Wait, what do you mean by ‘non-standard’ qualifications?


This blog continues on from Part 1, where we discussed the UCAS Tariff.

Along with the UCAS Tariff, which we demystified in Part 1, ‘non-standard qualification’ is another term you’ll see left right and centre when looking at the entry requirements needed for a degree. But what exactly makes a qualification ‘non-standard’?

Essentially, ‘non-standard qualification’ encompasses most UK qualifications that are not the A-Level or International Baccalaureate Diploma; the most common being BTEC Subsidiary or Extended Diplomas, Foundation Degrees/Years, and Access to Higher Education Diplomas.

Applicants who have completed non-standard qualifications should take extra care when making their applications to SOAS – for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is more difficult for applicants with non-standard qualifications to meet the additional requirements for certain SOAS programmes. For example, such applicants wanting to apply for the LLB Law are required to complete the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT) before their application can be processed.

Exam qualification
Photograph: Green Chameleon/Unsplash

Secondly, non-standard qualifications are often vocational or catered towards specific programmes; a change in subject direction needs to be explained. For example, a student with a Level 3 Diploma in Art and Design would be expected to explain their reasons for wanting to change to the LLB Law after completing a specialist diploma in another field. The personal statement – as well as evidence of any relevant work experience, previous achievements in the relevant field, or strong interest – should be used to convey these reasons.

As well as this, Admissions may have to rely on older results, such as an applicant’s GCSE results, to determine the outcome of a non-standard application. An applicant with a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Travel and Tourism, that wants to study the BSc Economics, for example, is likely to see their GCSE (or equivalent) results come into play to demonstrate proof of mathematical skills.

Finally, while the qualifications we refer to in this post are UK-based, vocational qualifications and Foundation Degrees can also be completed overseas; and while these may be considered sufficient for university entry abroad, they are most likely not going to be accepted for UK university entry.

Because of this, we strongly advise applicants to not take admissions requirements for non-standard qualifications on the website at face value, and to ensure that the detailed admissions requirements are read. 

Alternatively, please contact our Admissions team for more detailed information. You can contact them at undergradadmissions@soas.

There are places available on degree programmes across our departments at SOAS, through Clearing. Apply to SOAS through UCAS Clearing here

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