A level, GCSE and Other Qualification Reforms

A level, GCSE and Other Qualification Reforms

At Lancaster University we are keen to support teachers, advisers, 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 have not made changes to our overall entry requirements based on these reforms, but we have made minor adjustments to subject requirements for individual degree programmes.

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 appreciate that some students may apply to University 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 alongside linear A levels. Whilst we value the breadth which comes with studying four subjects at AS level, we do not have a requirement for AS levels (with the exception of Medicine and Surgery in some cases), although we may recognise AS levels as part of the offer.
  • Lancaster welcomes the introduction of the 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. In the case of some degree programmes, we 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 are now graded from 1 (the lowest grade) to 9 (the highest grade). 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:
Old scale England
Current scale Wales
Current scale England Current scale Northern Ireland
Grade A Grade 7 Grade A
Grade B Grade 5 or 6, depending on the context Grade C* or B, depending on the context
(where we specify "B or 5", we would accept C*)
Grade C Grade 4 Grade C

T levels

T levels are to be taught by selected colleges and schools from September 2020, and are currently under development. Lancaster University will be monitoring their development and considering information as it is released to us, before formulating an approach in terms of our own entry requirements.

International Baccalaureate Mathematics

The structure of International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma mathematics has been revised, and IB students who complete a Diploma from 2021 will take one of the following courses:

  • Mathematics: analysis and approaches SL
  • Mathematics: analysis and approaches HL
  • Mathematics: applications and interpretations SL
  • Mathematics: applications and interpretations HL

For any of our degree programmes that specify A level in Mathematics as an entry requirement, we will accept either of the HL courses at grade 6 as equivalent. Please note that other subject requirements may apply, and you can find information about these on our individual course pages.

For our Engineering degrees, we will also accept Mathematics: analysis and approaches SL at grade 7 alongside Physics HL at grade 6 or Chemistry HL at grade 6 (for Chemical Engineering).

Where we specify a GCSE Mathematics requirement at B/C or 6/5/4, we will accept any of the IB Diploma Mathematics courses at grade 5 as meeting this requirement.

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.