College of Science & Engineering

Adult Returner applicants

Information for adult returner applicants

An adult returner is someone who has had a break of at least three years in their formal education, and who has not yet achieved a degree.  

The University is committed to providing opportunities for degree study to those who do not have traditional educational qualifications or obtained these some time ago. We welcome applications from adult returners. 


Entry requirements for adult returners

  1. We accept a range of academic qualifications, including access programmes and open studies, from adult returner applicants. The academic requirements listed below should be seen as a guide for applicants. We strongly encourage adult returner applicants to get in touch with the College Admissions team before applying to our degree programmes.
  2. All applicants, including adult returner applicants, must have undertaken recent and relevant accredited study within three years prior to entry to their chosen degree programme.  Please note that if you are applying to one of our Mathematics or Informatics programmes  your Mathematics entry qualification must have been achieved within the last two years. You can find more information about this under the recent study requirements section of our  Understanding our entry requirements web page.

SQA Highers/A-levels

In order to be considered, applicants will be required to meet the standard entry requirement as published in our undergraduate degree finder. Specific subjects may also be required for entry to some degree programmes.

Undergraduate degree finder

Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP)

Eligible SWAP programmes are accepted for entry on to undergraduate programmes in the College of Science and Engineering. 

Scottish Wider Access Programme

Open University

We accept Open University (OU) credits for entry onto programmes in Science and Engineering.  As results are not normally released until November, we are usually happy to accept a satisfactory tutor's report.

Open University 

Higher National Certificate (HNC) & Higher National Diploma (HND)

We accept Higher National (HN) qualifications for entry to some degree programmes. 

HNC/HND Qualifications 

NextGen HNC

Unfortunately we are unable to consider NextGen HNCs for entry to the University of Edinburgh at this time.

This decision will be reviewed once more information about the content and assessment methods used in these courses becomes available.


Frequently Asked Questions

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 standard entry requirements receive an offer?

All applicants who meet the standard entry requirements will be entered into the selection process. This does not guarantee that you will receive an offer.  Offers  may be made above the standard entry requirement.  Demand for entry varies considerably across the subject areas and can also change from year to year.

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

We aim to guarantee a conditional offer for at least one degree choice to those who apply through the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP East) if subject requirements are met. A range of additional factors will be taken into consideration for all adult returner applicants and in high-demand areas preference may be given those applicants who:

  • do not already have a university degree
  • have experienced serious disruption to their formal education at a critical period (for health or family reasons such as bereavement or for reasons of disability)

To help us identify students with the greatest potential to benefit from and succeed on our degree programmes, applicants and their referees are encouraged to include as much relevant information as possible about their personal and educational background, as outlined above, within the personal statement and academic reference. Applicants may also wish to submit supplemental 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 make a maximum of two offers per applicant (in high demand areas only one offer will be made). Those who apply for more than two programmes should contact the College of Science and Engineering Admissions Team to indicate their preferred choice(s).

Does the College conduct interviews?

We do not conduct interviews.

How do I apply?

All applications must be made through the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)

Can I study part time?

We do not currently offer part-time degree programmes within the College of Science and Engineering.