UCAS and Preparing for Uni

We need physicists and so A-level teachers know how important it is to give the next generation of aspiring physicists and engineers the best chance of getting into uni. Thomas and Robin are thrilled to welcome Will Pope (@PopeDoes) to talk about all things UCAS. What is our role as teachers, what is the right way to write the reference and how does the reference get used down the line?

Will’s Head of 6th Form, Sarah, kindly talked us through the reference do’s and don’ts. Key take-aways:

  • Relentlessly positive. Don’t put in anything developmental: it’s not a report.
  • Talk specifics. Highlight specific skills / strengths the student has shown. If this is particularly relevant to thechosen course, all the better.
  • It’s the student’s reference. Ask what they want to say and for you to highlight.

Dr Caroline Shenton-Taylor is an admissions tutor for physics at the University of Surrey. She gave us the lowdown on the reference. In short, it matters: universities do use the reference and so it’s worth doing well. Universities like to hear about the physics skills the student has developed, so talk about their practical and problem-solving prowess, their strengths in maths and any programming skills they might have.

Note that the UCAS reference procedure changes for 2024 entry, and Will recommends some PD time is set aside to help 6th form tutors familiarise and practise the new regime.

Alex, a former student of Thomas, agrees: he talked about 3 skills he would recommend:

  • using a lab book to record practical work
  • programming skills for modelling
  • practical-led learning

With grateful thanks to Will, Sarah Butler, Dr Caroline Shenton-Taylor and Alex Sawyer.


Join in!

Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember), you could even email us an autio file if you are feeling really keen.


The music is used under the Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License