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In January 2019, we reported that from 2020 onwards there would be greater recognition of level 3 maths qualifications for admissions to the University of Bath, through the use of alternative offers. These alternative offers reduce one of the entry grades required by students who, in addition to the course requirements, attain grade B or above in a level 3 maths qualification. For example, where the typical A level offer is AAA, the alternative offer would be AAB.

The University of Sheffield has recently taken a similar approach:

A reduction of one grade in the offer (e.g. AAB reduced to ABB) for students who attain a grade B or above in Core Maths across around 90 undergraduate degree courses including Geography, Biology, Politics, Architecture and Economics.


A reduction of one grade in the offer for students who attain a grade A or B1 in AS or A level Further Mathematics in addition to A level Mathematics across a range of over 100 undergraduate degree courses including Engineering, Chemistry, Computer Science and Mathematics.

Heather Macleod Jones, Senior Admissions Officer (Access) at the University of Sheffield, explained the reasoning behind the changes:

“A number of staff from across the University attended sessions on Core Maths with the AMSP and all came back singing the benefits of the qualification, which prompted us to look at the progress of students with the qualification on our courses. We genuinely feel this higher level and more recent maths study has been beneficial to students, specifically within our Faculty of Social Sciences where many courses have only a GCSE Maths requirement but do contain a significant proportion of applied quantitative problem solving and statistics within the core module content. This was in some respects perfect timing as we were in the process of conducting a review of our contextual admissions policies and so it felt a natural progression to add Core Maths into our existing suite of ‘supplementary studies’ offers now under our Access Sheffield policy.

The same has been true for Further Maths within our Science and Engineering Faculties – again we’ve found that students with the Maths and Further Maths combination do tend to settle into our first-year maths content with ease. We’ve actually made alternative offers including Further Maths since around 2017 but again only unified our approach to supplementary qualifications in 2019 as part of our Admissions review.”

The University of York also provides positive encouragement for level 3 Core Maths (under Typical requirements, click United Kingdom and scroll down to Core Maths).

“We welcome the introduction of the Core Maths qualifications and recognise the benefits that they bring, not only to university study, but also to future employment. In acknowledgement of this, some of our departments will make a reduced offer where a Core Maths qualification is taken alongside three A levels or equivalent. If you achieve B or higher in Core Maths, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer.”

This applies to around 40 subject areas, including Accounting, Business, Finance & Management, Social Work, Genetics, Linguistics, and Archaeology.

AMSP Raising Participation Programme Leader Claire Baldwin praised these developments, commenting:

“It is fantastic news that the number of universities making explicit encouragement for the study of level 3 maths is growing and that reductions in the standard offers are available across such a wide range of degree courses.

The AMSP has always advocated that universities include more explicit encouragement for the study of level 3 maths in their published subject-level admissions criteria. We believe this is where it will have the biggest impact on schools and colleges deciding to offer the full programme of level 3 maths qualifications, and on students in recognising the importance of well-developed mathematical skills in preparation for progression to university.

We hope that many other higher education institutions will follow this trend.”

The AMSP offers guidance for universities on Core Maths, AS/A level Mathematics and AS/A level Further Mathematics on our website and in this AMSP HE briefing document.

1 See individual subject pages for exact AS/A level Further Mathematics grade that will lead to the reduced offer – this varies by subject area.

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