How to apply for undergraduate study

Every year, we receive thousands of undergraduate applications from students who wish to study at the University of St Andrews. Our focus is on finding the students who will challenge ideas, make innovative findings, use their leadership talents in new areas, and take advantage of the breadth as well as the flexibility of the University’s offerings. Find out which application process is most appropriate for you below.

Most applicants for first year entry will apply to other universities as well as to the University of St Andrews, through a single online Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) application.

Overseas students may apply through the Common Application if they are not planning on applying through UCAS or with a direct application.

For overseas students who are only applying to the University of St Andrews and are not also applying through UCAS or the Common Application, we welcome direct applications.

A small number of students each year are offered the opportunity to join the University of St Andrews from another university.

Some students who wish to enter the Faculty of Science have the opportunity to proceed directly into the second year of their course.

If you are interested in information about how we decide to offer places, or when you are likely to receive a response to your application, take a look at our 'after you apply' page.

What are we looking for?

All applicants for a course are assessed against the same entrance criteria, which can be found in full in the undergraduate admissions policy. In brief, we offer places to the students who meet our academic requirements and who are judged by our academic admissions officers to have the most potential to benefit from their course and to contribute to the academic school and University. Your grades – both already gained and predicted – are the first area of consideration, and you should be aware of the entry requirements before you apply.

The academic admissions officers work in conjunction with Schools during the selection and decision making process. Together, they consider the following areas when looking at all applications:

  • the grades and qualifications that you have already achieved, or are predicted to achieve
  • the context in which your qualifications have been, or will be achieved; this could include your age, whether any resit exams were taken, and other extenuating factors
  • your personal statement. Find out more about what we look for in a personal statement in the section below.
  • your academic references
  • performance at interview, where appropriate
  • relevant work or other experience, where appropriate
  • English language ability, where appropriate.

Academic decision making and criteria setting is at the heart of the selection and decision making processes. UK and EU applications are assessed by academic admissions officers within the academic Schools. International applications are assessed by admissions officers within the international admissions team, guided by academic School admissions officers. Where appropriate, the admissions officers are supported by the staff from Registry, who are experienced in the processing of applications and other relevant information.

Will I be interviewed?

Most students who apply to the University will not be required to attend an interview. The exceptions to this will be if you are applying for:

International applicants to Sustainable Development may be called to interview.

Personal statement

Your personal statement provides you with an invaluable opportunity to tell us your personal reasons for studying your chosen subject at the University of St Andrews. This is a very important part of your application. Most of the students who apply to the University will be well qualified, so decisions on who will receive offers will often be determined by the quality of the personal statement. You are encouraged to spend time drafting and re-writing your statement so that it is organised and well-written.

It is a good idea to give some relevant background information about yourself, your interests, and especially your reasons for your choice of course. You might want to highlight any relevant work experience or voluntary work you have done. If you have an idea of what your career choice might be, and how your studies at St Andrews would support that, you may wish to include this as well.

In summary, your personal statement should give the admissions officers a picture of you: someone who is interested in the subject area for which you have applied and who has the motivation and potential to do well in a university environment.

Refereeā€™s report

If you are at school, your principal or head of year will generally write your referee's report. If you are not at school, you will need to supply a reference from a responsible person who knows you well enough to write about you and state if you are suitable for higher education. References from family members or close friends are not normally acceptable.

Students applying through UCAS should submit their referee’s report to the UCAS online application process.

We ask that students applying directly send us the name and details of the person who will provide your reference. This could be a teacher, college counsellor or someone who knows your academic capabilities well. The reference should be written in the direct application referee report (PDF, 599 KB), clearly marked with your name. This can be included with your application, sent separately, or we can email the referee directly if that is more convenient.