Returning to education

At the University of Bristol, we value what your life experience brings to the learning environment. Some of our courses do not have formal academic entry requirements. However, for the majority of our undergraduate courses we need to see evidence that you can study at the level required.

This section is for mature students who have not yet completed an Access to HE Diploma, A-levels or equivalent, or have not undertaken study in the last five years.

Most of our courses require some evidence of recent study. This can be used in combination with existing qualifications as part of your application. The accepted amount of time passed since completing your last qualification varies for each course. Some courses require study within the last year, whereas others require study within the last five years. Information can be found in the admissions statement for each course.

What are my options?

University of Bristol courses

All of our courses welcome mature students.

If you do not have standard qualifications, or have no prior qualifications, then you may wish to consider the following courses:

The advantage of taking these courses is that you are in the university environment from the start of your learning. Therefore, you learn from university lecturers and have access to university facilities.

Funding may be available for these courses (subject to eligibility). Speak to our Student Funding Office for more information.

Access to HE Diploma

All of our courses accept Access to Higher Education Diplomas. These are one year, full time courses studied at a further education college. You usually choose a subject pathway which relates to the course you would like to study at University.

The advantage of taking an Access to HE Diploma is that it is an opportunity to get back into education in a supportive local college environment with other mature learners. In addition, you can apply for up to five courses and universities as part of your university application.

Funding is available in the form of an Advanced Learner Loan.

Checking University entry requirements

Some of our courses have subject specific entry requirements. Please check the entry requirements for the course you are interested in studying at the University of Bristol before you enrol on an Access to HE Diploma.

Many of our courses have GCSE requirements as a condition of entry. Make sure you check both GCSE and Access to HE entry requirements for the course(s) you are interested in. 

Many colleges give you the opportunity to take GCSEs alongside or before starting the Access to HE Diploma. If you do not have the opportunity to take the GCSEs, please email the admissions team explaining why this is the case once you have submitted your application.

Local providers

Providers in Bristol and the surrounding area include:

  • Bath College
  • Bridgwater and Taunton College
  • City of Bristol College
  • South Gloucestershire and Stroud College
  • Weston College

Information on funding for Access to HE Diplomas.

A-levels and BTECs

A-levels and BTECs are accepted for all of our courses. Most of our courses require three full A-levels for entry.

Please contact your local further education college to discuss your options. If you are doing distance learning A-levels, and are applying for a science undergraduate course, you may be asked to complete the experimental modules.

Open University Access modules

The Open University Access modules are a different qualification to the Access to HE Diploma. Some of our courses will accept these modules for entry to the University. Please contact as each case will need to be assessed on an individual basis. You can contact us before you enrol onto these modules to check that they will be acceptable for entry.

Access to Bristol

If you are from a college local to Bristol, you may wish to consider taking part in our Access to Bristol programme. This is an opportunity to spend eight Wednesday afternoons at the University of Bristol doing a subject of your choice. On completion of the programme you may be eligible for a guaranteed offer and bursary. The deadline for applying is usually around the end of September.

Will I be able to work and study at the same time?

Many of our students choose to work alongside study. The University guidelines suggest working no more than 15 hours during term time if studying full-time. Many of our full time mature students choose to keep 9am - 5pm hours for their studies, made up of teaching and independent study.

Maths, engineering and physics courses (including computer science)

For our maths, engineering, and physics courses it is recommended that you take maths at A-level alongside your Access to HE Diploma. If this is not an option for you, you may be offered a maths test as part of the application process. For physics, you may wish to consider the Physics with a Preliminary Year course as an alternative, or following the Access to HE Diploma.

Contact us

Prospective student queries:

Tel: +44 (0)117 394 1048

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