Undergraduate study - 2020 entry

SQA Highers and Advanced Highers

Entry requirements for applicants with Highers and Advanced Highers.

Scottish qualifications

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

Meeting our standard entry requirements

The standard entry requirements for most of our programmes are four Highers at specified grades to be achieved by the end of S5. If you haven’t achieved this by the end of S5 we may consider your application based on a strong performance in S6.

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

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.

Meeting our minimum entry requirements

The minimum entry requirements for most of our programmes are four Highers at specified grades to be achieved by the end of S6.

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. You can use our degree finder to find programme entry requirements.

Degree finder

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.

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–S6.

Some of our highly selective programmes may require you to achieve at least BBB at Higher by the end of S5. You can find this information in the entry requirements for your chosen programme on our degree finder.


If you are re-sitting Highers over more than one set of exams 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.

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.

For entry to the most selective programmes, 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 degree programmes we will expect you to have studied specific subjects at Higher and may also require other subjects to have been achieved at specific grades to at least National 5 level.

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. For many programmes we will expect you to have achieved your grades in specific subjects.

SQA approved subjects

Advanced Highers

Although Advanced Highers are not required for entry – with the exception of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine – 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 your studies at Edinburgh. Your 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.

We do not typically 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 you to enter certain programmes within the College of Science & Engineering directly to the second year.

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 degree programmes in science and engineering for second year entry.

Related links

How to apply