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Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

The UK government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) operates a scheme called the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS). The scheme is aimed primarily at specific postgraduate research areas but also includes a number of taught Masters and four-year undergraduate Masters programmes.

ATAS is compulsory for international (non-EU) applicants and for current and returning students in specific areas of study. The ATAS application is made online, before applying for your visa, and is free of charge. It is your responsibility to check if this scheme applies to you.

The FCO undertakes to process applications within 20 working days (ie 4 weeks) of the submission of an application for ATAS clearance. If you have concerns about the remaining time for completion of your ATAS and visa applications, please contact stating your name, University of Manchester ID number and ATAS ID number. If you are unable to arrive by the start of the academic session, you will first need to obtain permission for late arrival from your academic School. Where a later start date has been agreed the University will need to make an amendment on your CAS record, which will be seen by the UK Border Agency.

Subject areas

You will have to obtain prior ATAS approval if:

  • You are applying for an undergraduate Masters programme in the Schools of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science; Materials; Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering; or Physics and Astronomy (MEng, MPhys), and you intend to apply for entry clearance;
  • You are applying for a taught Masters in Materials Science or Technology; Aerospace Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; Chemical Engineering; or Physics (including Nuclear Physics);
  • You plan to undertake postgraduate research in Medicine, Biological Sciences, Veterinary Sciences, Physical Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Computer Sciences, Engineering or Technology disciplines.


  • You are currently registered on these programmes and need to extend your visa.

If you need an ATAS certificate and you do not have one, your entry clearance application will be refused. Please note that we recommend that you apply for your ATAS clearance as soon as possible after receiving your offer, as a late application may contribute to a delay in obtaining your visa.

Changes to the ATAS Scheme for 2012

Inclusion of enhanced/integrated undergraduate courses

Previously only students joining after Year 1 of integrated masters courses had to apply for ATAS clearance. However, students applying for an undergraduate course leading to an integrated masters that will commence on or after 1 January 2012 now require an ATAS certificate in the following subject areas:

  • F2 Materials Science
  • F3 Physics (including Nuclear Physics)
  • H3 Mechanical Engineering
  • H4 Aerospace Engineering
  • H8 Chemical Process and Energy Engineering
  • J5 Materials Technology not otherwise specified

Addition of postgraduate taught courses to ATAS

Two additional subject areas will require an ATAS certificate for courses commencing on or after 1 January 2012. They are:

  • H8 Chemical, Process and Energy Engineering (for both taught masters and masters by research courses)
  • G0 Mathematical and Computer Sciences (for masters by research courses only)

Further information

The ATAS flowchart gives you an overview of the process:

The application form and details of applying for ATAS can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website pages at

Information and assistance is also available from: