Manchester Distance Access Scheme

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 2022?
  • 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 2022. You may be visiting this page because it has been mentioned in your offer on UCAS. 

72% of students who successfully completed the Manchester Distance Access Scheme in 2020 progressed onto an undergraduate course at The University of Manchester.

Applications for MDAS 2022 are now closed.

If you're interested in MDAS for 2023 entry, the details will be published here in autumn 2022.

Courses involved

Foundation year courses aren't eligible for the Manchester Distance Access Scheme as these courses already have lower entry requirements.

Below are the academic Schools which were involved in the Manchester Distance Access Scheme for 2022. This may be subject to change for 2023 entry:

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)
  • Management, Leadership and Leisure
  • Modern Languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish)
  • 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 isn't currently listed here then they might not be participating in MDAS for 2022 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 our 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. However, the deadline to apply through the sign-up survey has now passed. If you have already completed the survey, we'll be in contact later in the academic year with further instructions.

2. Email invitation from the Academic School

If you've 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.


Please note that the below eligibility criteria were for MDAS 2022, which has now closed. This may be subject to change for MDAS 2023.

MDAS is open to students who meet certain background criteria. In order to participate in the scheme, you must be holding an offer from The University of Manchester. Only students who choose Manchester as their 'Firm' choice will be able to participate in the academic element and go on to complete the scheme.

To be eligible, you must:

  • permanently reside in the UK;
  • be studying at a UK education provider;
  • have been made an offer to start a course at The University of Manchester in September 2022;
  • 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.

In order to participate, you must:

  • select a University of Manchester MDAS course as your 'Firm' choice;
  • be available to complete online work from June to the beginning of August 2022.

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 2022. 

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 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 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 confirm whether you’d be made a contextual offer – if you're identified as ‘WP Plus’ you may qualify for this reduction.

Any MDAS offer will be made in addition to this contextual offer. This means that a student who meets the WP Plus 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 (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

Here, we outline what will happen on MDAS 2022, which may be subject to change for 2023.

The benefits

  • Upon successful completion of the scheme, a one-grade differential offer will be applied during results confirmation and clearing (Thursday, 18 August).
  • An opportunity to receive university teaching before starting your course.
  • A chance to improve your academic skills in preparation for university study.
  • An opportunity to familiarise yourself with university-style assessment before starting your course.

*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'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 above 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 module or problem-solving quiz (depending on your chosen subject and degree discipline).

Proposed dates for 2022

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 1: Academic Skills module (April – 27 June 2022 at 2pm)

The Academic Skills module should take a maximum of five hours to complete in total and is designed to develop the skills you need for university-level study. The Academic Skills module is comprised of five separate tasks (see above) 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 Academic Skills module around your Level 3 qualifications and we enrol students on a rolling basis as and when you're made an offer of a place to study.

Part 2: Mini Degree module (4 July – 4 August 2022)

The Mini Degree Module is designed to familiarise you with the kind of assessment you'll undertake 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 making the transition between sixth form or college and 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 successful completion of the scheme, a one-grade differential offer will be applied during results confirmation and clearing (Thursday, 18 August).

How to apply

Applications for 2022 are now closed.

If you're interested in MDAS for 2023 entry, the details will be published here in autumn 2022.

Student profile: Francesca

Francesca Cross, Manchester Distance Access Scheme 2020

Francesca Cross

Francesca took part in the Manchester Distance Access Scheme in 2020, taking the Modern Languages stream and is now in her second year studying 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 MDAS programme?

I found out 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 successfully completed the programme. As soon as I heard about it, especially considering the unknown outcome of exams due disruption from the pandemic, I decided it would be useful to complete the short programme just in case results day didn’t go as planned.

What did you enjoy most about participating on the scheme?

I really liked the fact that I got to learn about academic referencing, malpractice and plagiarism as it is 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 to get to where you are now?

It really helped my confidence coming into 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 which 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 taking part in the programme?

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

Any top tips for completing the programme?

Give yourself plenty of time to complete the programme; don't leave it to the last minute. Researching, planning and writing takes 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 is a chance to find out more about it before you even get to university.