Manchester Distance Access Scheme 2023

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

Registration now closed

Applications for the 2023 Manchester Distance Access Scheme are now closed. If you have any questions about taking part, please email

Registration for the 2024 Scheme will open in October 2023.

  • Have you received an offer to start a course at The University of Manchester in September 2023?
  • Would you like the opportunity to develop your skills ready for university study?
  • Would you like a one-grade reduction from the standard offer from your chosen course at the University?

The Manchester Distance Access Scheme (MDAS) is an online access programme for students who hold an offer from The University of Manchester for a place on a selection of courses starting in September 2023. You may be visiting this page because it has been mentioned in your UCAS offer.

74% of students who completed the Manchester Distance Access Scheme in 2022 progressed onto an undergraduate course at The University of Manchester.

Courses involved for 2023

Unfortunately, foundation year courses aren't eligible for the Manchester Distance Access Scheme as they have lower entry requirements.

The academic Schools and courses involved in the Manchester Distance Access Scheme for 2023 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
  • Educational Psychology
  • English Language (all courses)
  • English Literature (all courses)
  • Environmental Management
  • Film Studies (all courses)
  • Geography (all courses
  • 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

Health and Medicine

  • Nursing (Adult, Child and Mental Health)

If the course you’re interested in is not currently listed here, then it might not be participating in MDAS for 2023 entry. You can check back throughout the year to see if this has changed.

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

MDAS offers

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

1. Through UCAS

If MDAS was included in your offer through UCAS, all you need to do is complete the online survey. We'll be in contact later in the year with further instructions.

2. Email invitation from the academic School

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


To participate in the scheme, you'll need to hold an offer from The University of Manchester. If you choose Manchester as your ‘Firm’ choice, you'll be able to participate in the Mini Degree Module and complete the scheme.

MDAS is open to students who meet certain background criteria, you'll need to:

  • permanently reside in the UK;
  • be studying at a UK education provider;
  • have an offer to start a course at The University of Manchester in September 2023;
  • live in an 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;
  • have not completed the Manchester Access Programme;
  • be under the age of 21.

In order to participate, you'll need to:

  • select a University of Manchester MDAS course as your 'Firm' choice;
  • be available to complete online work from June to the beginning of August 2023.

Postcode target areas

Visit our eligibility page and type in your home postcode to find out if you live in one of our postcode target areas. If your ‘Home postcode flag’ is ‘Yes’ this means you could be eligible to participate in MDAS 2023. 

MDAS in combination with contextual offers

If you're a UK applicant under the age of 21, we'll use contextual data alongside your undergraduate application to build up a full and rounded view of your achievement and potential. We want to make sure we consider talented applicants from all backgrounds.

If you live in an area of low progression into higher education and your school/sixth form has performed below the national average over multiple years, or you’re care-experienced, then you may also be eligible for a contextual offer. A contextual offer is usually one grade lower than the standard entry requirements for any given course and you don’t have to apply to be considered. You can use the eligibility page to check – if you're identified as ‘WP Plus’ you may qualify for this reduction.

Any MDAS offer will be made in addition to the contextual offer. This means that if you meet the WP Plus criteria, choose Manchester as your 'Firm' choice and successfully complete MDAS, you could receive an offer of two A-level grades below the standard University of Manchester offer (for example, AAA could become ABB).

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

The Scheme

The benefits

  • Upon successful completion of the Scheme, you'll receive an offer of 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 completion of MDAS).*
  • The opportunity to receive university teaching before starting your course.
  • You'll be able to improve your academic skills in preparation for university study.
  • You can familiarise yourself with a university-style assessment before starting your course.

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

*Students who are identified as WP Plus may receive a differential offer of up to two A-level grades below the standard offer for their course. Please see the Eligibility section 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."
  • "I just wanted to say that I think it's a brilliant Scheme on two fronts, not only did it give me a reduced offer, but the opportunity to attempt a piece of work months before the course started was stimulating and exciting!”

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 related to the subject you’ll be studying at degree level. This could be a written assignment, online assessed unit or problem-solving quiz (depending on your chosen subject and degree discipline).

Proposed dates for 2023

These dates are subject to change and assume that A-level exams will run as ‘normal’ this year. Should there be any major changes to the timeline below we'll contact you as soon as possible.

Part one: Academic Skills Module (April to 3 July 2023)

The Academic Skills Module should take a maximum of five hours to complete and is designed to develop the skills you need for university-level study. The Module has five separate tasks which will build on your existing skills, like essay writing, and recontextualise these for a university setting.

It also aims to introduce you to topics that might be less familiar, for example, plagiarism, to make you feel more confident when tackling undergraduate first-year assessments. We give you plenty of time to fit the Module around your Level 3 qualifications and we enrol students on a rolling basis as and when you've made an offer of a place to study.

Part two: Mini Degree Module (5 July to 3 August 2023)

The Mini Degree Module is designed to familiarise you with the kind of assessment you'll do as part of your university course, whether this is a short-answer question on a reading or an online quiz, and make you feel more confident in transitioning 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.

You’ll receive confirmation of whether or not you've successfully completed the Manchester Distance Access Scheme prior to A-level results day. Upon completion of the scheme, a one-grade differential offer will be applied during results confirmation and clearing.

How to apply

To apply for MDAS 2023, please complete the online survey.

If you've any questions, contact the MDAS team via email at

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.