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School of Geography

School of Geography Outstanding Potential Award scheme

Queen Mary University of London is committed to opening the doors of opportunity for anyone with the potential to succeed. We want to attract students from all backgrounds who demonstrate potential, motivation and commitment to joining our inclusive and diverse community of staff and students.

Our Outstanding Potential Award (OPA) scheme has been introduced to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their potential to succeed at Queen Mary through a process of engagement with academic staff and students in their chosen subject area during the admissions process. Selected applicants, identified as having outstanding potential through a rigorous assessment of their application, are invited to attend an interview with a member of our academic staff and are offered an OPA if they choose to attend and do well in the interview.

Successful candidates will be offered a reduction in the entry grade requirements for the programme they have applied for. Typically, this would see an ABB A-level grade offer reduced by two grades to BBC subject to the candidate firmly accepting the offer.

Applicants who attend the interview will be provided with opportunities to engage with current students and to participate in activities designed to support students in their preparation for study at Queen Mary. 

How does the OPA scheme work?

  1. You apply to Queen Mary through UCAS as usual
  2. If you meet our general criteria for admission, we make you a standard conditional offer, in line with the published entry requirements for the programme
  3. We review your application against specific OPA scheme criteria and if you meet these, we invite you for an interview with one of our academic staff
  4. You attend the interview and perform well
  5. We make you an offer of an OPA and update your offer conditions on UCAS
  6. If you have been made a reduced grade conditional offer and accept it firmly by the relevant UCAS deadline, your place will be guaranteed if you achieve the revised requirements.

Who is the OPA scheme for?

If you are a UK applicant applying for any programme in the following subjects we will automatically consider you under our OPA scheme:

  • Environmental Science
  • Geography

Our OPA criteria is designed to identify students who are high performers as well as students who have the potential to be high performers on our programmes. We understand that not all learners have the same opportunities to excel in their sixth form education. This may be for a variety of reasons relating to the personal and educational context in which you are studying. Some of our students experience disruption to their A level or other Level 3 studies for reasons beyond their control, for example because of problems with their health, their family situation, or because of unexpected changes to teaching arrangements in their school or college.

Our OPA scheme is designed to be inclusive and when selecting you for interview, we will take into account not only your academic attainment so far and your predicted grades, but also factors which may affect your ability to get the best possible grades. 

What we expect from our OPA scholars?

Our OPA scheme is intended to identify serious, ambitious students who want to come to Queen Mary and get a good degree. We invest a lot of time in meeting you and supporting you to join Queen Mary and we expect you to work hard in your preparation in return. If we make you an offer that is lower than our standard offer, you will still need to achieve those grades to take up your place with us. Furthermore, we encourage all OPA recipients to attain the best grades possible. This will mean they are well prepared for the programme they are joining and put them in a good position to achieve highly from the outset. 

Some rules about the OPA scheme

We have tried to make the OPA scheme as straightforward as possible, but there are some rules you need to be aware of:

  1. We will only consider applicants who have submitted their UCAS application by the January deadline for the OPA scheme.
  2. If you are invited for an OPA interview and decide not to come, you will still keep your conditional offer from Queen Mary and can accept that as your firm or insurance choice.
  3. The OPA offer is valid only in the year you apply. If you apply for deferred entry we will not consider you under our OPA scheme. If you are offered and accept an OPA, you do not automatically have the right to defer to the next year of entry. We will consider deferral requests on an individual basis and may grant your request in light of the information you provide about how you plan to use your gap year.
  4. Attendance at an OPA interview does not mean we guarantee to offer you an OPA. The offer of an OPA is made on the recommendation of academic staff who interview you and we reserve the right not to offer an OPA. There is no right of appeal if you do not receive an OPA offer after attending an interview.
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