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Applying for undergraduate study in 2021

Find out how our admissions processes have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

A group of student stood in front of Bath Abbey throwing their mortar boards up in the air
Students graduating

Competition for places

We know that applying for university is a big step, and students are often anxious about their chances of securing an offer at their preferred choice. The popularity of each degree varies from year to year, and in any year it is impossible for us to predict with certainty how many students may choose to apply until we have received all applications.

This year we have seen strong interest in our undergraduate courses, with an increase in applications for most of our degrees.

While we appreciate there is a great deal of uncertainty for each student individually, we expect that despite this year’s challenges the grades awarded to students studying A levels and other qualifications may be higher than during previous years.

Anticipating this, we have deliberately chosen to make fewer offers for many of our courses, to ensure they are not oversubscribed when offer holders receive their results.

Because of this increase in applications, coupled with a reduced number of offers, competition for places is higher in many of our degrees this year. This means we may not be able to make offers to every student we may wish to, but we want you to be reassured that we have been working hard to ensure our admissions decisions are as fair and balanced as possible.

Flexibility with missed offers and Clearing applications

It is normal for students to have concerns about their final grades and how they might be considered if they do not meet their offer conditions. We appreciate that this year in particular, you may have additional concerns given the uncertainty and disruption you have been facing and will be looking to your chosen universities to be flexible where possible.

Nevertheless, given increased competition for many of our degrees and greater unpredictability in the final distribution of grades, we cannot promise we will have the capacity to be as flexible as we might like with students who miss their offers. Only if you meet the full conditions of your offer can we guarantee that you will be accepted.

We will provide more advice and guidance on how we are approaching this as we head into the summer.

We have always prioritised being flexible for offer holders who narrowly miss their offer conditions over opportunities for students seeking new places through Clearing. At present, we expect to have few (if any) vacancies in Clearing this year, particularly for our most popular courses. However, should this year’s results be very different from what we anticipate we may have more vacancies than anticipated.

New applications

Due to high demand, many of our degrees are now closed to new applications for 2021 entry. Those courses that remain available are listed as such on our 2021 courses pages and UCAS.

We are not considering applications for students to transfer into the second or higher years of our undergraduate degrees in 2021. If you are interested in a transfer, we may be able to consider you for entry into the first year of our degree, but only if your chosen course remains open for late applications.

We will consider applications through UCAS Extra where a course remains open for applications.

Personal statements and work experience

If you are looking to make a new application for a degree where we are still accepting applications, you might be concerned about how Covid-19 has affected your opportunities and the impact on your personal statement. The most important thing to remember is that disruption to study because of the pandemic has been widespread, and we will understand that some opportunities may have been more limited as a result of recent circumstances.

We appreciate that opportunities to gain relevant work experience have been especially limited. For almost all of our degrees work experience is not an essential requirement, and in a normal year most applicants will not have relevant work or voluntary experience. This is especially true in fields such as engineering, science and social sciences. If you do not have work experience you do not need to worry - focus on the positive experiences you do have in your personal statement.

You might have individual circumstances arising from the pandemic that you want universities to know about, such as greater disruption to your home or school life. Our advice is to not include too much about this in your personal statement. Our approach to school disruption, and when and how you should let us know is covered in the following section.

Changes and cancellations of exams and assessments

Governments have already announced a number of changes to exams, assessments or award arrangements in Summer 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic. While the approach taken will be different this year, at Bath we expect that in most cases these changes (including the cancellation of exams) will not directly affect the way we approach your application. Where possible, we will make adjustments to ensure you are not disadvantaged by any changes to your exams.

A levels and Scottish Advanced Highers in 2021

Governments in the UK have confirmed that exams will not go ahead for A levels and Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers. Students will instead receive grades based on some form of teacher assessment, although the processes and policies behind these assessments will be different than those used in 2020.

While we had hoped it would be possible for these exams to take place, we included the possibility they would not when making plans for this year. As such, we will be accepting any grades awarded in Summer 2021 as normal, and these changes will not affect how we consider your individual application.

We are not making any changes to existing offers or our typical requirements because of these changes to the awarding of qualifications. However, for 2021 applications we will not require the usual pass in any separate practical endorsements for science or Geology A levels.

New guidance continues to emerge on how private A level candidates will be supported in receiving grades. We expect students will be able to access teacher assessed grades through arrangements with their A level centre, so we encourage you to continue to speak to your A level centre directly about your circumstances.

We understand official results for these qualifications will be released to students on Tuesday 10 August 2021. While the timing will differ, we expect the process and experience of applicants will be very similar to other years, and will provide further information for offer holders on what to expect closer to the time.

International A levels

Like A levels in the UK, exams have been cancelled and replaced for students studying International A levels through Pearson Edexcel or Oxford AQA. We understand exams will, however, go ahead as planned for students studying Cambridge International A levels in most countries, and where this is not possible because of Government-imposed restrictions (e.g. UK, Mexico) we will accept teacher-assessed grades.

Regardless of your specific arrangements, we will be treating all students studying A levels equally this year, including International A levels.

BTECs and Cambridge Technicals

In keeping with A levels, many assessments for these qualifications have been replaced with teacher assessments, and we expect students to receive overall awards on that basis.

We will be accepting any BTECs and Cambridge Technical qualifications awarded in Summer 2021 as normal, and these changes will not affect how we consider your individual application.

We understand that for some awards this year students will not receive certified unit grades from their awarding bodies. Where these form part of your conditional offer (for example, to achieve a Distinction in specific units), we will be reviewing and amending our decision accordingly to ensure you are not disadvantaged. If you are holding such an offer, we ask for patience while we review and update our practices. In the meantime, students may receive new offers with these conditions as we do not wish to delay you receiving an overall offer at this stage.

We are not planning any other changes to our entry requirements or offers for BTEC students.

The timing of results for your BTEC or Cambridge Technicals may depend on the specific type of qualification you are studying, but we do not expect it will change the application process for you.

International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) are moving forward with dual routes for Summer 2021 assessments. Depending on your school, your International Baccalaureate Diploma or Career Programme may be awarded based on exams or on an alternative approach combining teacher predictions with your internal assessment coursework.

We expect to accept IB qualifications awarded through either route as equally valid and to treat all IB students the same. We have not changed our approach to making offers to IB students because of this decision.

We are not making any changes to existing offers or our typical requirements because of these changes.

Access to HE Diplomas

We understand that while assessments for Access to HE Diplomas may be changed or replaced with teacher assessments, students can expect to be awarded a final Diploma with unit grades as normal.

We will accept any Access to HE Diploma results you are awarded this year as normal and have made no changes to our entry requirements.

Mathematics tests – STEP, MAT and TMUA

As some students may have difficulty accessing them this year, we have removed additional mathematics tests from typical offers for many of our degrees in Mathematics. We have also reduced A level requirements for students who study Further Mathematics so that they do not miss out on a reduced offer through the removal of these tests.

Additional mathematics tests remain a requirement for some students where they are essential to ensuring you are suitably prepared to study one of these degrees, and your offer may include such a condition.

We are monitoring arrangements for STEP exams this year closely and will update you if any changes become necessary later in the year.

GCSEs and National 5s

GCSE and National 5s exams have been cancelled this year and grades will be awarded using teacher assessments.

If you are applying for 2021 entry with a re-sit in a GCSE we will contact you directly if needed to discuss the implications of these changes.

If you are finishing your GCSEs or National 5s this year, you do not need to worry about the impact of these changes on any future application. We will make adjustments to our approach for affected students in future years to ensure you are not disadvantaged.

Indian Senior School Certificates

We are aware of the recent announcement and the indefinite postponement of CBSE exams in the 12th grade. Several state boards have made similar announcements, and we expect a decision from CISCE on those exams soon.

We are assessing the impact of these announcements on our offer holders and considering how best to support students in this situation. We are awaiting further clarification on when and if exams may go ahead, or what alternative arrangements may be put in place for students if they are unable to do so.

We will keep all affected offer holders informed as more information becomes available and we develop our plans.

Other qualifications

We continue to monitor the situation for students studying other qualifications in the UK and across the world. Where necessary, we will make adjustments to ensure you are not disadvantaged by any changes. Below is a non-exhaustive list of key changes that may affect you:

  • French Baccalaureate – final examinations have been cancelled and awards will be based on your performance in continuous assessments. While we are making no changes to our offers, we will watch final performance of students this year carefully for any significant change in awarded grades.
  • US Advanced Placements and ACT/SATs – we are aware of a number of changes and disruptions to these qualifications this year. We will work directly with affected students where possible to find alternative ways for them to satisfy our general requirements
  • HKDSE – we are aware of later exam and results dates, and do not expect significant problems for you in the application process. Due to changes in assessment, we will not be able to accept English from the HKDSE to meet our standard English language requirements this year.

Disruption for schools, colleges and examinations

Schools and colleges have moved to remote teaching across most of the UK, and this is expected to continue until at least the middle of February. Regardless of where you live, you will likely have also experienced disruption to your education last year. We know the impact of this disruption will have varied between students (and their schools), but we also recognise the continuing challenges faced by all students across the world.

As in any year, we will also be mindful of these challenges when assessing final results this year should overall performance be lower than normal. We are continually monitoring the situation in other countries for our international applicants.

While we understand that this is a very unsettling time, please be reassured we consider school closures and general disruption automatically as part of our normal consideration. However, we appreciate you may experience individual specific circumstances (related or unrelated to Covid-19) which may affect your ability to perform academically. If you do have mitigating circumstances, we encourage you to read our published guidance and fill in our mitigating circumstances form so we can consider them carefully alongside your application.

Accepting results from 2020

If you achieved your final qualifications last year and meet our typical offer for your chosen degree then we will be able to consider and accept those results as normal. Please be aware that we can only accept results that have been formally awarded by the relevant organisation – we cannot consider other measures (such as predicted grades) instead of final awards.

Resitting qualifications from 2020

We can consider you if you are resitting some or all of your qualifications from 2020 and expect to achieve new grades. We know that the circumstances for any awards in 2020 may not reflect your true ability, and as such, you will not be penalised for any lower results last year.

We will accept the results of any resit exams already taken this school year. We will also accept results awarded in Summer 2021, whether awarded through exams or teacher or classroom assessments. Where you can be awarded grades in a qualification more than once this year (for example, from a Winter re-sit and a Summer teacher assessment), we will accept your highest awarded result.

Offer guarantee for students who received offers in 2020

If you received an offer from Bath last year (for 2020 or 2021 entry) and choose to reapply for the same degree, you will already have a guarantee that we will make you a new offer this year. The conditions of this offer will match those you received last year. You do not need to do anything other than reapply through UCAS to claim this offer; we will automatically make sure you receive it.

If you are applying for the first time with results from last year or resits, or if you choose to apply for a different degree having received an offer last year, your application will be considered as normal alongside all other applicants and whether you receive an offer will depend on the strength of your application.


If you have any questions, please contact us.