Undergraduate admissions principles and procedures (Home/EU students)
- Criteria for assessing candidates
- Applicants to whom an offer is not made
- maintain the high academic standards for which it is known;
- create a student body that is balanced and diverse in terms of background and experience, with all the educational and cultural benefits that this brings;
- recruit students who will engage with and contribute to the intellectual and cultural vitality of the University community.
- encouraging applications from all those with the motivation and academic ability to thrive at Bristol, whatever their background;
- assessing each application carefully and fairly;
- offering places to applicants who have the potential to do well at Bristol.
- easily understood by candidates
- based on principles that are applied consistently across the University.
2.2 - The Admissions, Recruitment and Widening Participation Strategy Group is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the University’s strategy for the recruitment and admission of students. This includes the recruitment and admission of both UK and international students to both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. It also includes a specific responsibility for widening participation. These responsibilities are carried out on behalf of Senate. The Group has three operational sub-groups: an Undergraduate Admissions Monitoring Group, a Postgraduate Admissions Group and a Widening Participation Strategy Implementation Group, which meet and report to it on a regular basis. The Group is chaired by a Pro Vice Chancellor and includes a representative member of the academic staff from each of the sub-groups, the Academic Registrar, the Director of Student Recruitment, Access and Admissions, the Director of the Widening Participation Research Cluster, the Head of the International Office, and the Vice-President (Education) of the Students' Union.
2.3 - The Admissions, Recruitment and Widening Participation Strategy Group will be responsible for:
- overseeing admissions to the University
- reviewing the Admissions Principles and Procedures on an annual basis to ensure they enable the University to achieve its Aims and are consistent with its policies
- ensuring that the Admissions Principles and Procedures are implemented
- ensuring the appointment of competent and trained Admissions Tutors
- approving School practice to ensure it is in line with the Admissions Principles and Procedures and consistent across the University
- spreading good practice and encouraging consistency
- advising Schools on how best to achieve the University's Admissions Aims
- ensuring that School procedures for enabling intake numbers to be met but not exceeded are satisfactory
- negotiating milestones with the Office of Fair Access on behalf of the University
- monitoring performance against milestones (or any other form of benchmarking) agreed with Office of Fair Access
3.2 - The reports of the Admissions, Recruitment and Widening Participation Strategy Group will be open documents.
4.2 - The University acknowledges that procedures will vary to some extent across subject areas. For example, in some Schools there is a very high ratio of applications to places, and in others less so. Also, in subjects such as Music and Drama there are issues of performance, while in Medicine and other professional areas there are fitness-to-practise considerations.
4.3 - However, in order to ensure consistency, Schools are required to submit each year an Admissions Statement, signed by the Head of School, on the entry requirements and local procedures they intend to follow for each course or programme, including joint courses (see below). This will be subject to formal approval by the Admissions, Recruitment and and Widening Participation Strategy Group and once approved will be made available to candidates and the general public via the University's website.
4.4 - The Undergraduate Admissions Office will develop web-based support materials for those engaged in admission to undergraduate programmes. Admissions Tutors are required to undergo training provided by the University before they first assume the role and are required to attend a brief refresher session at least every 3 years to ensure they are up to date with relevant changes in legislation, research and qualifications, as well as University policy and practice. The University will offer training that is relevant to the needs of Admissions Tutors and focused on helping them to do their job effectively. Training providers will include staff with professional expertise in the relevant areas of legislation and policy as well as experienced Admissions Tutors.
4.5 - Admissions Tutors must convene a meeting of the School admissions team (ie all those engaged in making decisions about applications), to provide them with guidance and to agree standard criteria. This meeting must take place before any forms are considered.
4.6 - The University will require all Schools to publish entry profiles for each course or programme, to be made available via UCAS and the University's own publications.
5.2 - It is the responsibility of the Head of School (or the person nominated by the Dean) to appoint School Admissions Tutors and to ensure that they understand and support the University's Admissions Aims and Principles and Procedures, are competent to make sound and fair judgments, are appropriately trained and have sufficient resources and time to carry out their responsibilities effectively. Admissions Tutors report to their Head of School, and are expected to work closely with the Director of Recruitment and Admissions and the staff of the Undergraduate Admissions Office. Admissions Tutors play a key role in the life of the University and their importance should be recognised and valued in tangible ways, for example in considering workloads and promotions.
- the method by which Schools will support the principles and implement the procedures set out in the current document
- specific criteria against which they will assess applicants
- an indication of how different criteria will be weighted
- the process for considering forms and assessing candidates
- arrangements for joint courses
- arrangements for cross-School admissions (eg Medicine)
- the offer range and criteria for differential offers
6.3 - All UCAS forms are considered independently by at least two members of the admissions team (not necessarily both academics).
6.4 - Applications are considered on an equal basis. Forms are not segregated by type of educational institution attended.
6.5 - In general, the University does not require candidates to be interviewed. Schools may interview candidates, subject to clearly explaining why and how the interview will be used in assessing the candidates, and to following University-approved procedures. These are:
- All candidates must be treated on an equal and fair basis. This does not necessarily mean that if one applicant is interviewed, then all the others must be interviewed as well. It may, for example, be appropriate to interview candidates who proceed to a second stage of selection or shortlist, to distinguish between candidates with similar academic profiles, or to interview a candidate whose UCAS form does not provide sufficient information on which to base a decision (eg a candidate presenting non-standard qualifications).
- Interviews intended to select students must normally be conducted by two people, including a member of staff who has undergone University-provided training on fair and effective recruitment techniques.
- The interview and consequent decision-making will be consistent with the University's policy on equal opportunities. Questions related to the race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, religion or age of the applicant must not be raised either at the interview or in subsequent discussion. However, staff should encourage applicants to disclose any disability to the University, to help ensure that any necessary adjustments can be planned to support their education.
- The School must set criteria for measuring a candidate's performance, which are to be included in the Admissions Statement.
- A standard format note of the interview must be taken and submitted to the Admissions Tutor.
6.7 - In general, the University does not require candidates to provide supplementary written work. Schools may ask candidates for an example of their work, or set them a written task, subject to clearly explaining why and how this will be used in assessing the candidate. It may, for example, be appropriate to set work for candidates who proceed to a second stage of selection or shortlist, to distinguish between candidates with similar academic profiles, or to give further consideration to a candidate whose UCAS form does not provide sufficient information on which to base a decision (eg a candidate presenting non-standard qualifications).
6.8 - In general, the University does not require candidates to undertake further tests, eg SAT. Schools may set an additional test, subject to clearly explaining why and how this will be used in assessing the candidate, and to treating all candidates on an equal and fair basis, as for interviews. It may, for example, be appropriate to set a test for candidates who proceed to a second stage of selection or shortlist, to distinguish between candidates with similar academic profiles, or to give further consideration to a candidate whose UCAS form does not provide sufficient information on which to base a decision (eg a candidate presenting non-standard qualifications).
7.2 - Admissions staff are expected to use professional judgement in assessing the academic potential of individual candidates, taking a number of factors into consideration, including educational and social context. In exercising their judgement, admissions staff must operate in a way that is consistent with the University's Admissions Aims.
7.3 - Actual and/or predicted performance in public examinations is a key indicator of academic potential for degree-level study. Schools will recognise that a level of performance which is exceptional in its context may indicate outstanding ability, motivation and potential, and will take this into account in assessing the varying performance of candidates.
7.4 - Educational context may be evidenced in a variety of ways, depending on an individual applicant's circumstances. These may include quantifiable evidence of educational disadvantage as defined in para 7.5 or more generic evidence drawn from the applicant's personal statement or reference (see paras 7.9 and 7.11).
7.5 - The University will seek to refine its definition of educational disadvantage on an annual basis. Currently, educational disadvantage is defined as attendance at a school or college where, in the previous year the school or college was ranked in the bottom 40 per cent of all schools and colleges in relation to the average score per ‘A’ Level entry, the average score per ‘A’ Level entrant or the percentage of students applying to Higher Education. For selection purposes, candidates from low performing schools/ colleges may be given a lower offer in relation to those from other schools/ colleges. There is no ‘blanket’ discrimination in favour of candidates from any particular type of background and each case is considered on its individual merits. Information about the relative performance of English schools is readily available. The Recruitment, Access and Admissions Office will endeavour to provide Schools with information on the performance of schools and colleges outside England, where not all of the above information is readily available.
7.6 - In assessing the weight to be given to academic qualifications over and above 3 A levels and 8 GCSEs (or equivalent), Schools will recognise that not all schools offer this as an option.
7.7 - Schools may set minimum entry requirements and may insist on specified performance in a particular subject at GCSE, A level or other examination. They must declare what weight, if any, they will give to qualifications in areas such as General Studies. The Undergraduate Admissions Office provides advice on acceptable non-A level equivalents. An offer to a candidate without a recognised qualification requires the prior approval of the relevant Faculty Admissions Officer.
7.8 - Schools must be confident that the candidate has the proficiency in the English language necessary to succeed in the chosen course or programme. In some cases candidates will be required to take an English language test as part of the condition of an offer. The Admissions, Recruitment and Widening Participation Strategy Group will set an appropriate standard requirement for performance in IELTS or other tests. Schools may set slightly different requirements for specific courses. Please see the University’s English Language Entry Requirements Policy for further information.
7.9 - The Personal Statement and Reference provide important supplementary indications of ability, motivation and potential, as well as information about personal circumstances and social and cultural context. They are read carefully and taken into account in reaching a decision. Criteria for assessing the Personal Statement may include, for example:
- Demonstrated interest in and commitment to the subject
- Evidence of clear thinking and understanding
- Appropriateness of the Bristol course in relation to the candidate's declared interests and aspirations
- Non-academic achievement and/or experience, or extra-curricular interests, that indicate the likely contribution a candidate will make to the life of the University
- Other relevant skills – eg foreign languages
7.11 - Admissions staff will take into account the candidate's response to the opportunities and challenges faced, in the understanding that these are not the same for all.
7.12 - Allowance will be made for any candidate (from whatever educational sector) with verified exceptional circumstances or who has faced difficult challenges in a positive way, where these are made known to the University (eg illness, death of a parent, poverty, disrupted education, refugee status). The School may decide to offer a place to a candidate whose academic performance appears to have been affected by such circumstances and who might otherwise have been expected to do better.
7.13 - Bristol was established as a university for the city of Bristol and the West of England, yet the number of local students who apply today is relatively low. Whilst the residence of an applicant will not be taken into account when making admissions decisions, the University will continue to work hard to increase the number of appropriately qualified local students applying from the Bristol (BS) postcode area, as part of its engagement with the community from which it originated and its wish to encourage students who, for family, economic or cultural reasons, intend to live at home.
7.14 - In their holistic assessment of the broader context of a candidate's academic achievement, admissions staff may take into account indicators of social context where supported by clear evidence that these may have adversely affected academic achievement. This may include time spent in Local Authority care, information about which is provided on the applicant’s UCAS form. It should be noted that the University does not take the following into consideration when making admissions decisions: the socio-economic group of an applicant, whether an applicant’s parent has any experience of higher education or the type of school attended by the applicant.
7.15 - Candidates are not discriminated against on the grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, religion, disability or age.
7.16 - Consideration of applications from students who declare a disability is based on the same criteria and principles as for other candidates. The University is seeking to reduce any barriers that might confront a student with a disability seeking to study at Bristol. A decision may need to take into account any overriding health and safety concerns, barriers relating to professional requirements, or the University's ability or inability to make any necessary reasonable adjustments. Such cases will be addressed on an individual basis. Implementation of the Admissions Principles and Procedures will be sensitive to the different experiences of disabled applicants, and will take into account their response to the opportunities and challenges they have encountered, on the understanding that these may be individual to the applicant. Applicants with a disability are encouraged to disclose this to the University, to enable any necessary reasonable adjustments to be planned in support of their education. Failure to do so may impact on the ability to make any necessary reasonable adjustments. More information is available at: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/accessunit/prospective/.
7.17 - Applications from mature and other students who are not applying directly from, or within a year of leaving, school or college, who have non-standard qualifications or who wish work or life experience to be taken into account as part of their application, will be considered on an individual basis, in line with the general aims and principles of the Admissions Principles and Procedures.
7.18 - Attending a non-accredited preparatory course or summer school provided by the University or other agency can help students prepare for university life, but does not in itself guarantee a place, although it may be taken into account as an indicator of motivation and commitment.
7.19 - Admissions staff will disregard any criminal convictions which are spent under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, unless the programme of study is likely to bring the student into contact with children or vulnerable adults. Where this is the case, a disclosure will be sought through the Criminal Records Bureau. Where an applicant has an unspent (or spent, in relevant cases) conviction, a decision on whether to offer a place will be made by a group convened by the Academic Registrar according to the procedure set out in our procedures for the recruitment of students who are ex-offenders.
7.20 - The University reserves the right to exclude a candidate who is considered on justifiable grounds to be unsuitable for a place on a particular course or for attendance at the University in general.
7.21 - The University of Bristol is not prepared to admit applicants on the strength of information believed to be either fraudulent or plagiarised, and reserves the right to reject or cancel an application under these circumstances, as outlined in the University statement of policy on fraudulent applications.
8.2 - Schools will inform the Admissions, Recruitment andWidening Participation and Strategy Group in their Admissions Statement of their offer range and criteria. The levels of the conditional offers made must normally be in line with published entry requirements and may not vary substantially from these.
8.3 - Different levels of offer may be made to candidates from low performing schools, to meet individual circumstances or to send an encouraging signal to specific candidates. They are not made on the basis of the educational sector from which the candidate is applying. There are no quotas or targets for different types of school or college.
8.4 - Admissions Tutors may not exceed their maximum allocated numbers without the agreement of the Admissions, Recruitment and Widening Participation Strategy Group. In deciding the quantity of conditional and unconditional offers to be made, Faculty Admissions Officers take into account historic conversion trends (in terms of both offer-to-acceptance and acceptance-to-conditions-met) in order to meet their allocated numbers. In determining the number of offers to be made, they may also take into account the fact that conversion trends may vary for different types of candidate in different subject areas. However, variations in conversion trends for different types of candidate will not affect the selection criteria applied or selection decisions in relation to individual applications. In making such decisions they will be guided by the University's Admissions Aims.
8.5 - Some Schools may wish to make early offers to attract exceptional candidates, but will need to ensure that mechanisms are in place to ensure that all applications received at UCAS by the January deadline are treated on an equal basis.
9.2 - In order to carry out the Confirmation process described above, the University relies on its computer systems receiving and processing electronic results data from UCAS, for results of A level and some other UK qualifications. In turn UCAS relies on receiving and processing electronic results data from the A level and other UK qualification examination boards. All bodies also rely on the appropriate staff being available to process the examination results. These activities normally have to be accomplished within a tight timescale of three to four working days.
9.3 - The University has contingency plans in place to enable it to cope with failure of these processes (for example, localised computer systems failure, loss of power). However, in the event of some very exceptional circumstances beyond its control (e.g., extensive computer systems failures, mass staff unavailability affecting either students’ ability to sit school leaving examinations or the University’s ability to process results within the necessary time constraints), the University reserves the right to use alternative methods including, but not limited to, use of Admissions Tutors’ prior assessment and/or scoring of UCAS application forms, or any other method(s) deemed most appropriate, to decide which CF (Conditional Firm) applicants to admit to the University’s undergraduate degree programmes for the forthcoming academic year.
9.4 - Should such exceptional circumstances occur, the University will make every possible effort, once normal service is resumed, retrospectively to offer places to CF candidates who had achieved the terms of their offers but who had not been allocated a place under the emergency procedures. Depending on the timescale and availability of places, it might be necessary to offer a place for the following (i.e., deferred entry) academic year.
10.2 - The University will correspond about a decision only with the candidate. There is no right of appeal, and the decision will not be reviewed. However, concerns that the University's admissions principles and procedures have been incorrectly implemented may be investigated under the applicant feedback and complaints procedures.
- Application process
- Courses covered
- Admissions Team and contact details
- Outline of assessment methods
- Departmental Visit Days and other correspondence with applicants
- Additional assessment
- Procedures for specific categories of applicant
- Cross-department / joint course admissions arrangements
- Criteria for assessing applicants
- Entry requirements
- Academic record criteria
- Contextual information
- Personal Statement criteria
- Reference criteria
- Criteria for international applicants
- Variations in offer level
- Ancient History (V110)
- Ancient History & Archaeology (VV14)
- Classical Studies (Q810 and Q811 – with study in Continental Europe)
- Classics (Q800 and Q801 – with study in Continental Europe)
- English & Classical Studies (QQ38)
- Classical Studies & Philosophy (QV85)
Admissions TeamThe Admissions Team comprises the departmental Admissions Tutor, Faculty of Arts Admissions Team and Departmental Admissions Team.
Contact detailsAny enquiry should be addressed initially to:
- Faculty of Arts Admissions Office, University of Bristol, 3-5 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1TB
- +44 (0)117 928 9989
Outline of assessment methodsAll applications are considered on an equal basis. Forms are not segregated by the type of educational institution attended. All applicants are contacted within 4 weeks of receipt of application, to establish contact and inform the applicant of the process to be followed. All UCAS forms are considered independently by two members of the admissions team. After final assessment, the Faculty of Arts Admissions Office record the decision and forward the forms to the University Admissions Office for further processing and transmission to UCAS. Occasionally, the Admissions Office may seek further information from a candidate or their referee when there is an apparent mistake on or omission from the UCAS form that prejudices their application.
Departmental Visit Days and other correspondence with applicantsCandidates who hold an offer will be invited to attend one of the Faculty of Arts Open Day. Attendance is recommended but not compulsory.
InterviewsThe Department of Classics does not usually interview applicants.
Mature applicants are occasionally invited to interview when:
- the UCAS form does not provide sufficient information on which to base a decision;
- the applicant shows interest in and aptitude for the subject but does not satisfy the normal eligibility criteria.
Tests / written workCandidates applying to read English & Classical Studies may be asked to provide supplementary written work. This is done in cases when:
- the UCAS form does not provide sufficient information on which to base a decision;
- it is necessary to distinguish between candidates presenting similar academic profiles;
- the candidate is borderline and may otherwise be unsuccessful.
Procedures for specific categories of applicant
Mature applicantsWe believe that mature students often make a distinctive and valuable contribution to the life and work of the University. Mature students who have not taken A-levels are advised to enrol for one or an equivalent qualification (BTEC, Access, etc.), so that both they and the selectors may be satisfied that they possess such aptitude. Those who do not satisfy the normal eligibility criteria, but whose applications are deemed to indicate interest in and aptitude for the subject, may be asked to attend a selection interview.
DeferredApplications for deferred entry will be considered but candidates are expected to describe briefly in their personal statement how their ‘gap’ year might subsequently benefit their university career. Preference may be given to those with a clear and relevant academic purpose or with significant health or personal issues. Generally, we can make only a very limited number of offers in advance of the relevant admissions cycle.
Cross-department / joint course admissions arrangementsIn the case of Joint Honours, the UCAS application is assessed by both the Faculty Admissions Team (on behalf of Classics and Ancient History) and the Admissions Tutor in the appropriate department (English or Philosophy).
Applications for Ancient History and Archaeology (VV14) are assessed by two members of the Admissions Team under the parameters of both Ancient History and Archaeology and managed in conjunction with that department. Further information on these criteria can be found in the Archaeology and Anthropology Admissions Policy.
Entry requirementsAcademic entry requirements for standard qualifications (A-level, SQA, IB, Access, BTEC, Welsh Bacc, 14-19 Diploma, GCSEs) can be found in the online Undergraduate Prospectus:
- Classical Studies
- Ancient History
Academic record criteriaNormally three passes at A-Level are required:
- Classics: all candidates are required to have either Latin or Greek A-Level usually at an A grade.
- Classical Studies: no A-Level subject requirements but Classical Civilisation, History or English Literature are an advantage.
- Ancient History: no A-Level subject requirements but Ancient History, Classical Civilisation or History are preferred.
- English/Classical Studies: an A in A-Level English Literature is required.
- Classical Studies/Philosophy: no A-Level subject requirement but Classical Civilisation, Philosophy or English Literature are an advantage.
Contextual informationWe take an holistic approach to all applications, ensuring that the educational and social context in which an applicant applies is taken into consideration, where supported by clear evidence that this may have adversely affected academic achievement. This may include time spent in Local Authority care, information about which is provided in the UCAS application.
We also consider evidence of clear motivation to study. This may include attendance at a University summer school, a targeted Access Scheme (such as Access to Bristol), or participation in Aimhigher outreach activities. Consideration will also be given to applicants who have completed a targeted Access scheme at another university, under the ‘Mutual Recognition Scheme’.
We do not take the following into consideration when making admissions decisions: the school type attended by an applicant or whether an applicant’s parent has any experience of higher education.
Personal Statement criteriaIn the Personal Statement we are looking for evidence of:
- interest in and commitment to the subject;
- evidence of clear thinking and understanding, problem solving and analytical skills;
- appropriateness of the chosen Bristol course in relation to the candidate’s declared interests and aspirations;
- relevant reading or research beyond the A-Level syllabus;
- standard of written English;
- self-motivation and management;
- team working;
- communication skills;
- responses to challenges faced.
How to meet these criteriaThe criteria stated above can be demonstrated through both academic and non-academic means. They are designed to be equally applicable to students regardless of educational background or previous formal educational experience of the ancient world. Applicants not presenting a formal qualification in the ancient world should be able to demonstrate their interest in the subject through other means, e.g. independent reading, museum visits.
Joint honoursCandidates applying for joint degrees should, in addition to the above criteria, be able to demonstrate awareness of links between the two halves of their chosen degree scheme.
Reference criteriaWe expect the school reference to back up the qualities demonstrated in the personal statement.
The department is aware that some applicants (for instance, mature students) may well have referees with less experience of the UCAS system. Whilst all candidates should try to ensure they have a reliable and informed referee, the department will endeavour to ensure that a poorly written reference does not significantly disadvantage an applicant.
Criteria for international applicantsPlease refer to section Procedures for specific categories of applicant - International above. English Language requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Prospectus and on the University Policies website.
Applicants are not discriminated against on the grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, religion, disability or age.
Variations in offer levelWe may make lower offers based on whether an applicant is deemed to have experienced educational disadvantage, as defined in section 7.5 of the University’s Admissions Principles and Procedures.
Applications are considered from suitable applicants who have completed the first year of a degree programme at another institution for entry direct into Year Two, but this is dependent on availability of places. Applications must be made through UCAS.