Undergraduate student using a laptop outside the Monica Partridge building, University Park campus

An A-Z guide to admissions terminology

Browse our guide of common terminology when considering admission to university.

On this page you will find words commonly used by universities and Higher Education Institutions.

Browse terminology by A-Z


The admissions team at a university is responsible for processing the applications received via UCAS. They will assess each application, based on the applicants' qualifications, and will decide if the university is able to offer the applicant a place on the course.


Any person who successfully completes a university course becomes an alumnus of that university.

Bachelor’s degree

The type of undergraduate qualification students are awarded after successfully completing a 3- or 4-year university or college degree. Bachelor’s degrees have a range of titles including Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Engineering (BEng), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Education (BEd), Bachelor of Law (LLB) etc. See a list of undergraduate courses.


A means-tested, non-repayable, sum of money given to students who meet the eligibility criteria.


The buildings and land of a university.

Campus tour

An opportunity to visit a university. Campus tours are smaller events than university open days.


A process allowing prospective students without a university place to apply for university courses which haven’t been filled. The process takes place in August each year.

Conditional offer

The applicant will be given a place at university if certain conditions are met, for example set A-level results have to be achieved. 

Degree Apprenticeship

An alternative to university study. Apprentices are in full-time employment while studying for their degree. The employer will fund the apprenticeship. 


Large piece of work to be completed in the last year of a degree programme, focusing the student’s learning on one area.

Entry requirements

The grades or qualifications a student must obtain in order to be accepted onto a university course. Entry requirements vary across universities and courses. 

Firm choice

A student can apply for up to 5 courses/universities. During the application process, they will make one of the courses their firm/favourite choice. 

Gap year

Students can take a gap year before they start university or straight after graduation.

Halls of residence

or commonly referred to as 'halls', is student accommodation on campus. Often available for first year students.

Higher Education (HE)

Study at this level is normally undertaken by students over the age of 18.

Insurance offer

Second choice of university course in case the student doesn’t get the grades for the course they have chosen as their firm choice. 

Jubilee campus

Jubilee Campus is a modern purpose-built campus which now extends to 65 acres and is located only one mile from University Park.

University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road

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Teacher at university. In addition to teaching, a lecturer may also carry out research into their subject area.

Maintenance loans

A loan to help students with their living costs. Applications are made through Student Finance England.

Master’s degree

A postgraduate qualification that students can study towards after completing their Bachelor's degree. Degree titles include Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc), Master of Research (MRes) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil).

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Online distance learning

A flexible way to study for a degree. Often used by students who are unable to attend lectures on campus. 

Open day

An opportunity for prospective students and their parents to visit a university campus and speak to staff and current students. Open days are an excellent opportunity to find out what it is really like to study at a university. 

Personal statement

A text written by the student in support of their university application. Admissions tutors use personal statements to help identify the applicants most suited for a course. The statement should highlight the applicant’s skills and ambitions. 

Placement year

A year of work experience. Often optional. The placement is usually taken between the second and third year of study. Students who choose a placement year graduate from university with work experience as well as a degree.

Postgraduate degree

A Higher Education degree, normally undertaken after an undergraduate degree. PG awards include titles such as Master of Arts (MA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). 

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A reference has to be provided with the UCAS application. It is normally written by one of the teachers at the applicant’s school. The reference is submitted directly to UCAS by the school.


A grant awarded to some students to help them with the cost of going to university. Students are selected to receive a scholarship based on academic achievement or other set criteria.

Sandwich degree

Generally a 4-year degree programme in which the third year is completed in an industry-related paid placement.


The University of Nottingham's academic year is divided into 3 semesters, A, B and C. 

Subject taster day

An opportunity to try a subject for a day at university before you apply.

Students’ Union

Most universities have a Students’ Union. They look after the students’ interests and organise events throughout the year. 

Sutton Bonington

Sutton Bonington Campus encompasses world-leading laboratories and specialist facilities for studying biosciences and veterinary medicine. The campus is home to over 2,500 students from the Schools of Biosciences and Veterinary Medicine, which creates a place where it’s easy to get to know your fellow students and teaching teams, yet part of a wider global community.

University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Sutton Bonington
LE12 5RD


Tuition fee loans

Paid directly to the university from Student Finance England.


University and College Admission Services. Most university applications are made via the UCAS website.


A place on the UCAS website where students can follow the progress of their university application.

Unconditional offer

A message confirming that an applicant has been successful in securing a place on a university course.

Undergraduate degree

Normally the first Higher Education degree undertaken by students over the age of 18. 

University Park Campus

University Park is The University of Nottingham’s largest campus at 300 acres. Part of the University since 1929, the campus is widely regarded as one of the largest and most attractive in the country.

University of Nottingham
University Park


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A message confirming that an applicant has changed their mind and no longer wishes to be considered for a course.

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Undergraduate student working on laptop in Lower Ground Floor of Portland Building