Discover STEM

Science and technology is everywhere around us and is continuously developing all over the world.

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Discover STEM is a two year pathway starting in Year 12 for students studying A Levels (or equivalent) in Science and/or Maths who have an interest in finding more about the STEM subjects available at university. Students will also need to meet specific Academic and Widening Participation (WP) criteria from state schools within South Yorkshire and the surrounding region. See 'How to apply' section below for more information.

The pathway will explore the different STEM degree options through practical workshops and taster sessions and spending time working in laboratories and other locations. Within these workshops you will have the opportunity to work with current undergraduate STEM students - gaining a real experience of what it is like to be a student at the University.

Overall you will be exposed to subject areas that you may not have studied previously, as well as an insight into the practical nature of a STEM degree. Discover STEM also explores the different career options that can come from a STEM degree, through interactive workshops with University of Sheffield STEM Alumni.

Subjects and departments included in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths:

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Automatic Control & Systems Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical & Biological Engineering
  • Civil & Structural Engineering
  • Materials Science & Engineering
  • Computer Science 
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electronic & Electrical Engineering
  • Multidisciplinary Engineering Education
  • General Engineering
  • Animal and Plant Sciences
  • Biomedical Science
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics and Statistics
  • Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Psychology

Pathway structure

Year 12
  • Welcome Session - This is the chance to meet the other STEM students and find out more about the pathway. You will also be introduced to the e-mentoring programme, which allows you to communicate with a current student online, who can support you as you progress through Discover STEM.
  • Team-building Day - This fun day is designed to boost confidence as well as being a chance for you and the other students to get to know each other and explore the University campus.
  • Discover STEM Activity Days - Our Discover STEM Activity Days allow you to experience life as a first year student and try out some of the amazing facilities on offer at the University. The days include first year lectures, practical lab sessions in areas of your choosing, and the opportunity to speak to our current undergraduate student ambassadors about university life.
  • Open Day - Discover STEM students are given information on the Undergraduate Open Days.
  • Year 12 Study Skills - These events are designed to support you in your preparation for your AS Level exams.
  • Residential Summer School - This three day residential summer school will give you a taste of life as a University of Sheffield student. During the week you will take part in a range of interactive sessions including practical labs, workshops and lectures. You will also take part in social activities, a BBQ night, a social evening with other Discover students, and activities such as extreme Frisbee and salsa dancing. You will stay in our award winning student accommodation in your own en-suite room.
Year 13
  • Discover STEM Activity Days - Our Discover STEM Activity Days include first year lectures, practical lab sessions in areas of your choosing, as well as the opportunity to speak to our current undergraduate student ambassadors about university life.
  • Academic Study Skills - This session will introduce you to academic study skills that will benefit you during your A Levels and during future studies at university.
  • Awards Evening - Congratulations! You and your parents/carers and teachers will be invited to the Discover awards evening, when students who have successfully completed both phases of Discover STEM receive certificates of achievement.

Programme outcomes

Adjusted offer

Students who successfully complete the pathway will be eligible for a conditional offer for degrees at The University of Sheffield, with the exception of degrees in Medicine, Dentistry and Health.

To qualify for an adjusted offer for Medicine you must have completed the Discover Medicine pathway and to qualify for an adjusted offer in Dental Surgery you must have completed Discover Dental Professions.

If you wanted to take a 1 x year gap break before applying to The University of Sheffield, or need to resit A Levels to achieve a higher grade, the adjusted offer would be made available in the following year only.

Support with exam revision

To be successful on the degree course you eventually choose, you will be required to meet certain entry requirements, which are set to reflect the academic level of course content and to ensure that you can be comfortable in achieving a good standard in your degree.

As a participant in Discover you will have free access to an online tutoring platform, where you will be able to work through challenging revision questions, seek support on a particular aspect of a subject, or submit written pieces of work for feedback, working with tutors who have already received qualifications in a range of subjects.

You will receive guidance on how to use the secure platform, which can be accessed from your mobile phone or computer and you’ll be able to book sessions with the tutors at times which are convenient for you, including evening and weekends.

Engaging with the tutoring opportunity is a compulsory part of the Discover programme, designed to support you in achieving the highest grades possible.


How to apply

If you have the potential to achieve good grades at A Level or equivalent and would either be in the first generation of your family to go into higher education, or you are a Looked after Child, look after someone in your family or have a declared disability, you may qualify to apply for the programme.

Talk to the head of your sixth form or your course leader to find out. They will tell you if you are eligible based upon the criteria and information we have provided for them. You and your parents or carers will then need to complete the online application form, via your registered school/college coordinator.

Taking part in the Discover programme shows commitment and could enhance your university application. However, it does not guarantee you a place at university. Places are subject to availability and you can only be registered on one sustained Outreach pathway at the University of Sheffield at any one time.

Eligibility requirements

Academic criteria

A Level (or equivalent) requirements:

  • Should be studying a minimum of 3 A Levels including Maths and a Science subject or two Science subjects.

GCSE requirements:

Min. 5 A*-B (or 9-6), plus a minimum of C (4) in English, if not already included. Additionally, B (6) in Maths and Science.

Widening participation criteria (meet both)

  • Attend a State School
  • Are in the first generation of their family to enter Higher Education (HE) (other than siblings, or parents who attended HE as a mature student)

Widening participation criteria (additional - between one and all of the following)

  • Are from a low progression to HE area and the lowest socio-economic groups
  • Are a Looked After Child/Young Adult Carer/Estranged student
  • Are a student with a declared disability
  • Have individual circumstances that mean they will need to overcome other barriers to learning/progression. We will assess this element on an individual basis, based on the information provided by the school.

Contact us

Email: discoverstem@sheffield.ac.uk

Phone: +44 114 222 1234

Access Sheffield

Depending on circumstances, we may be able to give undergraduate applications additional consideration when we receive them.