Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

ATAS is a scheme run by the UK government for international students who want to study certain subjects in the UK. The ATAS certificate is issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and gives security clearance to study these subjects.

Do I need ATAS?

You will need an ATAS certificate if you require a Tier 4 or Short-Term Study visa to study in the UK, or you hold a Tier 1, 2 or 5 visa. UK, EEA and Swiss nationals and those with Indefinite Leave to Enter/Remain in the UK do not require an ATAS certificate.

ATAS clearance only applies to certain subject areas, where the knowledge gained could be used in the development or delivery of weapons of mass destruction (eg, certain science, engineering or technology subjects). 

If you need to apply for an ATAS certificate, this will be included as a condition in your offer communication.

How do I apply for ATAS?

See the ATAS website for details of how to apply. There is currently no charge for ATAS applications. If you are a studying for an MPhil, PhD or EngD you will need to include a paragraph describing your research area. If you are an Undergraduate, Postgraduate Taught, China Partnership or Visiting/Exchange student you will need to list the optional modules that you wish to study on the course. Details of these modules can be found in the section relevant to your level of study below. 

ATAS and visa applications

If your course requires an ATAS certificate, you must apply for and obtain it before you apply for your visa. This applies whether you are a new student or a continuing student extending your visa. If you are a continuing student and change from a course that does not require ATAS to one that does, you will need to obtain an ATAS certificate before you can start your new course.

An ATAS certificate is valid for six months from date of issue and must be valid when you apply for a Tier 4 visa.  You should therefore plan carefully when you apply for your ATAS certificate.

If you are in the UK on a visa other than Tier 4 (eg, Tier 1, 2 or 5), and you wish to study a course that requires ATAS clearance, you will need to obtain an ATAS certificate before you can register for the course.

ATAS and Short-Term Study

If you are studying in the UK for less than six months on a course or a period of study or research that requires ATAS clearance, you will need to apply for an ATAS certificate, and provide this certificate as part of your Short-Term Study visa application.

Changes to study

If the content of your course or research proposal changes or the expected completion date for your course is delayed by more than three months, you will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate within 28 calendar days of the change. This includes studying modules not listed on your original ATAS application, extending your course by undertaking reassessment with attendance in the next academic year or adding a placement year to your course.

For more detailed information about ATAS please visit the UK Government ATAS website.