Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Access to Creative Education in Scotland (ACES)

Access to Creative Education in Scotland (ACES) is a Widening Participation programme for eligible S4 to S6 students at state secondary schools in the south-east of Scotland who wish to study a visual creative subject such as art, design or architecture. It offers events and activities to help you better understand your chosen subject and prepares you for the application process.

What ACES is 

Logo of the National Schools Programme of Scotland consisting of an arrow forming two circles and finally pointing to the top right
Logo of the Scottish Funding Council with their English and Gaelic name

Access to Creative Education in Scotland (ACES) is a national Widening Participation (WP) project, funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and part of the National Schools Programme (NSP). It supports eligible S4 to S6 students in local state secondary schools, who are considering studying art, design or architecture. You can join at any time between S4 and S6.

Visual creative degrees require more than good exam results from school. In some cases you need to provide a portfolio or attend an interview for visual creative degrees. ACES will help you to prepare for these. 

Supported visual arts subjects 

We support you if you are interested in studying for a supported subject within art, design and architecture. If you are interested in a subject that is not listed, you can contact us and we will advise you.  



Email ACES Edinburgh

What ACES offers 

ACES provides encouragement and impartial advice for visual creative careers. We will support you with your application for any university. 


We will support you through all stages of the pre-application process, including school subject choices and portfolio preparation. We will also help with the UCAS application process for art, design, and architecture. 

We will work with you to support your creative development, explore your options and help you create a competitive application. 

You can expect guidance in choosing and applying for a visual creative degree that is right for you through: 

  • advice and guidance for your school subject choices and application requirements for you, your parents, carers or advisers

  • access to practical hands-on workshops to develop your skills relevant to your subject area

  • opportunities to meet current students 

Pupil resources

Our ACES resources webpage provides an overview of the application process to visual creative degrees and directs to useful websites for further research and portfolio development.

The resources can be used by any S4 to S6 student – not just those signed up to ACES Edinburgh or eligible for the programme. 

ACES resources 


We offer a wide range of activities and events relevant to your area of interest and your current stage in the pre-application or application process throughout the year. All of our activities are free to join if you are registered for ACES. 

 We will provide all materials needed for your events and cover travel costs, if required. 

Examples of events and activities we might offer throughout the year: 

  • June - art college graduate show visits (S4 to S6)

  • July - summer school with practical activities (S4 to S6)

  • August to October - information sessions for creative degrees applications, personal statements and portfolios (S5 and S6)

  • August to January - portfolio preparation programme (typically S5 and S6)

  • September to October - drawing club (S4 to S6)

  • October - subject taster sessions (S4 to S6)

  • November to March - portfolio feedback sessions (typically S5 and S6)

  • January - interview workshop (typically S5 and S6)

  • February to March - gallery and exhibition visits (S4 to S6)

  • April - campus exploration (S4 and S5)

Once you have registered for ACES, we will send you our newsletter with events and activities you can book. You can also find this information on Instagram. 

Follow us on Instagram 

Once you are registered, we will also send you information about upcoming events. This may include invitations to events and activities run by other organisations. 

Through our events you will get insights into the different subjects, the range of careers in the creative industries and opportunities to improve and widen your skill set. 


Check your eligibility 

ACES Edinburgh works with eligible S4 to S6 pupils attending state secondary schools in: 

  • Edinburgh

  • The Lothians (East Lothian, Midlothian and West Lothian)

  • Falkirk

  • Stirling

  • Scottish Borders

  • Clackmannanshire

If you attend a state secondary school in any of the above local authority areas and meet at least one of the below criteria, you can sign up for ACES Edinburgh: 

  • you are care experienced

  • you live in a Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) quintile 1 or 2 postcode area (a quintile is a 20% portion of the whole postcode range)

  • you are an unpaid young carer

  • you are estranged from your family

  • you are a refugee or asylum seeker

  • you are entitled to free school meals (FSM)

  • you are entitled to Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

  • you live in a low-income household

  • you live in an area considered to be remote/rural

  • your education has been impacted by challenging circumstances

Not sure if you meet the criteria? Learn what these terms mean in our explanations of the eligibility criteria. 

Eligibility criteria explained 

If you attend a school in a different area 

If you attend a state secondary school in another area of Scotland, you may be eligible to register with one of the other ACES providers. 

Find out more about the ACES programme offered by the provider that is closest to you: 

Register for ACES 

You can register to join ACES Edinburgh by completing our online form: 

Register to join Access to Creative Education in Scotland (ACES) 

We will review your application and inform you of the outcome within two weeks. 

Once you have registered for ACES, we will send you a welcome email with next steps you can take. We will also send you our ACES newsletter.  

Teacher resources 

We have specific information on ACES for teachers. If you are a teacher, you can sign up to our ACES teacher newsletter and book events for teachers. 

View the teacher information on ACES

Contact us

ACES Edinburgh

Contact details


  • You can reach us by email and phone. We are generally available:

    Monday to Friday:
    09:00 to 17:00

    You can expect a response within five working days.

Contact us through an online sign language interpreter

British Sign Language (BSL) users can contact the University of Edinburgh via Contact Scotland BSL, the online British Sign Language video relay interpreting service.

Find out more on the Contact Scotland BSL website


ACES is run in collaboration with Reach: Scotland, a project managed by five universities throughout Scotland (the University of Aberdeen; the University of Dundee; the University of Edinburgh; the University of Glasgow; and the University of St Andrews), and funded by the Scottish Funding Council. The University of Edinburgh is responsible for the delivery of Reach in the south east of Scotland.