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Applying to university

Entry requirements

Entry requirements in the UK vary between universities. Read about how to use this information when making your application.

College at University of Cambridge


  1. University entry requirements UK

  2. Tips and suggestions

  3. Mature students

University entry requirements UK

Entry requirements for university in the UK vary with each institution. It’s important you understand the qualifications needed for the course you wish to pursue. 

However, there are some general requirements universities agree on:

  • At least two subjects must be taken at A Level
  • Applicants with four or five AS Levels in Year 12 do not have a significant advantage. Universities recognise that AS levels are not offered any longer in most schools/colleges as standalone subjects
  • The Extended Project (EPQ) is not compulsory, but is welcomed by many universities and may form part of the offer if you’re taking it

General Entrance requirements 

Some universities have a General Entrance or ‘matriculation’ requirement. This could be a basic set of qualifications that’s necessary of all students, for instance:

  • An English language requirement
  • A criminal record DBS check or equivalent
  • A fitness to practise check – for courses such as Medicine and Nursing

Most students will meet the requirements, but it’s worth checking to be sure. Many universities will have some caveats that enable them to admit good students if they don’t meet the General Entrance requirements.

How do university entry requirements work?

Each course will have its own entry requirements, often specifying both the subjects you must already have studied, as well as the grades you’ll need to have achieved. Universities tend to express their entry requirements in a variety of ways. If you're confused, always contact the university themselves. 

Grade thresholds can vary between universities and subjects. Check how flexible the universities you wish to apply to might be with these thresholds on Results Day, and if they’re likely to make unconditional offers.

Universities make their own choices about the number of units, A Levels or Advanced Highers that should be taken or which vocational qualifications (e.g. BTECs) are appropriate.

Some use the UCAS Tariff, a points system that converts grades into a numerical value that institutions use in their entry requirements. However, universities that come higher in the ranking of our main university league table are less likely to use it. 

Our individual university profiles state basic entry requirements, but you should always check the specific entry requirements for the course you’re interested in.

Detailed information can also be found on the course pages of university websites, or on the UCAS website.

Tips and suggestions 

  • Construct a basic table of entry requirements or typical offers for around 20–30 universities, then narrow them down to five for the UCAS form
  • Speak with advisers and teachers at your school or college about your predicted grades
  • Some UK universities allow you to apply directly, as do most overseas universities. This means you could have more than just your five UCAS choices
  • Consider making your choices across a variety of entry requirements. Perhaps choose three courses with requirements based on your predicted grades, one or two as a safe bet with lower requirements, and maybe one aspirational choice which requires one or two grades higher than your predictions

Remember, UCAS Extra and Clearing offers you a plan B if you receive five rejections or decide to change direction. 

Mature students

Older students, or those with a non-traditional educational background, are generally treated more flexibly by universities.

What do universities require for admissions?

You’ll still be expected to demonstrate your ability and suitability for the course, either through a wide variety of qualifications such as an Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma, or relevant work experience.

Poor GCSE results can be ignored, although some courses such as teaching or education will require either one or more GCSEs in Maths, English and Science are essential.

Universities are trying to find reasons to make you an offer, not reject you.

Popular courses at popular universities can afford to be pickier about who they admit, and so have high entry standards. This doesn’t always mean their courses are tougher, but that their students will be stronger candidates.

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