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Major Requirements for Studying in the UK

Updated on 09 October, 2023

The education system in the United Kingdom is renowned for its excellent quality of education, top-ranking universities, interactive teaching methodology, and appreciable student satisfaction. Standing at the zenith of research and development, there are a host of opportunities for students to nurture their critical and analytical thinking. The universities in the UK have bagged some significant positions in the Times Higher Education Ranking and QS World Rankings. 

These popular universities have several requirements for studying in the UK that aspirants should fulfil. The entry requirements vary depending on the selected course, university/college, and a few other aspects. The most flexible aspect of studying in the UK is that even if aspirants are unable to fully meet the requirements for a particular course, they may choose another course at a different level and steadily work their way up. The United Kingdom offers diverse study choices for suiting students across all major levels. 

Higher education system in the UK – Level of courses

Higher education in the UK mainly consists of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. Most of the undergraduate courses in the UK usually take three years to complete, with an exception of Scotland because it takes four years to finish a bachelor’s degree. These four-year degrees are known as sandwich courses as after the third year, students complete their degrees in a workplace. The undergraduate courses consist of Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Diploma (HND), Certificates or Diplomas of Higher Education (Cert HE/Dip HE), Foundation degrees (Fd A/Fd Sc), Degrees (such as BA, B.Sc, BEng), Sandwich degrees and Integrated courses (where master’s is awarded as the first degree such as MEng). 

On the other hand, a master’s degree in the UK is typically for one year or sometimes two if the degree is research-based. The postgraduate courses in the UK include Postgraduate certificates and diplomas (PG Cert/PG Dip) and Taught Masters (such as MA, M.Sc., LLM, MBA, MRes). A full-time doctoral degree usually lasts for three or four years and offers degrees such as MPhil, PhD, and DPhil. There are also a few pathway programs offered at various universities, which prepare candidates to strengthen their English language skills and help them to get enrolled for university-level study in the country. 

Requirements for studying in the UK 

  • Qualifications and grades

The foremost criteria students need to meet at UK universities are having the correct academic qualifications and grades from the previous education. The course qualifications and grades vary according to the academic level and course opted for. Before applying for a particular course, it is better to check the grade requirements on the official website of the university. 

  • Entrance tests

Most UK universities require students to appear for an entrance test to filter out the best candidates amongst all the applicants. Scoring high on the entrance test means that a student’s chance of getting admission to a UK university increases. The entrance test is conducted to evaluate the suitability of international applicants on their ability to study in a foreign educational system. The core and major concepts in the field of study will be tested in these entrance tests.

  • ID documents

A candidate’s university application should contain an ID document. This identity document can be a copy of a personal ID supported by a passport size photograph.

  • English language proficiency test

One of the most important requirements for studying in the UK is proof of English language proficiency. A solid understanding of English is a must for studying any course in the country as it is the primary medium of instruction. 

Students may consider taking an English language test like the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) in their home country before arriving in the UK. The IELTS Exam is the most common English language proficiency test of this kind that is accepted globally. It tests four core skills of reading, listening, speaking, and writing. More than 1,000 UK institutions accept the IELTS score, and the test can be taken throughout 125 countries worldwide. Students may also consider taking the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and PTE (Pearson Test of English) Academic test. The TOEFL test is conducted by ETS and there are paper-delivered and computer-delivered tests known as the TOEFL iBT (internet-based test). The PTE test is taken digitally at testing centres of Pearson worldwide. It is recognized by over 100 institutions in the United Kingdom (UK) and helps to accurately measure the listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills of non-native English speakers.

Though the English language requirements vary according to universities, listed below are some standard scores that are accepted by the majority of them.

Pathway programs A minimum IELTS band of 5.5, with no component below 5.5
Undergraduate degreesA minimum IELTS band of 6.0, with no component below 5.5 (some courses with a high level of writing and discussion might require a high score)
Postgraduate degreesA minimum IELTS band of 6.5 – 7.0, with no component below 6.0

IELTS scores ranging between 5.0–6.5 are equivalent to a Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level of B2, whereas a score of 7.0 corresponds to a CEFR level of C1.

Experiences and references

Since the UK is home to some of the top-ranked universities and the number of incoming applicants is humongous, they are selective in selecting the right candidate. To divide outstanding talents from other applicants, something additional is required and that can be achieved through submitting proof of relevant references and experiences. To prove their professional competence, candidates need to show how much time they have spent in that particular experience, the role they carried on and the relevance of that experience in their professional field.


It is not a mandatory requirement for studying in the UK and depends on the discretion of the universities. Interviews are the final processing stage of their university application that helps the admission committee to understand a candidate’s motivations and goals and how they correspond with the desired courses. The method of an interview is applied when there are many students for a limited number of seats and the admission board has to rely on it to select the best candidates and is most common at highly-reputed universities.

Eligibility criteria according to courses

Students wanting to understand how to study in the UK should be clear about the eligibility criteria that they have to meet to get admission to a university in the UK. The admission requirements vary according to the level of course – undergraduate and postgraduate. 

Undergraduate courses

  • Eligible candidates should possess a higher secondary education from a recognized institution with a minimum of 70-80% in a related field 
  • Students might also have to submit standardized test scores such as SAT Exam/ACT Exam depending on the program they have applied for. An average SAT score of 1290-1380 or ACT score of 26-29 is acceptable at universities in the UK

Postgraduate courses

  • An undergraduate degree from a recognised university in the same or related field with minimum marks which is equivalent to at least an upper second class
  • To apply for doctoral degrees, a bachelors and masters degree from a recognised university with minimum marks in both the programmes is required to study in the UK
  • Some universities might require students to furnish their GMAT Exam or GRE test scores, especially to study in any STEM course. Most universities in the UK accept 650 in GMAT and a GRE score of 160. 
  • Having work experience is considered essential for students applying to expert-level courses such as an MBA at universities in the UK. This work experience requirement is not mandatory for all the courses and students can check the university’s official website to check information about this. 

Documents required

  • School leaving certificate
  • Official high school transcripts
  • Proof of English language proficiency
  • Personal statement
  • Letter of recommendation
  • SAT/ ACT scores (optional)
  • Copy of passport
  • Proof of finances
  • Recent photographs
  • A valid passport and student visa
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Eligibility criteria to study at top universities in the UK

QS World Rankings 2022Name of the universityEntry requirements
2University of Oxford
  • Meet the qualification requirements of their course
  • Transcripts and declaring international applications in UCAS application
  • Proof of professional or technical qualifications
  • English language proficiency test: 

IELTS- 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 per component 

TOEFL (iBT) – 100, minimum component scores – Listening: 22, Reading: 24, Speaking: 25, Writing: 24

PTE Academic/PTE Academic Online – 66, Minimum 56 in Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing with no particular scores in the Enabling Skills

3University of Cambridge

Undergraduate course:


  • Students should have prior degree in a relevant field of study and meet the score requirements of their relevant courses
  • English language proficiency test: 

IELTS – Minimum overall score of 7.5, with no component below 7.0

TOEFL (iBT) – Minimum overall score of 110, with 25 or above in each element

  • High school transcript
  • Financial proofs

Postgraduate course

  • Bachelor’s degree with a minimum of good upper second class honours from a UK university or an equivalent standard from an overseas university
  • Proof of release from previous institution or completion of previous degree 
  • Proof of English language proficiency 
7Imperial College London

Academic requirements


  • 90-92% overall across five subjects with a score of 90 to 95% in relevant subjects in CISCE – ISC (Council for Indian School Certificate Examination – Indian School Certificate) or CBSE – AISSE (Central Board of Secondary Education – All India Senior School Examination), Class XII

English language requirements

  • IELTS Academic – 6.5 overall (minimum 6.0 in all elements)
  • TOEFL (iBT) – 92 overall (minimum 20 in all elements)
  • PTE Academic – 62 overall (minimum 56 in all elements)
  • Duolingo English test – 115 overall with no less than 105 in any band score
8University College London

Undergraduate requirements for international students


Academic requirements

  • Either successfully completing an year of Bachelor Degree at an Indian university recognised by UCL and scoring an average percentile equivalent to UK Upper Second Class or 
  • Should have completed the Year 12/Standard 12 Indian School Certificate awarded by CISCE or CBSE with five subjects at 90, 85, 85, 85, 85

English language proficiency requirement

  • IELTS Academic: Overall grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each of the subtests
  • TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition: Overall score of 92 with 24/30 in reading and writing and 20/30 in speaking and listening
  • PTE Academic: Overall 62 with a minimum of 59 in each communicative skill

*Students with an English language qualification or test result accepted by UCL are exempted from furnishing English language proficiency test scores

Postgraduate requirements for international students

Academic requirements

  • Students should obtain a First Class degree in their Bachelor’s degree from an institution recognised by the government of India
  • Minimum grade requirement ranges from 6.75 – 9.0 GPA out of 10 or 55% – 70% 

English language proficiency requirement

  • IELTS Academic: Overall grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each of the subtests
  • TOEFL iBT: Overall score of 92 with 24/30 in reading and writing and 20/30 in speaking and listening
  • PTE Academic: 62 overall, with a minimum of 59 in each Communicative Skill

Students outside European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, applying for a postgraduate taught programme in the fields of Chemical Engineering, Biochemical Engineering, Physics or Mechanical Engineering need to apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate to the government of UK

16The University of Edinburgh
  • Meet the standard grades required to pursue a particular field of study
  • Relevant UK honours degree at 2:1 or above, or its international equivalent (for postgraduate aspirants)
  • Personal statement
  • A reference
  • Appear for an admission test
  • Provide evidence of previous work experience
  • Submit a portfolio of past work
  • Have to attend an interview
  • Provide proof of English language skills in any of the following ways:
  1. IELTS 
  2. PTE Academic
  3. TOEFL iBT (including Special Home Edition)
  4. Trinity Integrated Skills in English
27The University of Manchester

Undergraduate entry requirements


  • A-levels/International Baccalaureate

Typical grade requirements: A-levels: A*AA – ABB and IB: 34-38 points, with 7, 6, 6 – 6, 5, 5 in Higher Level (HL) subjects

  • Indian Standard XII Higher Secondary School Certificates

A minimum of 80-95% marks CBSE or ISC Class XII

Students from Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat State Boards with the same percentage will also be considered for direct admission

  • English language requirements

IELTS: 6.5, TOEFL (iBT): 90, CAE or CPE:176-184

Postgraduate entry requirements

  • A minimum of a three-year degree from a reputable university with First Class marks

Pratishtha Ghosh

A post graduate in Journalism and Mass Communication, Pratishtha enjoys penning down things significant. What interests her the most is exploring and researching on gamut of study abroad.

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