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General entrance requirements

General Entrance Requirement

The General Entrance Requirement can be satisfied in a number of ways as shown below. In all cases GCSE English Language at grade C/4, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University, must be offered.

The University accepts Level 2 Essential Skills in Communication in lieu of a grade C/4 in GCSE English Language. Applicants whose first language is not English should refer to the section under the heading ‘English language requirements for international students’ since different requirements apply.

Please note that the same subject cannot be counted at different levels in satisfying the General Entrance Requirement.

  1. GCE/GCSE Qualifications Passes in the General Certificate of Secondary Education or International General Certificate of Secondary Education (minimum grade C/4) and the General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level) as follows:
    1. a) Passes in at least five subjects, two of which should be at A-level or
    2. b) Passes in at least four subjects, three of which should be at A-level. A-level (Double Award) will be acceptable in place of two A-levels.
    3. Two AS-levels will not be acceptable in place of one A-level in fulfilment of the General Entrance Requirement.
      More detailed information is available from the Admissions and Access Service website.
  2. Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers Passes in the Scottish Qualifications Certificate (Standard Grade (grades 1–3), Intermediate 2, National 5, Highers and Advanced Highers) as follows: Either a) Passes in at least five subjects, three of which should be at Higher level or b) Passes in at least four subjects, all of which should be at Higher level.
  3. A BTEC Diploma/ National Diploma/ Extended Diploma/National Extended Diploma or Higher National Certificate/ Diploma.
  4. An OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma or Extended Diploma.
  5. The WJEC Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate (AWB).
  6. The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP).
  7. The Cambridge Pre-U Diploma.
  8. The Irish Leaving Certificate The General Entrance Requirement can be satisfied by passes in five subjects to include English, four of which should be at H5 grade.
  9. The European Baccalaureate.
  10. Home-educated applicants: The University considers home education as a valid alternative to an exam-centred school education and welcomes applications from such students. Applicants should note that they will be considered against the standard admission criteria of the course for which they are applying and will need to demonstrate that they meet the specified academic requirements of the course.
  11. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) The University operates an RPL scheme which includes experiential learning or prior certificated learning for both admission and credit purposes. This is available on the Academic Affairs website.
  12. Other qualifications deemed equivalent by the University: If you are taking qualifications which differ from those listed here, please contact the Admissions and Access Service for advice. e: t: +44 (0)28 9097 3838


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English Language Requirements for International Students

One of the under-noted approved tests in English may be offered in place of GCSE English Language:

  • IGCSE English Language (including Speaking and Listening/Oral test) or a recognised overseas O-level English Language
  • Cambridge Proficiency (CPE)
  • Cambridge Advanced (CAE)
  • University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) GCE O-level English Language Syllabus 1119/1120 (with pass in Oral test) 1123/1125/1127/1128
  • IELTS Academic Test
  • TOEFL iBT® (internet-Based)
  • INTO English for University Study Test
  • INTO English Language Assessment (IELA)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic™
  • HKDSE – Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education
  • Trinity ISE III or IV Integrated Skills in English Examinations (with at least a Pass in all test components)

Further information on other acceptable English Language qualifications is available at 

Details of the English Language requirements for entry to each undergraduate degree programme can be found in the individual course descriptions.

Applicants who require a visa for study, and who intend to undertake a Pre-sessional English course prior to commencing their degree must hold a Secure English Language Test (SELT) approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) – see


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Recognised Subjects

All subjects set by recognised examination boards are, in principle, acceptable in fulfilment of the General Entrance Requirement.

The University will take account of restrictions imposed by the examination boards and possible overlap between subjects.

In considering applications from applicants, individual Schools or Faculties reserve the right to take account of the range, content and number of subjects being offered.

A/AS-level General Studies and A-level Critical Thinking are not normally included as part of conditional offers.

The acceptability of a native language (where two different specifications are not available for those sitting it as a first or second language), taken in Year 13 or 14 (Year 12 or 13 in England and Wales), is considered on an individual basis.

 Applicants who require advice about the acceptability of any subject should contact the Admissions and Access Service ( 

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The University recognises that qualifications reform across the UK, which will be introduced on a phased basis, will result in applicants presenting with different qualification profiles.

Furthermore, we appreciate that the opportunities available to applicants will often be dependent on school/college policy.

Queen’s has extensive experience of admitting students with a wide range of qualifications, many of which are non-modular (linear) in nature.

Based on this, we would like to provide reassurance that we will continue to ensure that all applicants are treated fairly and are not disadvantaged by the reforms and decisions made by schools/colleges, as appropriate to their individual circumstances.

The following information represents our approach and this policy will be kept under review as further details become available.

Please refer to our website at for the most up-to-date position.

AS/A-level Reform

A-level qualifications offered by the Examination Boards in Northern Ireland and Wales have the same structure as previously though the AS component of the A-level has a reduced weighting and we wish to confirm that the results obtained in linear and modular A-levels will be treated on the same basis.

Currently, in terms of selection for the most competitive courses, emphasis is placed on GCSE performance with AS-level results taken into account in borderline cases or where they are significantly better than the GCSEs and this will continue.

We would encourage schools and colleges to outline what qualifications they offer to their students in the UCAS reference.

This will inform our decision and allow us to use alternative factors in the selection process to ensure applicants, who have not undertaken any AS-levels at the time of application, are not disadvantaged.

The only programme where a fourth AS-level is necessary is Medicine and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is acceptable in lieu. Where a school does not offer AS-levels or the EPQ, a lower grade in a fourth A-level will be acceptable.

For all other degree programmes, offers are made on the basis of three A-levels though, following release of results, additional qualifications may be taken into account in borderline cases, as at present. Those with a fourth AS/A-level or the EPQ may therefore be at an advantage.

GCSE Reform

A Grade C in GCSE English Language (or equivalent, acceptable to the University) is a general entrance requirement and for a number of degree programmes, there are GCSE subject requirements at Grade C or above. In addition GCSE performance may be used as part of the selection criteria when deciding whether or not to make an offer or in shortlisting for interview.

In terms of the new 9-1 grading scale, the University will equate A* to grades 8 and 9, A to grade 7, B to grade 6 and C to grade 4. These mappings will be kept under review.

The results obtained in linear and modular GCSEs will be treated on the same basis.

A-level Science Practical

 A pass in the practical element of the reformed Science A-levels from the English Awarding Bodies and Eduqas will be a requirement and this will be specified in offers. Information can be found at and this will be updated on a regular basis.  


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The Prospectus is prepared well in advance of the academic year to which it relates. Therefore, the target grades stated here and in the A–Z of Degrees section are for guidance only.

Please refer to the Course Finder on the University’s website, which will have current grade requirements: All applicants are considered individually on their merits and the full information on the application, including the personal statement and reference, is taken into account.

 Competition for places varies considerably between courses and it is to be expected, therefore, that the factors taken into account by individual Course Selectors differ.

 The following general points are likely to apply:

  1. Overall academic background and, in particular, performance at GCSE and/ or AS-level or in the first year of BTEC/ OCR Level 3, BTEC HNC Level 4/ HND Level 5 or Access Course Level 3 qualifications is important, particularly for high-demand programmes. Predicted grades are not normally used, except in very borderline cases.
  2. Offers for repeat applicants, or for those who have taken an extra year to achieve the grades required, may be one grade higher overall for some subject areas. Course Selectors would not normally consider applicants who have had more than two attempts at obtaining the required qualifications for admission. Further restrictions may apply for highdemand courses.
  3. In the case of applicants who take qualifications a year earlier than is the norm, the grade(s) achieved will be taken into account in fulfilment of the target. The standard conditional offer is usually made with a note added to indicate that performance in the previous year will be counted.
  4. For students who have studied beyond A-level or equivalent, performance at this level will also be taken into account.
  5. In addition to academic criteria, interviews, admissions/aptitude tests, auditions, etc, form part of the selection process for some courses.
  6. Some Course Selectors may also take into consideration experience, motivation and commitment to the chosen course.
  7. Offers are made in terms of grades rather than UCAS Tariff points. This means that a minimum grade in any qualification may be specified. Offers will normally be made on the basis of three A-levels or acceptable equivalent in other qualifications. Additional subjects at AS/A-level may be taken into account in August in borderline cases. Please note that Medicine requires three A-levels plus one AS-level (or acceptable alternative – see A-Z of degrees).
  8. Currently conditional offers will not be made in terms of grades in individual AS/A2 modules, however, this information may be used in a tie-break situation after release of A-level results in August.
  9. An A* grade at A-level may be specified as part of an alternative offer for a limited range of degree programmes, for example, A* (Mathematics) AB or AAA (including Mathematics) at A-level for the MSci in Mathematics.
  10. Where applicants take AS-level examinations in their penultimate year, but do not certify their results, it is helpful if the equivalent grades are given in the academic reference or personal statement since performance in these may affect whether or not a conditional offer is made.
  11. Course Selectors, especially for the high-demand courses, may not equate the points score of two AS-levels to one A-level. In cases where a mixture of A and AS-levels is being offered, selectors are likely to ask for the higher grades in the A-level component rather than the AS component.
  12. In many cases, where degrees do not have specific subject requirements, GCE General and GCE Applied A-level qualifications may be interchangeable and there is generally no restriction on the number of Applied A-level subjects which can be offered. The exceptions are Medicine and Dentistry where a maximum of either one Applied A-level or one Applied AS-level may be offered.
  13. The University recognises the value of skills developed in the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). For A-level applicants who decide to undertake the EPQ, this will be acceptable in place of the fourth AS-level subject for Medicine and Dentistry and will also be taken into account in lieu of an additional AS-level in August in borderline cases for all other degree programmes.
  14. The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate (WBASCC) is considered in lieu of an A-level (grades A*–C) with the exception of Medicine and Dentistry (where the appropriate grade is accepted in place of the required AS-level).
  15. Key Skills, Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (COPE) and the Open University’s Young Applicants for Schools and Colleges Scheme (YASS): the University acknowledges that development of transferable skills is an important aspect of both school and university education and students are encouraged to develop these whether or not it is through a formal qualification. While the University does not require them for any programme and they will not form part of the conditions of any offer, they may be used in a tie-break situation.

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Course Finder

Further details about selection procedures are available in the individual degree programmes listed at under ‘Entry Requirements’. This includes a section on ‘How we Choose our Students’ 

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A level and Irish leaving Certificate Entrance Requirements

The A-level and Irish Leaving Certificate Course Requirements table lists all subjects that can be studied at Queen’s, singly or in combination, as a significant part of a degree. A guide to the table and the table are available in the prospects from page 61 onwards. You can find it here.

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Offers for International Students

As there are separate intake quotas, for some courses the entrance requirements for students from outside the European Union may be lower than those listed, depending on competition for places. Details are published in the International Prospectus available online here.

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