The Programme

Foundation Year’s curriculum moves through six historical periods organized into four-week “sections,” beginning with the Ancient World and ending with the Contemporary. A challenging encounter with the Western tradition as a whole through many of its greatest works, Foundation Year is taught through eight hours of lecture and four hours of small group discussion each week. Every morning except for Tuesday, students and faculty come together in Alumni Hall—a beautiful space whose architecture symbolizes the dynamic relation between the ancient and modern—for a two-hour lecture on the assigned readings. (Those enrolled in the three-credit version of the programme do not attend on Thursdays.)

After the lecture, students join their tutorial groups for an hour. Each group has about fifteen students and is led by a tutor, a member of FYP’s interdisciplinary faculty. The FYP tutorial teaches students to analyze the texts, understand the lectures and become more confident in communicating their thoughts. The tutorial group remains together for the whole year, meeting with its main tutor for three sections and with different tutors for the others, ensuring that students experience both continuity and diversity in teaching styles. General Tutorial is held on Friday afternoons, when the week’s lecturers are available for questions and discussion.

Foundation Year’s lengthy reading list is coupled with a regular writing schedule. Every two weeks, students write a four- to five-page essay on questions that require careful reflection upon one or two texts. BA, BJH and BMus students write 12 essays a year, and BSc students write 9. Evaluation is also based on two midterms and two sets of oral exams.


The Sections

Section I: The Ancient World

Section IV: The Age of Reason

Section II: The Middle Ages

Section V: The Era of Revolutions

Section III: The Renaissance and the Reformation

Section VI: The Contemporary World



After morning lecture, FYP students regroup in smaller numbers for an hour of in-depth discussion in classrooms around the school. More >>