Health and Life Sciences

The Health and Life Sciences International Foundation Programme (IFP) is a mixture of English language and science-based modules.

It's designed for students who want to progress into the School of Biosciences or School of Chemistry, or apply for certain health-related courses at Cardiff University.

English modules

The overall aim of the English language and study skills input is to help you meet the demands of academic study during your Foundation programme and to prepare you effectively for the academic scheme you will proceed to afterwards.

This module aims to improve your overall ability in English and to develop academic study skills for immediate use. You will learn academic writing style with a focus on written accuracy, formal register and the ability to draft and edit essays, in addition to demonstrating an ability to use academic vocabulary and present arguments, and solve problems in both written and spoken format.

This module aims to develop advanced academic language and study skills, building on the previous semester’s work. You will produce more complex writing, creating a range of text types in both timed and extended conditions, and acquire a level of English and academic awareness that will enable you to cope well with academic studies across the skill areas.

This module aims to teach academic presentation skills, research methods (including use of the University’s library and database systems), methods for effective reading and listening, and data analysis. During the module you will undertake primary and secondary research and present a report based on the findings, and learn how to incorporate academic referencing effectively into your writing.

The module aims to raise students’ awareness of and build confidence in using situational language and skills appropriate to the field of Health and Life Sciences. The module takes a practical experiential approach, involving activities such as talks by visiting professionals. Students are exposed to how Health and Life Sciences are realised professionally and socially in the UK.

During the course you will be given the opportunity to undertake Personal Development Planning (PDP) which will improve your ability to understand what and how you are learning and help you reflect on and plan your own learning. Learning and development are continual processes and engaging in PDP will help you to develop a positive attitude to all aspects of learning.

Health and Life Science modules

The Health and Life Science specific modules provide a foundation-level introduction to the science subjects that will be relevant to your future undergraduate studies in Health and Life Sciences.

We have designed this programme to give you a solid foundation in biology and chemistry which will be necessary for your undergraduate studies in Health and Life Sciences and to give you the best possible information and assistance for your time as a student in the UK.

The module provides an introduction to the molecular basis of living organisms. After developing an appreciation of the very 'molecules of life', you'll go on to learn how these molecules are organised into cells. The concepts taught in the module are fundamental to all aspects of biology.

This module deals with the structure, function and transmission of genes and with inheritance of genetically controlled characteristics, including more complex patterns of inheritance brought about by linkage and interaction between genes.

This is followed by a brief review of the evidence for evolution and a coverage of evolutionary processes. Finally the module provides you with an introduction to the diversity of living organisms.

The theoretical coverage in lectures and tutorials is supplemented by practical classes which allow examination of cell division in plants and animals, analysis of patterns of inheritance for various genetic traits and examination of a diversity of life forms at both the microscopical and whole organism level.

This module deals with:

  • the broad principles of physiology, the nervous system, its nature, structure and function
  • the cardiovascular system and the roles of the heart, blood vessels and blood; changes in disease
  • breathing and lung function; the role of the kidneys; the function of the endocrine system and the physiology of reproduction
  • the digestion and absorption of food
  • motherhood and the physiology of the newborn child.

This module is designed to introduce basic description of elemental properties and the periodic table, solid and molecular structures and bonding, and to relate these to electronic structure of atoms.

The mole as a unit is introduced so that a quantitative treatment of stoichiometry can be considered. Practical work introduces the use and handling of basic chemical equipment.

This module treats:

  • some basic chemistry of hydrogen and selected elements from the periodic table
  • simple co-ordination chemistry of metal ions in solution
  • the ideas of oxidation and reduction in relation to oxidation state changes and electron transfer
  • electrode reactions and potentials

Practical work examines some of this chemistry and uses oxidation-reduction reactions as a basis for quantitative analysis.

This module provides the basis for a quantitative understanding of:

  • the kinetic theory of gases (which is developed to consider the nature of liquids and solids)
  • equilibria and the concepts of the equilibrium constant and of pH
  • energy changes in chemical reactions and the fundamental principles of thermodynamics
  • the rates of chemical reactions and the concepts of the rate determining step and the activation energy.

Practical work deals with examples of these topics.

This module is designed to introduce the main types of organic compounds by reference to simple systems and to specific compounds of biological, medicinal, and dental importance.

The more important reactions of each of these types are described, and are explained in terms of the electronic structure of the functional groups involved. The practical work illustrates the basic techniques involved in the preparation, isolation, and purification of organic compounds.

Teaching, learning and assessment

We employ several teaching methods, all selected to deliver the tuition you need in the best possible way.


Students who successfully complete the International Foundation Programme in Health and Life Sciences have a range of opportunities available to them.