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Our Journal

Writing your UCAS Application

If you're applying to study a full-time BA (Hons) or Extended BA degree at Plymouth College of Art, you will need to submit your application through UCAS. Read our step-by-step to complete your personal statement, references and education history.

Applying to study at college or university can be intimidating, but we’re here to reassure you that with a little preparation you can breathe easy knowing your application is well underway.

Before we get started, make sure to read through each section of the UCAS guidance carefully. Afterwards, follow our top tips for each stage of the undergraduate application process for full-time applicants below.

If you have any questions along the way or can’t find the help you are looking for, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly Admissions team. Email admissions@pca.ac.uk or call 01752 203 400 for advice on your application, personal statement, references and more.

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  • Add your personal details, choose a username, create a password and set up some security questions to protect your account. Remember to enter your first name and middle name(s) exactly as they're stated on official documents, such as your passport, birth certificate, or driving licence.

  • If you are applying through a school, college or centre you will have also been given a buzzword to enter. If you are applying independently you will need to answer a few more questions.

  • You can only apply once in a cycle and if you’ve applied in previous cycles you will still have to submit a new application.

  • If you decided to apply in 2020 for deferred entry and were successful or you're holding a delayed confirmation decision (DCF) for your 2020 choice, you can still reapply in 2021 without withdrawing your deferred place. If you choose to do this, UCAS will be in touch directly to check which application you would like to continue with.

If you don't have access to the internet or your connection is weak, download and print a PDF guide to UCAS instead (you will still need to complete your application online as UCAS do not accept paper submissions).

UCAS will request to verify your email address so that you can sign in and check on your application online. Remember to notify UCAS if any of your contact details change (e.g phone number, home address, email) as you could miss out on updates and even offers of a place to study with us. We suggest monitoring your inbox regularly for updates and marking Plymouth College of Art emails “safe” to avoid any vital updates going into your junk folder.

Once signed in, it's time to complete the sections on funding and sponsorship, residential status, any special needs or impairments, and any criminal convictions. If you need clarification of your residential status, visit the UKCISA website.

If you are a UK applicant the form will also request details of your ethnicity, religious beliefs, background, sexuality and gender identity. Not all of these questions are mandatory and the statistics are simply used for monitoring purposes. Your answers will not influence any decision regarding your application and the information is not shared with us until the end of the application cycle (to ensure any necessary support is in place).

Did you know you can grant a parent, guardian, or adviser permission to speak with UCAS on your behalf? Look out for a section titled ‘nominated access’.

Applications for a loan to cover tuition fees (paid directly to the university) and maintenance costs (paid directly to you at the start of term) will open in early 2021. This option is available wherever you choose to study in the UK, and is repayable.

If you are an applicant from England you don’t need to have a confirmed offer of a place at university or college to begin the online application. For more details please visit the Student Finance England website.

If you are an international applicant please refer to our website’s International pages for guidance on EU and non-EU fees, visas and language support.

You can choose up to five courses with no order of preference. There’s no need to rush as you can return to your selection and add more courses in a separate UCAS session. We won’t see where else you’ve applied to until after you reply to any offers you recieve.

To view our full range of courses please click here or download our 2021/22 Course Guide. For more information, we recommend attending an upcoming Open Day or booking a Campus Tour (both online and in-person options are available).

You can also live chat with our current students on Unibuddy. Click here to start a conversation with a student who has been in your shoes recently or contact hello@pca.ac.uk for more information on course content and hybrid delivery.

Next, it’s time to enter your education and employment history, including all your qualifications from secondary education onwards (even results that are yet to be confirmed or ungraded). List your subjects with their full titles, for example, if you're taking English Literature, note the full title and not just “English”. A full list of exam results that UCAS can process is available here. If you can’t find the qualification you are looking for, please still note it on your application but remember to send the results to admissions@pca.ac.uk when they become available.

If you’ve been affected by the cancellation of exams in 2020, you will have been awarded Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) or calculated grades if you’re based in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, or moderated results if you live in Scotland. These grades hold the same value as any other application year and should be included in your UCAS application.

If you studied at a university or college in the past but didn't complete your studies, you should note the start and finish date and state that you didn't receive a final qualification. If you are still studying towards a qualification or awaiting results, your referee will need to add predicted grades to your application.

Now enter up to five examples of paid full-time or part-time employment. You’ll need to include company names, addresses, job descriptions and start/finish dates. We suggest saving any unpaid or voluntary work experience in your personal statement instead.

If you can't find your school exam certificates, you should contact the school, local authority or exam board in the first instance. Don’t panic if you have no luck, email admissions@pca.ac.uk to discuss your options further.

This is your chance to demonstrate why you want to study a course at Plymouth College of Art and why you’re a good fit for the subject specialism. It might take a few rewrites before you are happy with your statement, but with the support of teachers, careers advisers, friends and family, you can gain useful feedback on your strengths and skill set.

Follow our Do’s & Don’ts list below and you’ll be sure to do yourself justice in writing. For more Personal Statement support please visit UCAS.

  • Do give yourself plenty of time and find a quiet place to focus

  • Do work in a separate document (e.g Microsoft Word, Google Sheet, Notes app) as UCAS lets you copy and paste from another source

  • Do start with a plan - Interview yourself with mock questions and use the answers as a starting point for your personal statement

  • Do display your passion and commitment for your subject area, ask yourself “Why do I want to study this programme?” and “Why does the subject matter interest me?”

  • Do express yourself by including your motivations, skills, and any experiences that have led you to pursue creative study

  • Do use real-world examples to evidence your suitability for the course

  • Do demonstrate a good attitude towards learning and problem-solving. It’s okay to not be the “perfect student”, but in the past how have you picked yourself back up and overcome any hurdles to success?

  • Do answer specific questions in your writing. By asking yourself typical questions such as “What personal qualities make me suitable to study this course?” or “What long-term ambitions do I have in this field?” you can make sure your statement ticks the right boxes for our Admissions team

  • Do keep within the word count – you only have approx 450 words (45 lines, 4,000 characters max) in which to articulate yourself, so try to be clear and concise

  • Do let us know if English isn’t your first language, and include any opportunities you’ve had to speak English, such as English-speaking schools, employment or travel

  • Do mention any plans to defer or take a gap year and how the experience will support your personal development

  • Do get feedback on your first draft - Ask a friend or family member to read your first draft, as fresh eyes always spot mistakes you may have missed.

  • Don’t plagiarise or be tempted to take shortcuts as UCAS uses detection software on all applications. If any evidence is found that your application isn’t your own original work, we will be informed and your offer(s) may be withdrawn.

  • Don’t send additional papers to UCAS as any further documents should be sent directly to our Admissions team. If you would like to share something in support of your application please email admissions@pca.ac.uk along with your name and UCAS application number.

  • Don’t mention topics you wouldn’t be comfortable discussing later, as your Personal Statement may be referred to in your interview or future communications. If something is particularly sensitive, confusing or humorous, it might be a good idea to edit it out to avoid embarrassment.

  • Don’t worry! At Plymouth College of Art, we know there is much more to every applicant than what can be captured in a Personal Statement. If your application is successful, we will arrange an interview to really get to know you and your creative practice.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Submitting an application is a daunting task and talking about yourself can be stressful, so if you need any help with your personal statement and references please contact admissions@pca.ac.uk

Now take your time reading over your application from top to bottom and make any necessary edits. Once you think you’re at a final draft we suggest following the checklist below before marking your application complete and hitting the save button.

  • Proof your writing for grammar and punctuation mistakes.

  • Ask someone else to check too as a pair of fresh eyes may spot some subtle errors (e.g typos)

  • Print out a copy and arrange for your referee to add their reference. A reference is a written recommendation from a teacher, adviser or professional who knows you academically. Unless our Admissions team advises that referencing can happen later, you must attach a completed reference to your application before it is sent.

  • Follow the UCAS instructions on how to pay for your application fee ( £20 for a single choice or £26 for more than one choice). If you are applying through a school or college they might advise you to pay through their system instead before sending your application to us on your behalf.

Once you’ve marked all sections complete and hit save, you’ll be prompted to accept a declaration which allows UCAS to process your information and send it to us.

Great job! You’re now a step closer towards your future on a creative degree at Plymouth College of Art. Sit back and relax, we’ll be in touch soon to arrange a discussion and offer advice on your next steps.

In the meantime, please visit our How to Apply page or contact us for more advice on your application.

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