Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

SQA Highers and Advanced Highers

Entry requirements for applicants with Highers and Advanced Highers.

Our policy on Curriculum for Excellence is intended to provide you with flexibility, depending on the way you gain your qualifications during the Senior Phase. However, to ensure that you will have the ability to cope with the breadth and depth of study at the University, there are some specific requirements you must meet.

Scottish qualifications

Entry requirements for most of our programmes are four Highers at specified grades to be achieved by the end of S5. Where entry requirements have not been achieved by the end of S5, Highers in S6 may be used to meet requirements but the grade requirement will increase. For example, where the requirement is ABBB by the end of S5, the requirement will increase to AABB or ABBBB by the end of S6.

Although you are not required to take all of your Highers in a single year, you must achieve at least three Highers/Advanced Highers at the required grades, in a single year between S4-S6. To be considered for an offer of a place to a small number of highly selective programmes, applicants must have achieved at least BBB at Higher by the end of S5. Where this is required, it is noted in the entry requirements for the programme on the undergraduate degree finder.

If you are applying to 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 and a further Higher in S6.

We recognise that some learners may have the option to take one or more Highers 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.

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

Applicants are also required to show breadth of study in achievement in their qualifications. Subjects that contain a high proportion of common material (such as Biology and Human Biology), are not normally accepted as two separate qualifications.

Entry requirements

You must have achieved, or be predicted to achieve, our entry requirements for the programme you have applied for, to be considered for an offer of a place. Use our degree finder to find programme entry requirements.

Degree finder

Advanced Highers

While Advanced Highers, with the exception of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, are not required for entry, we strongly recommend that you pursue your studies at a more advanced level by taking at least one subject at Advanced Higher.

This is because study at Advanced Higher level is excellent preparation for study at Edinburgh. Achievement in Advanced Highers can also contribute to entry requirements for Highers, with Grades B and C at Advanced Higher equating to Grades A and B at Higher respectively.

However, we do not count both a Higher and Advanced Higher in the same subject, for example History at Higher and History at Advanced Higher, in meeting the requirement to have qualifications in at least four subjects at the required grades.

Achievement in specific Advanced Highers may allow students to enter certain programmes within the College of Science and Engineering directly to the second year.

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. Some programmes require specific subjects for entry.

SQA: approved subjects

SQA National 5s required for entry

The University requires some specific subjects to be achieved to at least National 5.

SQA National 5 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.

Furthermore, 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 degree programmes in Science and Engineering for second year entry.

The Open University’s Young Applicants in Schools Scheme (YASS)

While YASS modules do not contribute towards entry requirements, they offer applicants the opportunity to further explore a topic of particular interest to them and to develop their independent study skills.

As such, successful completion of appropriate and relevant modules could help you to demonstrate your interest and commitment to a subject, as well as enthusiasm for academic study.

Related links

Terms and Conditions of Admissions

How to apply