College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Adult returner applicants

The following notes of guidance are intended to provide information and advice to those who are interested in studying for a degree at the University of Edinburgh who could be considered as an ‘adult returner’ applicant.

Tutor with students

Who is considered an 'adult returner'?

We consider an adult returner to be a student who has had a continuous gap of at least three years at some point in his/her formal education, and who has not already gained a degree.

Entry requirements for adult returners

The University is committed to the provision of opportunities for degree study to those who do not have traditional educational qualifications or obtained these some time ago.

There is one stipulation we make for all mature applicants - they must have undertaken recent and relevant accredited study within three years prior to entry to their chosen degree programme.

We accept a range of academic qualifications, including access programmes and open studies and encourage potential students to contact the College Admissions Office for further advice.

Accepted Qualifications for Entry

SQA Highers/A Levels

Three SQA Highers at grades ABB, or two GCE A levels at grades AB, taken in one sitting.

Specific subjects may be required depending on the degree programme being applied for and applicants should check the current undergraduate prospectus for such requirements.

The Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP East)

The SWAP is a partnership between colleges and universities in Scotland which offers Access programmes with progression routes to a range of university degree programmes. Students undertake a full-time programme of study within a local college and can choose from a range of subject areas.

Further information on SWAP can be found on their website:

Scottish Wider Access website

To be considered for entry a degree programme, students would need to achieve grades ABB in the student profile.

For particular degree programmes such as Languages and courses requiring Maths, extra qualifications may be needed - please check with the College Admissions Office.

The University of Edinburgh Open Studies Credit For Entry Scheme

Credit for Entry is a flexible entry scheme involving part time study.

Applicants who have no recent study (within three years prior to entry for a degree) are asked to complete 60 credits, 40 of which must be passed with B grades in the year prior to admission.

‘Transition to Degree Study’ forms an automatic part of the offer and must be completed by all applicants who wish to pursue degree study in the College. Applicants to Business, Psychology and Social Work degree programmes and all joint degrees which include these subjects must also pass the ‘Introductory Statistics’ course. For particular degree programmes such as Languages and those programmes requiring Maths, extra qualifications may be needed. Those with recent relevant study, for example an Open University course, may not require the full 60 credits and are advised to contact the College Admissions Office for guidance.

Please note that all applicants who intend to use this entry route must inform staff in the Office of Lifelong Learning that they wish to register for Credit for Entry.

Staff at the Office of Lifelong Learning will advise you on your course choices and further information and contact details can be found on their website.

HNC & HND

The College of Humanities and Social Science accepts some HN qualifications for entry to some degree programmes; however this depends on each particular HN qualification’s suitability for the programme in which you are interested.

Students with HNCs/HNDs in relevant subjects have been made offers to study degrees in Art & Design, Architecture, Business Studies, Community Education, History, Law, Nursing Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, Sport and Recreation Management, Social Work and Sociology.

Please note that at present, the majority of offers are made on the basis of 1st year entry only for HNC/D. Applicants with HN qualifications will normally be required to pass all units and achieve grade B in the graded unit(s). Please check with the College Admissions Office first to confirm suitability for the degree programme.

The list of accepted awards is under constant revision therefore if you are unsure if your HNC/D is acceptable please do not hesitate to contact us for up to date information.

Applied Sport Science

HNC/D in Sports Coaching (with Sports Development; Fitness; Health and Exercise) (with B in the Graded Unit)

Archaeology

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

Architecture

HNC/D in Architectural Technology (with B in the Graded Unit) (plus Intermediate 2 Maths at A or National 5 Maths at A)

Art and Design Programmes (years 1 & 2)

All relevant HNC/D subjects are considered (with B in the Graded Unit) (e.g. Art & Design, Photography, Textiles, Fashion, Visual Communication, Jewellery, Creative Industries, 3D Design, 3D Computer Animation)

In addition to meeting the entry requirements applicants will have to submit an electronic mini-portfolio as part of the application process.

Business

HNC/D in Business (with B in the Graded Unit) (plus Core 4 Maths or National 5 Maths at B or equivalent)

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit) (plus Core 4 Maths or National 5 Maths at B or equivalent)

Classics (all degrees except the MA Classics)

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

BA Community Education

HNC in Early Education and Childcare (with B in the Graded Unit)

HNC in Social Care (with B in the Graded Unit)

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

HNC in Working with Communities (with B in the Graded Unit)

In addition to meeting the entry requirements for Community Education applicants will have to attend an interview as part of the application process.

Divinity

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

Economics

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit plus Higher Maths at B)

English Language

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

History/Economic and Social History/Scottish History/Ancient History

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

History of Art

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

International Relations

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

Landscape Architecture

HNC/D in Architectural Technology (with B in the Graded Unit)

HNC in Countryside Management (with B in the Graded Unit)

Law

HNC/D in Legal Studies (with B in the Graded Unit)

Linguistics

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

Music

HNC in Music or Music Performance (with B in the Graded Unit)

Nursing

HNC in Healthcare with B in the Graded Unit plus Biology and Maths at National 5 grade B (HNC no longer being taught)

Philosophy

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

Politics

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

Primary Education with History or with Religious Studies or with Scottish Studies

HNC in Additional Support Needs (with B in the Graded Unit plus National 5 Maths at grade B and Higher English at C)

HNC in Childhood Practice (with B in the Graded Unit plus National 5 Maths at grade B and Higher English at C)

HNC in Early Education and Childcare (with B in the Graded Unit plus National 5 Maths at grade B and Higher English at C)

HNC in Social Care (with B in the Graded Unit plus National 5 Maths at grade B and Higher English at C)

HNC Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit plus National 5 Maths at grade B and Higher English at C)

In addition to meeting the entry requirements for Primary programmes applicants will have to attend an interview as part of the application process.

Social Anthropology

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

Social Policy

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

Social Work

HNC in Social Services (with B in the Graded Unit plus Core 4 Maths or National 5 Maths at B)

HNC Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

Sociology

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

Sport and Recreation Management

HNC/D in Business (with B in the Graded Unit)

Sustainable Development

HNC in Social Science (with B in the Graded Unit)

What else is expected as standard?

Successful applicants will demonstrate evidence of commitment, motivation and the personal resourcefulness to meet the challenges of a university education through their personal statement and academic reference.

The personal statement should be well constructed, articulate and demonstrate a clear motivation for the chosen degree programme with evidence of independent research and career exploration (where relevant).

Will everyone who meets the minimum entry requirements get an offer for all degree programmes?

Unfortunately not. The minimum academic requirements have been set at a level that is designed to encourage applications whilst meeting our academic standards.

The College of Humanities and Social Science offers more than 250 different degree programmes. Demand for entry varies considerably across the subject areas and can also change from year to year.

In subject areas where we receive a disproportionately high number of applications, not all applicants who meet the academic requirements (or are predicted to do so) will be successful in applying.

How will it be decided who gets a place on the high demand degree programmes?

All applicants are strongly encouraged to contact The College of Humanities and Social Sciences directly to confirm the eligibility of their chosen programme of study, to ensure that it meets the minimum entry requirements.

We encourage applicants and their referees to include as much relevant information as possible about their personal and educational background within the personal statement and academic reference. This will help Admissions Officers identify students with the greatest potential to benefit from, and succeed on, our degree programmes.

Applicants may also wish to submit supplementary information (e.g. of a more personal or sensitive nature) direct to the College Admissions Office.

How many offers will the College make?

The College will normally make one offer per applicant. Those who apply for more than one programme should write to the Admissions Office to indicate their preferred choice(s).

Does the College conduct interviews?

Interviews are not generally conducted, with the exception of those who apply to study for programmes in Education or Nursing.

Applicants to Art and Design degree programmes will be required to submit a portfolio.

Can I study part-time?

A few degree programmes in this College are available for part time study:

BA Childhood Practice

BD Divinity (General and Honours)

BA and MA Religious Studies

For further information and an application form please contact the College Admissions Office.

How to apply

All applications for full-time study are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) and can be made up to a year in advance.

Application deadlines are as follows:

  • For UK and EU students the closing date is 15 January
  • For International students the closing date is 30 June

Support for adult returners

We also recognise the particular concerns that adult returners can face in undertaking a degree and we provide a range of support services.