A Level, GCSE and Other Qualification Reforms

A Level, GCSE and Other Qualification Reforms

At Lancaster University we are keen to support teachers, students and parents during a time of considerable change as schools and colleges adapt to post-16 curriculum changes.


The following information aims to provide guidance on Lancaster’s approach to undergraduate admissions in light of the current UK qualification reforms.

We accept the reformed A Level, GCSE and BTEC qualifications and will formulate offers on an equivalent basis to the pre-reformed qualifications.  We do not plan to make changes to individual degree programme entry requirements; however there may be minor adjustments to subject requirements.

A Levels

  • A Levels remain the most popular entry qualification for our students and the qualification is also highly valued by employers. We encourage schools and colleges to continue to offer a range of A Levels to their students.
  • We do not expect students to take four or more A Levels. Offers are based on the results of the best three A Levels, with subject-specific requirements for some courses, with the exception of Medicine and Surgery in some cases.
  • We believe that the practical skills in the sciences are integral to the understanding and appreciation of the subjects. In the reformed A Level in Biology, Chemistry and Physics we expect applicants to achieve the required grade in the written examination (typically A or B) and pass the practical skills assessment.
  • We accept General Studies for the majority of degree courses, although typically this subject would be taken as a fourth A Level.
  • We will continue to make offers based on the best three A Level results (excluding Medicine). We appreciate that some students may apply to University in 2018 and beyond with a mix of old and new style A and AS Levels. We will not discriminate between the different qualifications and will be flexible on our entry grades to ensure that all students are treated fairly.
  • We review our offer levels annually and monitor national fluctuations in grades as a result of curriculum changes.

More information on the reform of A Level and AS Level qualifications

AS Levels and Core Maths

  • We recognise that there are potential challenges for schools and colleges in delivering stand-alone AS Levels and the new linear A Level teaching. Whilst we value the breadth which comes with studying four subjects at AS Level, we do not have a requirement for  for AS Levels as part of the offer (with the exception of Medicine and Surgery in some cases).
  • Lancaster welcomes the introduction of the new Core Maths qualification, but appreciates that some schools and colleges may not be able to offer the qualification initially.   Core Maths will not typically form part of the offer for entry to Lancaster, unless specified as a subject requirement at individual degree level.

Extended Project (EPQ)

  • We welcome the EPQ as adding value to a student's academic profile and as an excellent preparation for the independent study necessary for students to succeed at Lancaster. The majority of our degree programmes will incorporate the EPQ within the offer and eligible applicants may receive two offers: our usual offer, plus an offer at one grade lower with the addition of a grade B in the EPQ (eg AAA at A Level; or AAB at A Level and a grade B in the EPQ).

Applied General Qualifications

Lancaster University accepts a number of Applied General qualifications, such as Pearson BTEC National qualifications and OCR Cambridge Technical qualifications. Many of these have undergone significant reforms. We will continue to consider both legacy and reformed variants, although this may vary according to the subject requirements of specific degree programmes.


  • In England, GCSE grades will now be graded from 1 (the lowest grade) to 9 (the highest grade) and the guidance from Ofqual is that a grade 4 and above will equate to a good pass. Lancaster University will be accepting the following grades as equivalent across the various different pre- and post-reformed GCSEs offered in different areas of the UK, and internationally:
  • grade 7 as equivalent to a grade A
  • grade 6 as equivalent to a grade B
  • grade 4 as equivalent to a grade C


Making an Offer

Our admissions decisions are based on a holistic assessment of the information on the UCAS application, with subject choice and predicted A Level (or equivalent) grades being among the most important measures in the majority of cases.  In addition to predicted grades, we review prior qualifications and periods of study (ie achievement at GCSE, AS Level), the personal statement, and reference to arrive at a judgement about the suitability of a candidate for admission to Lancaster.

We have every confidence that schools and colleges will continue to provide us with helpful indicators of students' potential, regardless of whether or not externally-assessed exams have been taken.

Additional information on specific entry requirements for Lancaster University is available on this website or by contacting the Admissions Office, on 01524 592028 or by email.