Postgraduate taught admissions policy

This policy provides the basis for the admission practice across the University and sets out a framework for how the University selects and admits students.

Postgraduate Admissions Policy

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1. Principles

The University of Surrey offers a high-quality learning and teaching environment, which supports students to achieve their full potential in the academic discipline and prepares them for professional life. It is University policy that all applicants are considered primarily on merit and their academic potential.

The University’s Admissions Policy is committed to:

  • Providing transparent, consistent and efficient information
  • Selecting applicants who are able to complete the programme as judged by their achievements and potential
  • Using reliable assessment methods, including consideration of evidence provided, and where appropriate, auditions and interviews
  • Minimising barriers.

Initially, applicants will be considered for entry on to our programmes based on the following criteria:

  • Review of prior academic achievement of the applicant
  • Review of future examinations where results are not yet known
  • Review of the personal statement in support of the application
  • Review of the referee’s assessment of an applicant’s ability
  • Review of relevant work experience.

See Sections 3 and 4 for full details of the admissions and selection criteria.

2. Roles and responsibility

The role of the University of Surrey Admissions Team is to ensure that policies and procedures are carried out in a fair and consistent way in line with relevant legislation and University strategy.

3. Admissions criteria

The University Executive Board have responsibility for setting the entry criteria for the admission of students and will annually confirm the minimum entry requirements for all levels of provision. General entrance requirements, including the required minimum level of English Language proficiency, are set and reviewed by the University Admissions, Recruitment and Marketing Committee.

We update our entry requirements on an annual basis in light of changing academic requirements. Although we try not to change our entry requirements after our prospectus has been printed, occasionally late changes are made. This means that sometimes our requirements do not reflect the information published in the hard copy of our prospectus. We therefore recommend that applicants look at the information in the course listings on our online programme pages as the source of the most up‐to‐date information. Applicants should consider the following points:

  • Details of programme specific entry criteria can be found on the programme pages of the University website
  • We would ordinarily expect an applicant to be in possession of a bachelor’s degree with honours or equivalent qualification if they have studied outside the United Kingdom. Individual programme entrance levels then apply and are published on the programme pages
  • All applicants must provide evidence that they possess at least the minimum level of English Language proficient as set by the University Student Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions Committee. Find out more about English Language requirements
  • Applicants, who have non-standard qualifications or have work experience they wish to have assessed, may be considered on an individual basis, in line with the general aims and principles of the Admissions and RPL or RPC (Recognition of prior learning or credit) policies
  • Entry on to some programmes of study requires applicants to meet additional non-academic conditions. These conditions usually apply to programmes that have professional requirements and may include Disclosure and Barring and Fitness to Study clearance. Where such clearance is required, information will be provided in programme literature and advice given to applicants.

4. Selection

The University’s aim is to select those applicants who are likely to succeed academically and gain from the provision available. Aptitude for an individual programme is the primary criterion for selection and an academic decision will always be reached on an application before other factors are taken in to account.

Our selection criteria ensures:

  • Decisions are fair and consistent in relation to the published entry criteria
  • We consider evidence of a candidate’s potential to succeed on the programme. Where appropriate, admission staff may consider contextual factors in relation to an application
  • We operate a transparent selection process. Selection may be on the basis of an application form (with or without additional required written work or a portfolio) or on application plus audition/interview. Candidates are entitled to know in advance of an interview what the process will be
  • We communicate in a timely way with the applicant, advising them on the outcome of their application. The University will communicate via email and Surrey Self-Service
  • The University of Surrey will take into account compliancy requirements in regard to external legislation (such as the UKVI requirements) when reviewing an application.

English language

All applicants must meet the University’s minimum English language level through the most recent evidence of one of the following prior to admission:

  • An approved Level 2 equivalent qualification including country equivalent
  • An approved English Language test taken within 2 years prior to the start of the course
  • Successful completion of the appropriate Pre-sessional English Language programme offered by the University of Surrey, provided it is completed immediately preceding the main degree programme or with exceptional agreement.
  • Successful completion of an English Language assessment at the required level according to a University partnership agreement.

Applicants can also be exempt from completing one of the above if they are a national of a Majority English Speaking Country or have studied for a minimum of one full academic year, and successfully completed within the past five years a qualification at least equivalent to a UK Bachelors taught in English. For further details please visit the English languages webpage.

In some cases, a student will present a variety of pieces of evidence, sometimes conflicting, regarding English language ability.

The principle here is to judge the student on the most recent piece of evidence, except that an IELTS taken no more than 6 months before the end of a degree course takes precedence over degree study.  Where a student registers for an IELTS test but subsequently withdraws without taking the test, they are judged on the other criteria and evidence of the cancelled test will be required.

5. Applicants with disabilities

The University of Surrey is committed to equality of opportunity for all of its students and encourages applications from students with disabilities or specific learning difficulties. The University’s policy of equal opportunity ensures that all applicants are considered on the same academic grounds. It is important, however, that applicants with a disability make this known to the University so that appropriate arrangements for reasonable adjustments to support their education and learning can be made. A procedure for exploring all possible reasonable adjustments with the participation of the applicant will be followed. In exceptional cases, the University may require further advice from health professionals.

Occasionally, other criteria may need to be considered, such as the requirements of professional, statutory or regulatory bodies. For example, applicants to nursing programmes must undergo an occupational health check.

6. Applicant conduct

Applicants and their representatives should note that the University will not tolerate inappropriate behaviour or language towards its employees or other applicants during the admissions process. Hostile or otherwise inappropriate behaviour or language, whether expressed verbally or in writing, will be viewed seriously and may adversely affect the consideration of an application, appeal or complaint. Such action may include the withdrawal of an offer or the rejection of an application.

7. Criminal convictions

The University aims to select those applicants who are likely to succeed academically and benefit from its programmes.  Having a Criminal Conviction as defined in the Criminal Convictions Policy (PDF) will not usually prevent an applicant from gaining admission to the University. 

A failure to disclose any Relevant Criminal Conviction(s) (as defined in the Criminal Convictions Policy) is taken seriously and could result in: the withdrawal of any existing or subsequent offer of a place; or to the termination of any subsequent registration in accordance with the Student Disciplinary Regulations or Regulations for Fitness to Practise.

Please see the Criminal Convictions Policy (PDF) for further details.

8. Deposit

In order to firmly accept a postgraduate offer of admission at the University of Surrey, applicants are required to pay a deposit of £2000 towards the tuition fees. If the total fee for the year is less than £4000, applicants are required to pay a deposit of 50% towards the tuition fees.

The deadline to firmly accept your offer and pay your deposit will be highlighted in your offer letter which you can view on Surrey Self-Service. If you pay the deposit after this deadline you will still be considered for entry, subject to places being available on the programme.

For programmes starting at any other times of the year, the deposit must be paid no less than 10 days prior to the start of the programme. Applicants who require a visa to study in the UK are encouraged to pay their deposit as early as possible to allow time for the visa process.

9. Refunds

Once a deposit has been paid, it can only be refunded for the following reasons:

  • Refusal of a student visa for an overseas applicant: An applicant will be asked to provide proof that a visa has been refused and the University must be able to verify through the UKVI that the individual has been refused entry to the UK. An administration fee of £100 will be deducted from the refund. Any applicant suspected of submitting a visa application merely to obtain a refusal for a refund will not be eligible to have the deposit refunded.
  • Inability to meet conditions of offer: An applicant will be asked to provide proof that they have been unable to meet the conditions of their offer. For English Language conditions it is expected that an applicant would continue to retake a test to fulfil conditions up to 6 weeks prior to the start of the course. An administration fee of £100 will be deducted from the refund.
  • Programme closure: In the event that the University can no longer offer a place on a programme, due to closure or substantial changes to the programme, a full refund will be given.
  • Covid-19: In addition, we will also refund your deposit if you are able to demonstrate that the Covid-19 pandemic means that you are unable to take up your place at the University of Surrey. This might be because you are unable to arrive in time to register due to travel restrictions. Requests will be looked at on a case-by-case basis and will be considered sympathetically.

If applicants wish to request a refund they must complete and submit a refund form within two weeks of the original start date of the course.

Should any applicant be found to use fraudulent documents at the time of application or at the time of applying for entry clearance, no refund will be due.

10. Applicants who require a Student Route visa to study in the UK

To apply for a Student Route visa, students must have a Confirmation of Acceptance (CAS) for the University they wish to study at. This is a unique number which will enable students to apply for their visa.  The University is under no legal obligation to sponsor any individual and exercises caution with respect to issuing a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) to not risk its status as a Student visa sponsor.

Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) will issued in accordance with the Student Route visa Sponsorship and CAS Issuing Policy, available at the Admissions policies page.  

Applicants who require a Student Route visa to study in the UK.

11. ATAS

It is mandatory for some applicants who need entry clearance to study in the United Kingdom and who are applying to certain programmes, to have an ATAS Certificate. We will not be able to issue a Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) or register applicants on to the programme until their clearance has been received. For further details, please visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website

12. Disclosure of information

Failure to disclose relevant information or providing false information may result in the place being withdrawn.

13. Feedback

The University may provide feedback if requested. Applicants must be aware that feedback will only be given directly to them unless the University has received written permission that the applicant is willing for the matter to be discussed with another individual. The applicant should also be aware that there may be cases where highly specific or tailored feedback may not be possible.

14. Complaints

The University of Surrey is committed to delivering a high quality, efficient and fair admissions service in line with its selection criteria and policy. In the event that an applicant wishes to make a formal complaint, the University will ensure that all complaints are dealt with fairly, promptly, consistently and with due regard to the Equalities Act. If a complaint is upheld, the University will take appropriate action. If a complaint is not upheld, the reasons for the decision will be communicated clearly to the applicant.

An applicant does not have the right to appeal against an academic decision not to offer them a place at the University, as long as the decision can be shown to have been reached fairly and in accordance with the University’s published entry requirement and selection criteria.

The University will only correspond with the applicant themselves, unless the applicant has provided written permission for the University to discuss this with another person.

Please refer to the full Complaint Policy.

15. Disclaimer

Information on this site should be treated as a guide only and fee information is indicative only. You should seek up-to-date information from the University directly before applying and during the admissions process.

Whilst the University endeavours to ensure the information on this site is accurate and up to date, it is presented without any guarantees, conditions or warranties as to its accuracy. The University disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the information contained on this site.

The University undertakes a continuous review of its programmes, services and facilities to ensure quality enhancement. The University is also largely funded through public and charitable means and is required to manage these funds in an efficient and cost-effective way for the benefit of the whole of the University community.

The University, therefore, reserves the right if it considers it to be necessary to:

  • Make reasonable variations to the content and syllabus of programmes of study (including in relation to placements)
  • Suspend or discontinue programmes of study or to combine or merge them with others
  • Make changes to its statutes, ordinances, regulations, policies and procedures which the University reasonably considers necessary. Such changes if significant will normally come into force at the beginning of the following academic year and depending on the nature of the change will normally be applied to all students regardless of the date of their enrolment
  • Make reasonable alterations to the timetable, location, number of classes, content or method of delivery of programmes of study and/or examination processes.

To the extent permitted by law, the University hereby expressly excludes:

  • All conditions, warranties and other terms which might otherwise be implied by statute, common law or the law of equity
  • Any liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage incurred by any user in connection with our site or in connection with the use, inability to use, or results of the use of our site, any websites linked to it and any materials posted on it
  • Any liability for direct or indirect financial or other losses arising from any discontinuations, changes to or mergers of any programme of study, service or facility.

16. Monitoring and review

The Admissions Policy is reviewed annually by the Admissions, Recruitment and Marketing Committee and the Senior Management Team for Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions. The next review date is August 2022.

Related policies

Explore the admissions policies page to see all related policies.