I recieved an offer of place for a PhD at a British university, which I accepted. My application's status was updated to :

Unconditional firm,

but due to my unfamiliarity with the British system and an issue occuring with my application, I would like to ask what does this status mean? Did I secure my place, or the university awaits further confirmation from my part?

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    I took the liberty of adding the united-kingdom tag, since this sounds like a term that may be specific to UK universities, or at least some UK universities. I would recommend that since this is a rather important question, you contact the university and ask them, rather than taking advice from random internet strangers. Feb 6 at 19:44
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    Thank you for your suggestions. I have already emailed the university.
    – Prelude
    Feb 6 at 19:47
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    Good! When you hear back, please do add a self-answer here, it may help people later on in a similar situation (and they should also still contact the university, we don't know whether their university has the same terms with the same meanings as yours). Feb 6 at 19:52
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    Note that "Unconditional firm" does not necessarily mean that you have secured a funded PhD position. It can mean that the university is happy to take you on as a PhD student, but only if you can self-fund it in some way (i.e., actually paying the tuition fees yourself or finding some source of funding such as an external scholarship). Feb 7 at 10:36
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    @MattPitkin or indeed the middle group that the student is of acceptable standard and somewhere on the list for potential funding, but not necessarily at the top. Given where we are in the year, I'd expect many scholarships to have been decided at most UK universities, but some still to be open, or at least not allocated.
    – origimbo
    Feb 7 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


The language they're using for that sounds like the language used for undergraduate admissions in the UK (via the UCAS system). We don't use that language for PhDs at my institution (that I'm aware of), but maybe it is part of a standard system elsewhere.

That terminology comes in two parts.

The first is the university's response to your application - this can be rejected, conditional, or unconditional. Rejected is straightforward, conditional means they accept you provided you meet some criteria (usually successful completion of a current course with a particular grade) and unconditional means they're happy to accept you without any further conditions.

The second part is your response. The two relevant options here are decline or firm. Decline is again straightforward, while firm means you've indicated that you want to accept the position. It's 'firm' rather than something like 'accept', because the undergraduate system also lets you specify second-preference ('insurance') courses, which you can take up if you don't get conditional grades for your first choice.

Details on the undergraduate decision system is available e.g. on the UCAS website.

So, if that was an undergraduate position, I'd interpret that as they've offered you the position without further conditions, and you've accepted it, so you're good to go.

However, as I mention above, this is not universally standard language for a PhD application, so I wholeheartedly endorse the suggestion in the comments to double-check with the university if you have any doubts!

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