Academic Foundation Programme

The Academic Foundation Programme gives medical school graduates the ability to attain both the clinical training required of them as part of their Foundation Programme, as well as receive an introduction to academic medicine. Managed through the North West Thames Foundation School (NWTFS), working together with the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London, up to 28 Academic Foundation Programme places are available each year.  

Features of the Academic Foundation Programme include:

  • Providing foundation doctors with the opportunity to develop research, teaching and leadership/management skills in addition to the basic competencies outlined in the Foundation curriculum
  • A four-month academic placement as part of the second year of Foundation training (F2) across a number of departments ranging from Anaesthetics & Critical Care Medicine, Medicine (anywhere within Faculty of Medicine), Paediatrics, Primary Care, Surgery & Innovation, Vascular Surgery. National Heart & Lung Institute (NHLI), and Clinical Trials & Translational Medicine
  • All appointed AFP trainees will be allocated a Mentor/Academic Clinical Supervisor throughout the year
  • A core academic teaching programme delivered throughout the year designed to develop academic skills
  • Opportunities to share learning, experiences and opportunities with clinical academic trainees/researchers at other levels of experience  and clinical professions and to attend an annual multiprofessional research conference

For further information about the AFP, please click Academic Foundation Programme

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  Who’s Who

A.  The key people involved in the academic aspects of the Academic Foundation Programme are:

Q.  Who run the AFP teaching days? 

A.  The teaching days are led by Dr Channna Jayasena and supported administratively by colleagues in the CATO team (Clinical Academic Training Office).

Q.  Who manages your clinical attachments, leave, and pay?

A.  You remain a member of staff of an NHS Trust, even during your 4 month academic block. Please contact the postgraduate / education office of your NHS Trust to discuss issues with your clinical attachments, leave, and pay. If there are further issues, please contact your NHS Trusts, Foundation Programme Training Director (FTPD). Dr. Anthea Parry is the Director of the North-West Thames Foundation Programme ( She should be contacted when you have been unable to resolve something with your local FTPD.

Q.  How can I get Imperial College London library access?

A.  Please e-mail the Academic Lead of your rotation if you have any problems (e.g. Academic Vascular Surgery).  Your Host Academic Department should be able to arrange Library access once you have completed and submitted your HR form (sent with the ‘welcome’ email)

The welcome email will come from the CATO Team and will contain important information about the Academic Foundation Programme. 

With regard to honorary contracts, send a copy of this email, your CV / Date of Birth / UK Passport or proof of your right to work in the UK, to . We will use this to grant you association with Imperial College London as an Honorary Clinical Research Fellow,  to help you access online journals etc.

Q.  How do I chose my academic project?

A.  During your F1 year, please make an appointment to meet the Academic Lead of your rotation. Your Academic Lead has overall responsibility for helping you identify potential project options for you, according to your interests. Your project needs to within the speciality of your allocated rotation (e.g. Academic Paediatrics). Projects outside Imperial are not permitted.

Q.  Who manages recruitment to the Academic Foundation Programme?

A.  Health Education England (HEE) do this, they are based at Stewart House, Bloomsbury, London. They should be contacted via the following link. Please speak with your Trust FTPD if having problems finding a solution.

Q.  Is it possible to swap my whole rotation with another trainee?

A.  Yes, as long as the swap still gives you a balanced experience of jobs during your foundation programme. Health Education England (HEE) runs a swap shop, where you list your preferences, and they will then try to match up trainees. Clearly, if two trainees want a reciprocal swap, then please do give these details when making your submission. If you want to swap with someone within the same NHS Trust, please contact your site Foundation Programme Training Director (FTPD) first.

Q.  Is it possible to swap an individual 4 month job with another trainee?

A.  This is generally not permitted, unless in exceptional circumstances such as ill health. Please contact your NHS Trust FTPD to discuss this.

Q.  Who do I contact about access to my AFP e-portfolio? 

A.  The  Postgraduate Education Centre of the NHS Trust employing you handles your e-portfolio.


Study Leave

Study leave

Please see the Study Leave guidance below based on which Academic Foundation Year you are in.

F1s: Your host NHS Trust arranges all leave arrangements. We do not expect you to attend academic meetings or teaching unless it falls outside your clinical duties. However, your host Trust may grant (at their discretion) a single ‘academic taster day’, during your F1 training; this day of study leave would be borrowed from your F2 allowance. If granted, this could be used to attend an event such as the annual Clinical Academic Training Symposium held at Hammersmith Hospital each June. There is no study budget, as is standard for F1 jobs.

F2 trainees may request study leave time from their host NHS trust. CATO provides a £1000 bursary for Academic Foundation Trainees during their academic research block. It needs to be paid to an academic departmental account at Imperial College London, and can only be used for costs directly related to your current research project at Imperial. The bursary cannot be used for other expenses e.g. presenting at meetings / other previous projects.  



NIHR Imperial BRC Funding

Academic Foundation Trainees in the NWTFS are eligible to apply for a bursary to contribute towards research consumables.  This bursary is generously funded by the NIHR Imperial BRC, it is a ‘one off’ amount with a total maximum payment available of £1,000.

Key points about the BRC bursary:

  • Funding available for the cost of research project consumables - ONLY
  • Funding is awarded prospectively, i.e. applications should be made BEFORE any expenses have been incurred. Retrospective applications for funds will not be approved.
  • If approved, funding needs to be paid to an academic departmental account at Imperial College London, and can only be used for costs directly related to your current research project at Imperial. The bursary cannot be used for other expenses e.g. presenting at meetings / other previous projects.  
  • Funding is transferred into an 'N account' (research account) organised by the Faculty of Medicine finance team. Trainees may then purchase consumables via Imperial College purchase ordering system, using the N account details provided upon application approval 

Advice for bursary applicants

  • Applicants are advised to apply early in the financial year to avoid disappointment since funds are limited
  • The funding does not cover animal experiments or costs
  • The maximum upper limit available is £1,000
  • Applicants should complete the online application form on the CATO website
  • Please outline the cost for each consumable on your application form. Those doing research using large data sets e.g Public Health should take advice from CATO about what can be considered as 'consumables' by emailing

Research Skills Short Courses Bursary
This new bursary is open to HEE-funded Academic Foundation Trainees in the North West London Foundation School who are looking to develop research skills and careers.

Key points about the Research Skills Short Courses bursary:

  • This scheme has been designed to support clinical staff to develop a specific academic/ personal skill which will help them to develop in their clinical academic career.
  • Applicants can claim up to £500 towards course fee costs. Bursaries are available on a first-come-first-served basis and applicants are advised to apply early to avoid disappointment.
  • The bursary operates on a reimbursement basis. Applicants book and purchase the course place themselves ‘up front’ and then once approved applicants are reimbursed directly into their bank account via the Imperial College expense department. 
  • In addition to your application, you will need to provide a letter of support from a recognised clinical academic supervisor/mentor. 
  • Please note this is a pilot bursary and only available for 2 years in the first instance (June 2021 -  June 2023).

Advice for bursary applicants:



CATO runs a number of events to support the development of clinical academic Trainees.  Some of these are organised exclusively for AFTs to provide points of contact and support academic skills development during the programme, others are organised for clinical academic trainees at all career stages and levels, to which AFTs are very welcome to attend.

Details about the AFP programme are given here. Information about the wider programme will be communicated via email, newsletters and the CATO website (news events page)

Useful Reference Book

Useful Reference Book

Academic Foundation Programme (AFP) Secrets Paper by Ankur Khajuria. ‌‌‌‌

Ankur Khajuria is an academic surgery trainee at Imperial College London, UK, undertaking NIHR-funded research in plastic surgery and has been awarded a Kellogg Scholarship from the University of Oxford, UK. His work has been presented internationally and published in high impact journals. He is passionate about medical education.

Focused and concise, yet incredibly comprehensive, this textbook is written by top scoring candidates on the UK integrated clinical academic programme. This accessible and informative text is aimed primarily at medical students and will give you up to date, experience based information you need to maximise your chances of success in the UK Academic Foundation Programme (AFP) applications. The content may indeed be useful beyond the AFP, for example for academic clinical fellowship (ACF) applications for junior doctors. The 'lecture-style' informal tone of writing is employed to make the text enjoyable with a big emphasis on learning from experiences of previous candidates. This highly original text is a must-have for candidates preparing to enter UK integrated clinical academic training.

This book is available on Amazon and can be purchased here.