The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

ATAS was introduced by the UK Government's Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) in November 2007. The scheme is aimed primarily at specific postgraduate research areas, but also includes a number of taught Master's and undergraduate courses but all other students may need an ATAS. This includes students who are coming to the University to study; to re sit an exam; to partake in a viva; or to undertake research as part of their study as a short term student visitor.

ATAS is compulsory for international applicants and for current and returning students, in specific areas of study. Students who are not UK, EEA or Swiss nationals may be required to obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate.

The ATAS application is made online, before applying for your visa, and it is free of charge. It is your responsibility to check if this scheme applies to you. You will need to obtain an ATAS certificate if you are applying for a MEng or MPhys undergraduate courses in the following subject areas: 

  • Materials Science  
  • Physics (including Nuclear Physics)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Chemical, Process and Energy Engineering
  • Materials Technology not otherwise specified

How to Apply 

If you require an ATAS certificate you will need to apply for it before applying for your visa or extension of stay. The possession of an ATAS certificate does not guarantee you a visa or extension of stay. However, applications will automatically be refused if you need an ATAS certificate and cannot provide one.

The application form and details of applying for ATAS can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

If you need an ATAS certificate we will automatically enclose with your offer letter a form containing the information that you require in order to apply.


Once the ATAS certificate is issued it is valid for 6 months to use in a Tier 4 application and remains valid for the duration of the course listed on the certificate. However if your course changes or your start date is delayed by more than three months you are likely to need a new ATAS certificate. There are also other times when you may need to reapply for an ATAS certificate including:

  • if the course is extended for any reason;
  • if you start a new course;
  • if there are any changes to the research proposal other than minor changes;
  • if you need additional time to write up your thesis.