Advice for prospective students

The following information is for prospective University students planning to join the University in 2020-21.

With a short while to go before the start of the academic year, you may be wondering what to expect when you join the University of Sheffield. While the semester might be a bit different to what you were expecting, we are looking forward to welcoming you to campus for the new academic year. We have been busy making preparations in line with the latest government guidelines and with your safety as our top priority.

What to expect on campus for autumn term 2020

Our autumn term 2020 web pages provide the latest information on: safety on campus and in the city, accommodation, learning and teaching, and student support.

We've also prepared the following frequently asked questions. If you have further questions, please contact Due to the high volume of enquiries we are currently receiving there may be a delay to our response.

We'll continue to issue any further advice and guidance as it becomes available, so we encourage everyone to read the information contained here carefully and regularly, and to follow the instructions given.

This web page includes some updates about how we have adapted our plans for teaching, accommodation and health and safety on campus.

Additional sources of information

The following websites are regularly updated with advice and information:

Please also refer to the latest advice on the main coronavirus homepage.

Frequently asked questions - for prospective students

The questions and answers below are relevant to prospective students. Other information is available on our advice pages:

Frequently asked questions - general

Academic year 2020/21

What are the 2020-21 academic year semester dates?

Undergraduate courses began on 28 September 2020.

The majority of Postgraduate Taught courses will begin at the revised date of 26 October 2020. There will be some exceptions to this start date for professional or health related Postgraduate Taught courses, and Distance Learning courses. If you hold an offer on one of these courses, the University will have contacted you directly to confirm your start date.

The start date for new Postgraduate Research students will also be 26 October. If you have existing individual arrangements, or are part of an inter-institutional doctoral training partnership which requires an earlier start date, you should have registered alongside undergraduate students (for the start date of 28 September). You should discuss this with your supervisor in the first instance.

We hope that the delay to the start date will allow, particularly our overseas students, time to ensure that you have met any outstanding conditions to your offer, apply for visas and put plans in place for your arrival in Sheffield. Currently there are no other planned changes to the semester dates.

How will learning and teaching work in the 2020-21 academic year?

You’ll be taught through a blend of face-to-face teaching in small groups in Sheffield, where social distancing can be maintained, supported by digital delivery. Our aim is to teach in small groups wherever possible. This will be supported by the best possible online alternative. This means that in the Autumn term, large lectures will be delivered solely online.

The campus will be open for the 2020-21 academic year with health and safety measures in place.

All programmes are expected to include an element of face to face teaching, although the amount and frequency will vary depending on the discipline. Your department will provide further detail about what this will be like for you.

Laboratories, studios, clinical spaces and practical areas will also be open and social distancing measures will be in place.

Your timetable will be provided during induction week and will include details of both on campus and online classes so that you can plan your time effectively. The timetable is being prepared to ensure that you can move between classes in the safest possible way and to support social distancing.

We know that some students may be unable to travel to Sheffield, due to international travel restrictions, medical reasons or a disability. We are committed to ensuring that you are not excluded or disadvantaged for this reason, and you will not receive a penalty if you cannot attend. You will be able to access our induction activities and all our digital learning online, until you are able to join us later in Semester 1 or at the start of Semester 2. 

We are committed to ensuring the quality of your education, development and graduate opportunities, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. While we will be operating slightly differently in the 2020/21 academic year, we will always be here to support you and ensure that your Sheffield student experience remains excellent.

We will continue to communicate updates with you as the situation develops.

Will the libraries be open?

Please see our library webpages for latest information regarding opening hours, bookable slots and building access.

The University's extensive digital library remains open as usual. Our online service has almost a million ebooks and over 60,000 journal titles along with a virtual library team and specialist librarians ready to support you to ensure your studies are unaffected as much as possible.

If you have any questions, please visit the Library FAQs page or contact the library online via live chat or email:

My course has a placement. What will be the arrangements for me in 2020-21?

For a few of our accredited courses, students have placements, for example clinical or teaching placements. We're currently in discussions with the relevant professional bodies to agree arrangements for these courses for the 2020-21 academic year. Your department will be able to provide more information on how these will work. 

What orientation activities will you be offering?

Orientation Week will take place online in the week commencing 19 October for postgraduate students.

You’ll be able to attend virtual talks and take part in social activities with staff and student ambassadors allowing you time to settle into your accommodation and our community before you commence your studies. You can register your interest here to receive further information and updates as they are announced.

Orientation week is a great opportunity to make friends and learn more about our city and campus. Further details of these activities will be shared with you in the coming weeks.

I don't have suitable IT equipment to engage with my course, is there any support available?

If you are concerned that you might not be able to afford equipment to study remotely, the University may be able to help. Further information is available on our web pages.


What Covid-19 measure will I need to follow once moved into University accommodation?

The flat, property or student living on the same floor who share a kitchen and/or bathrooms will form the household. It will not be the entire block or property and will be in the region of 6 or less but in some University Accommodation can be a greater number depending on where you live.

If you are living in a household, due to the accommodation configuration, which is greater than 6 then this is permitted and the household will therefore be greater than 6. You must not gather in groups of more than 6 people who are not in your household either inside or outside.

More information on meeting with others safely can be found here.

What will be open at University accommodation sites?

We are planning for all social spaces to be open in line with government guidelines on social distancing and the use of face coverings. Increased cleaning regimes will be in place for these spaces.

Our Residence Life team will continue to offer a range of activities and events both online and face to face across the academic year.

Bars and cafes will be open from the moment arrivals commence - please check the GeniUS website for opening times. The Village Store is open all year, and The Edge bar will be open from mid September along with other outlets across the University.

Is the University able to support me if I need to self-isolate on arrival due to travel restrictions?

If you are required to self-isolate, we are offering free university accommodation for up to a maximum of 3 weeks prior to your course starting. This only applies if you are then booked to live in University accommodation for the upcoming semester/academic year. You will then start to pay rent from your normal contract start date.

If you are sharing accommodation with someone who has needed to self-isolate, we are planning for them to have already completed their 14 day self-isolation period before arrivals weekend. Therefore there will be no need for you to self-isolate during the arrivals period unless there is a flatmate displaying symptoms.

Please contact the accommodation team if you have a question about your circumstances, so that we can make arrangements to accommodate your requirements.

Applications and admissions - General

My current teaching and assessment have been disrupted by coronavirus. What should I do?

We're aware that education systems in the UK and around the world have been disrupted and we're monitoring the situation. We'll be as flexible as we can where applicants aren't able to meet the conditions of their offers in the way they expected, or at the time they expected.

Many exam boards are intending to award qualifications to applicants even if their coursework has been interrupted or their exams cancelled. Where final grades are awarded by the exam boards, we expect to be able to accept these qualifications and grades.

Exam boards and other agencies are updating us about their plans, so you don’t need to alert us to your circumstances at this stage. We’ll contact you if we need you to do anything.

Can I defer my offer to autumn 2021 entry?

We recognise that individual applicant circumstances change, so we may be able to defer your entry until autumn 2021. If you want to request a deferral, you should do so by 30 September 2020 (30 August 2020 for the MBChB Medicine and the BDS Dental Surgery).

Undergraduate applicants can request a deferral by emailing us at

For most postgraduate courses, applicants can request a deferral via their online application. Applicants to postgraduate courses that use our staged admissions process should email us at Applicants to staged admissions courses, and selected courses in Engineering and Economics, should have met any academic conditions, and paid any tuition fee deposit we have requested.

I need my qualifications documents verified by the Admissions Service when I register. What should I do?

We've changed our qualifications verification process for 2020 entry. You can find details of the new process on our webpages.

If we need you to do anything, we'll email you.

Additional information for applicants to postgraduate courses

I want to apply for a postgraduate course, but because of the lockdown I can't obtain a transcript of results for my current degree. What should I do?

To make a decision, we need to know which institution you’re studying at, which modules you’re studying, and what grades you’ve achieved so far, but we'll be able to consider your application with an unofficial record. This might be a copy of an email from your university, or a screengrab of your student record on your university website. If we need a more formal document to confirm your place, we’ll let you know.

Will the revised start date for Postgraduate Taught courses mean a shortened course length?

As the pandemic continues to affect students across the globe, the change to the start date for the majority of our postgraduate taught courses will enable our international students in particular to ensure that they can meet the conditions of their offer and plan their arrival in Sheffield.

The teaching year is structured differently for postgraduate taught students, with final exam boards in the autumn, unlike undergraduate students who have these in the summer. As a result, full use can be made of the summer period, which is commonly used for research projects. This longer teaching year means that, while the start of teaching will be delayed, and there will be some changes to delivery, the course will not be truncated.

My course starts on the 26 October 2020 but this date is not reflected when I try to apply to Student Finance. What should I do?

We have advised Student Finance of the change in start date to 26 October. The Student Loans Company is in the process of updating this. We would encourage you to still apply as soon as possible, using the 28 September 2020 start date, if the 26 October 2020 start date is not yet available. This will ensure your application is processed in good time.

Additional information for international applicants

What's your tuition fee deposit refund policy?

You can find information about tuition fee deposits, including our refunds policy, on our webpages:

Postgraduate taught course tuition fee deposits

We've recently updated the refunds policy to confirm that we'll refund the deposits of applicants who are unable to take up their place for reasons relating to the coronavirus outbreak.

I'm due to start a degree course in autumn 2020 and will be studying an online pre-sessional English language course in summer 2020. If I defer the start of my degree course until autumn 2021, will I have to complete a new pre-sessional course?

No. If you arrange to defer the start of your degree course until autumn 2021, you can still use your 2020 pre-sessional course, providing:

  1. You fully participate in the pre-sessional course, and pass the online assessments
  2. The degree course you start in autumn 2021 is the same course you were due to start in autumn 2020

When will I receive my CAS number?

We have started arranging CAS numbers for 2020 entry. For more information and timescales, please see our CAS application webpages.

When will I receive my ATAS information?

For applicants to undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses: We'll send you an email with the information you need to apply for ATAS clearance. We started sending these emails in June. If you have recently been made an offer it may take up to a week for you to receive this email. Please see our ATAS webpage for more information.

For applicants to postgraduate research: You can apply to the FCO for ATAS clearance using the information in your ATAS Statement, issued with your offer letter. Please see our ATAS webpage for more information.

Which English language qualifications will you accept?

We accept a wide range of English language qualifications. Full lists are available on our webpages:

English language requirements for undergraduate applicants
English language requirements for postgraduate applicants

We've recently added new qualifications to these lists. From April 2020, we accept the following:

  • TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition
  • NCUK English Language Test
  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT

From 1 July 2020 we will also accept IELTS Indicator tests in addition to the IELTS Academic and IELTS for UKVI Academic tests.

If you're holding an offer with an IELTS condition, and have completed one of these qualifications and achieved the level required by your course, please email us at so we can review your offer.

Will I need to self-isolate when I arrive in the UK?

Current Government guidance requires all new arrivals to the UK to self isolate for a period of 14 days after arriving in the UK. The government has introduced travel corridor exemptions for some countries and territories. Please keep checking this website for the most up to date information as the list of exemptions is subject to change.

Will there be someone to meet me at the airport when I arrive?

We’ll be running a meet and greet service at Manchester Airport between 13-20 September and 11-25 October. There will be three coaches running between Manchester and Sheffield each day, you’ll be allocated a place depending on arrival details. We'll be opening bookings soon via the University Online Store. Keep checking the Meet and Greet webpage for more information.

Tickets will cost £25 per student and £30 for guests. Face coverings and hand sanitiser will be provided to each student for the journey.

If your flight is arriving at a different airport or outside the times of the meet and greet service period, you have a number of options to travel on to Sheffield. More information can be found at our Travelling to Sheffield webpage.

I'm due to register at the University, or collect my BRP card, how do I do this?

Student registration will be done remotely. New students expecting to register in the coming days should follow instructions given by their academic department or school.

If you are an international student expecting to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) from the Student Administration Service, this may not be possible during this period.

Please read this web page about your BRP card in the first instance. You can also contact the Student Registration Team if the web page doesn't answer your question. If you have other queries relating to the BRP collection process, for instance you may have returned home before collecting your BRP from the University, please contact International Student Support.


I have been offered a scholarship for 2020 entry. Can I defer it to 2021?

We’re committed to supporting students in these challenging times and want to be sure that those joining us in 2020 are financially supported. Therefore we won't be able to defer scholarship awards to 2021. More scholarships will be available for 2021 entry, but these won’t be confirmed until the autumn.

Open days

Are you still holding open days?

Visit our Explore Sheffield web pages to find the latest information about online open days and everything else you need to know about studying at the University of Sheffield.

Safety on campus

Safety on campus

Your health and safety will always be our top priority. The University has undertaken comprehensive health and safety risk assessments across campus.

The following safety measures will be in place for our staff, students and University community:

  • Sanitisers will be in place at key points across campus.
  • Clear signage around social distancing will be in place across campus.
  • Fewer people will be moving around campus at the same time, minimising cross over in corridors and hallways. One way systems will also be in place.
  • All teaching will follow guidelines around social distancing
  • Face coverings will be required in teaching spaces and we advise you to wear face coverings around campus. You will be provided with two reusable face coverings by the University.
  • Corridor doors will be held open magnetically and automatically close in the event of a fire alarm activation.
  • Touch points and heavily used areas will be prioritised for cleaning throughout the day.
  • Toilets along with other frequently-used facilities will be subject to multiple cleans each day.

The University will continue to closely monitor this and we will adapt our plans to protect the safety and wellbeing of both our students and staff at all times.

Will I have to wear a face covering around campus?

Face coverings will be required in teaching spaces and we advise you to wear face coverings around campus. We will provide you with two reusable face coverings at the start of the semester.

How can I get food if I am self-isolating?

If you’re self-isolating in Ranmoor or Endcliffe accommodation, you can arrange online delivery from the Village Store.

If you’re self-isolating elsewhere you can arrange online delivery from any major supermarket.

Please let us know if you are self isolating so we can support you. There is 24/7 online support available and you can also register with Residence Life for support calls.

Student life

Will I still be able to access University support services?

We will continue to offer an extensive range of student support services online.
These services include:

  • disability support
  • support for obtaining specialist equipment
  • wellbeing advice
  • mental health support and counselling
  • financial advice
  • religious and spiritual support
  • and information services on anything you need to know about studying at Sheffield via our Student Services Information Desk

Our University Health Service is located on campus and offers access to GPs, nurses, mental health specialists and specialist services for students.

What’s open in Sheffield?

Subject to changing guidance, shops, bars and restaurants are open in Sheffield.

Safety measures are in place at establishments to ensure social distancing

For more information about the city, visit the Make Yourself at Home webpage.

How can I travel around Sheffield?

Sheffield is a student friendly city and very easy to get around without a car. 80% of students either walk or cycle to campus and we have dedicated secure cycle storage on campus and at the residences. Most things you might need are accessible by walking or cycling and the city centre is only a short walk from campus.

If you need to use public transport, social distancing will be observed and face coverings are required while travelling. Student bus journeys only cost £1 and the city's modern tram network makes getting from campus to the train station or Meadowhall shopping centre safe and convenient.

Sheffield mentor scheme

First year undergraduate students have the opportunity to be matched with a peer mentor. Our mentors are volunteer second or third year students from the same academic department, they are there to offer support and help ease your transition into University life. They will be able to share their experiences of both the academic and social aspects of University, and help welcome you to the wider student community, encouraging you to get involved and make the most of your time in Sheffield. You can apply for a mentor here.

Travel information

What should I do if I can't travel to Sheffield to attend the University in person?

We understand that some students may not be able to travel to Sheffield until later in Semester 1 or the start of Semester 2, for example, because of international travel restrictions, medical reasons or a disability. We're committed to ensuring that you won't be excluded or disadvantaged if you can't attend in person. You will be able to access our induction activities and all our digital learning online.

If you'll be unable to join us for the beginning of your course, please let us know by completing our webform. You can find more information and a link to the form on our webpages.

International students: advice before you travel

Before you travel to the UK from any country, you are required to provide your contact details to the UK government online.

You must complete the above form, even if you’re travelling from a country where you do not have to self-isolate when you arrive in the UK.

If you do not complete the form before you arrive in the UK, it might take you longer to enter the country. You cannot submit the form until 48 hours before you’re due to arrive in the UK.

Read our Travel and Self-Isolation information

I want to study at Sheffield on exchange in 2020-21, can I still do so?

We're still hoping to begin the 2020-21 academic year in autumn. Exchange partners have been sent details of how to nominate students; if you have been nominated already, you should complete your application as normal. If you would like to change your nomination from the autumn (fall) semester to the spring semester, please contact your home university to make this request.

If your home university does not have an active exchange agreement with the University of Sheffield you can apply as a non-exchange student.