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Manchester Distance Access Scheme 2019

The Manchester Distance Access Scheme is The University of Manchester’s national widening access programme.

  • Have you been made an offer to start a course at The University of Manchester in September 2019?
  • Would you like the opportunity to develop your skills in preparation for university study?
  • Would you like a one-grade reduction from the standard offer from your chosen course at The University of Manchester?

The Manchester Distance Access Scheme (MDAS) is an online access programme for students who have been made an offer from The University of Manchester for a place on a selection of courses commencing in September 2019.

Courses involved for 2019

The Academic Schools and courses currently involved in the Manchester Distance Access Scheme for 2019 are:

Arts, Humanities and Languages

  • American Studies
  • Ancient History
  • Ancient History and History
  • Archaeology (with History, Ancient History, Anthropology)
  • Drama
  • Drama with English Literature
  • Drama with Screen Studies
  • English Language for Education
  • English Language
  • English Literature (with Creative Writing, History and American Studies)
  • Environmental Management 
  • History (with American Studies, Modern Language, Sociology)
  • History of Art
  • International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response
  • Linguistics
  • Modern Languages (including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish)
  • Music
  • Planning with Real Estate (MPRE)
  • Planning (MPlan)
  • Politics and Modern History
  • Religions and Theology
  • Theological Studies in Philosophy and Ethics
  • Urban and Regional Planning

Science, Materials and Engineering

  • Aerospace Engineering (all courses)
  • Chemistry (all courses)
  • Civil Engineering (all courses)
  • Earth Sciences
  • Electric and Electronic Engineering (all courses)
  • Environmental Science (all courses)
  • Fashion Buying and Merchandising
  • Fashion Management
  • Fashion Marketing
  • Geochemistry
  • Geology (all courses)
  • Mathematics (G100 BSc Mathematics and G104 MMath Mathematics)
  • Mechatronic Engineering (all courses)

Health and Medicine

  • Nursing (Adult, Child and Mental Health)
  • Optometry

If the course you're interested in is not currently listed here then they might not be participating in MDAS for 2019 entry. You can check back throughout the year to see if this has changed.

The School of Social Sciences run their own access scheme. Please visit the School of Social Science website for further information. 

MDAS offers

Students who are eligible (see Eligibility section below) for MDAS will be invited to participate in the programme in one of two ways:

1. Through UCAS

MDAS may have been included as part of the offer you received through UCAS from The University of Manchester. If so, then all you need to do at this time is fill out the sign-up survey. We will then be in contact later in the academic year with further instructions.

2. Email invitation from the academic school

If you have been made an offer to study at Manchester your academic school might wait until you have responded to the offer through UCAS before inviting you to participate in the scheme. Just follow the instructions in the email to sign up. 


MDAS is open to students who meet certain background criteria as detailed below. In order to participate in the scheme you must be holding an offer from the University of Manchester. Some courses will stipulate that you must select Manchester as your Firm choice to participate.

To be eligible for MDAS, you must:

  • permanently reside in the UK;
  • have been made an offer to start a course at The University of Manchester in September 2019;
  • live in a postcode area with low progression to higher education, or is indicated as a less advantaged neighbourhood;
  • have not attended an independent or fee-paying school;
  • not already hold a higher education qualification;
  • not be taking the Access to Higher Education qualification.

Postcode target areas

Visit our geographic indicator and type in your home postcode to find out if you live in one of our postcode target areas.

Contextual offers

If you are a UK applicant under the age of 21, we will use contextual data alongside your undergraduate application in order to build up a full and rounded view of your achievement and potential. The University wants to ensure we consider talented applicants from all backgrounds.

If you are eligible for a WP Plus Flag you might already qualify for a an offer one A level grade (or equivalent) below the standard offer for your chosen course should you pick Manchester as your Firm choice. Any MDAS offer would be made in addition to this. This means that a student who meets the WP Plus Flag criteria, chooses Manchester as their Firm choice and successfully completes MDAS would receive an offer of two A Level grades below the standard University of Manchester offer for their Firm choice course. For some courses where a student has successfully completed MDAS and has an Insurance choice with the University, they would be eligible for the MDAS one A level grade (or equivalent) lower offer only for their Insurance choice course.

For information on what constitutes contextual data, how we use it and what a WP Plus Flag is, please visit our contextual data webpage.

The scheme

The benefits
  • Upon successful completion of the scheme you'll receive an offer one A Level grade below the standard offer for your chosen course at The University of Manchester (so if your offer is AAA, it would become AAB after successful completion of MDAS).*
  • An opportunity to receive university tuition before starting your course.
  • A chance to improve your academic skills in preparation for university study.

*All differential offers are applied at the discretion of the academic school. Please note that for some courses you may still be required to achieve a specific grade in certain subjects. If you are studying another type of qualification (eg BTEC Extended Diploma), then please contact us directly to find out if the MDAS offer could be applied to you.

*Students who meet the criteria for a WP Plus Flag may receive up to a two A-level grade-differential offer. Please visit the eligibility (see the Eligibility section above) page for more details

Previous students’ experiences

Students who completed MDAS have described how useful they found participating in the scheme:

  • "It gave me confidence that I was capable and deserved to study at The University of Manchester."
  • "It helped me show the level of work at university and to not be afraid that I wouldn’t understand."
What you’ll need to do

The scheme comprises two elements.

Firstly, you’ll complete an online study skills module consisting of five tasks, each with a different focus:

  • Understanding your task
  • Writing your essay
  • Referencing your sources
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Planning your presentation

Secondly, you’ll complete an academic piece of work related to the subject you’ll be studying at degree level. This could be a written academic assignment, online assessed module or problem solving (depending on your chosen subject and degree discipline). Participants complete the academic element of the programme under the guidance of an academic tutor or member of staff from the University.

Proposed dates for 2019

To participate in the scheme you must be available to complete some online work from the end of June through to the beginning of August prior to results confirmation and clearing.

Part 1: Online study skills module

You’ll have until 28 June 2019 to complete the first part of the scheme. We have accounted for this potentially falling within some students' examination period, which is why we have allowed for the module to be completed up until Friday, 28 June 2019 when all examinations will have ended.

The module should only take a maximum of five hours to complete in total and can be accessed and completed at any time during this three-week period.

Part 2: Academic element

You’ll have from Friday, 5 July to Friday, 2 August 2019 to complete your academic task.

The academic element of the programme will equate to approximately 20 hours of work in total. This will include regular communications with an academic tutor or member of staff, research and reading, and the submission of an initial draft, detailed plan or test on which you’ll receive feedback for future improvement prior to final submission.

You’ll receive confirmation of whether or not you have successfully completed the Manchester Distance Access Scheme prior to A-level results day. Upon successful completion of the scheme, a one grade differential offer will then be applied at results confirmation and clearing on Thursday, 15 August 2019.

How to apply

If you meet the home postcode criteria and your chosen course is included in the list above, please register your interest for the scheme by completing the sign-up survey.*

*Entering your details into the survey does not automatically guarantee you a place on the scheme; your application will require further assessment before confirmation of a place on the programme.

We’ll assess your application and then inform you if you’ve gained a place on the Manchester Distance Access Scheme 2019.

If you've any further questions, please contact the MDAS team by email at