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How to apply for an undergraduate course

Whatever your journey to university looks like, we’re here to support you every step of the way. Find out more about how to apply and discover our resources to help you during your current studies.

The application process

For all undergraduate courses at Birmingham, you apply online through UCAS. The UCAS website has lots of information and advice around the process.

Top tips for your UCAS application

  • The University of Birmingham’s UCAS campus code number is B32.
  • Check the application deadline for your chosen course as they aren’t all the same. This will make sure that your application reaches us in time to be considered. For entry in September 2024, the application deadline for most courses is Wednesday 31 January 2024; for Medicine and Dentistry, the deadline is 16 October 2023.
  • A ‘firm choice’ is your first choice, and an ‘insurance choice’ is your backup.

Other useful links

  • If you are applying independently within the UK (i.e. not through a UK school or college), the most comprehensive source of supporting information is the UCAS website.
  • If you are applying from overseas and your school/college is not registered with UCAS, you are responsible for your own application. Advice is available from the British Council and from the UCAS website.

How to make your application stand out and write a great personal statement

Your personal statement is your chance to convince admissions tutors to offer you a place on the courses you’re applying for. You should showcase your passion for your subject and show that you have the motivation and ambition to succeed.

Writing a personal statement
Tips for writing your personal statement

At a glance

  • Make sure your personal statement is relevant to the course(s) you're applying to
  • Show your genuine interest in the course and that you have taken the time to properly find out what's involved
  • Analyse your reading, activities, and work experience - don't just say what you've done and that you enjoyed it.

How to structure your personal statement

Everyone's personal statement should be different, so while it might be helpful to find templates on the internet or at school to get you started, you should make sure that you make it your own.

Here are a few tips to keep your statement structured and to the point:

At least 75% of your personal statement should be related to what you want to study, and why you want to study that subject.

  • You need to tell us what it is about your chosen subject that interests you so much that you have chosen it above everything else. Show your passion, enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity.
  • We like to see evidence that your interest is genuine. For example:
  • Demonstrate that you have read more widely than just the set texts at school/college, and that you understand what the content of the course you’re applying for involves
  • If your degree is related to a particular line of work, show that you have work experience in a relevant setting or can otherwise demonstrate that you understand what that career involves
  • Show that you have given some thought to what you want to do after you have graduated (this is less important for degrees which are not vocational in nature, but can be useful for Admissions Tutors)
  • When you write about your experiences or activities that are related to the subject or course (for example, work experience; extra reading; clubs or societies), don’t just tell us what you did or read, but analyse what you got out of those activities and how this has increased your knowledge or interest in the subject you are applying to study.

The remaining 25% of your statement should be about your other achievements. You don’t need to write a list of everything you have done at school, but we are interested to see if you have taken full advantage of the opportunities that have been available to you. For example:

  • Have you held positions of responsibility?
  • Have you been in school or higher-level sports teams?
  • Have you taken part in school drama productions or debates?
  • Have you helped to run school societies or clubs?
  • Have you any community involvement or carried out volunteering?
  • Have you had a part-time job?

Where you use these examples, you should demonstrate the skills and experiences that they have given you and how they will help you at university.

Other top tips for making your application stand out

Meeting the entry requirements

The first step is to make sure you can meet the entry requirements for the course you’re interested in. University offers will be made based on predicted grades from Year 12, and some particularly competitive courses and universities will look at your GCSE results, too. At Birmingham, you can use our Offer Calculator tool to check your predicted grades and whether they meet the requirements for your chosen course. There is more flexibility for some courses than others.

Widening your subject knowledge

To support your personal statement, there are a few things that you can do to widen your knowledge of your chosen subject. But be creative and think outside the box, there are many things you can do in addition to our suggested list below:

  • Reading related books and articles
  • Listening to, watching, and making notes on podcasts and YouTube videos (e.g. TED Talks, university taster lectures)
  • Attending university summer schools or lectures, or find subject-specific events in your region
  • Volunteering in your local community

Writing a great personal statement

The personal statement is an important part of the admissions process and is your opportunity to tell admissions tutors why they should offer you a place. The things that universities are looking for can vary, but all will want to be persuaded that you have a genuine academic interest in the subject and that you have the motivation and enthusiasm to succeed.

Gaining work experience

Work experience can be a useful way of demonstrating your interest, motivation and transferable skills as well as providing you with a useful insight into potential future careers. For some vocational courses work experience might form part of the entry requirements, so check them carefully.

Extended Project Qualification

If there’s an area of study you really love – whether it’s engineering, languages, sport or art-based – an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) gives you the chance to develop your skills and knowledge and impress universities at the same time.

At the University of Birmingham, we recognise the EPQ as valuable proof of your capacity for independent learning, as well as your passion for the subject you want to study at a higher level. So when we see it on your UCAS application, it shows us that you’re serious.

Carry on having fun!

Keep up any extra-curricular activities such as music, drama, sport, volunteering, coaching and more, as all these things help you to develop relevant skills for university. Think about the relevant skills and attributes these activities have helped you to develop, and how you can apply them to life at university and in your future career.

Applicants returning to education

We encourage applications from people who have been out of education for some time and whose academic qualifications might not meet the current, standard programme entry requirements.

The Admissions Tutor for the programme that interests you will be happy to advise on the suitability of your qualifications and experience. You may be invited to attend an informal interview, take a test or submit a piece of written work as part of your application. You may also be advised to undertake an access course before applying. 

Some programmes, have very specific entrance requirements and these are detailed both on individual course listings in course finder and in our terms and conditions which also contains information about the University's conditions of study.

For advice on specific courses, contact the Admissions Tutor listed against the course entry in the your course page or go to the relevant department's website.