The Earth Sciences building
The Earth Sciences building, part of the University's Science Area
(Image Credit: Tess Ablitt)

Application Guide for Graduate Access Programmes (2022)

This guide explains how to apply for the UNIQ+ and Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships (BVS) at Oxford, including how to complete the application form and provide supporting documents. This is a guide for making an application to our 2022 programmes.

The application process

We encourage applications from talented individuals who would find continuing into postgraduate study a challenge for reasons other than academic ability. Please ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria, including the requirement to be ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom.

As part of your application, you will be able to select which of our graduate access programmes you would like to be considered for (UNIQ+ internships and/or Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships).

You may apply to both programmes if you wish and you only need to submit one application. However, you will need to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for each programme you have selected because your application will only be considered for programmes that you are eligible to participate in.

Instructions for selecting the programme(s) that you would like to be considered for can be found in the Completing the application form section of this page.

The After you apply section of this page provides more information about how your application will be assessed and when we will notify you of the outcome.

What happens if I apply to both programmes?

If you apply to be considered for both programmes and are successful on both, you will only receive an offer for one programme. We will match you to UNIQ+ internships or Wellcome BVS on the basis of:

  • your interests;
  • project/supervisor availability; and
  • closest match with the eligibility criteria.

This will enable us to maximise the number of places we can offer.

UNIQ+ DeepMind internships

Up to 12 ten-week UNIQ+ DeepMind Internships will be offered to individuals who meet the criteria and apply for the flagged projects in Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences. If you are successful with your application to one of these projects, and your place is a ten-week UNIQ+ DeepMind internship, your offer will make this clear and provide all the relevant contractual details.

If you express an interest for one of these projects, but are unable to attend a longer ten-week internship, please indicate this clearly in your personal statement.

ESRC-funded UNIQ+ internships

Up to six ESRC-funded placements will be offered to individuals who meet the criteria and apply for the projects in the social sciences that are eligible for ESRC funding (this will be indicated in the project description where applicable). If you are successful with your application to one of these projects, and your place is funded by the ESRC, your offer will make this clear and provide all the contractual details, including how you will be paid.

How are places distributed?

Places for UNIQ+ internships will be distributed across the four academic divisions, with 15 places expected to be available for projects in the Humanities and 25 to 30 places available for projects in each of the remaining divisions (Social Sciences, Medical Sciences, and Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences).

A total of six places are available for the Wellcome BVS projects.

Only projects that are matched to successful applicants will run this year. If you are successful, we will try to match your interests to available projects and supervisors. Please note that we will not always be able to meet your preferences for a project/supervisor, but we will try our best to do this wherever possible.

Checking your eligibility

It is your responsibility to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for each programme you have selected because your application will only be considered for programmes that you are eligible for.

If you are applying for a Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarship at Oxford you should check the Wellcome BVS eligibility criteria to ensure that your undergraduate degree programme is in an eligible subject area. For both UNIQ+ and Wellcome BVS, you will also need to carefully read the description of each project you apply for, to ensure that you are aware of any specific subject requirements.

You can find the full details about the UNIQ+ eligibility criteria and the Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships (BVS) eligibility criteria in the relevant sections of each programme page.

The additional information below provides further details about our academic expectations, the definitions we use and the financial eligibility criterion.

Academic expectations

We are looking for proven and potential academic excellence. Applicants would usually be on track to achieve or have achieved a final undergraduate degree grade of a strong 2:1 or First, in a subject area related to the listed projects that you are interested in. If your transcript shows year on year grade progression towards the upper range of a 2:1 or above, then we’d encourage you to apply for the programme.

Definitions

Ordinary residence

Your country of ordinary residence is the country in which you are normally resident, out of choice and for a settled purpose, apart from temporary or occasional absences. It is not a country in which you are studying, working or living temporarily. You would usually have indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK in order to be considered ordinarily resident. Those with a time limitation on how long you can stay in the UK (for example, a time-limited UK visa) would not usually be eligible for our programmes.

Care experienced student

‘Care experienced’ means having been in care for a period of 3 months or more before the age of 18. This includes a range of care settings you may have encountered, such as:

  • living with foster carers;
  • living in a residential children's home;
  • being looked after at home under a supervision order;
  • living with friends or relatives in kinship care – either through a formal arrangement (eg a Special Guardianship order) or an informal arrangement without local authority support.

Caring responsibilities

As well as caring for children, we define a carer as anyone who has a commitment to providing unpaid care to a family member or friend who could not cope without their support. This may be due to illness, disability, a mental health issue, or substance misuse. To meet this eligibility criterion, your caring responsibilities should have been for 3 months or more occupying more than 10 hours per week.

Estranged student

Someone under the age of 25 who is not communicating with their parents/guardians due to a breakdown in their relationships. You may also have been assessed as independent by Student Finance during your undergraduate study.

Financial eligibility

The information below is provided for applicants who would like check whether or not they meet the financial eligibility criterion ('be from a low-income background and in receipt of more than the minimum levels of support detailed from your regional funding body'). 

Applicants who received at least the following levels of support from their regional funding body during their degree meet the financial eligibility criterion for our graduate access programmes. The minimum qualifying support levels for the different regions are set out below.

If you completed a part-time undergraduate degree during this period, please contact us by email (uniqplus@admin.ox.ac.uk) for information on eligibility thresholds.

England

Students who received at least the following levels of maintenance loan

Table of minimum qualifying support levels in final year of study and location of residence during that year
 Minimum qualifying support level
Studying outside London, not living with parentsStudying in London, not living with parentsLiving at home
Final year maintenance loan in 2019-20£7,175£9,508£5,816
Final year maintenance loan in 2020-21£7,384£9,787£5,985
Final year maintenance loan in 2021-22£7,615£10,091£6,171
Maintenance loan in 2021-22 (not final year)£8,130£11,001£6,642

If you completed your degree prior to 2020 and believe that you were in receipt of the maximum loan from Student Finance England, please contact us by email (uniqplus@admin.ox.ac.uk).

Scotland

Young Student bursary of at least £500.
Independent Student loan of at least £6,250.

Northern Ireland

Maintenance grant of at least £689.

Wales

Students who began their undergraduate course from 2018-19 minimum qualifying support levels:

  • Studying outside London, not living with parents: Maintenance grant of at least £5,208
  • Studying in London, not living with parents: Maintenance grant of at least £6,408
  • Living at home: Maintenance grant of at least £4,488

Students who began their course from 2012-13 to 2017-18 inclusive:

  • Grant of at least £1,142

Completing the application form

To apply, you will need to complete our online application form. As part of the application process you will be required to provide information about your education, submit supporting documents, state your subject interests, provide a personal statement, and source one reference.

If you would like to be considered for a place on the UNIQ+ internships and/or Wellcome BVS programmes, you will need to tick the appropriate box on the application form.

We recommend you use a computer to complete the application form, and not a smart device (ie phone or tablet), as you will need to upload a number of documents in support of your application.

The information below will help you to prepare the information you need before you start the form. We also strongly encourage you to read our Medium article about Five things we really want you to know about applying to Oxford.

Applications for the 2022 programme have now closed. If you have applied for the 2022 programme, you can still view your submitted application and find out what happens next.

You are responsible for making sure that all required documents, including your reference, are submitted by the deadline and meet the University’s requirements. If your application is submitted late, or it is incomplete or ineligible, it will not be put forward for assessment.

About you

The first section of the form will collect information about you, including your personal details, contact information and residence details. This section and the ‘Reference’ section (described below) can be submitted before the remaining sections of the form. Once submitted, this section will be locked from further editing, so you should check the information you have entered before proceeding.

Your personal details

Please enter your details as they appear on your passport or other official document, such as a driving licence.

Your contact information

When providing your primary email address, please enter a personal email address and not a University email address. All communications will be sent to you at this email address.

Your residence and eligibility

When completing the declaration, you will be asked to confirm that you are ordinarily resident in the UK. Your country of ordinary residence is the country in which you are normally resident, out of choice and for a settled purpose, apart from temporary or occasional absences. It is not a country in which you are studying, working or living temporarily. You would usually have indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK in order to be considered ordinarily resident. Those with a time limitation on how long you can stay in the UK (for example, a time-limited UK visa) would not usually be eligible for our programmes.

Reference

The application form will ask you to provide information about your referee. Your referee should be a member of university academic staff (eg a tutor, advisor or professor) who can comment on your academic ability, the quality of your work, your potential for further study, and your suitability for the programme(s). Where possible, please enter your referee’s institutional/professional email address.

To give your referee as much time as possible to submit their reference for you, we recommend that you add your referee's details and submit the first two sections of the application form (‘About you’ and ‘Reference’) as soon as possible. As soon as you submit these sections of the form:

  • your referee will be sent an automated email that will explain how to submit their reference via a form; and
  • the completed 'About you' and ‘Reference’ sections will be locked from further editing.

Therefore, before submitting the first two sections of the form you should:

  • contact your referee to make sure that they are happy to write a reference for you and submit it before the deadline of 12:00 midday UK time on Friday 18 February 2022; and
  • make sure that all the information you have entered in the ‘About you’ and ‘Reference’ sections is correct – you will not be able to change it once it has been submitted.

After you have completed and submitted the first two sections of the form (‘About you’ and ‘Reference’), we advise you to contact your referee to make sure that they have received the email notification. You should then continue to complete the remainder of your application.

If your referee would like more information about any of the graduate access programmes that you have applied for, you can provide them with a link to the relevant programme page(s) on this website.

The Guidance for referees section of our application guide will provide your referee with advice about what to include in their reference. For convenience, you may wish to provide your referee with the following web address: http://www.graduate.ox.ac.uk/access/referee

Your education

In addition to information about your undergraduate/postgraduate degree, the application form will ask you to provide the name and address of the school(s)/college(s) that you attended when you passed your GCSE(s) or equivalent (usually at age 16) and in your final calendar year of secondary education (usually Sixth Form/FE college at age 18). Don’t worry if the name has changed or the school has now closed – just include as much detail as you can. You will need to provide a postcode, which you can search for using an online service such as the Royal Mail’s Postcode Finder.

The form will also require you to upload several documents in support of your application:

CV

You will first be required to upload your CV in PDF format (or as a PNG/JPG). Your CV should usually be one or two pages in length and provide a summary of your recent achievements. It should provide details of your qualifications and any other experience relevant to your application. You can read advice on writing an academic CV from one of our DPhil students on our Medium blog.

When preparing your document, please save it with the following naming convention: SURNAME, Firstname, CV.

Transcript

You will also need to upload a copy of your university transcript(s) containing the grades/marks you have received so far for your undergraduate (and, if applicable, postgraduate) degree(s).
If you have not yet completed your current degree and/or you do not have access to a transcript of your final results, you will need to submit an official interim or provisional transcript with details of your grades achieved to date. We will also accept screenshots from self-service portals.

If you are providing a master’s transcript that does not yet contain any grades, you must include your undergraduate transcript to be considered ready for assessment.

To be accepted, any transcript you provide (including downloads/self-service screenshots) must clearly display:

  • your name;
  • your institution; and
  • a breakdown of grades.

You will have the opportunity to add up to five files. Please use the following naming convention: SURNAME, Firstname, type of document (eg Undergraduate Transcript/Postgraduate Transcript, etc).
The following formats are acceptable for assessment purposes:

  • a scanned version of an official transcript. This will often have a signature or stamp to certify it. The document(s) provided must be readable, but may show watermarks caused by copying or scanning;
  • an official e-transcript via a secure third-party electronic system. If you'd like to share an official transcript using an electronic system such as Digitary, register the email address uniqplus@admin.ox.ac.uk and choose the longest possible time for the document to be available. We will then add your transcript to your application;
  • an electronic copy of an interim or provisional transcript provided by your institution. If you are currently studying and/or you do not have access to a transcript of your final results, you should submit an official interim or provisional transcript;
  • screenshot images from self-service portals, if you are unable to obtain a transcript document;
  • a Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR); and/or
  • a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) certificate.

We do not accept:

  • Word documents (.doc and .docx)
  • Transcripts you have typed or translated yourself.

A degree certificate will not usually qualify as a transcript as it does not include detailed grade information.

Your background

You will also be asked a series of questions about your student finance and we recommend having your most recent student finance letter available before you answer the questions on ‘Your financial circumstances’.

As you complete the 'Your background' section of the application form, you will also be asked to submit supporting materials concerning your financial circumstances:

Student Finance summary

You will be required to upload a scanned copy of the most recent official letter/screenshot with your entitlement summary from Student Finance confirming the undergraduate financial support you receive/have received from the UK government.
This should detail any loan/grant in addition to the standard government loan that all UK resident students are eligible for.
Any screenshot must include:

  • your name;
  • the name of the Student Finance body, eg, Student Finance England;
  • the year; and
  • the amount of maintenance loan/grant/bursary that you received and/or were entitled to.

A copy of an application for funding will not suffice. Please note, we do not require evidence of any loans received for master’s courses.

Your subject interests

You can find more details about the UNIQ+ projects and the Wellcome BVS projects that are available this year in the relevant sections of each programme page.

The application form will ask you to outline your preferred field of study and areas of research, and select at least one and up to three preferred projects that you are interested in working on. For UNIQ+, it is expected that the projects you select would usually be in the same subject area, which means that in the majority of cases we would expect all three projects to be offered by the same academic division, eg you select three humanities projects.

Please use the relevant project code to indicate your preferred projects in the application form. Make sure that you select the correct projects as once your application is submitted, you won’t be able to change your selection.

Only projects that are matched to successful applicants will run this year. If you are successful, we will try to match your interests to available projects and supervisors. Please note that we will not always be able to meet your preferences for a project/supervisor, but we will try our best to do this wherever possible.

Your personal statement

The application form will ask you to provide a personal statement that is divided into two sections with up to 2,000 characters per section. We recommend that you draft this offline and double check the number of characters you have used before copying this into the application form.

The first section of your statement should explain why you are interested in the graduate access programme(s) you have chosen. Think about what interests you about the programme and the projects you have selected, what motivates you to study your subject now, how you have engaged more closely with your field over time, and what you would like to get out of the programme.

The second section of your statement should explain why you are applying and why you believe your background and/or personal circumstances qualify you. Think about which eligibility criteria you meet and your reasons for applying to UNIQ+ and/or Wellcome BVS - programmes that have been designed to introduce students from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds to graduate study.

We encourage you to mention any extenuating circumstances or personal circumstances that you would like to bring to the attention of the academic assessors. For example, if you have been in care, if you are estranged from your family, if you have experienced homelessness, or experienced other situations that have had a significant impact on your education. If your education has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, then this can be indicated when completing the application form.

If you are applying for a UNIQ+ project that may be funded by an external partner (please check the project descriptions), the project may be ten weeks in duration. If you express an interest for one of these projects, but are unable to attend a longer ten-week internship, could you please indicate this clearly in your statement.

Write your statement in Word or Notepad, checking that each section is under the 2,000-character limit, then copy-paste your text into the form when you are happy with it. Make sure that you have read the programme criteria and project descriptions carefully to see what the programme is looking for before you start.

There is no ideal structure or style for a personal statement. Focus on what you want us to know about you and how this programme would fit into your academic development.

Submitting your application

Please submit your application as early as possible (preferably, at least one week before the deadline).

Only complete and eligible applications that are submitted by the deadline will be considered. For your application to be considered complete, your application will need to include all required documents and your referee will need to have submitted their reference by 12:00 midday UK time on Friday 18 February 2022.

After you apply

What happens next?

When you submit your application, we will check that your documents meet our requirements and that you meet our eligibility criteria.

If we consider that you are ineligible or if your application is missing required documents or documents have been received after the deadline, your application will not be considered and you will be informed accordingly.

You are responsible for making sure that all required documents, including your reference, are submitted by the deadline and meet the University’s requirements.

If your application is eligible and complete, it will then be shared with academic assessors for consideration. We expect to make final decisions by mid-April 2022, and notify candidates of the outcome of their application by the end of April.

We do not conduct any interviews for UNIQ+.

Assessment of your application

Applications are academically assessed in terms of the quality of previous academic excellence and future potential, on their own merit and in comparison with the applications received from other candidates.

In addition to your academic merit and potential to do research in the relevant field, selection for our graduate access programmes will take account of the following information which is collected via your application form and personal statement:

  • socio-economic information including financial circumstances;
  • any relevant contextual information;
  • when choosing between candidates of equal merit, preference may be given to:
  • candidates who identify as Black or Mixed Black, Bangladeshi or Mixed Bangladeshi, and Pakistani or Mixed Pakistani;
  • female candidates for projects in certain subject areas (Computer Science, Engineering Science and Statistics);
  • candidates who fulfil more than one of the eligibility criteria;
  • candidates who studied for their undergraduate degrees at UK institutions outside of the Russell Group; and
  • those in the middle years of their course who have not yet experienced a substantial period of research.

The University is taking positive action under the Equality Act 2010 to tackle the under-representation of students from Black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds and female students in Computer Science, Engineering Science and Statistics at the University of Oxford and to encourage more students from these groups to participate in graduate study.

We receive many more applications than we can offer places, so it is important that you take care over your application to best illustrate your academic achievement and future potential, to ensure that you provide accurate information, to show you meet the eligibility criteria for the programme and why the programme will be of benefit to you following the guidance provided in this application guide.

Contextual data

We know that factors such as socio-economic disadvantage and school performance can make it difficult for students to demonstrate their full potential. Therefore, we use a range of contextual data to help us to better understand students’ achievements in the context of their individual background.
For our graduate access programmes, we look at:

  • your financial information;
  • whether you are the first generation in your family to go to university;
  • information about your school;
  • information about your neighbourhood; and
  • your experience of the care system, of homelessness or of being estranged.

This information helps us to understand more about your particular circumstances. Applicants from the most disadvantaged backgrounds will be more likely to be considered for our graduate access programmes provided that they also meet our academic criteria.

Notifying you of the outcome

We expect to make final decisions by mid-April 2022, and notify candidates of the outcome of their application by email by the end of April. Please ensure that your email address is kept up-to-date and check your junk/spam email folder before contacting us.

Successful applications

If you have been successful, the email will confirm which of the following is being offered:

  • UNIQ+ internship, or
  • Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarship at Oxford.

It will also include what you will need to do next and information on how to prepare for your research placement.

Unsuccessful applications

If you are not successful, you might be placed on a waiting list – if so, we will let you know when you can expect to hear whether you have been offered a place.

Guidance for referees

What is the reference for?

Oxford's graduate access programmes (UNIQ+ and Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships at Oxford) offer an experience of graduate study at the University of Oxford. They are aimed at those from areas of low progression to postgraduate study. You can read more about these programmes in the previous sections of this page and the other graduate access pages on this website.

What should I include in my reference?

Referees are kindly requested to submit a reference letter to assist the University in making a full assessment of each application. Please read the guidance below, which provides a suggestion of what to include in your reference letter and instructions for sending your reference. The guidance is the same for both of our graduate access programmes, so you do not need to worry about which programme(s) the applicant has applied for.

We ask that referees comment on the academic ability and potential, and general suitability of the applicant for participation in a graduate access programme at Oxford, and any other information you may consider relevant. Please ensure that the applicant's name is clearly visible in your reference letter.

If possible, please include the following in your reference letter:

  • the name of the applicant, so that we can attach your reference to the correct application;
  • the duration and extent of your familiarity with the applicant;
  • the specific course the applicant is/was on;
  • their academic achievements and academic potential;
  • their relevant skills and academic experience (eg academic writing, laboratory skills, etc);
  • their suitability for participating in a graduate access programme at Oxford; and
  • their relevant personal characteristics (eg independence, innovation or determination).

Confidentiality

In the event of a subject access request, your reference may be disclosed to the applicant. If you wish your reference to be treated as confidential, please select this option in the reference form. If you are submitting your reference letter directly by email or in hard copy and wish it to be treated as confidential, please clearly indicate this at the top of the letter.

How do I submit my reference?

If you have been registered by the applicant as a referee, we will send you an email containing instructions on how to submit your reference. Please submit your reference by 12:00 midday UK time on Friday 18 February 2022.

You will be sent an email with a link to a form through which you can upload your reference as a PDF attachment. You can convert Microsoft Word (or similar) documents into PDF format by selecting 'Save As' from the file menu and selecting 'PDF' from the drop-down 'save as type' field. If the applicant has let you know that they have requested a reference, but you have not receive the reference request, please check your junk/spam email (the email will have been sent from uniqplus@mailln.custhelp.com).

If the applicant has registered your personal (rather than a professional or institutional) email address, please help us to understand the reason (eg if you have retired or left an academic position) in your reference letter.