Ucas Personal Statement Deadlines

Some courses have different deadlines, and many are a long time in advance of the start of the course. Find out which deadline applies to you, and what you need to do by that deadline.

Deadlines for on-time applications

For courses starting in 2018 (and for deferred applications), your application should be with us at UCAS by one of these dates – depending on what courses you apply for. If your completed application – including all your personal details and your academic reference – is submitted by the deadline, it is guaranteed to be considered.

You can now submit completed 2018 entry applications to UCAS.  

If you're applying through your school/college, please check their deadline, and follow this to get your application in on time. This gives them enough time to read your application, check you've entered your qualifications correctly, write and attach your reference, and submit your application to us.  

  • 15 October 2017, 18:00 (UK time) – any course at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, or for most courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry. You can add choices with a different deadline later, but don’t forget you can only have five choices in total.  
  • 15 January 2018, 18:00 (UK time) – for the majority of courses. Some art and design courses have a 24 March deadline, so you can add these later; but don’t forget you can only have five choices in total.  
  • 24 March 2018, 18:00 (UK time) – for some art and design courses. Others have a 15 January deadline, so make sure you check the course details to confirm the correct deadline you need to apply by.

Some course providers require additional admissions tests to be taken alongside the UCAS application, and these may have a deadline. Find out more about these tests.

Check course information in our search tool to see which deadline applies to you.

Apply as soon as possible

Student funding arrangements mean that as offers are made and places fill up, some courses may only have vacancies for students from certain locations. It’s therefore really important that you apply for your chosen courses by the appropriate deadline as not all courses will have places for all students. Find out more.

All applications received after 30 June are entered into Clearing – find out more about Clearing.

  • Missed your deadline?

    If you don’t meet the main application deadline, you can still apply for many courses.

    We recommend you ask the universities whether they have vacancies first – especially for courses with a 15 October deadline, as it’s unusual for them to consider late applications because their courses are really competitive.

    • 30 June, 18:00 (UK time) – the final deadline for late applications with course choices
    • 20 September, 18:00 (UK time) – it’s still okay to apply by this date, but instead of choosing courses, you’ll be entered into ‘Clearing’ – the process universities and colleges use to fill any places they still have on their courses
  • International and EU students

    While the 15 October deadline is usually inflexible, don’t worry if you miss the January deadline.

    Many universities and colleges will continue to accept applications from international students until later in the year, nearer the beginning of the course.

    Don’t leave it too late though, because if you do get a place, you’ll still need to arrange a visa and your accommodation.

  • Part-time students

    Because part-time study options vary by duration, study mode and location, you'll need to contact course providers direct to apply. This way you can discuss your requirements and your experience to see which course provider will be the most suitable for you.

    Flexible and part-time study


What needs to be done by these dates?

You'll need to leave enough time to complete your application, resolve any queries and make sure it reaches us by the deadline.

After you find courses and you’re ready to apply, we’ll explain everything in more detail, but here’s a brief overview:

  1. Fill in your details, qualifications and course choices.
  2. Write a personal statement to demonstrate you’ll be a good student.
  3. Include your reference and pay your application fee. For 2018 entry, the application fee is £13 for a single choice, or £24 for more than one choice. 
  • Independent applicants (not through a school)

    If you're applying as an independent applicant (not through a school), we recommend you ask your referee to complete your reference well in advance of the deadline to avoid any delays.

    Remember to look into student finance too. If you need a loan or financial support, you can apply to a student finance organisation.

  • Does your course start early between January and May?

    A few courses start between January and May, rather than the more typical start dates of September/October.

    • This kind of variation in course start dates can affect deadlines, so if you’re interested in one of these when you search for courses, check the application details in the course listings or by contacting the university or college.
    • Please note, you can still add further choices with more typical start dates to your application later on, (as long as you haven't yet accepted any offers), but if you're interested in any courses with earlier start dates, make sure you don't miss any of the earlier deadlines.
  • Are you deferring your application until the following year?

    If you decide to delay your studies you can still apply now and defer your start date by a year.

    This way you can get your results confirmed and hopefully receive an unconditional offer for the following year.

    • If you're applying for deferred entry in 2019, you need to meet offer conditions by 31 August 2018. However, make sure you check with the university or college that they're happy to consider an application for deferred entry – otherwise your choice might be wasted.
    • Make sure you’re sure about the course though, because if you secure a place you’ll be committed to it, and could only be released from the course if the course provider agrees to let you.

    Find out how to defer your application

  • International and EU students

    Most students apply independently – all the advice and help you need can be found here on ucas.com, or by asking us questions on Facebook or Twitter. 

    Alternatively, you could choose to seek help from a local adviser – a member of staff at a school, college, university, advisory service or agency that provides information about studying in the UK.

    • They can sometimes help you with your UCAS application or visa application.
    • It’s your choice whether you use an adviser or not – they can offer valuable support, but if you don’t use an adviser you’ll not be disadvantaged in any way.
    • If the adviser is registered as a UCAS centre they will have access to the best advice and can oversee your application through UCAS’ online system. These centres are widely considered as a trusted source of applications by universities and colleges.
    • Please note some advisers may charge for their services if they are agents.
  • Siaradwyr Cymraeg

    Os ydych yn cyflwyno cais i ddarparwyr cwrs drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg, gallwch wneud eich cais i gyd yn y Gymraeg.

    1. I gofrestru yn Gymraeg, pan fyddwch yn mynd i’r gwasanaeth Ymgeisio, (Apply), dewiswch ‘Cymraeg’.
    2. Pan fyddwch wedi mewngofnodi i’ch cais, gallwch newid yr iaith i Gymraeg neu Saesneg ar y dudalen Opsiynau.
    3. Mae’r testun help ar gael yn y Gymraeg yn Ymgeisio hefyd.
    4. Yn y gwasanaeth Ymgeisio, gallwch ddewis derbyn gohebiaeth gan ddarparwyr cyrsiau a gennym ni yn y Gymraeg.

    Sut i ymgeisio

Tips for writing a personal statement


How to meet entry requirements

Each course has different requirements you should have or be working towards in school or college – usually a mix of qualifications, subjects and/or exam grades.

As such, many applicants apply during their final year at school or college.

  • When you go to find courses, you’ll need to check the entry requirements so you can apply for courses you have a good chance of getting a place on.
  • This is where the option to apply for up to five courses comes in handy – you can choose courses with higher and lower requirements so that you’ll have a backup.
  • International and EU students

    You can use equivalent international qualifications that you’ve already completed, or that you’re still studying now.

    This allows you to apply earlier in the year, to give yourself more chance of getting a place on a course you want.

    You’ll also need to demonstrate your English language skills.

  • Mature students (over 21)

    Don’t worry if you don’t have the right qualifications.

    You can discuss alternatives with course providers, such as taking an Access course, or getting accreditation for prior learning, life experience or work experience.

Find out more about entry requirements


How to defer your uni or college application

There are two ways to defer your application to university or college, depending what stage of the application process you’re at.

  1. When making your application – you can select a ‘deferred’ start date for your chosen course in Apply, but it’s important to contact the uni or college before submitting your application to make sure they are happy to accept a deferred application.
  2. After you’ve applied – contact your chosen uni or college and ask if they’d be happy to change your course start date to the following year.

Find out more about deferring your application 


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One section of the application is called your personal statement. This is where you can write whatever you’d like to say about yourself and your motivation to study your course.

People sometimes think that there is a trick to writing a personal statement for Oxford, or that we are looking for some special secret formula, but this is not the case. It’s important to remember that the same wording will be seen by all the universities you apply to and should therefore focus on the course you want to study, not the universities themselves. Please read this helpful advice from UCAS about writing your personal statement.

How important is the personal statement?

Universities build a picture of you as a student from all the different information you provide, to help decide whether or not to offer you a place. The picture is made up of several different pieces: your personal statement, academic record, predicted A-level grades (or equivalent), and your teacher's reference. For most courses at Oxford you will also need to take an admissions test or submit written work as well (check the details for your course). If your application is shortlisted, your interview will also be taken in to account. This means that your personal statement is important but it’s not everything: it’s just one part of the overall picture.

What are Oxford tutors looking for?

Tutors at Oxford are only interested in your academic ability and potential. They want to see that you are truly committed to the subject or subjects you want to study at university but it’s not enough just to say that you have a passion for something: you need to show tutors how you have engaged with your subject, above and beyond whatever you have studied at school or college. This can include any relevant extracurricular activities.

Try to avoid writing your personal statement as though you are ticking things off a list. There is no checklist of required achievements, and tutors will not just scan what you have written to look for key words or phrases. Tutors will read your personal statement to try to understand what has motivated you to apply for their course. It’s a good idea to evaluate your experiences, to show what you have learned from them and how they have helped develop your understanding of your subject.  

Where should I start?

Think about talking to your friends about what you want to study at university: what would you tell them? What have you read or watched or seen that has inspired you? (This might have been at school, at home, in a museum, on TV, in a book, on YouTube or a podcast or anywhere else. You can also take a look at our suggested reading and resources.) Why was it interesting? What do you want to find out next? What did you do?

If you find this difficult, it might be time to think about whether or not you’ve really chosen the right course. If you can’t think of anything that has inspired you, this lack of enthusiasm will probably come across in your personal statement, or it will become clear at interview, and you’re unlikely to gain a place at Oxford. If you find it easy to answer these questions, you will have a long list of ideas to help you write your personal statement.

When you start to write, remember not just to list your achievements but show how they have affected you, how you have benefited, and what you’d like to learn next. Be honest about yourself and what has inspired you, whether that’s been text books, museums and literature, or websites, podcasts and blogs. Be sure to tell the truth, as tutors might check later, so don’t exaggerate and certainly don’t make any false claims. Don’t hold back either – this is no time for modesty.

When you've written a first draft, have a look back at the selection criteria for your course and think about the evidence you've given for each of the criteria. Have you covered everything?

Should I include extra-curricular activities?

If you're applying for competitive courses, which includes any course at Oxford, we typically suggest that you focus around 80% of your personal statement on your academic interests, abilities and achievements. This can include discussion of any relevant extracurricular activities. The remaining 20% can then cover any unrelated extra-curricular activities.

There’s a myth that Oxford is looking for the most well-rounded applicants, and that you will only be offered a place if you have a long list of varied extracurricular activities. In fact, extracurricular activities are only helpful in so far as they demonstrate the selection criteria for your course. 

If you are applying to other universities as well as to Oxford (you can make five choices on your UCAS form) then you may need to find out whether the other universities have different selection criteria. If they do, then you might want to provide some information about your extra-curricular interests – but keep it to a minimum. The space in your personal statement is limited, so think carefully about what you want to include.

Do I need experience of work and travel?

We understand that not everyone has the opportunity to do work experience or to go travelling so these activities are not a requirement for any of our courses. Tutors won’t be impressed by your connections, or the stamps in your passport, but they will be impressed by how you’ve engaged with your subject.

For example, some of our applicants for Medicine may have had work experience placements in prestigious hospitals but not be able to evaluate their time there. If you have no more experience than some simple voluntary work, or even just discussing medical matters with your friends and family, you can still write an effective personal statement by reflecting critically on what you have learned and discussed. 

To give another example, for the History of Art, tutors will not want to hear about all the galleries and exhibitions that you have visited around the world if you cannot discuss the art that you saw. You can come across more effectively in your personal statement by evaluating art you have seen, even if you’ve only seen it online or in books without ever leaving the school library.

Don’t be put off by any friends who you think have more impressive things to say in their personal statements. Remember that tutors do not have a checklist of achievements that they are looking for: they want to see how you have engaged with your subject.

I’m applying to different courses at different universities – how should I write my personal statement?

If you are thinking of applying for completely different courses at different universities (eg Physics and Accounting, or Biology and Music) we’d encourage you to reconsider. It’s important to choose a subject area that you really want to study, and focus on that one area when making your applications. Also, you can only write one personal statement which will be seen by all the universities to which you apply, so it needs to be relevant for all your courses.

If you are thinking of applying for related courses at different universities then we suggest that you avoid using course titles in your personal statement. We recommend that you write about your interest in the general course themes, and how you have engaged with relevant subject areas, so that your personal statement is equally relevant for each of your course choices. 

Does my personal statement need to stand out?

Students sometimes feel that they need to say something dramatic to stand out from the crowd and be really memorable in their personal statement but this is not true. Applying to Oxford is not like a talent show where you may only have a few seconds to make an impression. Tutors consider each application carefully on its individual merits, looking for evidence of your commitment and ability. If you use your personal statement to demonstrate your academic abilities and your engagement with your subject or subjects, then your application will be memorable for all the right reasons.

How many versions should I write?

Ask a teacher to read through what you’ve written, listen to their feedback and then make any updates that they suggest. You may need two or three tries to get it right and it can take longer than you think, especially with the limited number of characters. It can be tricky to get in everything you want to mention, but don't spend too much time trying to make your personal statement completely perfect - it's only one of the things that the tutors will consider.

Some dos and don’ts

DO:

  • DO apply for a course you really want to study.
  • DO be yourself: tell the truth about your interests.
  • DO sell yourself: this is not the time for modesty.
  • DO re-read your personal statement before an interview – the tutors may ask you to talk about things you've mentioned
  • DO read the UCAS guidance on personal statements.

DON'T:

  • DON’T be tempted to make anything up, as you might be asked about it at interview.
  • DON’T copy anyone else’s personal statement. UCAS uses plagiarism detection software.
  • DON'T list qualifications like your GCSE grades or anything else that's covered elsewhere on the application.
  • DON’T just list your other achievements: you need to evaluate them.
  • DON'T feel the need to be dramatic in order to be memorable.

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