Welcome to Science and Engineering Foundation

Congratulations on securing a place on the Foundation Year in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. We are looking forward to welcoming you into our diverse and friendly community of staff and students.

We are committed to ensuring Foundation Year students have an excellent university experience and the Foundation Studies team is here to guide and support you throughout your transition into higher education. As a Foundation Year student, you will get the same high-quality learning experience as all undergraduates at The University of Manchester.

In your first few weeks on campus, our Welcome programme will give you all the information you need to orientate yourself at the University and in the city. Welcome Week will introduce you to your course, lecturers, and course mates, as well giving you the opportunity to find out more about the 400+ societies available at the University.

If you have any questions about starting with us, your course, or student life in general, please do get in touch.

See you soon!


Preparing for Foundation Year

Our advice for anyone preparing to join us is to make sure you are confident in the mathematics, physics and (where applicable) chemistry that you have studied up to this point.

You can do this by looking at your existing notes or textbooks or by using your preferred online resources and videos.

Prerequisite knowledge

The list below highlights the key 'prerequisite' knowledge that we expect you to have when you join the Foundation Year:

  • The meanings of basic terms such as; atoms, molecules, electrons, fluid, gas, vacuum etc.
  • The meaning of quantities such as; speed, velocity, mass, force, pressure, volume, power, cross-sectional area, surface area, density (and the units used to measure them).
  • Basic arithmetic, including fractions, indices and solving linear equations with one variable.
  • Simple trigonometry, including trig functions and inverse functions and an understanding of which quadrants angles may lie in.
  • How to interpret verbal information in mathematical form e.g. 'Object A has mass ma which is 25% larger than the mass mb of object B; find a formula for mb in terms of ma.'
  • Work with simple functions, including being able to identify the domain and range.
  • How to draw and interpret graphs of physical data and basic mathematical functions e.g. straight line, parabola, trig. and exponential functions.
  • Formulae for the surface area and volume of simple shapes (cubes, cylinders, spheres and other shapes based on these - such as hemispheres etc.).
  • Work with polynomials, including expanding brackets, factorising expressions and completing the square.

If you've studied maths beyond GCSE

If you have studied Maths beyond GCSE, or if they were included in the curriculum of your previous maths qualifications, we would also expect a student to be able to:

  • Work with logarithms and with logarithmic and exponential functions.
  • Carry out simple differentiation and integration.

Online resources

Here are some suggestions for online resources that you might find interesting. Resources range in difficulty, but don't be deterred - many go well above what we would expect from a new Foundation Year student.

Physics Girl

The Physics Girl YouTube channel creates content with a strong practical component, including home experiments, while also explaining the theory, in a very lively way.

PBS Space Time

PBS Space Time includes quite advanced content, but is entertaining and makes use of sophisticated animations, which help explain the concepts. The emphasis is on theoretical physics.

Steve Mould

Steve Mould's YouTube videos on various science topics, presented in an informal way.


3blue1brown has an emphasis on maths; often getting quite advanced, but presented with very effective animations.

Standup Maths

Entertaining videos with a maths theme.