A student playing the violin in a band.

International Foundation Year in Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

A pathway leading to undergraduate degrees in creative arts, politics or humanities

The Arts and Social Sciences foundation programme at the International Study Centre prepares you for a range of undergraduate degrees at Royal Holloway.

Key facts

Course length: Two semesters
Entry points: November, January or September
Age: 17+

See entry requirements

Check fees

What you will study

The programme consists of core and pathway-specific modules. The core modules will improve your academic and English language skills, while the pathway-specific ones will build specific knowledge about your chosen progression degree.

Academic English Skills

Academic English Skills aims to provide thorough training in the language and related academic skills which will enable international students to best achieve their academic potential at university. Our Academic English programme is validated by UK ENIC, the UK government agency responsible for providing information and expert opinion on qualifications and skills worldwide.

You will develop awareness and competency in a range of language-related academic skills, including the processes of academic writing, effective and extensive reading strategies, effective participation in seminars and delivery of presentations, and listening to and recording information effectively from lectures. You will also develop the accuracy and range of written and spoken language required to use language effectively and appropriately, with clarity and confidence in an academic context.

Alongside your classes, your studies will be supported by an online learning platform, providing you with a range of tasks and activities specifically designed to develop and extend your language and academic skills outside the classroom and to give you more control over your own learning.

Literature and Culture

This module introduces you to literature from various historical periods and different cultures around the world. You should build both a subject-specific skillset and deepen your knowledge by studying a variety of texts as case studies. The module complements other modules on the programme thematically with reference to key themes and historical periods. It seeks to develop your use of technology and note-taking skills.

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to: demonstrate knowledge of canonical literary texts and apply a broader understanding of world cultures; display awareness of different perspectives when reading texts; demonstrate knowledge of literary texts ranging from the ancient Greek period to the twenty-first century; analyse and reflect on different discourses or literary theory and read and interpret texts and write about them using appropriate evidence, whether in a creative or critical context.

Social Science

This module examines a range of topics that widen the understanding of contemporary society, its processes of construction and transformation and the bonds and interactions between individuals and society. Upon successful completion of the module, you will have a broader and richer understanding of the history of ideas that have shaped modernity and contemporary thinking, particularly those linked with the Western world. To avoid the Eurocentrism that this may imply, you will be taught to critique ideas using conflict theories as well as postcolonial and race theories. This way, and through a critical engagement with social sciences as one of the key engines of modernity – both in terms of the social sciences as modernity’s progenitor (arguably) and a discipline that articulates the experiences of modernity – you will learn to think in complex ways about social relations, power and the influence of ideas. In this respect, this module together with others in this pathway will expose students to historical developments and the importance of historical enquiry to understanding the present (and, of course, the future). This grounding will prepare you well for degrees you may pursue at the School of Humanities, School of Law and Social Sciences and School of Performing Arts and Digital Arts.

Collaborative Research Skills

Collaboration for Sustainable Futures (CSF) involves our international students developing and applying key skills required to be successful in a modern higher education context and beyond: Collaborating and building team-working skills, using appropriate research methods, reflective learning, independent enquiry and learner autonomy, and applying theory to develop create solutions to real-world problems. The module theoretical content is built around UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that organisations increasingly map their plans to. Students will work in groups across all IFY disciplines to first understand the relevance and aims of the goals, then how these apply in varied communities and contexts, before finally using their new skills and knowledge of sustainability to create a project that addresses a local issue. Throughout the module, students will be encouraged to apply what they have learnt in other modules to the problem they are seeking to address in their group, thereby bringing a cross-disciplinary approach to the issue at hand. 

Film and Media

The module provides you with a broad introduction to the study of film and media, focusing on both theory and practice, and how the two mutually reinforce each other. You will develop an understanding of critical theory, historical background, and textual analysis, while also exploring the opportunity to undertake practical and creative tasks, such as storyboarding, screenwriting, editing video essays or shooting original footage. Additionally, you are encouraged to consider the role and impact of the film & media they consume and create in the context of wider society.

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to: demonstrate an understanding of how the visual medium of film or photography makes, shapes and/or communicates meaning; show proficiency in film and media language when discussing visual texts; demonstrate close analysis of specific texts illustrating the ways texts may be interpreted differently and reflect a critical understanding of broader issues and debates within media and film studies.


This module deepens your knowledge of music history, ethnomusicology, and performance. Using your subject-specific skills, such as analysis, you will study case studies, and have performance opportunities. This module complements other modules on the programme referring to key historical periods, and shows the way in which music studies can also adopt a social sciences approach. Like your other modules, this module develops your independent and group study skills, use of technology, and note-taking skills. As Music is a specialist subject, this module prepares you for undergraduate studies in the Music department in the School of Performing and Digital Arts.

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to: use a wide range of subject-specific terminology and techniques to critically analyse music; demonstrate appropriate technical, expressive, interpretive and communicative skills; demonstrate an understanding of the way in which music is put together; develop an understanding that performing uses expressive detail; use a wide range of subject-specific terminology and techniques to critically analyse music; demonstrate appropriate technical, expressive, interpretive and communicative skills; be able to produce critical analyses of music studied; demonstrate stylistic awareness in performance skills, and analyse and synthesise key concepts to demonstrate effective academic writing skills.


The course explores key themes in global politics among which climate change, identity and power politics, colonialism, neoliberalism, political violence and human rights. Each theme draws out specific historical and geographical locations and uses a wide range of illustrative examples to examine the complexity of responses and to evaluate the broader theoretical approaches. The aim of this module is to provide you with a grounding in key concepts of global politics and to introduce you to the central assumptions and theoretical approaches in the study of global politics.

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to: show solid foundational knowledge and understanding of politics, critically engage with the dominant assumptions and theoretical approaches that have shaped the understanding of global politics and analyse and reflect on the impact of different events on the nature and development of global politics.

Royal Holloway International Study Centre's Study Plan

Why join this November?

Join us in November 2024 and stay on track to progress to your degree in September 2025.

By starting in November, you will benefit from three additional weeks of study and life skills before commencing your main pathway programme in January 2025. There will be no additional tuition fee for this period, and this will provide you with a great opportunity for an enhanced student experience focusing on three key areas: orientation; practical support and academic and digital skills. Topics will include a digital skills health check, managing your money, practical tips on finding study and life balance, and an introduction to assessments in UK higher education.

What will I study in the additional three weeks?

You’ll benefit from a 15-hour per week of face-to-face classes, allowing you to:

  • feel more confident and better prepared for the start of your January programme of study
  • practice your English by interacting with the fellow students and build friendships
  • assess your own digital skills proficiency
  • meet the key Centre staff who will provide advice for success
  • familiarise yourselves with the support available
  • apply a range of academic study skills to meet your individual needs
  • have more time to adapt to the UK life and settle in before you begin your January programme.

Are there any additional cost or fees?

There will be no additional tuition fee, as November starts will have the same tuition fee as the respective January programme. However, there will be additional costs to consider, as expected with being in the UK for a longer period (i.e. accommodation). If you request accommodation on your application form, our Central Student Support Team will contact you directly in October regarding the options available.

Latifa, an international student, sat at a table

“Studying at the International Study Centre has definitely prepared me for my first year at Royal Holloway. It helped in terms of knowing how to structure my essays the way the university would like them, bringing forward my basic knowledge of sociology into my current course, and adapting very well to the degree.”

Latifa from Bahrain
Studied International Foundation Year in Social Sciences, progressed to BSc Criminology and Sociology

Progression degrees

You can continue your studies at Royal Holloway as an undergraduate when you successfully complete your International Foundation Year. This means that you have to achieve the required grades for progression. The requirements might change. Our staff will speak to you about them when you are close to finishing your programme.

Progressing to study Music at Royal Holloway

If you would like to progress to an undergraduate degree in Music at Royal Holloway, you will need to demonstrate an ability to play to a proficient level. As evidence of your practical skills level, we accept:

  • Certificates of achievement
  • YouTube video (submitted to the Head of Centre).

You will also be required to demonstrate your knowledge of music theory.

Additional entry conditions for progressing include:

  • Reaching the equivalent of a Grade 7 in music theory and practical performance
  • A possible short interview and audition to assess your level.

You can also arrange additional practical and theory music tuition during your International Foundation Year.

Progression to degrees with a language

Students will need previous experience of the chosen language to A-level standard before joining the International Study Centre.

You can study one of the following undergraduate degrees:

Degree Programme NameAwardOverall GradeEnglish Grade
No Results

Please note

Certain progression degrees on this list run for a duration of four years, rather than the standard three years. Check the list below for all longer-running degrees.

  • BA European and International Studies (French)
  • BA European and International Studies (German)
  • BA European and International Studies (Italian)
  • BA European and International Studies (Spanish)
  • BA Liberal Arts with a language year abroad
  • BA Liberal Arts with International Year
  • BA Modern Languages
  • BA Modern Languages and Classical Studies
  • BA Modern Languages and Comparative Literature and Culture
  • BA Modern Languages and Drama
  • BA Modern Languages and English
  • BA Modern Languages and Greek
  • BA Modern Languages and History
  • BA Modern Languages and History of Art and Visual Cultures
  • BA Modern Languages and Latin
  • BA Modern Languages and Music
  • BA Modern Languages and Philosophy
  • BA Modern Languages and Translation Studies
  • BA Modern Languages with History of Art and Visual Culture
  • BA Modern Languages with International Film
  • BA Modern Languages with International Relations
  • BA Modern Languages with Music
  • BA Modern Languages with Philosophy
  • BA Modern Languages with Translation Studies
  • BA Translation Studies & Comparative Literature and Culture with a year abroad
  • BA Translation Studies & History of Art and Visual Culture with a year abroad
  • BA Translation Studies with a year abroad
  • BA Translation Studies with History of Art and Visual Culture with a year abroad
  • BA Translation Studies with International Film with a year abroad
Graduate throwing their cap in the air

Prepare for success

Join our online preparation course at no extra cost, so that you are ready to thrive academically and culturally in your new environment.

Explore the course

Careers after graduation

Arts and Social Sciences graduates work in marketing, law, public relations, business, management, the civil service, or creative arts. Sample careers include:

  • Actor
  • Broadcast presenter
  • Composer
  • Editor
  • Film producer
  • Lecturer
  • Politician
  • Publisher
  • Researcher
  • Theatre director
  • Writer
Students studying on campus


Applying to Royal Holloway International Study Centre is easy and straightforward. Check entry requirements, tuition fees and see what you have to do before you arrive, from getting your student visa to arranging accommodation.

Students walking outside campus

International Study Centre

The International Study Centre helps you prepare for undergraduate and postgraduate study at Royal Holloway, University of London. It is a dedicated learning space for international students, sharing the University's campus and facilities.

A Royal Holloway student on campus

English Language Preparation

Our online English Language preparation courses will help you develop your English language skills to the level required to begin your chosen pathway programme.

Join us today

Our Student Enrolment Advisors are available to answer any questions you may have and help you with your application. We can't wait to meet you!