Postgraduate Admissions Policy


A diverse community is an essential part of the core values of the University of Exeter. Diversity amongst our student body enriches learning, teaching and research.

The University’s Postgraduate Admissions Policy sets out the means by which we will encourage and welcome applicants with different educational and social backgrounds.

The policy relates to all postgraduate programmes offered by the University of Exeter.

The University is committed to ensuring that no student with potential to meet our entry requirements is deterred from applying. All applications are considered and evaluated on the basis of individual potential.

This policy is consistent with good admissions practice in higher education, as defined in the Quality Assurance Agency’s UK Quality Code of Practice for Higher Education* and the Schwartz Recommendations for Good Practice**, and complies with current legislation affecting the admission of students.

*The Quality Assurance Agency's UK Quality Code for Higher Education (2013) 
**Admissions to Higher Education Steering Group (2004) Fair admissions to higher education: Recommendations for good practice

Responsibility for oversight of and changes to our Postgraduate Admissions Policy rests with the University of Exeter’s Admissions Policy Group.

General academic entry requirements

The University welcomes applications from appropriately qualified students offering a wide range of qualifications. International qualifications will be considered and evaluated by referring to independently published guides recognised within the United Kingdom higher education sector such as UK NARIC.

Competence in English Language

Teaching and assessment will normally take place in English. Therefore, applicants must be competent in the English language and most programmes require at least GCSE English at grade 4 or C or an equivalent qualification. If you are not a national of or have not completed your education in a UKVI defined majority English-speaking country you will need to demonstrate evidence of a good command of English through submission of a formal and approved qualification before starting your degree programme. 

Suitability of subjects and subject combinations required

While we will normally consider a wide range of subjects as appropriate for entry to our programmes, applicants are advised to check individual programme requirements, where in some cases, we will advise on preferences in respect of particular subjects or subject combinations that we believe provide the best preparation for study on that programme.

Other criteria

In addition to academic qualifications, when selecting candidates we will also consider whether an applicant is suitably motivated to complete their chosen programme of study, and whether the provision will challenge and benefit the student.

In our holistic assessment of an application, we will take into account information provided within the personal statement and reference, and will consider academic ability, motivation, experience and self-discipline. We will also consider relevant interests outside of studies such as work or voluntary experience.

A number of our postgraduate programmes also have compulsory non-academic requirements such as evidence of work experience. These will be detailed in the programme entry requirements.

The University of Exeter will take into account compliancy requirements in regard to external legislation (such as the UKVI policy) when reviewing your application.

If you are currently or have previously studied for a degree at the University of Exeter or any other Institution you will need to share details of modules studied and grades achieved to date.  This information will be used to consider your suitability and propensity to succeed at Exeter.  Where there is no evidence of this, we may not be in a position to offer you a place to study here.

The University of Exeter reserves the right not to consider an applicant for entry if the entrant is or has previously been in debt with the University, has previously been withdrawn from the University on academic grounds, has submitted fraudulent documentation or inaccurate/incorrect information to the University previously.

Acceptance of Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

It may be possible for you to have your learning from prior qualifications and experience accredited towards your degree programme. To be considered you will need to send information on your APL to the Admissions Office (along with information on the programme you are interested in studying). You can do this by completing either the AP(C)L form (for certified learning) or the AP(E)L form (for experiential learning) and emailing it to The Admissions Team will liaise with the Academic College to confirm whether any of your prior learning can be accredited to your new programme of study.

To ensure a fair and consistent admissions process, the University of Exeter will ensure that the following principles are adhered to:

  • All programmes will clearly state their entry criteria, including academic qualifications, along with appropriate experience and skills required for entry
  • Entry criteria will be easily accessible through our website
  • Applicants will be informed in general terms how they can demonstrate their achievements (both academic and experiential) and motivation to study
  • An offer below the normal entry requirements may be made in exceptional cases where there is evidence that the applicant’s grades may have been affected by individual extenuating circumstances.

Where programmes include interviews or tests as part of their selection criteria we will make this explicit to candidates, and provide details on how the interviews will be conducted and the criteria used to select successful candidates. Further information can be found in our interview policy.

A number of programmes require candidates to provide additional written work to supplement an application. The University may request this and will explain the reasons for such a request.

Entry to the University is competitive, so not every applicant will receive an offer of a place. Where candidates are unsuccessful, feedback is available on request.

Feedback policy

In order to support our transparent admissions system we understand an applicant's request to know why their application was deemed unsuccessful. We will provide feedback on an individual basis in response to receiving a formal request (written or via the online form) from the applicant within 10 working days of the decision being made. The request must include:

  • Exeter Reference Number 
  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Programme name applied for

Feedback will only be given in written format (not over the telephone or in person) within 10 working days of receipt of the request. The Admissions Team will not consider an application that has been re-submitted in the same cycle in light of the feedback provided for the same programme, however we would consider for an alternative programme.

In line with our Data Protection policy we will not be able to provide feedback to anyone other than the applicant unless Admissions have been advised to do so (see discussing your application). The feedback will be sent to the email address the applicant has provided on their application form. Therefore please be sure to inform the Admissions Office of any changes.

If an applicant wishes to appeal against a decision in light of their feedback they will need to refer to the complaints procedures.

If you require further information please do not hesitate to contact us at:

Admissions Office
The Innovation Centre
University of Exeter
Rennes Drive
Exeter, UK

Tel: 0844 6200012 (UK callers) * Calls to this number are charged at 3p per minute from a standard BT line. Calls from a mobile may vary.
      +44(0)1392 723044 (EU/International callers)

Contact us using our online enquiry form.

Fax: +44 (0)1392 72 2479


If there are spaces available you can apply up to the start of your programme. In deciding when to submit your application you should take into account factors such as securing accommodation and, if appropriate, applying for funding.

If you require a visa to study, it is a particularly important that you allow sufficient time for both the application and visa process.

For further information including advisory deadlines please view our How to apply pages.

While we do not routinely use contextual information to inform our decision making, there may be occasions where the applicant and/or their referee asks us to take account of certain contextual factors which may have affected performance, and to consider this in making an offer.

Evidence of contextual factors will not necessarily mean that preference will be given to candidates, as each case will be considered on its individual merits. However, in cases where there is clear evidence that contextual factors have affected performance and achievement, and where the applicant is able to demonstrate motivation and potential to achieve, the University will consider this as part of its holistic assessment of the application.

The University is committed to providing a professional admissions operation in order to provide the best service to applicants. Due to supervisory requirements, all postgraduate research applications will be submitted to an Academic College for consideration by the appropriate academic tutors.

It is the responsibility of applicants to provide full and accurate information in an application and to notify the University of any changes or corrections to the original application.

It is the responsibility of applicants to:

  • provide full and accurate information in an application to the University;
  • disclose to the University any circumstances or relevant unspent convictions which would:
    • prevent you from participating or completing your chosen programme of study;
    • or restrict you from engaging in University life;
  • and notify the University of any changes or corrections to the original application.

By accepting an offer of admission, the applicant agrees to abide by the rules and regulations of the University.

If someone is found to have provided fraudulent documentation or inaccurate/incorrect information (including failing to provide information which may have affected a decision) in support of your University or UK visa application, any offer from the University will be invalid.

In the light of additional information which was not available at the time of selection, an offer may be amended or, in exceptional circumstances, withdrawn. The University also reserves the right to correct errors where they have been made in the communication of decisions and offers. However, an offer made in error where all conditions have been satisfied will only be withdrawn with the applicant’s consent.

The University reserves the right to exclude a candidate who is considered on justifiable grounds to be unsuitable for a place according to individual circumstances. This will also apply to applicants who are found to have been aggressive or abusive to University of Exeter staff, representatives or fellow students during the application process.

A formal decision will be communicated directly to the applicant by the central Admissions Office. Where a candidate has applied for one programme and is not successful, an alternative programme may be offered.

An offer, whether conditional or unconditional, will be made in good faith taking into account information as supplied by the applicant and/or referee at the time of the application. In some circumstances, an offer may be conditional upon non-academic requirements e.g. police checks which are deemed satisfactory.

Accepting an offer

To accept and secure your place

If you have an offer for a part-time or research degree, you should contact us to confirm acceptance. Remember to include your full name, Exeter Reference Number and programme title in your reply.

Applicants who meet the requirements of their conditional offer and provide the required documentation to demonstrate this, will have their place confirmed. Applications from candidates who have not met the requirements, are reviewed and their places may be confirmed if space is available: no guarantee is made that this will be possible. For programmes that have the standard entry date in September all conditions of offers must be met in full by 31 August to guarantee a place for entry in the year of application. For all other start dates, the conditions of offer must be met a minimum of one month before the official start date of the programme. If conditions are met after this point we may be able to confirm a deferred place.

Applicants who are studying a progression programme at the University of Exeter INTO centre are excluded from these deadlines.

International and Students who require a Tier 4 Visa to study at the University

ATAS clearance

A number of our programmes fall within a list of subjects which require Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance BEFORE a UK student visa can be issued.  ATAS is a UK Government scheme designed to ensure that students applying to study certain sensitive subjects in the UK cannot use their academic studies to spread knowledge and skills that could be used in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery. You will need to hold a valid ATAS certificate before you apply for your UK student visa or extension to stay. While this doesn't guarantee you a visa, your visa application will automatically be refused if you need an ATAS certificate and cannot provide one. You can apply for an ATAS certificate up to 12 months prior to the start of your course and the certificate remains valid as long as your course details do not change. The ATAS certificate is institution specific so you may want to start the ATAS application after you have confirmed where you want to study otherwise you will need to apply for separate ATAS clearance certificates for each University/Institution and programme of study. Please note the average turnaround time for an ATAS certificate to be processed is 20 working days so please ensure that you apply for ATAS clearance in good time. You can find out more about ATAS on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.  

If your programme requires ATAS clearance it is University of Exeter policy not to issue a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS number) until we have received a copy of your ATAS certificate.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

A CAS is a unique reference number which is assigned and used by the UKVI. Your CAS number will link to electronic information about you and your course of study which is provided by the institution you are going to study at. Every student will have a unique CAS number which is linked directly to their information.

The University generates the CAS via the UKVI Sponsor Management System, once your offer is unconditional and has been firmly accepted

As a visa application can only be made in the three months prior to your planned start date we anticipate sending you your CAS number from May. In order to apply for a UK student visa and register at the start of your programme, you will need to produce your original certificates and transcripts. We recommend that you visit our International Students pages which provide more information about immigration, travel to Exeter, English language requirements, visits to your country and much more, including our handbook 'International Students' Guide'.

The University will keep admissions documentation for all students who enrol/register at the University for the duration of their studies and for six years after.

We request that you do not send original documents in advance of your arrival at the University as we cannot guarantee the safe return via the postal system. If you are an International student, you will require the original documentation for the visa application process.

As part of the University’s UKVI Tier 4 Sponsor Licence, the University of Exeter is required to view and maintain copies of all International Students current passport and visa (valid for study at the University of Exeter) along with original qualification documents (including certified translations if these are not in English) on the basis of which admission was granted to the University (these will be listed in your CAS).  The University of Exeter undertakes these checks as part of the registration process upon arrival and all documentation must be provided even when it has been sent to the University previously.  We cannot permit an International student to enrol/register at the University without undertaking this process. In addition to the documentation required as part of our UKVI Tier 4 Sponsor Licence commitments we will also store any other documentation sent to us in support of an application.

As part of the Admissions process, if you are not successful in gaining a place at the University we will keep your documentation for a minimum of six months. Within six-to-twelve months of receiving an unsuccessful decision all documentation in relation to your application will be confidentially destroyed/deleted.

If you are offered a place at the University and decline, withdraw or fail to enrol, all documentation will either be held for a minimum of six months. All documentation will be confidentially destroyed/deleted within twelve months of an applicant declining, withdrawing or in the event of non-enrolment.

In certain circumstances the University may need to share your data with a third party external organisation in order to reach a decision on, or progress your application. In such circumstances we are committed to protecting your data inaccordance with all relevant data protection legislation.

Our Applicants Privacy Policy provides full information about how and why we process, use and, where necessary, share the personal data you provide to us as an applicant, and how we protect it.

Related policies

The Postgraduate Admissions Policy is underpinned by a number of other policy statements offering specific guidance on aspects of the process or for specific kinds of applicant:


The University reserves the right to make variations to programme contents, entry requirements and methods of delivery, and to discontinue, merge or combine programmes, both before and after a student’s admission to the University, if such action is reasonably considered necessary by the University.  If the University discontinues the programme prior to the student commencing the first term of study, the student may either:

  1. withdraw from the University without any liability for fees, or
  2. transfer to another programme offered by the University, subject to suitable qualifications, availability of places and the Dean’s approval.

If in these circumstances the student wishes to withdraw from the University and to enrol on a programme at a different University, the University shall use its reasonable endeavours to assist the student.

September 2018