Applying as a mature student
Submitting an application
For the majority of our undergraduate courses mature students apply through UCAS. Some of our courses, including the Foundation Year in Arts and Social Sciences are direct entry, meaning that you apply directly to the University. Find out more.
• 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 e.g. an Access to HE. Any additional requirements such as GCSE grades or work experience will be stated at the bottom of the course page.
• Read the admissions statement for your course, which provides in-depth detail about what we are looking for in an application and specific information for mature students including recent evidence of study requirements.
• If you are unsure as to whether you meet certain requirements, email your education history to email@example.com
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 UCAS application.
UCAS advice for mature applicants
This video for prospective mature applicants outlines how to submit a successful application for 2022 entry and is taken from our virtual series of Mature Student Information Sessions.
Providing your education history
You'll need to enter all of your qualifications from secondary education onwards – confirmed and pending results.
If you are resitting qualfications such as GCSEs, you'll need to include them as 'pending' so our admissions team know you are working towards these qualifcations.
Access to HE students should list all the units they are taking and the amount of credits allocated to each unit. There is room for 20 units on the UCAS form.
Writing your personal statement
The personal statement is an academic statement, around 650 words and the same for each of your five choices. It should be based on your suitability for studying the subject disciplines 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 tangible 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. Your life story might be interesting, but unless you link it back to studying your course at university, it will not contribute to answering the question ‘why should the university choose you?’.
We would recommend using the P (point) E (example) A (analysis) method of essay writing. For example:
'According to the popular nature vs nurture debate, I would either be genetically programmed to choose to study psychology at university, or my environment would have influenced my decision. I suspect the latter. This is because it was a documentary on feral children that first sparked my interest, which led me to take up a social science Access course exploring psychological processes…'
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 independent of a college then you will need to provide details of a referee.
This person should ideally have known you in an academic capacity. However if you don’t have anyone, 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.
Your application, along with the reference, should be submitted by 15 January (or 15 October for medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science). Some late applications for courses with a 15 January deadline are possible; however, it will depend on the availability of the course as to whether your application will be considered. You can enquire with us to check at firstname.lastname@example.org
Explaining extenuating circumstances
The University of Bristol does take personal (extenuating) circumstances into account. Find out more.
Avoid explaining any extenuating circumstances in your personal statement. Your suitability for academic study should be the main focus of your personal statement. Extenuating circumstances can be submitted separately post-application.
Applying to medicine, dentistry or law
Contact our Mature Student Recruitment Officers, Georgia Price and Hannah Ladkoo at:
+44 (0)117 394 1048
Have your questions answered by current students and advisers at a mature information session.