Applying for the BA in English at UCL is competitive. We receive up to 1000 applications a year and usually make around 300 offers for the 95 places on the programme.
We assess applications by looking very carefully at the UCAS Form, including GCSE grades, and A Level predictions (or equivalents), the tutors’ reference, and the UCAS Personal Statement. We then shortlist the strongest candidates. Most shortlisted candidates are then invited to interview at UCL, where applicants talk to tutors for around twenty minutes and then write a short essay. We then make our final decisions based on a combination of all of the above criteria. In some cases, students receive offers without being interviewed.
Given the large number of applications, it is unfortunately not possible for us to interview every candidate who is predicted our A Level requirements of AAA or equivalent (we normally shortlist around 400 applicants). We therefore place considerable weight on the UCAS Personal Statement when deciding who to invite for interview. Our advice for a strong personal statement is that it is subject focused. We do not recommend that you devote more than a sentence or two to extracurricular activities. You should use the statement clearly demonstrate that you are widely read, that you are passionate about studying English, and that you understand what this kind of degree involves. You should provide evidence that you can analyse the texts you talk about to a high level, showing us how you engage with the texts you have read in order to provide the admissions tutor with insights into your individual approach to thinking about literature.
Candidates who are shortlisted for interview should not worry- the interview is not intended to be combative or stressful! This is primarily an opportunity for tutors to find out a little more about you and your reading interests, and although your tutors will seek to push you a little bit, and ask some academically searching questions, this is more an opportunity for you to talk about texts you enjoy and that you’ve been studying at school than a test of your wider knowledge. The best preparation for the interview is simply to:
- Revise what you have been studying at school and the texts/authors mentioned in your personal statement
- Make sure you have been reading in your spare time in the run up to the interview
- Try not to worry about it!
After the interview – which will take place with two tutors – you will then be given a short piece of poetry or prose, and will have forty minutes to write a short essay, highlighting everything that you find interesting or noteworthy in the text. Do let us know if you normally have any special circumstances in exams – for example, extra time or the use of a laptop – as we should be able to accommodate these.
In total, shortlisted candidates can expect to spend around an hour and a half at UCL.
After an interview, we normally aim to give shortlisted candidates a final decision on their application within two weeks, although unfortunately this may occasionally be longer at the busiest times of the year.
Candidates applying from overseas
Overseas candidates are not expected to come to interview. If shortlisted, overseas students will be sent a short questionnaire, which asks many of the same questions that an interview would, and you will also be sent a piece of poetry or prose to comment on as well (again, as if you had come for an interview in person). There is no particular difference in application success rates between candidates who come to interview in person, and those who complete this questionnaire.
UK students who are currently out of the country, perhaps as part of a gap year, will also have the option of submitting this written exercise rather than coming to interview in person.
Additional information, including international entry requirements, can be found on the BA English prospectus page.
If you have any further questions about the application process, or about anything else UCL-related, please email Dr Clare Stainthorp, the Admissions Officer: email@example.com