What is a contextual offer?
At Bristol we want to attract students from all backgrounds because we believe a student community that reflects our society will benefit everyone.
Our contextual offer is a grade reduction of up to two grades below the standard entry requirements and is made to those from backgrounds who, generally, are less likely to come here. Once here, data shows that our contextual offer students achieve above average academically.
Details of our standard and contextual offer entry requirements are available on course pages. Use our course search tool to search our courses.
Could I get a contextual offer?
You may be eligible for a contextual offer if one of the following statements applies to you.
You have attended an aspiring state school or college
You will be eligible for a contextual offer if you are applying from an aspiring state school or college, which we define as:
schools in the bottom 40 per cent for either:
- progression to higher education, or
- average attainment in A-levels, International Baccalaureate, Pre-U and Extended Projects qualifications (England)
- average attainment in A-levels or any equivalent qualifications (Wales)
- schools that have 75% or more of their students resident in POLAR quintiles 1 or 2
based on the latest school performance and destination data available from the Department for Education.
If you are currently attending school and applying for 2021 entry, you must apply through a school or college listed in the link below to be eligible. If you have finished school or college, you must have attended a school or college on the list in the 2019/20 academic year to be eligible.
We use the 'applying from' school code or the education history on your UCAS form to determine the school or college you have attended, so you must ensure these are correct when you apply.
Inclusion on the contextual offer list is not a judgement of the quality of the institution. We recognise that many of the schools and colleges on the list have been deemed outstanding in many respects.
You live in an area with low progression to higher education
You will be eligible for a contextual offer if, at the point of application, you live in an area that has a low rate of progression to higher education according to POLAR4 data. To determine this, we use the home address on your UCAS application form.
You can check whether your address qualifies by entering your postcode into the POLAR checking tool.
If your address is in a low progression area, you may also qualify for the University of Bristol Accommodation Bursary which is a discount of up to £1,040 on rent at University-allocated accommodation.
More information on POLAR classifications can be found on the Office for Students website.
You have completed a University of Bristol outreach programme
If you complete an academically focused outreach programme at the University, you will be eligible for a contextual offer. These include:
You have spent time in care
If you have spent three months or more in local authority care, you will be eligible for a contextual offer.
Please tick the box in the care questions on your UCAS application. If your reference confirms that you’ve spent three months or more in local authority care, our admissions team will process your application. If not, we’ll ask you to send us some more information, such as an email or letter from your local authority, school/college or other organisation.
Care leavers and estranged students may be eligible for our Standalone Bursary of £1,500 each year in addition to the University of Bristol Bursary of up to £2,060 a year and our Accommodation Bursary which is a discount of up to £1,040 on rent of university accommodation. These students are also encouraged to apply for the Unite Foundation Scholarship which provides free accommodation for three years.
Please note: The above figures are for 2019 entry and may change in subsequent years.
Find out more about the support the University of Bristol provides to care leavers.
You attend a Venturers Trust secondary school
You will be eligible for a contextual offer if you are currently attending a Venturers Trust secondary school; the Merchants Academy or Colston's Girls' School.
In honour of our commitment to being co-sponsors of the Venturers Multi-Academy Trust in Bristol, all pupils who attend and apply from the two secondary schools named above will receive a contextual offer.
Life at Bristol
Bristol is one of the best student cities in the UK. Find out more about the people you'll meet and the clubs and societies you can join while you're here.
Get a feel for life at Bristol at an undergraduate open day, an open afternoon or a campus tour. If you receive an offer, you’ll also be invited to join other offer holders on your programme for a post offer visit day to find out more about your course.
The University currently makes contextual offers to applicants who meet one or more of these criteria and are taking A-levels or the International Baccalaureate diploma. Contextual offer levels for these qualifications are stated on each course entry in our course finder.
What is the University doing to help applicants whose schooling has been disrupted by Covid-19?
While we appreciate the significant disruption caused by coronavirus in both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years, we expect this to be considered in schools and through exam boards and do not require applicants to tell us about their individual circumstances. However, if applicants feel that their exam performance is likely to have been significantly affected, they are welcome to tell us this in a mitigating circumstances form. At university level, we will consider disruption which has been significant and personal to the individual applicant.
We recognise that Covid-19 has had a significant impact on schools and colleges across the country and many applicants for 2021 entry will have missed up to six months of A level (or equivalent) teaching.
To make sure that we continue to attract the brightest and best students and do not disadvantage those whose grades may be impacted as a result of the pandemic, we encourage students whose predicted grades may not meet our standard/contextual offer level to apply. We cannot guarantee that these students will be made an offer, but we have employed an aspirational offer system for a number of years and will continue to do so for 2021.
We do not require applicants to tell us about their individual circumstances as we expect this to be considered in schools/colleges and through exam boards. However, if applicants feel that their exam performance is likely to have been significantly affected, they are welcome to tell us this in a mitigating circumstances form.
At confirmation 2021, when we receive students results, we will use the information which we have about Covid-19 disadvantaged students in our process to allocate places to students who have achieved their offer terms, or narrowly missed these terms. We cannot guarantee that any student who misses the term of their offer will be accepted but we will prioritise them where possible.
How do I apply?
Apply to us through UCAS and if you meet any of the criteria you’ll be automatically considered.
Check if you are eligible for other kinds of support. We offer a wide range of bursaries and scholarships, accommodation and student support to ensure you get the most out of your time with us.
If you accept your offer at Bristol as your firm choice you can benefit from the accommodation guarantee.
If you have any queries relating to contextual offers, please contact the Enquiries Team on +44 (0) 117 394 1649 or email@example.com