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Should you apply for more than one course at the same university?

The quick answer to this is it depends on the course you want to study. We spoke to some university admissions teams to dig a bit deeper.

You might assume that applying more than once to a university shows that you’re keen on going there. But that tactic won’t necessarily improve your chances of getting a place. Some advice from the University of Surrey provides a good starting point: "We would prefer students to be focused and committed to one course."

It’s fine in some situations

Most universities will be happy with you applying to more than one course in certain situations, but it's your personal statement that will probably be the key. Think about it – can you write a personal statement that will work for multiple courses?

If you are interested in courses offered in different departments, then yes it is worthwhile to apply to both as long as your personal statement is carefully written to reflect an interest in both areas or additional information is provided. Lee Hennessy | Deputy Head Of Recruitment And Admissions - University Of Bath

If it’s a struggle to cater your personal statement to your two chosen subjects, then alarm bells should be ringing.

Bournemouth University says if you’re not sure whether to put more than one course down from the same university, it’s a great question to ask at open days. In their view, applicants who want to combine their love for sport with a career, for example, but are not quite sure what direction within sport to go down, would be justified in applying for more than one course.

It can be a wasted choice

On the other hand, it’s not always necessary to use up two of your choices if the courses are just a variant of the same course, such as a BEng or MEng in a specific branch of engineering. Other universities tend to agree:

Where we can, we will often make an applicant an alternative course offer if they have been unsuccessful for their chosen course. Therefore making more than one application for a related course may be a wasted choice. Nathalie Mortimer | Head Of Uk Student Recruitment - University Of Nottingham

Applying for different courses that each require a very specific commitment to one vocation – such as midwifery and physiotherapy – is a bad idea. It will be very clear to admissions tutors that you're not totally committed to either field. In that case, it’s better to go back to the drawing board and decide which one it is you’re most interested in.

Don't make assumptions!

In the case of medicine, dentistry or veterinary science, for which you can use only four of your five Ucas choices, using your fifth Ucas choice for an alternative subject (like biomedical sciences) is often a good back-up tactic.

Some universities positively encourage you to do this, but others are less keen. The best advice is to do your research in advance – don't make assumptions.

In other cases, you may be applying to a university course where all applicants who meet their entry requirements are offered a place. In this situation, your personal statement may only get a cursory glance and applying for different courses at the same uni therefore might not be a problem. This might be especially appropriate to you if your choice of uni is restricted by where you live. If unsure, do contact universities directly to explain your situation.

If in doubt, ask at an open day

As we’ve already mentioned, open days are a great opportunity to find out what different courses will actually be like – ask about which modules you’ll take and how flexible these are, how many hours a week you’ll be in lectures or tutorials and how the course is assessed. You’ll hopefully come away with a clearer idea of which course you really want to do.

Applicants are encouraged to come to an open day at which they can discuss options with tutors, thereby reducing any need to apply to more than one course. Admissions Tutor | University Of South Wales

At the end of the day, it usually comes down to your own individual circumstances. So if you are still finding it hard to decide between two different courses, don't be afraid to seek advice from the uni itself and ask them straight – is it ok to apply for both?

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