Applying as a mature student

Before you apply

Check you’re on track to meet entry requirements for your course using the online course finder. Each course page outlines the typical offer for your qualification. Any additional requirements, such as GCSE grades or work experience, will also be stated on the course page.

Read the admissions statement for your course, which provides more detail about what we are looking for in an application and specific information for mature students.

If you are unsure whether you meet certain requirements, email your education history to

Where to apply

For most undergraduate courses, mature students apply through UCAS.

Some of our courses, including the Foundation Year in Arts and Social Sciences and the Foundation Year in Science, Engineering and Mathematics are direct entry, meaning that you apply directly to the University. 

Find out more.

Providing your education history

You'll need to provide all of your qualifications from secondary education onwards – including confirmed and pending results.

If you are resitting qualifications, such as GCSEs, you'll need to include them as 'pending' so our admissions team know you are working towards these qualifications.

Students taking an Access to Higher Education course should list all the units they are taking and the number of credits allocated to each unit. There is room for 20 units on the UCAS form. Refer to section 3 the UCAS application guide for further information.

At Bristol, work experience cannot usually be used in place of academic qualifications. However, we do value what your life experience brings to the learning environment and encourage applicants to reference relevant experience in their application.

Writing your personal statement

The personal statement is an academic statement, around 650 words and is the same for each of your five choices if applying via UCAS. It should be based on your suitability for studying the subject you wish to apply to. The UCAS personal statement is your opportunity to tell universities why you should be offered a place on the course.

The personal statement is weighted differently across all our undergraduate programmes. You can check how much the personal statement is weighted for your course in the admissions statement. Regardless of the weighting of your personal statement, it is important to complete it to the best of your ability as we may refer to it to differentiate between applicants with similar academic profiles.

Universities want applicants to reflect on relevant academic activity that they have undertaken in preparation for their degree including wider reading on the subject.

Applicants should demonstrate a realistic insight into their degree. You can check the unit catalogue for your course to better understand what your programme entails. You can then reflect on your existing skills, such as good written communication and your ability to form arguments, and draw on examples to explain how your experiences have prepared you for university study.

About 75% of the personal statement should be based on your academic suitability for the course. For the remaining 25%, applicants are encouraged to draw on relevant work or life experience; however, this should always link back to the course you would like to study.

We would recommend using the P (point) E (example) A (analysis) method of essay writing. 

When personal statements are assessed, we score the quality of writing and therefore encourage applicants to ask someone else to read their personal statement to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.

Providing a reference

As part of the application process, you will be asked to provide a reference. If you are studying at a college, it is likely your course leader will provide a reference for you. If you are applying independently, then you will need to provide details of a referee.

Ideally, this person should have known you in an academic capacity. If this isn’t possible, then an employer or someone who has known you in a formal capacity would be acceptable. Your referee cannot be a family member or friend. For a guide on how to choose a referee please see the UCAS website.

Explaining extenuating circumstances

Find out more about how the University takes personal (extenuating) circumstances into account. Avoid explaining any extenuating circumstances in your personal statement. Your suitability for academic study should be the focus of your personal statement. Extenuating circumstances can be submitted separately after you apply.

Advice for current Access to HE students

The Access to HE Diploma is widely accepted for most of our undergraduate courses. You can check Access to HE entry requirements on individual course pages. For some courses, you'll need to meet additional requirements, such as GCSE grades and/or work experience, this will be stated on the course page.

Access to HE students may benefit from a guaranteed offer or interview at the University of Bristol on the condition that they meet or are on track to meet all the entry requirements. Please read our webpage for more information and eligibility requirements. 

Applying to medicine, dentistry or law

You will need to arrange to take an additional assessment at the same time as submitting your application. Medicine and dentistry require the UCAT test. For law, the LNAT is required.

Contact us

For any questions you have about applying, contact our Mature Student Team
+44 (0)117 394 1048

Information events

Have your questions answered by current students and advisers at a mature student session. 

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