How to Get Into Bristol University

‘How can I get into Bristol?’ is a question that I get asked a lot and this is unsurprising too!

Academically, Bristol is known for being a well-rounded university, performing highly in a range of disciplines including Medicine and Pharmacy, STEM subjects like Engineering, as well as social sciences such as Business Management and Anthropology. It is also one of the six original red-brick universities that are known for their high-quality, pioneering research.

Throughout my ten years of experience as a university admissions consultant, I’ve collected a bunch of insider knowledge for getting into Russell Group universities like Bristol. Like with many high achieving universities, it takes more than solely attaining high grades to get into Bristol (although high grades certainly help!). That’s why I have written this article to help you maximise your chances of getting in. Here at The Profs, 95 % of our students succeed in getting a place at their first or second choice university, so you can trust our advice!

Though Bristol is competitive, with the right support, hard work and preparation, you can maximise your chances of getting an offer. With key stats on the admissions process and insider knowledge from ex-admissions officers on how to make your application stand out, the Profs’ experts are here to help.

Contents:

Is Bristol a Russell Group university?

Yes, the University of Bristol is one of the 24 Russell Group universities. It is a leading university in the UK and in the most recent assessment of research quality, 94% of its research was assessed as either ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. The Complete University Guide ranks Bristol as the 16th best Russell Group university.

What are the typical entry requirements at Bristol?

Bristol University’s entry requirements vary depending on the course you’re applying to study and the country you’re applying from. The best place to find the entry requirements relating to your chosen course can be found either on the university website or the 2024 prospectus. The table below shows the UK qualifications and some of the most common international qualifications accepted by Bristol, and the typical entry requirements for each. 

QualificationEntry requirements
A LevelsA*A*A-BBB, depending on the course. 
International Baccalaureate (IB)Range from 32-40 points overall, with 18 points at Higher Level. Specific subjects and grades may also be required.
Diplôme du Baccalauréat Général (France)Bristol’s equivalent to AAA in A-levels in the Diplôme du Baccalauréat Général is an overall score of 15. For individual required subjects, Bristol will specify point scores ranging from 13 to 17.
Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE)5*55-444 with two or three elective subjects required, depending on the course.
National Board (CBSE/ISC) (India)Typical offers range from 80% (equivalent to ABB at A-level) to 90% (equivalent to A*AA at A-level).
Other international qualificationsCheck the full list of international qualifications accepted by Bristol.

Bristol 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 Bristol as an international student, check on 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.

See our FAQ section for information regarding Bristol’s acceptance rate and most competitive courses.

Does Bristol give contextual offers?

The University of Bristol was once seen as a ‘state school’ university, as it was one of the first to put a widening participation scheme in place. While it does take into account information about your background when making offers, it does so in combination with your academic strength, so applicants from both state and independent schools are encouraged to apply. 

A contextual offer is one that is offered when the university feels that your real academic potential is hindered by your current or previous circumstances. This definition is purposefully vague as the university sets its own eligibility criteria for contextual offers. 

Bristol’s contextual offers are one to two grades below the standard entry requirements (e.g. a standard A level offer for Medicine would be AAA, but a contextual offer may be ABB). The majority of students won’t meet the requirements for contextual offers, however it’s always worth checking the university’s criteria. You can find the contextual offers available on each individual course page.

6 tips for getting into Bristol

1. Do you actually know your specific requirements?

The entry requirements for Bristol differ greatly between courses – not just in terms of grades, but also the specific subjects required. For example, applicants to Bristol’s Accounting and Finance BSc course need to achieve AAA or A*AB in their A levels, with at least an A in Mathematics, while for some of Bristol’s Science courses, including Biology and Zoology, applicants need to have studied two Science subjects at A-level and achieve AAA overall. Alternatively, Bristol’s Sociology course asks for AAB and has no subject-specific requirements as long as applicants have taken one essay-based subject.

Some competitive courses also require applicants to study more specific subject combinations. For example, Medicine applicants need to achieve AAA overall, including at least one of Biology or Chemistry, as well as a second science or Mathematics. 

If you need support improving your grades to meet Bristol’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 Bristol and set up any additional support you may need.

It’s also important to check if admissions tests and interviews are required for your course. For example, Bristol requires an interview and the LNAT for Law, as well as an interview and the UCAT for both Medicine and Dentistry, which you’ll need to register and prepare for in advance (see tip 6 for more).

If you need help preparing for your admissions test or interview at Bristol, The Profs’ admissions consultancy is the perfect way to level up your knowledge, grow confidence in your abilities, and give yourself the best chance of success.

Insider tip: The University of Bristol has a ‘try before you buy’ scheme for A-level (or equivalent) students, called Access to Bristol. Taking part in the Access to Bristol scheme shows a commitment to further study that will strengthen your application when you apply. On completion, you will also be guaranteed a contextual offer/interview from Bristol University. If you’re interested in attending the University of Bristol, it is worth researching the scheme and getting in touch with the university to find out more information.

2. How to actually go beyond your school syllabus

When it comes to writing your personal statement, ensuring that you show a genuinely passionate and in-depth understanding of your subject goes a long way. Bristol University values wider reading and extracurricular activities as well as top grades, so it’s important that you don’t just limit yourself to school study. Beyond strengthening your application, engaging in extracurricular activities is also a great way to mediate the stress of academic study.

If you want to get into a top university like Bristol, it’s best to start expanding your reading list. Read beyond your school syllabus and if you can, teach yourself one or two modules from your chosen course at Bristol and highlight this in your application. It’s super important that your reading is specific and niche so that you stand out from the crowd. You don’t want to list the same cliché readings as the rest of your peers. Completing independent research projects is another way of showcasing your dedication to study. One particular way of engaging in an independent research project is to study towards an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Students studying towards an EPQ have the freedom to study any topic of their choosing and relay their findings in the form of a dissertation, report, artefact or production. This will help you get ahead with your independent study skills in preparation for university-level study, which is a significant step up from school-level. If you can demonstrate to Bristol that you’re already operating at university-level, you’re in with a good chance of getting an offer!

It’s a good idea to get involved in clubs or volunteering, and further your passions early on. You have limited space in your personal statement so ensure that you talk about extracurriculars that are related to your discipline or highlight the transferable skills that they’ve equipped you with.

Reach out to our expert admissions consultants who can identify where your strengths are and help you develop your academic and extracurricular profile ready for submitting your application to Bristol University.

Insider tip: If you’re applying for Medicine, your wider reading and ability to go beyond your school subjects will be particularly important in your interview, where your knowledge and motivations will be put to the test. The University of Bristol holds traditional panel interviews for its Medicine degree course, which involve being interviewed by multiple experts from the department, so brushing up on your subject knowledge will ensure that you can have insightful conversations and give thoughtful, informed answers to your interviewers’ questions. 

Read our guide to preparing for a Medicine interview for more tips or get in touch with our expert medical admissions team for more specialist support.

3. Lay the ‘groundwork’ for acceptance

To help prove your commitment to your long-term goals outlined in your personal statement, you should look to gain relevant work experience in your field. Whether paid or unpaid, having experience working in your desired field will provide you with invaluable real-life knowledge about the industry. The vast majority of unpaid work experience requires weekday availability. Should you find a programme that overlaps with your school time you must contact your school to get permission before applying.

For some courses, such as Medicine and Law, work experience is valued extremely highly, so it’s important that you get experience in relevant settings. For example, Medicine applicants should have work experience in at least one medical setting (e.g. a hospital, GP surgery, hospice, or another medical environment), while Law applicants should try to gain experience in a courtroom, law firm, charity, or governmental organisation. Read our guides to applying for Medicine and Law for more information on these two competitive degree programmes.

Some courses are harder than others to find direct work experience for. If you can’t secure work experience relevant to your chosen subject, try to engage in as many extracurricular activities related to your chosen subject area as you can instead. For instance, if you’re applying for Computer Science, you could join a school Computing club or learn a new programming language in your free time in order to gain valuable extra skills to supplement your application. This will still help to strengthen your application and show your commitment to the subject area

If relevant work experience proves hard to find, try to boost your application with further achievements and extracurriculars that are related to your chosen degree. 

Insider tip: Seeking work experience can be time consuming and it’s often hard to know where to start looking! Usually your institution will have some useful advice. When you start looking for work experience a good place to start is online. If you have your chosen course in mind, you should research what careers this course can lead to and decide what particular role and/or sector would be of interest to you. 

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

Getting into Bristol is a great goal to have, but it’s also important to think about the long-term plan. Like Oxbridge, LSE, and other top UK universities, Bristol wants to see a genuine passion and commitment to your chosen course, as well as how you will use the skills and knowledge that you’ve learned from your course to achieve longer-term goals. 

For example, consider how a degree in your chosen subject from Bristol 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. Have a look at the industry links Bristol has, its reputation amongst employers (Bristol is the 7th most sought-after university by top UK employers in the UK!), and what previous graduates have gone on to achieve as inspiration.

Ultimately, having your own career goals in mind will help you enhance your personal statement and prove to Bristol that you are motivated and committed to your academic future, and are therefore likely to secure a job post-graduation. For more support on coming up with a career plan and making the most of this in your application, get in touch with our expert team.

5. Invest in your personal statement

It may seem obvious given 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 Bristol’s most competitive courses, lots of applicants will achieve the grades required for entry. Universities including Bristol will therefore be relying on applicants’ personal statements to decide who to offer places to, so it’s really important to submit the best 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. Bristol also particularly looks for students who have a clear passion for their subject area that extends beyond the bounds of the school curriculum. This can include anything from wider reading to extracurricular activities at school and work experience.

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 Bristol and your specific course. You can also see our article and video on how to write a winning personal statement to see how you can get your best attributes across to the admissions team!

Insider tip 1: Bristol’s core values are curiosity and creativity, so ensure that you demonstrate these characteristics in your writing and examples. Generally, most top universities appreciate students who have leadership and collaboration skills so keep this in mind too. Think, what do you have to offer the Bristol University community?

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 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!

Note that all students applying to university for 2023, 2024 or 2025 will still be required to submit a UCAS personal statement as normal. However, from January 2025 onwards (October 2024, for Oxbridge applicants), there will be changes to the UCAS application process and students will no longer be required to write a personal statement. Instead, all applicants will answer a series of shorter, more tailored questions provided by UCAS.

6. Don’t trip on your admissions test and/or interview

Once you know which admissions tests and interviews you will be required to take/attend, it’s important that you give yourself enough time to prepare. Any tests and interviews will play a crucial role in whether or not you are considered for a place on your chosen course, so you should treat them with the same importance that you do your final exams. 

Before you apply you can check your chosen course on the university website for their requirements. For example if you are intending to apply for a medicine or dentistry course you will be asked to complete a UCAT, for Law LLB you will need to complete an LNAT. If you are intending to study a Mathematics related course but are not studying A level Mathematics or equivalent the university will invite you to complete a test set by the university online. 

How long you’ll need and how best to prepare for any admissions tests or interviews will depend on which ones are required of you. The following guides give you the key information and steps to start preparing for some key additional application stages used by Bristol:

The Profs also advise working with one of our specialist admissions test experts who can guide you through the exact content you’ll need to learn, explain how to meet the mark scheme requirements, as well as provide tried-and-tested tips on how to succeed in the exam. The Profs’ admissions test tutors have years of experience successfully preparing students for the test they specialise in, and many have even been university admissions officers and exam markers themselves, so they know just what universities like Bristol are looking for. Get in touch with our team to find out more about how we can help you.

Bristol may ask you for an interview after you have submitted your UCAS application. Bristol University does interview applicants for some (but not all) courses. The programmes that always interview applicants include: Dental Hygiene and Therapy, Dentistry and Gateway to Dentistry, Gateway to Veterinary Science, Medicine and Gateway to Medicine, and all foundation year courses. You may also be interviewed for particularly competitive programmes, including: Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Law, Physics, Psychology, and Veterinary Science. The university lists courses where you can expect to be interviewed if your UCAS application has progressed to the next stage – this can be found online. You are also more likely to be interviewed if you are a mature student or do not meet the entry requirements in a traditional way. For more information visit the university website. You might also be interviewed if you’re a mature student, have a non-traditional education background or have spent time away from mainstream education.

If you think you might be interviewed, ensure that you put your best foot forwards as interviews are not to be overlooked! Your interview is often the deciding factor for whether you gain admission to Bristol or not. We have expert interview coaches who can guide you every step of the way. We also have an article and a video on nailing the process.

Insider information on Bristol University

What does Bristol look out for and what can make me a good fit?

Bristol seeks students that will be active in the wider community. Student life in Bristol is not just about the great night-life, the university offers students many exciting opportunities to make an impact. This includes the Bristol Futures programme focussed on three main themes:

  1. Innovation & Enterprise
  2. Global Citizenship
  3. Sustainable Futures

Any current student can apply for the opportunity to build their skills outside of their course while addressing core challenges, such as sustainability. 

The university is also home to around 400 societies (all part of Bristol SU) ranging from music, sports, food, and literature to trading and leadership. All societies are designed to make your student life fulfilling and are excellent ways to find friends with common interests and ambitions.The SU has also partnered with several well-known charities to form societies focussed on achieving the goals of that charity. 

Generally speaking, the university seeks students that will engage with its many societies and programmes to develop key skills and support the community. For example, speaking of any philanthropic endeavours in your personal statement will certainly benefit your application and show you are a good fit for Bristol. This can involve volunteering for a charity, or helping to organise events for your community or school. Many schools and institutions provide access to the Duke of Edinburgh award, this is looked upon highly by multiple universities including Bristol as its purpose is to develop a range of softer skills within the student while giving back to the community.

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

At The Profs, we have expert admissions consultants, many of whom are ex-Russell Group admissions officers. We can guide you through the process of applying to the University of Bristol, as well as Oxbridge, UCL, Durham, and other top universities. We offer our students the very best tuition – in fact, only 3% of tutors who apply to our network are accepted to work with us. As a result, more than 95% of our applicants receive an offer from their first or second choice universities at undergraduate level. 

Get in touch with our friendly team today to access our dedicated support.

FAQs

What is the Bristol acceptance rate?

In 2021, the undergraduate Bristol acceptance rate was 13.1% (based on data by UCAS). The university received 58,185 applications and granted places to just 7,650 students. However, with the help of The Profs’ expert Bristol consultants, 95% of our students receive an offer from their first or second choice universities, so get in touch with our team to maximise your chances of getting into Bristol.

What are the most competitive courses at Bristol?

Bristol is one of a handful of UK universities that specialises in courses from across the academic spectrum. The university regularly ranks in the top 10 in the UK for subjects including Medicine, Engineering, Pharmacy, Sociology, Computer Science, Philosophy, History, Modern Languages and Linguistics, and more. All of these courses are incredibly competitive and receive high levels of applications, so it’s important that you know how to stand out.

The most traditionally competitive courses are also offered by Bristol, including Medicine (requires AAA at A level) and LLB Law (requires A*AA at A level). Both of these courses require an admissions test to separate the strongest applicants; see tip 1 below for more information on what additional stages are required.

Is Bristol a campus university?

Bristol University is not a campus university – it is better described as a city university. It does have one main campus, Clifton Campus, on which the majority of its teaching takes place. Bristol’s student accommodation is split into three student villages – the North (located in Stoke Bishop), East (based in and around Bristol city centre) and West (based in and around the Clifton area) Residential Villages. There are good transport links between these locations, the main campus, and other university facilities.

Is Bristol a good university?

Bristol is one of the best universities in the UK. It is a Russell Group university and is currently ranked as the 15th best university in UK league tables and 61st in QS world university rankings.

How many students at Bristol University?

Bristol University has more than 20,000 undergraduate students and more than 7,000 postgraduate students. Around 25% of its student population are international students from more than 150 countries.

What is Bristol University known for?

Bristol is a highly respected university that is known for attracting top applicants with high grades. It is one of a handful of UK universities that specialises in courses from across the academic spectrum, regularly ranking in the top 10 in the UK for subjects including Medicine, Engineering, Pharmacy, Sociology, Computer Science, Philosophy, History, Modern Languages and Linguistics, and more. Bristol is also popular amongst employers, ranking as the third most sought-after university by top UK employers.

Where is Bristol University?

Bristol University is located in the city of Bristol in the south west of England. Bristol is less than 2 hours from London by train and between 2 and 3 hours away by car. It is also less than an hour away from Cardiff by train. Bristol University’s main campus, Clifton campus, is well served by bus routes, with buses running to and from Bristol Temple Meads station. The campus is also a 30 minute walk from Bristol’s coach station.

How long does Bristol University take to reply?

Bristol University aims to make decisions on undergraduate applications within five weeks of receiving them. However, sometimes it can take longer than this, and for some courses, your application may be placed on hold until later in the admissions cycle. If this is the case, Bristol will email you to let you know. You can check the progress of your application via UCAS and all decisions will be made by the UCAS deadline for universities on the 18th May 2023.

Does Bristol University do interviews?

Bristol University does interview applicants for some (but not all) courses. The programmes that always interview applicants include: Dental Hygiene and Therapy, Dentistry and Gateway to Dentistry, Gateway to Veterinary Science, Medicine and Gateway to Medicine, and all foundation year courses. You may also be interviewed for particularly competitive programmes, including: Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Law, Physics, Psychology, and Veterinary Science. You are also more likely to be interviewed if you are a mature student or do not meet the entry requirements in a traditional way.

Does Bristol University do Clearing?

Bristol University does not typically offer places through Clearing due to the high number of applicants it receives. However, make sure to check on the university website and via UCAS when Clearing opens for your application cycle. More information on applying for Clearing can be found on the UCAS website.