School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Outstanding Potential Award Scheme

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 during the admissions process and are offered an OPA if they choose to attend and do well in the interview. Academic Schools that participate in the OPA scheme also provide a variety of opportunities for applicants who attend the interview to engage with students and to participate in activities designed to support students in their preparation for study at Queen Mary.


  1. You apply to Queen Mary through UCAS as usua.
  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
  6. If you accept your conditional offer firmly by the relevant UCAS deadline, we will make you a revised offer with lower offer conditions

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

  • Comparative Literature
  • Drama
  • English
  • Environmental Science
  • Geography
  • History
  • Linguistics
  • Modern Languages
  • Physics

Our OPA criteria are 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.

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. While the offer we would make you is lower than our standard offer, you would still need to achieve those grades to take up your place with us.


  1. We will only consider applicants who have submitted their UCAS application by the January 15th 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.

Why do we interview?

Interviews allow us to assess applicants beyond the limits of the UCAS form, and to form a better idea of their suitability for the chosen subject(s). They are thus an important part of the application process, confirming your motivation and potential for academic excellence.

What will the interview be like?

Your interview will be conducted by a member of our academic teaching staff. It will take the form of an informal conversation, and there will be no trick questions. The interviewer will ask questions about your interest and knowledge in the chosen subject(s), and will most likely refer to your UCAS statement. Students having applied for a combined honours programme will only have one interview.

Are there any other eligibility requirements?

We are unable to make awards to applicants who are required to achieve English proficiency (e.g. IELTS) if the qualification is outstanding. These students will instead be considered for a conditional offer.

We also cannot consider overseas applicants for the award who require a visa to study in the UK.

What is the advantage of receiving an unconditional offer?

The offer takes away the uncertainty associated with securing a place at University, helping students to focus on achieving their best performance in their academic career. The interview experience will also help ease the transition to University and equip you with useful information about your degree programme, the School and the University.

What if the applicant doesn’t achieve the predicted grades?

While we accept that grade predictions are not always correct, it is likely that those selected for the award will achieve them. However, an unconditional offer is exactly that – it is not conditional on achieving predicted grades. We will therefore still accept students who do not meet their predicted grades.

How will I know if I have been selected for an award?

All applicants will initially be made a conditional offer. If you have been selected for consideration under the Outstanding Potential Award Scheme, you will be invited for interview for the opportunity to ‘upgrade’ your offer to unconditional. We aim to contact you with a decision after the interview within 2 to 3 weeks.

How do I accept the award?

To accept the Outstanding Potential Award, you must place us as your firm choice on UCAS Track. Your offer will then be upgraded to unconditional.

What if I am selected for the Award, but do not want to accept it, or decide to defer?

If you choose not to place us as your firm choice, you will retain your original conditional offer. The Award is only valid in the year was made.