks, referencing, researching, developing an argument and presenting findings in the form of an essay, report or oral presentation
  • Be able to use the library effectively including identifying subject related information from on-line resources and electronic journals

Module learning outcomes

The overall purpose of this module is to demonstrate an awareness of and reflect on study skills requirements.

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  1. Devise strategies for successful time management and independent learning
  2. Accurately source and utilise resources for researching and referencing in line with the referencing system for the desired discipline
  3. Produce extended written work using basic arguments with supporting information and demonstrate an awareness of and reflect on basic academic skills

Module content

This module content will prepare for further undergraduate studies in order to:

  • Recognise own learning style and areas for development
  • study effectively and efficiently by managing time and stress
  • Research effectively and efficiently, critical thinking, validating sources
  • Planning an assignment from finding a title, formulating an action plan through to writing the introduction and conclusion
  • Identify resources for study and research: primary and secondary sources, including using the library, online journals, the internet, abstracts and self-access materials
  • Deal with assignment questions – analysing the task, identifying key words, planning the structure of the argument and providing an answer in an appropriate format
  • Reference accurately using Harvard conventions
More information
20 Credits

Code: 3PE502

Introduction to Maths in Preparation for Higher Education

The course covers the topics consistent with the introduction to mathematical content of GCSE Maths.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and apply personal mathematical skills and competencies
  2. Interpret and analyse data
  3. Perform mathematical calculations with whole numbers, decimals, percentages and fractions
  4. Investigate and present maths aspects of real life problems using graphical and non-graphical methods

Module content

Introduction to some fundamental ideas in Statistics:

  • Design a questionnaire to collect and record data
  • Complete an investigation
  • Present data using a variety of charts
  • Interpret data with measures of location and spread
  • Correlation
  • Calculate simple probabilities

Patterns in number sequences and problems using number series. Number work:

  • Perform calculations with whole numbers, decimals, fractions and percentages
  • Substitute numerical values into formulae
  • Draw and interpret two dimensional graphs
  • Solve problems using measurements

Algebra and graphs:

  • Simplify expressions and solve linear equations
  • Plot graphs of straight lines and curves
  • Use graphical and numerical methods to solve algebraic problems
More information
20 Credits

Code: 3PE503

Technical English

This module will introduce students to Technical English skills in preparation for further undergraduate study.

It will provide the context in which students are able to:

  • Write clear, coherent written texts with a high level of accuracy to B1 and B2 standards according to Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
  • Recognise, interpret and use appropriate written and spoken language, both general and involving key disciplines' specific terminologies
  • Develop transferable skills designed to help with developing structural and expressive concepts accurately
  • Understand essay writing, report writing and how to interpret questions
  • Learn self-confidence and identify, gather and interpret data

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate ability and skills needed for level 3 studies
  2. Demonstrate understanding and knowledge of specific subject appropriate for progression to undergraduate programme

Module content

The module content will seek to enhance and support the preparation for further undergraduate studies.

Students will recognise and produce spoken and written language to function effectively when studying appropriately within a specific subject area. This will help students develop confidence and competence for studying at undergraduate level.

Work on assignments, reports and specific technical writing skills will allow students to increase awareness of how to study and becoming more self-confident.

Students will develop an awareness of specific terminology and vocabulary building, grammar and accuracy writing and listening skills.


  • Communication using a range of written and verbal formats
  • Self-awareness and reflection activities
  • Demonstrating analysis, problem solving and reasoning

Digital skills

Module contents include:

  • Demonstrating accurate and appropriate referencing
  • Demonstrating the ability to create a personal environment incorporating elements of our digital practices at appropriate level
  • Demonstrating the use of a range of sources appropriate to the discipline
More information
20 Credits

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

How you will learn

Pace of study

We recommend about 20 hours of study per week to complete one 20-credit module over a 10-week trimester. If you aim to study two modules in one trimester, we recommend 40 hours of study per week.

Assessment method

This course is assessed through 100% coursework with a range of methods, such as essays, research reports, presentations, group work and practical reports.

Student wearing headphones at a laptop participating in an online webinar

Discovering Online Learning Webinar, October

Thursday, 17 October 2019 14.30 - 15.30

During this hour long webinar, we'll take you through the basic principles of how online learning works and what you can expect as an online learner. The webinar includes a 20 minute presentation and an opportunity to take in a Q&A.

Book your webinarBook your webinar

Entry requirements

You will require:

English language qualification

International/European students will:

Normally the entry qualification will need to be mapped to the UK equivalent course to ensuring access to the appropriate programme level (with a view to progressing to undergraduate level and achieving 60 credits at level 3).

When applying, it is essential that you submit the following:

Non-standard entrants

If qualifications do not match the standard criteria, it may be possible to access the course as a ‘non-standard’ entrant where there are equivalent/alternative qualifications. You will be required to submit evidence of work experience and have a discussion with the Academic Lead before being offered a place as a direct entrant to ensure that you have the necessary capacity for studying at level 3.

Documents to support your application

You'll need to provide:

*Documents not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a certified translation by a professional translator/translation company. Each translation must contain:

A list of approved translators can be found on the UK Government website.

Fees and funding

 Per 20 creditsModulesCost
UK/EU/International £815 3 £2,445

† Prices correct for 2019/20 new students. Subject to potential annual increase in September 2020.

Flexible payment plans available

Choose from three options:


How to apply

Students should apply directly to the University.

Apply now


This programme will allow you to develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the skills required to succeed in an undergraduate degree and higher education. You will develop a range of transferable skills through activities and module content that will also contribute to your continuing professional development.

Work-based skills

Through completing the modules within this course, you will gain a range of technical skills and job-related skills that will assist in developing your study and career plans through the use of digital tools and activities.

You’ll develop a broad range of practical skills that can be applied throughout your career, such as communication and interpersonal skills, study skills, numeracy and data collection, problem-solving and application, underpinned by academic knowledge.

Programme leader

Lucy Hutchinson

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Contact us

Contact the University of Derby Online Learning:

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† Additional information about your studies

Prices correct for 2019/20 new students. Subject to potential annual increase in September 2020.

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