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Undergraduate Study


Typical questions that arise when completing the Cambridge Online Preliminary Application (COPA) are listed below, with answers.

Why do I have to complete a COPA?

The Cambridge Online Preliminary Application (COPA) is a questionnaire that allows us to collect useful information that isn’t part of your UCAS application, and to make arrangements for overseas interviews and Organ Trials.

It is a required part of the admissions process for anyone applying from outside the UK/European Union (EU), and/or who wishes to be considered for an Organ scholarship, or an Overseas interview

Whether or not you are required to complete the COPA is based on where you are geographically at the time of application, and is not related to fee status or citizenship.

Do I also have to complete a UCAS application and a Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ)?

Yes. If you have to complete a COPA, it must be completed in addition to a UCAS application and a Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ), and your application won’t be valid unless all three are received by the relevant deadline.

We’ll email you a link to the SAQ once we receive your UCAS application. Please note that you have to submit the COPA before you complete the SAQ. Once you’ve confirmed your identity, and entered your COPA Reference Number and your UCAS Personal ID in the boxes provided in Section 1 of the SAQ, you’ll automatically be taken to Section 8 of the SAQ. You won’t need to complete the rest of the SAQ questions as you’ll already have answered them in the COPA.

What's the deadline for submitting my COPA?

Deadlines vary depending on the type of application you are making. Full details of COPA deadlines can be found on the COPA Terms and Conditions webpage.

What do I need to complete the COPA?

You can find a list of the information you’ll need to complete the COPA on the COPA T's & C's page and in the COPA Guide.

What's my COPA reference number and where can I find it?

When you submit your COPA and pay the application fee, you’ll be allocated a unique COPA reference number consisting of the letter ‘C’ followed by 9 digits, eg C200000000. This number will appear in our email acknowledging submission of your COPA, which will be sent to the email address you used to register your COPA. You will need to enter your COPA reference number in Section 1 of the SAQ.

I’ve submitted my COPA but I haven’t received an email acknowledgement - what should I do?

It may take up to 24 hours after you’ve submitted your COPA and paid the application fee to receive your submission confirmation email. If you haven’t received both a payment confirmation email and a submission confirmation email within 24 hours of submitting, you should contact the Cambridge Admissions Office (

I've submitted my COPA but want to change College. Can I do this?

No. Once you’ve submitted your COPA it’s not possible to change your College/open application preference. If you’ve listed a different College choice on your COPA to that stated on your UCAS application then the College choice on your UCAS application will take precedence. Please note that this also applies if you’ve made an open application.

What should I do if there’s a problem with my email address?

It is very important that we are able to correspond directly with applicants so please ensure the email address you provide is one that you personally have access to. If you realise that you’ve provided an incorrect email address or lose access to the email account you registered with, please contact the Cambridge Admissions Office ( as soon as possible so that we can change your registration email address. You’ll need your UCAS Personal ID number, and we’ll also confirm your identity by asking you questions about the answers you’ve given in the COPA. Please ensure the email address you provide is one that you personally have access to - it is very important that we are able to correspond directly with applicants.

Receiving emails from the University of Cambridge

During the early stages of your application, the University will send important information and reminders to the email address that you’ve provided in your COPA and UCAS application. It’s essential that your email account is configured correctly so that emails sent from the University aren’t rejected or filtered into your 'junk'/'spam' folder by your email provider (you should check this folder regularly, as well as your inbox).

Your application to the University of Cambridge may be disadvantaged if you don’t take the steps described below.

The University of Cambridge will contact you from time to time using the following email addresses:

Please ensure that all six of the above email addresses are:

  • ADDED to your email account's Contact List
  • ADDED to your email account's Safe Sender List (if available)
  • REMOVED from your email account's Block Sender List

Help for some of the more commonly used email clients can be found at the following links:


What if I forget my COPA password?

Don't worry if you forget your password. If this happens you can enter your email address on the log-in page and click on the 'I have forgotten my password' link. We’ll send you a new temporary COPA password by email. You’ll be asked to change this temporary password to a password of your choice next time you log in.

What's my UCAS Personal ID?

Your UCAS Personal ID is the unique number which UCAS gives you when you register with UCAS to make an application. If you’ve forgotten your UCAS Personal ID, please contact UCAS Customer Services (telephone: +44 (0)330 3330 230) or refer to UCAS Apply.

Your UCAS personal ID remains the same regardless of how many times you apply through UCAS. If you are a re-applicant (in other words, if you have made an application or applications via UCAS to any HE institution in a previous year or years), UCAS gives you a new temporary personal ID for your new application until they have completed all the necessary checks. The personal ID supplied to us with your new application reverts to your original (and permanent) one.

However, when you fill in question 1.3 in the Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ), the personal ID required is the one that you used when filling in your COPA, so that the two applications can be matched.

I don’t have a digital photograph of myself; what should I do?

We strongly encourage you to upload a digital photograph. However, if you’re unable to provide a digital photograph, please contact the Cambridge Admissions Office as soon as possible (

Where am I eligible for interview?

Please see the overseas interviews webpage for details of where you can be interviewed.

What do you mean by a 'High School Transcript'?

By ‘High School Transcript’ we mean a record of your academic achievement to date in your secondary school/college examinations. See the Transcripts webpage for further details.

Am I required to submit a High School Transcript? If yes, what should be included?

By ‘High School Transcript’ we mean a record of your academic achievement to date in your secondary school/college examinations. Most applicants studying non-UK qualifications will need to submit a transcript. See the Transcripts webpage for further details. If you have any queries, please seek advice from the College you’re applying to as soon as possible.

It’s your responsibility to check whether you’re required to submit a transcript. Please note that your application won’t be considered unless the appropriate transcript is received.

What do you mean by 'reference'?

The reference is an important part of your application, and we expect that it will normally be provided by a teacher or tutor in your school/college who can speak authoritatively about your academic profile and suitability for admission to university. Comments that are particularly helpful to us are those that show evidence of your intellectual flexibility and curiosity, analytical ability, logical reasoning and the ability to learn quickly. Information and guidance for teachers on references can be found on our teachers and parents webpage.

If you’re having difficulty securing a referee, please see the UCAS guidance. Please note that references should be provided to applicants free of charge. If you wish to apply to Cambridge and are finding it difficult to obtain a reference or are being asked to pay for one, please contact the College to which you wish to apply (or the Cambridge Admissions Office in the case of open applications) for further advice.

If you are submitting your COPA for the 1 September Organ Scholarship deadline we will email your UCAS referee directly to request a copy of their reference along with predicted grades. This information must reach us by no later than 11 September 2020. If you are submitting your COPA application for any other deadline, the reference will be obtained from your UCAS application (we will not email your UCAS referee separately).

How much detail do I need to give about topics that I have studied?

We’re looking for a list of the main topics that you’ve covered in your studies in order to help interviewers to compose appropriate questions to ask you, so you only need to include topics covered up to December 2020. For further information and worked examples of what we’re looking for, please see the COPA Guide.

What do you mean by ‘AS/A Level or equivalent’?

When we ask for information about subjects studied at 'AS/A Level or equivalent', we’re looking for information about the qualifications you’ve taken/are taking in the final stage of your schooling. For further details and specific examples, please see the COPA Guide.

What do you mean by a ‘modular A Level’?

A modular A Level is assessed through individually examined units (modules) that are taken throughout the course, rather than by examinations at the end of the final year of study.

Applicants taking modular A Levels normally receive a Uniform Mark Scale (UMS) score for each unit completed.

In some countries, applicants receive a Percentage Uniform Mark (PUM) for each completed unit rather than a UMS score. UMS scores/PUMs can usually be found on the statement of results issued by the Awarding Body. If you’re unsure whether UMS scores/PUMs are available for your completed A Levels, please ask your school/college for advice. If no UMS scores/PUMs appear on your statement of results, please contact the Cambridge Admissions Office ( for guidance.

Your preference/allocated Cambridge College will require that you supply full and accurate evidence of your UMS/PUMs achievements once your application has been received. 

My COPA isn't displaying correctly - what should I do?

We strongly recommend that you download and use the Firefox web browser on a computer or laptop to complete the COPA, as it may not display correctly in other browsers or tablets/mobile phones.

If you're having difficulty displaying pages of the COPA correctly (when they have previously displayed without any problems), please try logging out and logging back in again. This should correct any problems you are experiencing.

I'm unable to submit my COPA - what should I do?

You’ll be unable to submit your COPA if you haven’t answered any compulsory questions or you’ve provided an invalid answer. Go to the 'Review My Answers' page by clicking on 'Review My Answers' to check for any errors (these will be highlighted in red). Once you’ve corrected any errors, try to submit your COPA again. You’ll need to agree to the declaration statement again.

I have difficulties logging in to my COPA - what do I do?

We strongly recommend that you download and use the Firefox web browser on a computer or laptop to complete the COPA, as this is the preferred browser and some applicants have experienced problems logging in using other browsers or devices.

If you're experiencing difficulties logging in to your COPA, we recommend that you clear your ‘cookies’ and browsing history, and allow ‘pop-ups’. Alternatively, try using a different computer or laptop. 

What if I need to change information but have already submitted my COPA?

Once you've submitted your COPA, it's not possible to amend the answers online. If you notice an error in the information you provided or have any other queries please contact the Admissions Office of the College you applied to or, only in the case of open applicants, the Cambridge Admissions Office ( 

Can schools/colleges still submit an additional Cambridge-specific reference?

It is not necessary to provide an additional Cambridge-specific reference. However, if your teachers/referees have comments to make that relate specifically to Cambridge that weren’t included in the UCAS reference, they’re welcome to do so and should email this directly to the relevant College or, in the case of open applicants, the Cambridge Admissions Office (

Any additional reference should be addressed to the Admissions Office at the College concerned and should include the applicant's full name, date of birth, course applied for and, if possible, UCAS Personal ID number. Contact details for the Colleges can be found in the College contacts section.

In the case of Organ Scholarship applications, this information and additional reference should be emailed to the Admissions Office of the applicant's first preference College.

In the case of an open application, this information and additional reference should be emailed to the Cambridge Admissions Office.

COPA Register / Login

Register or login to complete the Cambridge Online Preliminary Application for 2021 entry.

COPA Register / Login

COPA Contact

T+44 (0)1223 333308

If you encounter problems completing the COPA please read the FAQs or email COPA Help. For all other application enquiries please contact the Cambridge Admissions Office.