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Qualification Reform across the UK

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 grade 9, A to grades 7 and 8, B to grade 6 and grades C/C* to grades 4/5. 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.

For further information, please contact the Head of Admissions and Access Service (