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SQA Highers and Advanced Highers

Entry requirements for applicants with Highers and Advanced Highers.

Scottish qualifications

The standard entry requirements for most of our degrees are four or five Highers at specified grades to be achieved by the end of S5, or the end of S6. The minimum entry requirements for most of our degrees are four Highers at specified grades to be achieved by the end of S6.

If you are applying for medicine or veterinary medicine, you must have achieved at least five Highers at the required grades by the end of S5, and will typically be required to achieve two Advanced Highers in S6.

You must have achieved or be predicted to achieve our entry requirements, including required subjects, for the degree you have applied for, to be considered for an offer of a place. You can use our degree finder to find entry requirements.

Degree finder

Detailed requirements

Breadth of study

You are required to show breadth of study in achievement in your qualifications. This is to demonstrate that you will have the ability to cope with the variety and volume of study that will be expected of you in your first and subsequent years.

Subjects that contain a high proportion of common material (such as Biology and Human Biology), are not normally accepted as two separate qualifications.

Although you are not required to take all of your Highers in a single year, you must achieve at least BBB at Higher, in one year of S4 to S6, with highly competitive areas requiring achievement by the end of S5.

Some of our highly selective degrees may require you to achieve four or five Highers by the end of S5.

You can find this information in the entry requirements for your chosen degree on our degree finder.

Degree finder

For entry to the most selective degrees, even if you have successfully completed one Higher in S4, we encourage you to progress to five Highers/Advanced Highers in S5.

Required subjects

For many degrees we will expect you to have studied specific subjects, and achieved specific grades, at Higher. We may also require other subjects to have been achieved at specific grades to at least National 5 level.

Where Higher Mathematics is specifically required for entry to a degree, we will not accept Higher Applications of Mathematics to meet this requirement.

SQA National 5 requirements

Approved subjects

We accept most, but not all, SQA Higher subjects for entry to the University. You can check which subjects we accept in our approved subjects information. 

SQA approved subjects


If you are re-sitting Highers to improve your grades you may still be considered, but any offer we make may be based on grades above those usually required. For medicine and veterinary medicine, only your first attempt at each subject will be considered unless there are extenuating circumstances, and you have sought approval to apply from the relevant admissions team.

Taking Highers early

We recognise that some learners may have the option to take one or more Higher early in S4. However, this may not be the best decision for everyone, especially if it leads you to achieve lower grades than you might have achieved if you had taken the exams later. We do not make allowances for lower grades where exams are taken early.

Advanced Highers

With the exception of medicine and veterinary medicine, Advanced Highers are not required for entry.

However, we strongly recommend that you pursue your studies at a more advanced level by taking at least one subject at Advanced Higher.

Study at Advanced Higher level is excellent preparation for your studies at Edinburgh. Your achievement in Advanced Highers may also contribute to the entry requirements for Highers, with Grades B and C at Advanced Higher equating to Grades A and B at Higher respectively.

This means that if you do not achieve our entry requirements by the end of S5, progression to Advanced Highers in S6 may be taken into consideration.

If you have specific Advanced Highers you might be able to enter our biomedical sciences or medical sciences degrees, and some degrees within the College of Science & Engineering in second year.

Selection for entry to competitive degrees

Some of our subject areas are particularly competitive and attract many highly qualified applicants. In these circumstances our standard entry requirement asks for four or five highers by the end of S5. If we are unable to make offers to all those who have achieved the entry requirement, we may also consider your performance at National 5, and/or predicted performance in Advanced Highers, or further Highers being taken in S6.

You can find out more about entry requirements and offer levels on our ‘Understanding our entry requirements page

Understanding our entry requirements 

Scottish Baccalaureate

We state entrance requirements in Highers and we encourage students to maintain breadth of study across at least four subjects at Higher in the senior phase (S4–S6). However, like Advanced Highers, we welcome the opportunity the Scottish Baccalaureate provides for progression and specialisation in S6 as an excellent preparation for studying at Edinburgh.

If you have already achieved the requirements for entry to first year and are completing the Science Baccalaureate, we will consider your application for some related degrees in science and engineering for second year entry.

Related links

How to apply