A panoramic shot of the University of Birmingham's Campus on a nice sunny day.

Your journey to university

Leaving school may seem like a long way off, but it is never too early to start thinking about your academic future, as the decisions you make now may impact your options later down the line.

To help you make your way to higher education and support your decision-making, we've put together a timeline of key dates and periods starting with deciding your GCSEs, right until the start of university study. 


Pre-16 refers to the years between Year 8 and Year 11. During this time you will make a wide range of choices that will set the foundation for your future academic career. 

  • Year 8-9: Choosing your GCSEs

    An open book, pen and a phone

    In either Year 8 or Year 9, you will choose what subjects you want to study at GCSE.

    If you need help deciding your GCSE options, take a look at this webpage for some guidance.

  • Year 10: GCSE revision

    Students sitting at a laptop

    Preparing for your GCSEs can be difficult. GCSEs are really important as they can impact what you go on to study.

    Visit the BBC Bitesize website for subject-specific revision and study tools to support your learning.

  • Year 10: Opportunities

    Look out for opportunities offered by your school to visit universities and find out more about higher education. You can learn about university and student life on summer school programmes.

  • Year 10-11: Build skills and work experience

    An image of sticky notes on a corkboard that read 'community' and 'open process'

    Start building the skills you’ll need when you finish school. Having some work experience, a part-time job or building up your extracurricular activities will help you in the future.

    When looking at work experience, try looking for some in the field that you would like to study in as this will help with writing personal statements.

  • Year 10-11: Research options

    During your final years in secondary, start researching your options for post-16. If you choose to study A levels or equivalents, you will need to decide what subjects you would like to study.

    If you are interested in higher education, it would be wise to choose subjects that relate to the field you would like to study at university.

    The Uni Guide has a range of resources to help you with your research.

  • Year 11: GCSEs

    At this point you will be taking or have completed your GCSEs and enjoy your time before moving onto Year 12 and 13.

    Spend your summer celebrating your achievements, but also researching your future options and gaining more skills and experience!


Post-16 refers to Year 12 and Year 13. During this time, there will be a range of opportunities for you to look into higher education and see if it's the right fit for you. 

Pathways to Birmingham is a suite of Year 12 and Year 13 programmes that offer eligible students a taste of university life and support them with transitioning to higher education. 

Types of offer

At university there are four types of offer you could be given, including:

  • Conditional: subject to you meeting the entry requirements.
  • Unconditional: because you already meet the conditions of the offer, or you are highly desirable to the university.
  • Withdrawn: a choice has been withdrawn by you or the university.
  • Unsuccessful: the University has decided not to offer you a place.

To find out more details about types of offers, visit the UCAS website.

  • September

    Year 12: Starting your studies

    Now its time to focus on your A level or equivalent qualifications to ensure you have a positive start to your studies.

    In September, applications for Routes to the Professions open, which includes subject tasters, university application support, and career sessions among other activities.

  • Year 12: Skills4Uni

    An image of the Skills4Uni logo

    For support with revision and preparation for university, have a look at our study skills resource Skills4Uni. The modules cover many topics including essay writing and learning to research.

  • February to June

    Year 12: UCAS exhibitions

    From February to June, you will be able to visit UCAS exhibitions for a chance to compare universities, and courses and to ask any questions you have about further study or your options.

  • Year 12: Order a prospectus

    An image of someone holding the 2024 undergraduate prospectus

    Another great way to get information about universities and their courses is to order or download their prospectus. 

  • June to October

    Year 12: Open days

    An image of Student Ambassadors on Open day speaking with one another.

    University of Birmingham pre-application open days start in June of Year 12 and run until November of Year 13. You can also watch our video campus tour below.

  • Year 12-13: Take a campus tour

    Campus - Old Joe viewed from the green heart

    We know it is important to get a chance to visit your future university, so there are many opportunities to come visit us.

    You will have the opportunity to look around, speak to current students and staff about the courses that you're interested in, and get an idea of what life on campus could look like for you.

  • Summer holidays

    We recommend undertaking work experience to support your university applications that may have this as a requirement for certain courses.

    The University of Birmingham intranet has a range of resources in helping to find work experience.

  • September

    Year 13: Continuing your studies

    Only one more year left of school/college education so make sure to focus on your studies and planning for the future.

    UCAS opens for applications in September of Year 13. You can apply for five courses at this time.

  • September

    Year 13: Access to Birmingham (A2B)

    two female students smiling browsing booklet

    Access to Birmingham applications open in September. To qualify, students must be applying to study a full-time undergraduate course at UOB and meet the Pathways to Birmingham eligibility criteria.

  • Year 13: Contextual offer

    If you don't apply to us via Pathways to Birmingham, have a look at our contextual offer scheme instead. 

    Find out if you are eligible below.

  • October to April

    Year 13: Offer Holder visit days


    If the university makes you an offer to study, you may be invited to an offer holder visit day which typically run from October to April.

    On offer holder visit days, you will get the opportunity to meet staff and students as well as tour the facilities.

  • October onwards

    Year 13: UCAS applications

    Universities will start making offers of places. You will be able to monitor your application through your UCAS Hub and you will be notified when you receive offers from the universities.

    October 16 - Deadline for UCAS applications for Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary courses or to study at Oxford or Cambridge.

  • November to April

    Year 13: Course specific application processes

    Some courses will require applicants to take part in an interview or an audition to consider them for a place.

    You may also be asked to provide a portfolio or examples of your work for art or design courses.

  • 31 January

    Year 13: UCAS deadline

    The UCAS deadline for applications will be the 31st January, to be guaranteed for equal consideration.

    Access to Birmingham applications close soon as well, so make sure you submit yours as soon as possible.

  • February to May

    Year 13: Student finance

    In February applications for student finance will be open until May.

    Don't wait until you receive offers from your universities to apply for tuition fees and maintenance loans. Apply early!

  • Early May

    Year 13: UCAS choices

    Once you've heard back from your universities, you'll have to make your final two choices on UCAS. Deadlines for this decision depend on when you received your offers.

  • Late May

    Year 13: Apply for accommodation


    In late May applications for student accommodation will close.

    You must apply by this date to be guaranteed a place at University of Birmingham accommodation (either Birmingham owned or partner accommodation).

  • August

    Year 13: Results and confirmation and clearing

    In August, the results are released for A levels or equivalent qualifications will be released and you will know if you got into university.

    Depending on your results, clearing is also available on results day.

Students at welcome week outside Aston Web with banners

Congratulations, you made it!

Your university experience begins! You’ll move into your accommodation and will have the opportunity to take part in Welcome Week. This will include a suite of events and activities designed to help you settle in, meet other students, and explore our clubs and societies. Your College, School or Department will also offer a programme of induction events and activities to give you details specific to your area of study and allow you to meet the relevant staff as well as other students in your study area.