Information on Entry Requirements
Entry requirements for universities vary with each institution. It is important you understand the qualifications needed for the course you wish to pursue. Read on for details of what is required to get into the university of your choice.
In general, universities agree over:
- At least two subjects to be taken at A level
- Applicants with four or five AS Levels in Year 12 do not have a significant advantage as 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 are taking it.
Some universities have a General Entrance or ‘matriculation’ requirement.
This could be a basic set of qualifications that is 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 is 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.
Each course will have its own entry requirements, often specifying both the subjects you must already have studied, as well as the grades you will need to have achieved.
- The current post-16 curriculum across the UK and world allows universities to express their entry requirements in a wide variety of ways. If you are confused, always contact the university themselves.
- Grades vary between universities and subjects – always check how flexible universities will be at results confirmation and if they may make unconditional offers before results are published.
- Universities make choices about the number of units that should be taken, how many A Levels or Advanced Highers will be required or which vocational qualifications (e.g. BTECs) are appropriate.
- Some use the UCAS Tariff, others do not; universities that come higher in the ranking of our League Table are more likely to not use it. This is partly because they want to make their entry requirements clear and/or give students a clear grade to aim for.
Our individual university profiles state basic entry requirements, but you should always check the specific entry requirements for the course you are interested in.
Use our Course Chooser to view entry requirements for each course. 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, in order to narrow them down to five for the UCAS form.
- Consult with advisers and teachers at your school or college about your predicted grades.
- Some UK universities allow you to apply direct, as do most overseas universities; this means you could have 5 UCAS choices along with a range of other choices too.
- Use a spread of grades, perhaps with three courses that have entry requirements based on your predicted grades, and the further two as a safe bet with lower requirements.
- Have an aspirational choice which might require one or two grades higher than your predictions, but could be worth a gamble.
- UCAS Extra may allow a Plan B if you receive five rejections or decide to change direction. You can also apply direct to some universities at this point.
Older students or those with a non-traditional educational background are generally treated more flexibly by universities.
- You will still be expected to demonstrate your ability and suitability for the course, through a wide variety of qualifications, an Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma, or in some cases, relevant work experience.
- Poor GCSE results from the past can be ignored, although if you are considering teaching or education degrees, check to see if GCSE Mathematics, English and Science are essential.
Entry standards are partly market-related – above all universities are trying to find reasons to make you an offer, not reject you.
Popular courses at popular universities can afford to be more picky about who they admit, and so have high entry standards; this does not necessarily mean that their courses are tougher, but rather that their students will be very able.
Next page: Guide to Applying to Oxford and Cambridge