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Trying to get into univesity - UK

  1. Jul 29, 2011 #1
    Hi guys, i'm just looking for some advice, and will be greatful for anyone's time. Here's the situation: I'm 25 and left school after my GCSEs - so i'll say that I have nothing in terms of qualifications, an my work is completely unrelated, so counts for nothing.
    I'm really hoping that it's possible to get into university next year to study physics, but have no idea what's generally required of a mature student. I've made, and am continuing to make a big personal effort to learn some basic maths to better understand things, i've tried to watch as many lectures as I can on YouTube, including all of the MIT lectures several times, so can say for certain that this is what I want to study. I've read a load too, a lot of which have been academic books.
    I know that this all counts for nothing when it comes to UCAS points, so that's the advice I am looking for - what will I be expected to do to get accepted?
    I've booked a place at my local universitys open day, and plan to speak to the admissions department early next week, until then though, any advice would be great. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 29, 2011 #2
    I think that's a great start. If you've been learning all of that, then, I guess A-Levels wouldn't be a problem for you? Try doing A-Levels in Maths, Physics and something else you're good at. Maybe, Further Maths? Find out which exam board you'd want to do them with, get the specification (aka, syllabus) and start working out questions.

    Also, try e-mailing the universities you're interested in and ask them what they require of mature students. Actually, do that first! Maybe you won't need A-Levels at all? Good luck with your future endeavours. :)
  4. Jul 30, 2011 #3
  5. Jul 30, 2011 #4
    It depends how good a uni you want to go to. The top unis expect you to have done further maths to A2 (even if it isn't a requirement - practically everyone has done it and if you haven't, you WILL struggle. Hard).
  6. Jul 30, 2011 #5


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    I expect the situation with mature students is rather different in arts and science courses. In arts subjects, it's fairly obvious that some "life experience" could be just as valuable (or more so) than a couple of years at school studying a subject at A-level.

    On the other hand, on the science side you really do need to be able to hit the ground running with the right level of maths and basic science. Of course that doesn't mean you MUST have an academic qualification, but that's certainly the easiest way to show you are at the right level.

    You certainly should contant the universities directly to find out what their requirements are.

    General comment: I assume you are in the UK, because you mention of GCSE and UCAS -so beware of "third rank" univserities that will accept almost anybody just to fill up their classes. They may have a high drop-out rate after the first year (but you paid your tuition fees up front, so they don't care much about that) and most employers know their degrees aren't worth much compared with a 2:1 or better from a "top rank" university.
  7. Jul 30, 2011 #6
    Thanks guys - it guess i'll see what they say. It's Swansea uni by the way, so not third rate.
  8. Jul 30, 2011 #7
    As I'm eager to get started immediately, should I buy an AS and an A2 book to find out where i'm at?
  9. Aug 2, 2011 #8
    Offering my 2 pence:

    I was in the a very similar position. In the uk, 28, and starting an Engineering course (I had continued a bit pass GCSE though)

    I emailed universities to find out what they wanted, and they said that I should do something with maths and physics to make sure I was up to a standard and so first year wouldn't be a shock.

    I did a night course at Birkbeck in london while I worked (Physics and Maths, but Further Maths was available too)

    I'd be surprised if Swansea didn't want some A-level or similar qualifications. If you want to go to a good uni, they are going to have standards. But be frank with them. I emailed just about every Russell Group uni and they told me what they wanted and were helpful most of the time.
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