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Admission requirements to study in the UK

From Foundation Degree until Research Master: Hardly any other country has such a diverse study program as the United Kingdom. Despite its relatively small geographic size, the UK's higher education landscape has been around for decades globally leading.

Many international students are therefore wondering how good their chances are of being admitted to study at one of the renowned British universities. The admission requirements for studying in the UK differ not only in the undergraduate area but also in the postgraduate area depending on the study program and university.

Despite these complex admission requirements to study in the UK, there are a few comparable standards determine for applicants.

Linguistic admission requirements

© Sheffield Hallam University

Minimum language and academic standards apply to all universities and colleges for admission to study in the UK.

In order to meet the linguistic admission requirements, proof of a Minimum score in one standardized language test required. Common language tests such as the IELTS or the Cambridge Certificate are accepted in the UK. A language certificate based on the TOEFL is also permitted, although British universities prefer the language tests mentioned above.

The minimum number of points required for an application to study abroad in the graduate area is usually higher than for an undergraduate degree. A DAAD language test as proof of language proficiency is only accepted for semester stays.

Abitur as proof of language proficiency for studying in Great Britain

For studies in the undergraduate area, it may also be possible to prove the English language skills by means of the Abitur certificate, which can be submitted before the start of the course.

A Classification in the course of a language test on siteas offered by some UK universities should, at best, be a stopgap solution. For example, if an applicant just missed the minimum number of points in a standardized language test.

Danger: A common mistake when applying to study in Great Britain is to state the high school diploma as a school leaving certificate with "A-Levels" instead of "Abitur comparable to A-Levels". The contextless statement that you have completed the "A-Levels" can lead to the erroneous assumption that the school leaving certificate was obtained in Great Britain.


Academic admission tests

In the UK, unlike the US, admission requirements in the form of academic admission tests are uncommon. The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is an academic admission test in the UK and concerns Candidates in the department The application deadline via UCAS for the Bachelor of Medicine is already in October, so the UKCAT test should be planned early in the application process.

The UKCAT aptitude test examines applicants for a degree in human medicine or dentistry in Great Britain in a selection process organized by the universities. UKCAT helps UK universities select the most suitable candidates for their medical and dental programs from among the many highly qualified applicants.

Admission requirements depending on the type of study

© Newcastle University

When applying for a semester abroad or for a doctorate, there are some helpful tips for successful admission to study in Great Britain.

In the Anglo-Saxon study system, in addition to the language requirements, depending on the type of study, there are also academic requirements that must be proven when applying for a study in Great Britain.

Semester abroad and academic gap year

One of the most popular study programs for international students is a semester abroad in the UK. Depending on the university, applicants must have already completed a certain number of university semesters. Applicants wishing to study in the British Isles for a semester or two should meet the following requirements:

  • usually be enrolled at at least one university
  • In the undergraduate area, the Abitur and, if necessary, the participation in certain courses in the Bachelor's degree
  • in the graduate area, a first academic degree such as a bachelor's degree and enrollment in a master’s degree
  • if necessary, for consecutive master’s courses, subject-specific knowledge, depending on the course

In addition, the minimum number of points required for language certificates and the necessary GPA, the grade point average in the UK grading system, for admission to a semester abroad in Great Britain.

Similar requirements apply to all applicants who are interested in an Academic Gap Year. In contrast to semester students, the Abitur as proof of English is only possible if it is not also used as academic proof. For this reason, applicants for an Academic Gap Year usually require a separate language certificate.

Admission to the bachelor's degree

Admission to a bachelor's degree in the UK usually requires a high school diploma. In the United Kingdom, in contrast to other European countries such as Denmark, Ireland or the Netherlands, it is only possible in a few exceptional cases to use a Technical college entrance qualification or a subject-related university degree to take up a bachelor's degree.

In addition to the Abitur grades and a language certificate in general, it may be necessary for admission to subjects such as mathematics, certain Proof of professional competence. As a rule, this is possible by providing evidence that you have taken a course in your Abitur.

Special case: Foundation Degree

For applicants without a high school diploma who have at least a secondary school diploma and, if necessary, initial work experience, it is possible to obtain a Foundation Degree to acquire. The Foundation Degree is a Special feature in the British study system. Students there primarily acquire the language requirements to then enroll in a bachelor's degree.

Admission to postgraduate or master’s degree in Great Britain

A successfully completed bachelor's degree, usually also a diploma and master's degree, grants admission to graduate studies in Great Britain. The only exception is a job-related course such as an LLM course.

For admission to an LLM Master’s, a first state examination required. Unlike an MBA in the US, many UK colleges are eligible for admission to an MBA in the UKno work experience and no GMAT necessary. Bachelor students who do not want to complete a full Master’s degree can do a postgraduate course in the UK Postgraduate Certificate or a Postgraduate Diploma acquire.

Even those who have already started a master’s degree in Great Britain but do not want to complete it can possibly start a master’s degree after the first semester Postgraduate Diploma and after the second semester without submitting the thesis Postgraduate Certificate.

Special features when changing subject in the master’s degree

In Great Britain it is also possible in certain subjects, such as economics, to take a bachelor's degree non-consecutive master's degree to connect. In contrast to students who study a consecutive master’s degree, such as engineering, non-consecutive master’s usually do not require proof of specialist knowledge.

The so-called Conversion Courses are designed to offer introductory courses to undergraduate students from various disciplines new additional qualification to convey. The courses therefore offer less incentive for students who already have previous knowledge of the respective subject.

Admission Requirements for a PhD in the UK

As in Germany, the admission requirements for doctoral studies in Great Britain differ depending on the university and subject. In order to start a doctoral program, a good to very good degree in the graduate area is required:

  • Master's degree
  • possibly also a diploma or master’s degree
  • possibly also a Bachelor of Honors

The most important basis is the presence of one Research proposals. There are also in the UK combined master's and doctoral programs, such as the Master by Research.

Bachelor or master students who are aiming for a doctorate but who lack research experience can compensate for this with a research master.

Danger: Anyone who has completed a one-year master’s degree in Great Britain and is aiming for a doctorate in Germany must prove that they have a sufficient number of credit points as part of the verification of the credit points they have completed.

Admission requirements for short-term studies

A short-term study visit to Great Britain is particularly popular with students who cannot or do not want to include a semester abroad in their course of study. Summer Sessions, a special range of courses in summer, as well as language courses or advanced training are available low entry barriers.

Enrollment at a British university is not required for short-term studies, so an application - provided there is capacity - is also possible shortly before the start. For admission, all you need to do is provide evidence of your Abitur or, if applicable, a technical diploma as well as a certificate of enrollment from your home university.

If the Placement for a language test does not take place on site, proof of language proficiency should provide sufficient information about the current status of the language to be learned.

Additional admission requirements for studying in the UK

In Great Britain, there are also additional requirements in the undergraduate and graduate sector in addition to language certificates and academic requirements, which differ depending on the study program and university.

This includes the reference letter, which is always required for a full degree in Great Britain. Applicants should definitely find out which reference letters are necessary in their individual case and to whom the letter should be addressed. Semester students, for example, sometimes only have to name two references without having to write a reference letter.

When applying for a full course, a letter of motivation is also required. Applicants should explain their choice of subjects and their qualifications in the letter of motivation. A letter of motivation and a curriculum vitae can also be requested from the university for a semester abroad.