Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Information on The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS).

ATAS Clearance

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is designed to limit the spread of knowledge and skills that could be used in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery. Students who are not nationals of an EU/EEA country (including Switzerland) planning to undertake postgraduate study in Informatics will need to acquire an ATAS certificate before applying for a Visa, Entry Clearance (EC) or Extension of Stay (EoS).

Foreign and Commonwealth Office information about ATAS  

Applying for an ATAS Certificate

Before applying for an ATAS certificate you will need an official document from the University of Edinburgh which contains the agreed research proposal and a JACS code. New entrants will be provided with this document automatically with their offer of admission; existing students may request a document from the Graduate School office. Once you have obtained your ATAS certificate you will be able to apply for your student Visa / EC / EoS in the normal way.

Contact the Graduate School to request an ATAS document.

UK Visas homepage

University guidance on applying for ATAS

Important notes

Possession of an ATAS certificate does not guarantee you a Visa / EC / EoS, but your application for a Visa will automatically be refused if you need an ATAS certificate but cannot provide one. When applying you must also provide evidence that you meet the usual student criteria. For more information on what you need to apply for a student Visa / EC go to the UK Visa Website. An ATAS certificate is specific to both the programme of study that you intend to undertake and the University / Higher Education Institution. If you are in possession of a number of offers from different Universities / Institutions and have not decided which one you are going to accept you must apply for separate ATAS clearance certificates for each University / Institution and programme of study.

UK Visas and immigration

ATAS research statement guidance

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) requires non-EU/EEA (including Switzerland) nationals planning to undertake postgraduate study in Informatics to acquire a clearance certificate applying for a Visa, Entry Clearance (EC) or Extension of Stay (EoS). For more information please see ATAS webpage.  The ATAS Scheme is administered by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).

As part of this process the principal supervisor will be asked (by the Graduate School) to provide a summary of the student's research area, providing sufficient detail to allow the FCO to determine if clearance should be granted.  Examples of research proposals are given below.

At present there is no obligation for supervisors to report back to the FCO if a student changes his or her area of research after commencing their studies.  However, supervisors should contact the Graduate School for further guidance if they believe a student has started working in a sensitive area.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)

 

Examples of good and bad ATAS application descriptions

 

Bad examples

The following examples would not be acceptable and any ATAS application would likely be rejected for the reasons shown.

Example 1

The student will work in the area of material science on a PhD programme. They will carry out experimental tests, analysis and report writing. Testing will include strain measurements, indentation testing and crack analysis.

The above text includes insufficient information on the scope and application / use of the research. Little context provided and terms such as material science are too broad. It would be helpful to give a little more detail on which experimental tests and what methods / techniques they might be exposed to. However it is useful to know the sorts of measurements and testing they might undertake.

Example 2

This project will involve the mathematical analysis of sonic booms from aircraft.. The work will involve automatic differentiation. It is possible that some verification with experimental measurements will be conducted. The project will involve mathematical analysis and computer programming using the NAG library.

This text includes insufficient information on the application / use of the research. The summary does provide some useful methods and techniques, such as automatic differentiation, computer programming, the NAG library and experimental measurements, but it would be helpful to know a little more about the type testing that might be carried out and whether this was being applied to civilian aircraft at relatively low speeds or military aircraft at considerably higher speeds.

Example 3

Satellite imagery offers a number of potential benefits for the analysis of environmental phenomena. The applications of this are as diverse as disaster management, analysis of agricultural products, flooding and sediment deposition in river basins and remote mapping. This project proposes to use SPOT2 multi-spectral data to analyse sediment concentrations in the Mississippi River delta. Satellite images will be acquired from a number of international sources and scanned into a computer using a high-resolution scanner. After image processing reflectance information at specific frequencies will be extracted. Field measurements of sediment load will be carried out using eight boats during March and April when the sediment load is at its lightest in the delta. Samples will be taken simultaneously on a 10m grid, across the delta, then stored in sealed tubes and returned to the University for analysis. At the same time as physical sampling, measurements will be made with acoustic and laser devices to determine in-situ suspended sediment load at depths of O.2m, O.Sm, 1 m, 1.Sm and 2m from the surface. The satellite reflectance measurements will be calibrated against the in-situ field measurements of sediment load. These sediment data will then be integrated into a three dimensional hydrodynamic model of the Mississippi River delta with the aim of developing improved sediment transport models for complex stratified estuarine flows.

This example provides a little too much information. It provides the application / use of the research, some information on the type of satellite and measurements being made, which is helpful. However too much information is provided on how the research will be carried out and when. It may be useful to know the type of satellite data, that field sediment measurements are being taken and compared against reflectance, but information on 10m grids, scanning data, depth measurements, etc, may be unnecessary.

 

Good examples

The following examples would be acceptable and are designed to show you the level of detail required. ATAS are able to assess complex technical details - there is no need to dumb these proposals down.

Example 1

Composite tubes are used in many engineering applications including pneumatics, robotics, aeronautics and manufacturing engineering. This research aims to investigate the failure characteristics of glass-epoxy composite tubes subjected to compression loading under changing thermal gradients. Experimental tests will be conducted to better understand how biaxial compressive strength varies with temperature and material characteristics. Testing will include strain measurements, indentation testing and crack analysis. Results from experimental measurements will be used to develop an improved analytical model for the mechanical performance of composite tubes.

Example 2

Sonic booms from supersonic aircraft create numerous difficulties, including environmental disruption and aero-elastic stressing of an aircraft superstructure. This research will explore the use of automatic differentiation using the reverse mode, together with adjoint-based optimal design, as a means to minimise the sonic boom around an aircraft. The project will involve mathematical analysis and computer programming using the NAG library, together with experimental verification using a Mach 3 capable supersonic wind tunnel. Experimental instrumentation will include Laser Doppler Anemometry for flow field measurement and Schlieren photography for shock wave visualisation.

Example 3

This research project will investigate the regulation of expression and function of the inducible L-arginine-nitric oxide pathway in cultured vascular cells. The aim is to define the signalling mechanism(s) that regulate the induction of both nitric oxide synthase and the cationic amino acid transport proteins associated with uptake of L-arginine into cells. The project will involve cells in culture and basic molecular techniques including qPCR analysis, protein biochemistry, western blotting, qPCR analysis, mRNA isolation quantification and analysis.

Example 4

Satellite imagery offers a number of potential benefits for the analysis of environmental phenomena. This project proposes to use SPOT2 multi-spectral data to analyse sediment concentrations in the Mississippi River delta. Reflectance measurements will be calibrated against in-situ field measurements of sediment load. These sediment data will then be integrated into a three dimensional hydrodynamic model of the Mississippi River delta with the aim of developing improved sediment transport models for complex stratified estuarine flows.