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Top 5 UK Universities and their requirements

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

The United Kingdom is home to some of the world's most prestigious universities, renowned for their academic excellence, research output, and cultural diversity. They offer a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs in various disciplines, from science and engineering to humanities and social sciences.

They also provide opportunities for students to engage in cutting-edge research, participate in extracurricular activities, and develop their leadership and interpersonal skills. Whether you're a UK resident or an international student, studying at one of these universities can be a life-changing experience that prepares you for success in your chosen field. Let’s take a look at the most sought-after of these institutions, their entry requirements and some fun facts about them.

University of Oxford

Oxford University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, located in the city of Oxford, England. Its roots can be traced back to the 11th century, and it has since grown to become a leading centre of academic excellence and research.

The university has a diverse range of programs spanning across the sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Its faculty includes some of the most respected scholars and researchers in their respective fields, and its alumni include 28 Nobel laureates, 27 British Prime Ministers, and countless other notable figures in the arts, sciences, and politics.

Oxford also offers a rich student life experience, with over 400 clubs and societies catering to a wide range of interests, as well as numerous sports teams and facilities. The university's historic architecture and beautiful surroundings add to its appeal, and it remains a top destination for students seeking a world-class education and a vibrant cultural experience.

A-Level Requirements: A*A*A-AAA

Popular programs: medicine, chemistry, philosophy, politics, economics, law

Fun fact: Oxford has more published authors than any other university in the world, including JRR Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings), Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), CS Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia) and Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time).

Cambridge University

Cambridge University, located in Cambridge, England, is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. Founded in 1209, the university has a rich history of academic excellence and innovation. It is home to over 18,000 students from all over the world, studying a wide range of subjects across its 31 colleges and 150 departments.

Cambridge is renowned for its rigorous academic programs, particularly in the fields of science and engineering. The university has produced countless Nobel laureates, including Stephen Hawking, and its research output is consistently ranked among the best in the world.

Beyond academics, Cambridge offers a vibrant student life experience. The city is home to a thriving arts and culture scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and theatres. The university also has close to 1,000 student-run clubs and societies student clubs and societies, providing ample opportunities for students to pursue their passions and interests.

A-Level Requirements: A*A*A-AAA

Popular programs: natural sciences, medicine, engineering, mathematics, modern and medieval languages, law

Fun fact: Cambridge is home to Europe’s largest and most successful technology cluster, with around 5,000 science and tech companies generating an annual revenue of over £15.5 billion between them.

Imperial College London

Imperial College London was founded in 1907 and has since established itself as a leader in science, engineering, medicine, and business.

Imperial College London has a diverse student body, with students from over 140 countries. The institution has produced 15 Nobel laureates and has a strong track record of research output, with a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration.

The campus is located in the heart of London, providing students with easy access to the city's cultural and social scene. The institution also offers a range of extracurricular activities, including over 300 clubs and societies, making it easy for students to build connections and explore their interests.

A-Level Requirements: A*A*A-AAA

Popular programs: biological sciences, civil engineering, mathematics and statistics, mechanical and aerospace engineering, physics and astronomy

Fun fact: The legendary band Queen's roots lay at ICL - their very first public performance under the new name Queen took place here. Queen's Roger Taylor called ICL their “positional and spiritual base” that means a lot to Queen.

The University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh is another top UK university located in Scotland and was founded in 1583.

The university offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs across a variety of subjects, including business, law, medicine, engineering, and the arts. Its faculties and schools are consistently ranked among the best in the world, and its research output is world-class.

Students at the University of Edinburgh benefit from a diverse and inclusive community, with a student body representing over 170 countries. The university offers a range of support services to help students succeed, including academic advising, career services, and mental health support.

The University of Edinburgh offers over 300 student societies and clubs to choose from, as well as a range of cultural and sporting events. The city of Edinburgh itself is a vibrant and historic capital city, with a rich cultural and intellectual heritage.

A-Level Requirements: A*A*A-ABB

Popular programs: economics, computer science, psychology, medicine, business

Fun fact: The University of Edinburgh is the UK's sixth oldest university, and one of Scotland's so-called ancient universities.

The University of Manchester

The University of Manchester is a leading research institution located in Manchester, England. It was formed in 2004 following the merger of the Victoria University of Manchester and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). The university is renowned for its academic excellence and research prowess, particularly in the fields of science and engineering.

The university is home to several research centres, including the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, the National Graphene Institute, and the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research. These centres conduct cutting-edge research in various fields, such as healthcare, energy, and materials science.

In addition to its academic and research achievements, the University of Manchester is also known for its vibrant student life. It has over 400 student societies and clubs, catering to a wide range of interests, from sports and music to politics and social activism. The university also hosts regular cultural and social events.

A-Level Requirements: A*A*A-ABB

Popular programs: chemistry, art and design, biological sciences, business and management

Fun fact: The University of Manchester is the only university in the world to study Mummy Studies, a research program focusing on the ties between human anatomy, Ancient Egyptian mummification and medicine.

Want to know more about what it's like to study in the UK and how to get into the best universities in the country? LEO International Online School offers a diverse and intensive two–year A-Level programme designed to prepare students for university entry in the United Kingdom. Learn more about this programme and our other courses here, and don't hesitate to contact us at

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