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Mature students are some of our most well-equipped learners, bringing with them a number of skills and attributes gained from work, family and other life experiences. We recognise that as an adult returning to education you will contribute to the learning environment here.

Mature students do very well at St Mary’s and find a balance between study and other commitments very successfully. On our degree programmes there are almost certainly going to be other mature students you can get to know. At St Mary’s one in five of our students are over the age of 21 when beginning their studies with us, coming from an array of backgrounds.

We advise all potential students to visit us at one of our open days.

If you cannot make it to one of our open days we recommend booking a place on one of our weekly campus tours. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee you will be able to view the student accommodation, but we will do our best to arrange a suitable date and time for your informal tour of the campus.


During your course of study you can get support from your academic tutor. Skill shops are also run as drop-in sessions every day and cover writing, IT, and numeracy skills, while many programmes offer their own sessions to give you an extra boost of confidence.

Our Students Services team are experienced in advising adults returning to education. As a mature student, it’s likely that you’ll have a number of added commitments, and we provide a range of support services designed to help you cope with these pressures. For further information, please see visit the Student Life and Student Support sections.

Timetable and schedule

For many mature students, especially those with families or work commitments, the biggest question is - will I have the time?

The University teaching day runs between 9am and 7pm, but some students only have to come into university on two or three days per week for a total of eight or 10 hours. Including independent study, your course will need approximately 30 to 40 hours per week, but your workload will vary during the year, as several pieces of coursework may be due at one time.

Your timetable will depend on your course, but academic staff are sympathetic to students with outside commitments and try to be as accommodating as possible. Sometimes sessions are repeated during the week, and you may be able to choose the most convenient group to be in.

Am I ready for further higher level study?

It may be useful to consider the following issues.

Subject knowledge

The level of background knowledge you will need will vary from course to course. For science courses, a good level of understanding and knowledge is often essential. In other areas, the emphasis may be more about commitment to the course. You might find it helpful to contact the programme director of the course you are interested in if you have concerns about your suitability.

Study skills 

To be a successful student you need to be able to manage your time effectively, be able to read, listen, and process information, communicate verbally and in writing, and use information technology. These skills are not just acquired through study however and are gained through work, voluntary work, and general interest. Again, if you have concerns it might be useful to discuss them. 

Pre-university courses like Access are designed to develop the relevant subject skills needed to study at university. You can search for access courses on the UCAS website.