Academic Programs
Foundation Year Program

Foundation Year Program

University of King's College

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A year that changes your life

At King’s, education is not only able to inform, but to transform. Your transformation begins with King’s Foundation Year Program, an exceptional first year in your four-year degree.

The Foundation Year Program (FYP)—a different approach to your first year of university

The Foundation Year Program is largely a journey through the past, but its goal is to help you understand our contemporary world more deeply. This interdisciplinary program is an ‘odyssey’—a journey that takes you and your fellow travellers to thought-provoking, unfamiliar places, but one that ultimately brings you home.

This journey happens through a chronological study of great books and ideas, from the ancient to the contemporary world. You’ll get a broad understanding of important intellectual developments—in philosophy, history, literature, drama, and the natural and social sciences.

How the Foundation Year Program works


Most days, you attend morning lectures with the entire first-year class. The lecture is delivered by one of King’s or Dalhousie’s faculty experts, who provides clarity around the day’s reading and explains the historical importance of the work.


You spend an hour in small discussion groups (called “tutorials”) led by faculty (your “tutors”) with about 15 others to discuss the books you’re reading. Your tutors are skilful discussion leaders who facilitate tutorial discussion, and they help you develop your writing, critical thinking, and oral communication skills.

Assignment types

You’ll write papers approximately every two weeks. You’ll take oral exams in December and April in which you’ll use your burgeoning oral communication skills to answer questions, and reconstruct, synthesize and assemble an understanding of what you’ve read. You’ll begin to communicate more clearly and persuasively, which will set you up to succeed in your second, third and fourth year of your degree. You’ll gradually gain the freedom not only to engage with the world, but also to change it.

There are no textbooks. You form your own interpretations of classic books aided by faculty experts bringing them to life through lectures and tutorials.

The books challenge you. The process of reading and discussing them in a guided community of your peers will help you understand and appreciate their significance. The result is that you become a more knowing, critical and thoughtful individual within your community.

View the Booklist

View the Lecture Schedule

“In describing the year-long adventure of the Foundation Year Program, I have sometimes appealed to T.S. Eliot’s marvelous lines from ‘Little Gidding’:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

These lines capture beautifully the distinctive journey that we begin anew every year in FYP. In search of understanding, we cast our eyes back into the distant past, to the ancient cultures of Israel, Greece, and Rome; and we trace, over the course of centuries, the emergence, flourishing, and decline of the great empires of Europe and the Americas; but the aim of these far-reaching wanderings in time and space, the true “end of all our exploring,” is not to arrive at the knowledge of something new and strange and mysterious. On the contrary, as Eliot teaches us, our journey will return us to our starting place—to this world, here and now, and to the questions, concepts, and commitments with which we began. In short, we will return to ourselves. But we will have acquired a much richer understanding of who we are by becoming acquainted with the traditions of thought that have helped to set our present horizons…
– Dr. Daniel Brandes, Director, Foundation Year Program. Read Dr. Brandes’ full letter.

“Through the Foundation Year Program there are so many people around who are wrestling with the same things you are. It's great to have this sort of culture where you get to talk about class material in the dining hall, or anywhere else, and everyone knows what you're talking about. That's one of those ‘King’s qualities’ that makes it special.”

Emily Bartlett
Emily Bartlett

Alum, BA '16

FYP & Your Degree

The Foundation Year Program is a unique, curated first-year experience that will inform your choices of what to study in second, third and fourth year. In upper years, with the assistance of faculty and academic advisors, and drawing from King’s partnership with neighbouring Dalhousie University, you can build a combined and customized degree that reflects your individual interests.

King’s renowned humanities and journalism programs, as well as our science and music degrees are all interdisciplinary, which means they combine two or more academic disciplines, drawing knowledge from several fields.

Begin any one with the Foundation Year Program.



Your second year through graduation are commonly called “Upper Years”. Mix and match your interests with subject areas to customize your degree.

Graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in either Arts (BA), Science (BSc), Music (BMus) or Journalism (BJ Honours).

FYP Arts

FYP satisfies necessary general degree requirements for your arts degree: 6 credit hours to satisfy the writing requirement, 6 credit hours to satisfy the languages and humanities requirement, and 6 credit hours to satisfy the social sciences requirement. FYP also provides 6 credit hours towards an elective for your degree. This means that FYP helps you complete these requirements, and it does so in a coordinated way. If you take FYP Arts, you’ll have FYP lectures four days a week and one additional course at King’s or Dalhousie.

FYP Science

FYP satisfies necessary general degree requirements for your science degree: 6 credit hours to satisfy the writing requirement, 6 credit hours to satisfy the languages and humanities requirement, and 6 credit hours to satisfy the social sciences requirement. This means that FYP helps you complete these requirements, and it does so in a coordinated way. If you take FYP Science, you’ll have FYP lectures three days a week and take two courses—typically math and a science—at Dalhousie.

FYP Journalism

FYP is a degree requirement for your journalism degree. Alongside FYP in your first year you’ll also take Foundations of Journalism, a core element of the first-year journalism experience. This course provides an overview of the role of journalism in a democratic society, the importance of ethics, and methods of integrating research, sources and journalistic style into your writing.

FYP Music

FYP can contribute to your music degree. If you take FYP Music, you’ll have FYP lectures four days a week and one additional music course at Dalhousie.

More Opportunities

Students in the Foundation Year Program may be interested in First-Year Interest Groups (FIGs), interdisciplinary study groups that augment and expand your first-year curriculum.

Interested in law school? FYP students are provisionally pre-admitted into the University of Calgary Faculty of Law.

FYP News

The Foundation Year Program has launched its own biannual newsletter, compiled with love by Assistant Director Susan Dodd and Administrative Assistant Elisabeth Stones, with contributions from many current and former FYP professors.

Check it out

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