Manchester Distance Access Scheme 2024

The Manchester Distance Access Scheme is a pre-University scheme that helps students from underrepresented backgrounds get a fair chance at accessing higher education.

Welcome to the Manchester Distance Access Scheme (MDAS) - an online access programme specially designed for students who hold an offer from The University of Manchester for courses starting in September 2024.

If you're here because it was mentioned in your UCAS offer, then you're in the right place.

Benefits of completing the Scheme

  • You'll receive an offer of one A-level grade below the standard offer for your course at the University (for example, if your offer is AAA, it would become AAB).*
  • You’ll receive university-level teaching before starting your course.
  • You’ll enhance your academic skills, preparing you for university.
  • You’ll learn about university-style assessments before starting your course.

    65% of students who completed the Manchester Distance Access Scheme in 2023 progressed onto an undergraduate course at The University of Manchester. 

* Offers are decided by the academic School and some courses may still need specific grades in certain subjects. If you're studying for a different qualification (such as a BTEC Extended Diploma), email your academic School to see if you can take part. 

2024 courses

Only a selection of foundation courses are eligible for MDAS, these are listed below. 

The academic Schools and courses involved in the Manchester Distance Access Scheme for 2024 are:

Arts, Humanities and Languages

  • Accounting
  • American Studies
  • Ancient History (all courses)
  • Archaeology (all courses)
  • Architecture
  • Business Accounting
  • Classics
  • Classical Studies
  • Drama (all courses)
  • Education
  • Education, Leadership and Culture
  • Educational Psychology
  • English Language (all courses)
  • English Literature (all courses)
  • Environmental Management
  • Film Studies (all courses)
  • Geography (all courses)
  • Global Development 
  • History (with American Studies, Modern Language, Sociology)
  • History of Art (all courses)
  • International Business, Finance and Economics
  • International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response
  • International Management
  • International Management with American Business Studies
  • IT Management for Business
  • Latin (all courses)
  • Liberal Arts
  • Linguistics (all courses)
  • Management / Management (Specialisms)
  • Modern Languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish)
  • Music
  • Planning and Real Estate (all courses)
  • Politics and Modern History
  • Religions and Theology
  • Theological Studies in Philosophy and Ethics

Science, Materials and Engineering

  • Aerospace Engineering (all courses except Foundation Year)
  • Chemistry (all courses except Foundation Year)
  • Chemical Engineering (all courses except Foundation Year)
  • Civil Engineering (all courses except Foundation Year)
  • Earth Sciences (all courses except Foundation Year)
  • Electric and Electronic Engineering (all courses except Foundation Year)
  • Environmental Science (all courses except Foundation Year)
  • Materials Science (all courses except Foundation Year)
  • Mechatronics (all courses except Foundation Year)
  • Fashion Buying and Merchandising
  • Fashion Management
  • Fashion Marketing
  • Foundation Year - Computer Science 
  • Foundation Year - Maths
  • Foundation Year - Mechanical Engineering
  • Foundation Year - Physics 

Health and Medicine

  • Nursing (Adult, Child and Mental Health)

If you don't see the course you’re interested in listed here, then it might not be available for MDAS 2024 entry at the moment but you can check back throughout the year to see if it becomes available. 

The School of Social Sciences also run their own access scheme.

The Scheme

What you’ll need to do

The scheme comprises two elements.

Firstly, you’ll complete an Academic 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 on the subject you’ll be studying at degree level. This could be a written assignment, online assessed unit or problem-solving quiz.

2024 dates

These are subject to change and depend on A-level exams. If there are any major changes to the timeline below, we'll contact you as soon as possible.

Part one: Academic Skills Module (April to end of June 2024)

The Academic Skills Module should take five hours to complete and will sharpen your skills for university-level studies. The Module consists of five tasks that enhance your existing skills like essay writing to suit a university setting.

It also introduces you to less familiar topics (such as plagiarism) to boost your confidence in handling first-year assessments. You can easily fit this Module around your Level 3 qualifications, and enrolment occurs on a rolling basis once you’ve received a study offer.

Part two: Mini Degree Module (July to beginning of August 2024)

The Mini Degree Module is your preparation for university assessments. Whether it’s short-answer questions or online quizzes, this Module eases your transition from sixth form or college to university.

80% of those who completed MDAS 2020 said that the programme made them feel more confident in starting their university studies, and 78% said that the scheme made them feel more prepared to start their first year.


Once you’ve completed the Scheme, you’ll receive confirmation before  A-level results day and enjoy a one-grade differential offer during results confirmation and clearing.

Who can apply

To be part of the Scheme, you'll need to have an offer from The University of Manchester and if you choose Manchester as your ‘Firm’ choice, you'll be able to join the Mini Degree Module and complete the scheme.

You'll also need to meet certain background criteria, including:

  • be a permanent resident in the UK;
  • be under the age of 21;
  • be studying at a UK education provider;
  • live in an area with low progression to higher education, or a less advantaged neighbourhood;
  • have not attended an independent or fee-paying school;
  • not already holding a higher education qualification;
  • not already taking the Access to Higher Education qualification;
  • have not completed the Manchester Access Programme;

Postcode target areas

Visit our eligibility page and enter your home postcode to find out if you live in one of our postcode target areas. If your ‘Home postcode flag’ is marked as ‘Yes’ this means you could be eligible to join MDAS in 2024. 

MDAS with contextual offers

If you're a UK applicant under 21, we'll consider your background and achievements (called contextual data) along with your undergraduate application, to make sure we find and accept talented individuals no matter your background.

If you live in an area with lower progression to higher education and your school or sixth form has performed below the national average, or you’re care-experienced, you may be eligible for a contextual offer.

This means you could get an offer one grade lower than the standard entry requirements without having to apply separately. 

Any MDAS offer will be made in addition to the contextual offer. If you meet the WP Plus criteria, choose Manchester as your 'Firm' choice and successfully complete MDAS, you could receive an offer with even lower entry requirements (for example, if the standard offer is AAA, your offer would be ABB).

For more details on contextual data and the meaning of WP/WP Plus, visit our contextual data webpage.

How to apply

Applications for the 2024 Scheme are now open.

If you’re eligible (see our  Eligibility section) for MDAS, you’ll be invited to participate via your UCAS offer. All you need to do is complete the online survey.

We'll be in contact from February 2024 onwards with further instructions. 

If you have not received a UCAS offer to take part in MDAS and you think this might be a mistake please email:

Student profile: Francesca

Francesca Cross

Francesca Cross

Francesca took part in the Manchester Distance Access Scheme, taking the Modern Languages stream and went on to study BA Russian and Spanish at The University of Manchester.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I'm originally from Ireland but moved to Dagenham in east London in my teenage years. I'm in love with different languages and cultures and can’t wait to travel in the future. I studied A-level Spanish, Russian and History and continue these all at university, whether that be in the classroom, in different university societies or just in the vibrant city of Manchester. I've had an amazing first year, with so many new faces and new opportunities, I can’t wait for what’s next.

How did you hear about the programme?

I heard about MDAS from the University after receiving my offer to study. In their email, they explained that I was eligible for a scheme that would give me a one-grade differential offer if I completed the programme. As soon as I heard about it, especially considering the unknown outcome of exams due to disruption from the pandemic, I decided it would be useful to complete the short programme just in case the results day didn’t go as planned.

What did you enjoy most about the Scheme?

I really liked the fact that I got to learn about academic referencing, malpractice and plagiarism, as it's something I had never come across before and the Scheme explained it to me so well. I also got an insight into analysing different art styles, such as statues, paintings, books and music, something which made me excited about studying Russian and Spanish at university. I also found that I really enjoyed adapting to the new university style of learning.

How did the programme help you?

It really helped my confidence coming to university as I knew what to expect. In terms of essays, I had a clear understanding of how to plan an essay, how to choose relevant and appropriate sources and of course, how to structure and critically write, all skills that a university student will need to use all the time. I felt like I had a head start and could even help others who were struggling with certain concepts.

What advice would you give others who are thinking of doing the programme?

Just as a safety net, I really recommend doing the programme; it could be your life saver if the results day doesn’t go to plan. Take time to take notes from the course and understand the key elements you need to take forward with you when you come to university. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you have the chance to develop your independent study skills that you will rely on throughout your time as a student.

Any top tips?

Give yourself plenty of time to complete the programme; don't leave it to the last minute. Researching, planning and writing take a lot of time, which you'll see when you need to write essays. Also, try to enjoy it, you're choosing this subject for a degree, it's a chance to find out more about it before you even get to university.