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Curriculum for Excellence

Abertay University recognises the importance of Curriculum for Excellence (CFE) and its aim to ensure that young people in Scotland develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they will need if they are to flourish in life, learning and work, now and in the future.  

The purpose of Curriculum for Excellence - as encapsulated in the Four Capacities of successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors - has direct relevance to study at Abertay University.  We pride ourselves on ensuring that our graduates not only gain academic excellence, but are prepared to cope and thrive in modern society where issues and challenges are complex and cross discplinary boundaries.  An Abertay education provides a wealth of opportunities for personal development: intellectually, professionally, individually. Combined, these attributes enable our students and graduates to make a positive difference to society as active citizens. You can learn more about Abertay Attributes and our distinctive learning experience here.

Abertay welcomes the increased emphasis of Curriculum for Excellence on developing skills such as critical thinking, essay writing and independent study skills, as well as fostering creativity and innovation in learners.  This should provide good preparation for progression to further study at college or university.

We have prepared this information to address some of the questions that may arise, and provide information on how Abertay University will view applicants with the new qualifications offered through Curriculum for Excellence.

Standard Grades/National 5s

Abertay University does not currently require a minimum number of Standard Grade, Intermediate 2 or National 5 qualifications for entry purposes.  We do not use the overall number of Standard Grade/Intermediate 2/National 5 qualifications to determine suitability for degree level study.  However, applicants should be aware that the overall profile of academic study is one of the factors taken into account when deciding whether to make an offer.

The University does have a minimum requirement for qualifications in English and Maths.  The minimum grade requirement for these subjects at Standard Grade is 3.  For National 5 the minimum grade requirement is C.  Some degree programmes may require particular subjects at Standard Grade/National 5. Where required, this is made clear in the University’s prospectus and on our website.  For example, our BSc (Hons) Forensic Science requires applicants to hold English, Maths and Biology at Standard Grade 1 or 2, or National 5 grades A or B.  Applicants should note that we do not accept National 4 qualifications in lieu of Standard Grades.

Higher Qualifications

Abertay University expresses entry requirements with reference to Highers; we do not use the UCAS tariff in offer-making, and this will continue to be the case with CfE.  Offers to applicants are generally expressed in Higher grade passes at certain grades.  For the majority of our programmes, applicants are expected to achieve four Highers (depending on the degree programme) at specific grades.  A number of programmes will also have specific subject requirements at Higher, and it is important to remember this when making subject choices.  The University is aware that an individual school curriculum may not allow particular subject combinations at Higher so applicants may need to plan to include these within their S6 student programme.

We currently offer a flexible approach to students who take Highers over more than one academic year and/or who achieve their qualifications in more than one sitting.  We are aware that there are different models of provision under CfE, and that it cannot be assumed there is one model of when students are presented for Highers, or that learners necessarily all have the same opportunities to study for a full range of Highers in a single year.  We note however that it is possible to study a subject at Higher level, even though that subject may not have been studied at National 4 or 5 level.

The University does not generally set a requirement for a certain number of Highers to be achieved within a certain number of sittings, however where a degree has this requirement it is specified in the individual course information on our website.

The University remains committed to promoting a fair admissions policy ensuring that we give equal consideration to applicants who apply on time, and who possess the necessary knowledge and skills, regardless of the route taken during their senior phase of studies.

Advanced Higher and Scottish Baccalaureate Qualifications

We recognise the value of Advanced Highers and the Scottish Baccalaureate with regard to the skills gained and the preparation for university study, however they do not form part of our standard entry requirements for first year entry.

The University acknowledges that many students remain at school until the end of S6 and recognises the benefits gained from doing so.  We place no requirement on students to follow an S6 curriculum that is specifically linked to Advanced Highers only; our preference is that students select as full a programme of study as possible that meets their interests, and continues to present challenges and learning opportunities.

The University recognises that it is the choice of the individual applicant as to whether they wish to commence their university studies from year one or from year two.  Our standard practice is to consider applicants in relation to the point of entry they have requested on their application form.

Applicants offering Advanced Highers/Baccalaureates will be considered on an individual basis for direct entry to year two where requested.  In considering whether an offer for year two entry, admissions tutors will pay particular attention to ensuring the applicant has relevant prior subject knowledge at Advanced Higher level.  For example, applicants for year two entry to the BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science are required to hold Advanced Highers in Biology and Chemistry.  Information on advanced entry to year two is published in the University prospectus and website.

Assessment of Applications

The University’s entry requirements are the minimum standards and subjects required for entry into our degree programmes, however achieving the minimum grades does not guarantee entry.  The University has many more applications than places available, and many applicants meet our minimum entrance requirements.  Consequently, we may ask for more than the minimum, and this might be in the form of additional qualifications or better grades.  An applicant’s overall academic profile will usually be the most significant factor in our decision making.  Certain features of the personal statement such as a demonstration of motivation for their chosen subject area, and contextual data may help to strengthen an applicant’s profile.  More information on contextual factors can be found in our Admissions policies and procedures information.

Where a student is in S6 and receives an unconditional offer of admission, we expect full and continued participation in the subjects declared in the UCAS application as our offer will have been made on the basis of all of the information provided.  This is particularly important if the portfolio of study includes Advanced Highers, as the self-directed learning and project work has direct relevance to the University’s study environment.

Wider Achievements

The University pays special attention to the applicant’s personal statement when making a decision on whether to offer a place.  The wider achievements of applicants help to demonstrate their ability to benefit from university study, and provide a fuller insight into their broader interests and achievements.  In many cases these wider achievements provide evidence of motivation for the chosen area of study.  Where applicants have detailed wider achievements in their application, we would expect that these achievements are referred to when demonstrating evidence of personal development and preparedness for university level study in the personal statement section of the application form.