• University of Nottingham

Foundations of Science for Undergraduate Degrees

Develop the right skills for study and assessment in higher education while refreshing your core science knowledge.

946 enrolled on this course

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Give yourself an advantage for starting a university degree

With interruptions to education occurring all the time, many school students intending to go to university in the coming years may not feel prepared.

This three-week course from the University of Nottingham will provide a primer in science before joining an undergraduate science degree and will help to ease the transition to University.

Refresh key biology and chemistry knowledge

The transition to university can be daunting in normal times, but recent disruption to education has meant that many students may have missed out on key topics before starting their undergraduate degrees.

On this course, you’ll be able to refresh your knowledge of biology and chemistry and fill in any blanks before starting university. This will be especially useful if you’re planning to join any animal, human, or pharmacy-related degrees.

Build the skills to support learning in higher education

There are many skills that can give you an advantage when moving into higher education. You’ll learn crucial techniques to help with motivation, your working memory, and even creating an optimal study environment.

The skills that you’ll gain on this course mean that, when they start your undergraduate science degree, you’ll already be in a better position to cope with the academic demands of a University-level science course.

Learn from the experts at the University of Nottingham

This course is being led by the University of Nottingham Vet School which has the experience of developing a very successful Virtual Work Experience for the University.

Being known for putting students first, and with very high student satisfaction scores, the School is greatly equipped to help you adapt to the educational needs of higher education.


  • Week 1

    Introductions, study skills and your first case!

    • Introductions

      An introduction about the course, the learning objectives and completion.

    • Studying at university

      We all have our own preferred way of learning. In this section, we will offer suggestions to help you optimise your study strategies in preparation for learning at university.

    • Structure and metabolism of biological molecules

      This case helps consolidate your knowledge of biological molecules. We will cover carbohydrates, proteins and lipids, their structure and metabolism.

    • Summary

      A brief summary of what we've covered and the knowledge you should have gained during Week 1. This section also includes a sneak peek at what we'll be covering in Week 2.

  • Week 2

    Chemical structure and bonding & Cardiovascular systems

    • Structure and bonding

      This exercise aims to apply your knowledge of structure and bonding to the properties of a pharmaceutical. Areas you will be considering are bonding in molecules and compounds, electronegativity, polarity and solubility.

    • Cardiovascular systems

      In this case we explore the cardiovascular system. Areas we will cover will include organisation of the cardiovascular system and blood vessels; their structure and function.

    • Summary

      A brief summary of what we've covered and the knowledge you should have gained during Week 2. This section also includes a sneak peek at what we'll be covering in Week 3.

  • Week 3

    Mitosis and uncontrolled cell division & Communication systems

    • Cell cycle, mitosis and uncontrolled cell division

      This case aims to consolidate your knowledge of mitosis and uncontrolled cell division and relate this to an applied case. Areas covered are the cell cycle, mitosis, cancer and kidney function.

    • Communication systems: Neurones and hormones

      This case aims to help consolidate your knowledge of communication systems within the body. Areas covered include why communication systems are required in the body and how they are generated and integrated.

    • Summary

      A brief summary of what we've covered and the knowledge you should have gained during Week 3. This section also includes a sneak peek at what we'll be covering in Week 4.

  • Week 4

    Immune systems & Acids, bases, pH and buffers

    • Immune systems and antibiotics

      In this case we explore the immune system and the selection of antibiotics. Areas we will cover in this case include the body’s natural defences, basic principles of inflammation and defence against pathogens.

    • Acids, bases, pH and buffers

      This case consolidates your acid-base knowledge and numeracy skills in a case-based scenario. Some areas covered are acids, bases and pH, actions of buffers, transport of blood gases and calculation of dosages and drip rates.

    • Summary

      A brief summary of what we've covered and the knowledge you should have gained during Week 4. This section also includes a sneak peek at what we'll be covering in Week 5 - our final week!

  • Week 5

    Genetics & Organic chemistry

    • Genetics

      Here you will consolidate your existing knowledge of genetics and inheritance in a case-based scenario. Some areas you will cover include genetic diseases, genes and inheritance and screening for genetic disorders including PCR.

    • Organic chemistry

      This exercise aims to consolidate your knowledge of organic chemistry and relate this to an applied case. Areas you will be covering are organic functional groups, formation and naming of esters and reaction mechanisms.

    • Summary

      A brief summary of what we've covered during Week 5. As the course comes to a close, we also highlight further reading/resources that you can use to continue to prepare for university. Finally, we celebrate your achievements!

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate an understanding of key concepts within level 3 biology and chemistry such as biological molecules, cell division, immunology, genetics, cardiovascular system, structure and bonding, acids and bases and organic chemistry.
  • Apply and develop these key concepts within case-based scenarios.
  • Develop effective and individualised study skills to aid transition to higher education.
  • Reflect on current knowledge base and study skills to carry out a self-audit allowing the efficient selection of key case studies to complete.
  • Apply numeracy skills in a case setting.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for students intending to do an undergraduate science degree. By enrolling in this course, you’ll gain the necessary skills to start university and increase your level of confidence.

Who will you learn with?

I am a teaching associate at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham. I teach across biology, chemistry, maths and animal husbandry modules.

I am a teaching associate at Nottingham University's vet school. I have a PhD in Sensory Neuroscience from Newcastle University.

Digital Innovation Manager at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham. First Class BA (Hons) Degree in Film & TV Production from the University of Westminster

Who developed the course?

The University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham is committed to providing a truly international education, inspiring students with world-leading research and benefitting communities all around the world.


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  • Discuss your learning in comments
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  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

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  • Limited access to course content for 5 weeks

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Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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