How to Get Into the University of Edinburgh

Students often ask me: ‘How do I get into Edinburgh?’ Fortunately, I have the answer. Here, at The Profs, 95% of our students applying to their first and second-choice universities get in because we know what top universities are looking for and can tailor students’ applications accordingly. 

I’ll let you in on a secret, not all Russell Group universities look for the same characteristics. So, you cannot create a one-size-fits all application, even if it’s impressive and aiming high. 

The University of Edinburgh is no exception to this. It has its own culture, ethos, and candidate characteristics that it’s looking for. I’ll reveal how you can stand out to the University of Edinburgh in this article.

Our expert team have worked in admissions for many top-tier universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Imperial and Edinburgh. So, if anyone has the know-how to make your application as perfect as possible, it’s us. We offer the right support and preparation to aid you in submitting an application that stands out and maximises your chances of an offer. 

Read on for insider information!

Contents

Is the University of Edinburgh a Russell Group university?

The University of Edinburgh is a member of the Russell Group; it is one of the 24 Russell Group universities. Edinburgh places 12th in the UK according to the Complete University Guide. It is ranked 30th in the world, including a 9th place ranking for Arts and Humanities (Times Higher Education). The University of Edinburgh is one of the UK’s leading research universities according to the Research Excellence Framework (2021).

What are Edinburgh’s entry requirements?

Edinburgh University’s entry requirements vary depending on the course you’re applying to study. The table below shows the UK qualifications and the entry requirements for each.

QualificationEntry requirements
A LevelsTypically A*AA-ABB, depending on the course.
International Baccalaureate (IB)Typically 39 points, with 666 at HL to 32 points, with 555 at HL.
International qualificationsCheck the list of international qualifications accepted by Edinburgh.

The University of Edinburgh accepts a wide range of international qualifications. It displays international qualifications on its individual course pages, so always check there before applying. For more information on how to apply to Edinburgh as an international student, check the university’s own support page, read our guide for international applicants, or get in touch with The Profs for one-to-one support from one of our international admissions experts.

Please note: If English is not your first language you might be asked to take an English language proficiency test. So, ensure that you are adequately prepared. See here for more information regarding English language requirements.

Does Edinburgh give contextual offers?

Edinburgh University gives widening access offers for students who meet their eligibility criteria; this regards personal circumstances that impact students’ performance at school. If you’re eligible, you’ll be assigned a “flag”, meaning you will be considered on the basis of standard entry requirements though your application will probably be prioritised, or a “plus flag”, meaning that you will be considered on the basis of minimum entry requirements. 

The majority of students won’t meet the criteria but it’s worth checking if you are eligible for Edinburgh’s contextual admissions. If you are eligible, there are no additional steps necessary to apply for a contextual offer. Your UCAS application form will show Edinburgh whether you meet the criteria or not.

If you need help with funding, Edinburgh offers a bunch of scholarships.

6 tips for getting into the University of Edinburgh

1. Is your academic record as polished as possible?

There are three factors you need to be aware of: A level/IB (or equivalent) grade requirements, admission test requirements, and subject recommendations or requirements. These factors differ for each of Edinburgh’s courses.  

The entry requirements for Edinburgh differ greatly between courses – not just in terms of grades, but also in the specific subjects required. For example, the A level entry requirements for Chemistry are AAA-ABB with a B minimum in both Chemistry and Maths. Whereas English Literature asks for A*AA with B minimum in English Literature or combined English. History, however, requires A*AA and does not specify any subjects. 

Need help from an expert A level tutor to achieve the entry requirements? Just reach out.

There are also instances where an admissions test is required or recommended. For example, Edinburgh requires Medicine applicants to sit the UCAT. Check out our previous article on how to ace the UCAT or reach out to our team of expert UCAT tutors. Whereas, applicants to Art, Design and Fine Art degrees will be asked to submit a digital portfolio which will be assessed as part of the selection process.

If you are taking an admissions test, it’s important that you prepare adequately and in advance. Just like your A level (or equivalent) grades, any tests will play a crucial role in whether or not you are considered for a place on your chosen course, so it’s important to treat them with as much attention as your final exams. The Profs also advise working with a specialist admissions test expert.

So, it goes without saying that you should ensure that your grades and admissions test scores are as high as possible – especially when it comes to results related to your chosen course. Check Edinburgh’s entry requirements for your specific degree and try to exceed them for the most competitive application. 

If you need support improving your grades to meet Edinburgh’s competitive entry requirements, then reach out to The Profs’ admissions consultants today. We’ll offer a free discovery call to determine your likelihood of achieving a place at Edinburgh and set up any additional support you may need.

Insider tip: Unlike many other universities, the University of Edinburgh considers GCSE grades. For instance, they often consider the number of 8/9s (A*) you achieved alongside your A levels. For some courses, Edinburgh even has specific GCSE requirements. For all courses, unless stated otherwise, Edinburgh requires a 4 (C) or 5 (C*) in English. Some of Edinburgh’s courses require you to have a 7 (A) in Maths. View this page for more information. Consequently, you need to check if there are GCSE requirements for your chosen course. If there are, ensure that you meet them, and brush up on your GCSEs if you don’t! Even if there are no GCSE requirements for your course, it is still worth improving any grades below a 4 (C) or perfecting grades in your chosen subject e.g. ensuring that you have a minimum grade of 7 (A) in all GCSEs relevant to your chosen discipline. Since Edinburgh has GCSE requirements for some courses, it will most likely look at your GCSEs for other courses. Similarly, having good GCSEs in Maths and English could make your application more competitive. Put your best foot forward! We have excellent GCSE and retake tutors who can guide you to success.

2. How to actually go beyond your school syllabus 

The University of Edinburgh places a lot of value on high grades, however, it also values well-read students who go beyond the confines of their textbooks. If you want to get into Russell Group universities like Edinburgh, it’s best to start expanding your reading list early on. 

One of the best ways to do this is to look at the modules you might cover on your chosen course at Edinburgh and start reading around topics that particularly interest you. Edinburgh has reading lists for many of its courses on its website, so you can use this as a helpful starting point. 

Edinburgh values students who possess critical thinking skills and the ability to thrive in independent study. So, it’s beneficial to demonstrate that you’ve engaged in independent research, critical analysis, or projects that require self-motivation and intellectual curiosity.

You should reference some specific readings related to your course in your personal statement. You could do this by name-dropping them or going a step further and showcasing your analytical abilities by critically evaluating the reading or a specific piece of text in your statement. Read our guide to writing your UCAS personal statement for more tips on how to stand out. Prove that you have a genuine passion for your subject and are already able to think about your discipline at university level.

Insider tip 1: Don’t mention obvious materials that most other students will reference. Branch out of your school’s syllabus, and even go beyond Edinburgh University’s reading lists. Try to find less-known texts relating to your subject to stand out. The more niche and specific your wider reading is, the better!

Insider tip 2: Don’t forget to research the University of Edinburgh itself, including your department. What achievements, awards, and research have they got under their belt? Edinburgh has a background of world-leading research in Life Sciences, Informatics, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Development, Space Science, and Social Sciences. Highlight how your research interests align with the university’s research strengths and faculty expertise. 

For example, if you’re applying for History, you could mention the University of Edinburgh’s contribution to the Scottish Enlightenment or if you’re applying for Law, you could highlight Edinburgh University’s Royal Charter. Similarly, if you’re applying for English Literature, you might note Edinburgh University’s impressive list of alumni, including renowned authors such as Sir Walter Scott and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Our team of tutors are also on hand to help you plan your reading list, develop your personal statement, and prepare your application for Edinburgh in advance – get in touch to get started.

3. You’ve mentioned a solid 5-year plan, right?

Getting into Edinburgh is a great goal to have, but it’s also important to think about the long-term plan. Like Oxbridge, LSE, and other top universities in the United Kingdom, Edinburgh will not only want to see a genuine passion and commitment to studying your chosen course but also a plan of how the skills and knowledge you will develop on the course will help you achieve longer-term goals. 

For example, consider how a degree in your chosen subject from Edinburgh will help you to achieve your future academic or career goals. You may want to go on to study a Master’s or PhD, follow a specific career path, or land a graduate job at your dream company. Why do you need this degree and what do you plan on achieving with it? 

The University of Edinburgh is targeted by employers. Have a look at its reputation amongst employers in different sectors, and their careers services for students and graduates. 

Ultimately, having your own career goals in mind will help you enhance your personal statement and prove to Edinburgh that you are motivated and committed to your academic future, and are therefore likely to secure a job post-graduation. Ultimately, you need to show Edinburgh that you would land a good job or be performing well in a PhD soon after graduating. This is about proving that you will remain motivated throughout your years of study, and will have something to offer Edinburgh University at the end of your degree.

For more support on coming up with a career plan and making the most of this in your application, get in touch with our team.

Insider tip: Connect with Edinburgh alumni or current students through open days (in-person or virtual), networking platforms or alumni associations. Seek advice and insights into careers and the application process. Their firsthand experiences and perspectives can provide valuable information and guidance for your application.

4. Lay the ‘groundwork’ for Acceptance

Work experience and extracurriculars are not to be overlooked. If they are related to your discipline or demonstrate skills that are valued by Edinburgh then they could boost your application. Edinburgh specifically mentions “innovation”, meaning that experiences demonstrating creativity should be valued.

Edinburgh University appreciates students who have practical experience related to their chosen field. Engage in relevant extracurricular activities, internships, work experience, or volunteering that demonstrate your passion and commitment to the subject area. Explain how your experiences have contributed to your academic and personal development and how they align with your chosen course at Edinburgh University.

Edinburgh’s ethos mentions making the world a better place and addressing tomorrow’s greatest challenges. Hence, as a university, it is impact-driven and values students who actively contribute to their communities. Demonstrate your involvement in community service, leadership roles, or initiatives that showcase your commitment to creating positive effects on society.

It is also great if you research what student life Edinburgh offers and mention how you intend to get involved, as Edinburgh wants students who become true community members. For example, you could mention the university’s sports clubs or the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh.

Research your course at Edinburgh in detail and try to get work experience that marries up with it. Edinburgh University values students who have a global perspective and an appreciation for cultural diversity.  

Insider tip 1: Edinburgh University is self-proclaimed to be research-intensive. If you have participated in research projects, independent studies, competitions, or have a keen interest in research, emphasise this in your application. Showcase any published work, conference presentations, or collaborations with faculty or researchers.

Insider tip 2: Edinburgh states that their teaching and research is relevant to society and they are diverse, inclusive and accessible to all. The university promotes global engagement through its Edinburgh Global initiative, offering study abroad programmes, international internship opportunities, and a diverse student community, enhancing the global perspective of its students. So, if you intend on getting involved with any of this, say so! Also highlight any international experiences, participating in cultural exchange programmes, or engaging with diverse communities, to showcase your global mindset. All that said, Edinburgh University claims to have a deep allegiance and commitment to the interests of the city and region in which it is based, alongside its national and international efforts. Consequently, it has a local and global focus. So it’s important to demonstrate your dedication to and enthusiasm for Edinburgh and Scotland, or to your local community, as well as globally.

5. Invest in your personal statement!

It may seem obvious considering the tips above, but making sure that you’re investing plenty of time into writing your personal statement is crucial to your application’s success. For many of Edinburgh’s most competitive courses, lots of applicants will achieve the grades required for entry. In these cases, personal statements are one of the only factors Edinburgh has to differentiate applicants and decide who to offer places to, so it’s really important to submit the best personal statement possible. 

Use your personal statement as a chance to express what makes you unique. Describe your academic and career ambitions, detail your skills and experience, and explain why you would be an excellent candidate for your chosen course. Edinburgh also particularly looks for students who have a clear passion for their subject area that extends beyond the bounds of the school curriculum.

Edinburgh University values academic excellence, so highlight any academic achievements, such as awards, honours, or exceptional coursework, to showcase your intellectual capabilities.

The Profs’ experienced personal statement tutors can provide further guidance on how you can write a stand-out statement that is tailored to the University of Edinburgh and your specific course.

Insider tip 1: Your personal statement MUST be personal to you. If it can be read without it being undeniably tied to you individually, it needs reworking. Better yet, try to make your statement personal to your course at Edinburgh University. How are you suited to this discipline, how have you shown that you excel in this subject, and why are you a good fit for Edinburgh? 

Insider tip 2: Choose your referee wisely; their statement is almost as important as yours. A good referee is important. Obviously, you want them to speak highly of you, but ideally, they will highlight your skills and qualities that are relevant to your chosen degree. For this reason, as well as for the general impression of your application, it is best to choose a referee who teaches your chosen subject or within your discipline. It is also a good idea to choose a referee who knows you well enough to write you something of high quality. Also, if you can’t fit something into your personal statement but you think it could bolster your application, ask your referee to mention it for you!

Insider tip 3: Demonstrate alignment with Edinburgh’s values! Edinburgh states: “We are ambitious, bold and act with integrity, always being willing to listen.” How do you relate with this or what experiences have you had that prove you possess these same characteristics?

6. Remember the purpose of your interview

Edinburgh University might invite you to an interview if you are applying for one of the following courses:

  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Oral Health Sciences
  • Teacher Education
  • Veterinary Medicine

Medicine and Veterinary Medicine interviews will be held as multiple-mini interviews. No other degrees include interviewing as part of the application process.

If you are invited for an interview, ensure that you practise. Re-read your personal statement and check details about the University of Edinburgh and your chosen course of study as you might be asked about these factors. Think about questions you might be asked and prepare some readings to mention. 

The purpose of the interview is not to trip you up or even “test” you. Instead, Edinburgh wants to see that you are a good fit for their university. Are you enthusiastic? Are you passionate about your subject? Are you keen to learn? Are you excited about Edinburgh as a university? Will you benefit them as a student?

If you are called for an interview, it’s not to be overlooked! How you perform could make or break your offer. Talk to our experienced and knowledgeable interview coaches for expert advice!

Don’t forget to check out our previous article and video on preparing for university interviews! 

Get 1-to-1 guidance from an expert admissions tutor

At the Profs, we have many admissions consultants who can guide you through the process of applying to the University of Edinburgh, as well as the University of Cambridge, Oxford, LSE, Imperial College London, the University of St Andrews, and other top UK universities. 

Unsure? Don’t be. 95% of our applicants receive an offer from their first or second-choice universities!

We can even support you in your wider degree-level education, helping you with everything from writing your dissertation to applying for postgraduate courses. 

Reach out to our friendly team today to access our expert and dedicated support. Don’t take a risk with your future when we are here to guide you.

FAQs

What is the acceptance rate at Edinburgh University?

The acceptance rate at Edinburgh University can vary depending on the programme and level of study. However, as a prestigious institution, it generally has a competitive acceptance rate, with undergraduate acceptance rates typically ranging from 15% to 47%.

What are the most competitive courses at Edinburgh University?

Edinburgh University offers a wide range of courses, and the competition can vary each year. However, some of the most competitive courses include Medicine, Law, Graphic Design, and Film and Television. These courses often have high demand and limited available spots, making them more competitive for admission.

What are the entry requirements for Edinburgh University?

Entry requirements for Edinburgh University vary depending on the programme and level of study. Generally, undergraduate programmes require a strong academic background, including high A level and GCSE grades (or equivalent) in specified subjects. Additional requirements, such as admissions tests, portfolios and/or interviews may be necessary for certain courses. Read this article for more information.

Does Edinburgh University consider extracurricular activities during the admissions process?

Yes, Edinburgh University values a well-rounded student profile and considers extracurricular activities. While academic achievements are crucial, demonstrating involvement in extracurricular activities, leadership roles, community service, or relevant work experience can strengthen your application and showcase your abilities beyond academics. See tip 4 for more advice.

Are there any specific admission tips for prospective Edinburgh University students?

To increase your chances of admission to Edinburgh University, it’s essential to thoroughly research your desired course, understand its requirements, and tailor your application accordingly. Read this article for tips that are specific to Edinburgh University. If you’re dreaming of studying at a Russell Group university, like Edinburgh, or any other top university, reach out to our expert admissions team.