Winlow, H, Simm, D, Schaaf, R and Marvell, A (2012) 'Foundation degrees in Geography and Tourism: a critical reflection on student experiences and the implications for undergraduate degree courses.' Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 36 (4). pp. 563-583. ISSN 0309-8265

Official URL:


Over the last decade, some UK Geography Departments have diversified their range of courses to offer Foundation degrees (Fds), providing students with alternative routes through higher education (HE). These courses are delivered either offsite at further education colleges (FECs), embedded within an undergraduate programme at higher education institutions (HEIs), or by work-based learning. These pathways present students, staff and institutions with new opportunities, issues and challenges. This study examines contrasting pathways of offsite and onsite Fds in Tourism Management and Development Geography offered by two HEIs and two FECs in southwest England. The needs and experiences of Fd students are varied, related to the individual's personal and academic background, the course pathway taken, institution-specific issues and the degree of support and preparedness for HE. The contrasting academic cultures, teaching methods and assessments encountered in FECs and HEIs, and the availability of resources, raise generic and specific issues, such as confidence building and learning to become independent and autonomous learners, which challenge Geography and Tourism students during their academic careers. This study concludes that closer collaboration between the HEI and the partner FEC is necessary for Geography and Tourism courses, and highlights the need for better alignment and reinforcement of HE systems in FECs, for instance through fieldwork, and the offering effective induction and support in study skills. Finally, it is important to facilitate the smooth transitions of students ‘topping-up’ to Year 3 of an Honours degree at the parent HEI. Managers of undergraduate courses in Geography and associated subjects can also learn from the vocational and contextualized learning promoted by Fd courses and direct entry students to undergraduate courses.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Foundation degree, top-up degree, student support, focus groups, geography education, vocational, widening participation
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2013 15:01
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2016 14:11
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)