Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are my UMS marks high enough ?
A: It is difficult to specify precisely what UMS marks are rquired: this would be variable, and anyway the average UMS marks are a very crude measure because some modules are perceived to be harder than others. One or two modules with marks of 100% can be less important than more modules with deeper content but slightly lower marks. In the end these decisions are up to our selectors in conjunction with all the other information including the personal statement. On average however they must clearly show continuing A* level performance.
Q: Is it ok to apply if I am taking Further Maths but do not have the AS Level ?
A: We do not stipulate taking AS level as an entry requirement but only that you should have taken Further Maths A-level by the time you enter. If your UMS marks are clearly showing A* performance we would recommend that you apply to us. If you have taken fewer modules the outcome is less certain than it would be otherwise - in order to increase your chances, you should at the very least make sure you have a good predicted grade for Further Maths.
Q: I am not taking Further Maths. Can I still apply ?
A: Only if your school does not offer Further Maths, and you are taking Further Maths at AS level.
Q: I have plenty of evidence of A* performance in Maths but have underperformed (e.g. have a B at AS level) in my other subject(s). Will my application still be considered favourably ?
A: Our policy is only that we require a grade A for a third A-level. (Obviously excellence is other areas can differentiate between otherwise equal candidates when it comes to making offers though). Even if your grades in these other subjects are currently a bit lower, as long as you are clearly predicted to meet our offer and are averaging A* performance in Maths, it is certainly worth applying. The relevant thing regarding your other subjects is your school prediction, supported by the reference (not your own personal expectations). If you have lower marks in these other subjects, it is particulary important that the reference supports a higher prediction for A-level.
Q: I would like to apply for European Studies G104, but I am only predicted a grade C in the language. Will you consider my application ?
A: Unfortunately we would not make an offer to an applicant who is not predicted to get at least an A-level grade B (or equivalent). You are welcome to apply for G100 or G103, with the possibility to transfer to G104 should you attain a grade B after all. For the European Studies programmes, the real issue is whether you are sufficiently fluent to study abroad. If you are already fluent in the relevant language (as a first or second language) you may not need a formal qualification, and probably do not need to take the Level I language module.
Q: I am a UK or EU student and have already taken the A-levels and/or other qualifications equivalent to your normal offer. Will I get an offer ?
A: As you already have the required grades (equivalent to A*AA) you are *eligible* for an unconditional offer. However, you would still have to be selected for the offer from the same pool of applicants. Your UMS marks in Maths will be just as important in the selection procedure as for the other candidates, so you must make sure you provide them if you already have the A-levels.
For other qualifications, please provide as much detailed information as possible about your mathematics performance. We are aware than detailed marks are not available for all qualifications.
Q: I am predicted A*AA in Maths, Further Maths and Italian, but only a D and E in [for example] Physics and Chemistry. Will the other marks disadvantage my application ?
A: No. Poor marks in other subjects are not detrimental to your application.
Q: How do you decide whom to make an offer to ?
A: In order to select whom to make offers to, the applications are ranked by a large team of academic members of the Mathematics Department. This ranking is based on evidence of merit and potential. Our main criterion is real ability and experience in Mathematics beyond GCSE level. Almost all applicants will be on course to meet or exceed our standard A*AA offer, but in a typical year we will be able to make offers to only the top 40% of the list. Therefore our reply to the vast majority of requests for feedback for unsuccessful applications is simply that the application was ranked in the bottom 60%: these candidates are still eligible, accomplished and in the top few percent nationally but regrettably we cannot make an offer to them. Please bear this in mind before making a specific request for feedback.
Q: What is the timetable for considering me ? Why has it taken so long to get back to ? Why was my offer/rejection made so late ?
A: Although the UCAS closing date is January 15th, we are treating applications continually from October to Mid-March. Early offers are made to the very best applicants and the remaining applications stay in the pool. Therefore even if you apply in October you may not have a decision made on your application until March. If you have not heard from us by February or March, we have not forgotten you: your application is close to the borderline of where we are able to make offers but it is still in the running.
Q: I am coming down to Durham on Friday - can I talk to a member of the team ?
A: We pride ourselves on the fact that the Admissions team are all fully paid up members of academic staff. Therefore they are able to bring their considerable expertise to bear on the decision making process. On the down side this means that they also have many other research and teaching duties. (As we have roughly a thousand applicants, this would among other things take valuable resources away from our current students). If you are unable to make the official Open Days we can try to arrange a visit in conjunction with at least four other prospective applicants. Hopefully you will understand that at certain times of the year, especially at exam time and in the Summer which is when many staff are at conferences and on research visits, it may be simply impossible to accommodate a visit. If this is the case you are welcome to come and browse around the University and Department anyway: course overviews are included Current Undergraduate Course Info and there are many III and IV year project posters in the Department for you to see. In conjunction, Open Day Material should give you a good feeling for the course and application procedure.
All relevant information for planning your visit to Durham including travel information, maps, location of colleges and departments is contained in the University Open Day 2012 brochure
Q: I am thinking of dropping A-level Chemistry (say) so I can do more Maths modules, and also I would like to do some Accounting and Geography and perhaps a bit of Music, although I failed some modules in that so that would be in my spare time, and I wouldnt take the exams. But then I am worried I will be taking on too much. Do you have any advice? Which modules should I choose?
A: Unfortunately we cannot get into the specific make up of your A-levels which is a personal choice. As far as your Maths A-levels go we are really concerned to see evidence of how well you can do rather than how many you can take. On the other hand feel free to take more if it is for your own interest.
Q: I will be taking my Maths in the 1st year of my sixth form, and Further Maths in the 2nd year. Will I be disadvantaged when it comes to getting an offer?
A: No, this is not an issue for us at all. We are aware that students take their A-levels in different orders and we are able to compendate.
Q: I did really badly in some early modules and have taken resits. But I am improving and getting really good marks now. Will I be disadvantaged when it comes to getting an offer ?
A: You shouldn't be - as long as we can see clear evidence of A* performance we will/can discount earlier poor performance. The main issue for us is that you will be able to adapt to the Maths degree when you arrive. Therefore when we look at UMS marks it is with a view to assessing what your performance is like now. In fact a vast improvement can even be a positive thing. What we do insist on is that you are able to pass the A-levels with evidence of solid A* performance.