Slugger’s guide to A level results day and the best degrees still available through Clearing

Welcome to Slugger’s guide to the best degrees in the UK still available through the Clearing system. All of which start in Autumn of this year. We’ve tried to tailor the following list to the topics most discussed on here- politics, law, journalism, economics, and philosophy. If there are any others you’d like us to keep an eye on for you feel; free to comment below or email me at

In a day dominated by emotions and photos of blonde triplets in vest tops getting into Medicine on the front page of every other newspaper, it’s easy to get caught up in the hysteria of it all. But if you didn’t get the grades you’d been hoping for or, for whatever reason, things didn’t work out as planned- read on.

Last year 27% of all students beginning undergraduate courses had found their place through Clearing and it’s expected that this number will increase dramatically this year as students try to grab a degree before tuition fees shoot up.

The following degrees are all from the top 50 universities in the UK (according the Times rankings) and are still available to start in Autumn of this year.


Edinburgh (ranked 14th in UK)- Graduate Entry Law

Cardiff (ranked 26th in UK)- Law BA

University of East Anglia (ranked joint 28th in UK)- Law BA

Kent (ranked 39th)- Law BA

Dundee (ranked 41st)- English and NI Law BA

Dundee (ranked 41st)- Scottish Law BA

Essex (ranked 43rd)- Law BA

Essex (ranked 43rd)- Law and Philosophy BA

Essex (ranked 43rd)- Law and Politics BA inc. A year abroad



Queen Mary, University of London (ranked 36th)- Politics and History BA

Queen Mary, University of London- Politics and Economics BA

Kent (ranked 39th)- Poltics BA

Essex (ranked 43rd)- Politics, Philosophy and Economics BA

Essex- International Relations BA inc year abroad

Goldsmith, University of London (ranked 45th)- Politics and History BA



Cardiff (ranked 26th)- Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies BA

Kent (ranked 39th)- Journalism BA



Kent (ranked 39th)- Social Sciences BA

Kent- Conflict, Peace and Security BA

Essex (ranked 43rd)- Sociology with Human Rights BA



Cardiff (ranked 26th)- Economics and Management Studies

Cardiff- Business Economics

Queen Mary, University of London (ranked 36th)- Politics and Economics BA

Queen Mary, University of London- Economics BA

Essex (ranked 43rd)- Politics, Philosophy and Economics BA

Hull (ranked 44th)- History with Economics BA

Hull- International Economics BA

Kent (ranked 39th)- International Economics plus a language BA


All information correct at the time of going to print. Whilst the above information is intended as a general guide, for the most accurate listings of courses you are advised to check up to date Clearing tables with or or to contact the university in question directly. For more advice on decisions regarding results and university please contact the UCAS helpline run by the UK Department of Education on 0808 100 8000.

  • Mark McGregor

    So Slugger’s guide doesn’t cover a single course in any University in Ireland (north or south)?

    Who signed off on this idea?

  • Siobhan Fenton

    Hi Mark,

    The Republic does not, so far as I’m aware, operate a Clearing system.

    As for the two NI universities,

    Neither QUB nor Ulster have any available places in the degree topics discussed above and so students cannot participate in Clearing in these areas that I mentioned.

  • nightrider

    Toby Young’s article has an interesting link in the 1st sentence regarding the ‘blonde triplet’ thing. otherwise it’s as predictable as it is perennial:

    The ‘Sociology with Human Rights’ BA at Kent should be a cracker.

  • Mark McGregor

    Hi Siobhan,

    Fair enough. Though I still think, given the nature of Slugger’s readership, some focus on courses based in Ireland (north or south) would have been as helpful as a sole focus on limited subjects in ‘top 50 universities in the UK’.

    There you go, a suggestion – look at some courses based in Universities not across a big bit of salt water.

  • Siobhan Fenton

    The papers’ commitment to it gets weirder every year-
    there’s even a blog now based on “exploring the hypothesis that UK newspapers believe that only attractive girls in low cut tops do A-Levels.”

  • nightrider

    The Telegraph appears to be envious of the Daily Mail.

    Many degrees can now be started, and even finished, in the FE Sector here, and in the Republic.
    No surprise thst Dundee covers NI law given that approximately half it’s students come from here.

    No mention of the Open University which operates throughout the UK and Ireland, and Europe. And ranked No1 in student satisfaction.

  • vanhelsing

    Good work Siobhan on the clearing places and top marks for this quote,

    “In a day dominated by emotions and photos of blonde triplets in vest tops getting into Medicine on the front page of every other newspaper, it’s easy to get caught up in the hysteria of it all”


  • Mick Fealty

    Mark, CAO run a completely different system, with multiple rounds. Given this year there are only 200 free places in the UK by the end of day one, I’d say this is a very tidy piece of work from Siobhan!

    Nightrider, since when did the OU become part of UCAS?

  • nightrider

    The OU isn’t part of UCAS but it takes part in mopping up students who may be struggling:

    The UK’s biggest university is now a viable option for school leavers. And its academic reputation has grown, especially in Sciences, IT and vocational courses. Just adding it to the mix.

  • So why no list of degrees in the subjects that make Slugger possible: IT?

  • nightrider


    Beats human rights studies at a 3 year party time redbrick?

  • Michael Shilliday

    The world is a cruel place for a true republican eh Mark?

    My gripe with this is the incongruous inclusion of journalism among an array of honorable and useful subjects!

  • Agreed Michael. They might as well have published details of degree courses on knitting and bee keeping.

  • Reader

    Michael Shilliday: My gripe with this is the incongruous inclusion of journalism among an array of honorable and useful subjects!
    Topical but harsh. I wonder at the real value of the degree to a potential journalist though.
    Consider two scenarios: 1) School leaver goes to University for 3 years to study journalism. Leaves after 3 years with a substantial debt and a vocational degree, looking for a job. 2) School leaver spends 1/2/3 years on minimum wage in a newspaper or news agency office. By the end of the first week the employer knows whether he is house trained, and after 3 years will certainly know if he is motivated and can do the job.
    Which is better for (a) the youngster (b) the employer and (c) the country?

  • Mick Fealty

    Boys, I can’t fault the premise of Siobhan’s choice. Journalism is a significant topic of conversation here on Slugger.

    I’ve taught students in industry based courses which emphasis the basics, and concentrate on getting them placed asap. But it would be good to have someone guest to lay out the advantage of a degree over short and direct.

  • I think with journalism, in this day and age, at some point you are going to need the professional qualification. This can be as a postgraduate qualification but. I’d have thought the main thing was a good degree result, some experience working on publications (student or otherwise), and the ability to work for free for a while. Hence why so many journalists are Oxbridge educated middle class types, at least in Britain.

  • Barnshee

    The OU —coursework is excellent —Tutors etc at “summer school” are first class AND a lot of it is available FREE

    PS its not a soft option

  • antamadan

    McGregor is on to something. Why are southern degrees not taken up/’sold’ more in the north. Is it because there is a feeling that they are no good compared to those in the UK? Or a view that fees are so expensive in the south compared to the north? If so, the perception is way off. UCD and Trinity rank higher than Queens in most world and european rankings, and fees/admin charges down south are currently €2000 p.a. (Bound to go up sometime though)

  • John Ó Néill

    antamadan – the answer is pretty simple – many of the third level providers in the south simply don’t actively market their programmes in the north (e.g. UCD has hardly any students from the north, while Trinity tends to have some although not a huge number).
    The registration fees (sic) are going to go up to about €3000 p.a. in the next academic year (it’s semantic, but EU students only pay these not course fees). I think postgrad programmes tend to be costlier in the south so their only usp tends to be content or kudos (MBAs in UCD Smurfit spring to mind). Cost of living is probably a major thing that puts people off moving to Dublin but the lack of marketing is the biggest issue. Most third level colleges fill their places okay, but their marketing spend goes on attracting international students as non-EU student pay pretty chunky fees.

  • FuturePhysicist

    SO take it all the STEM Course have been taken up … I really don’t think so Luddites.


  • nightrider


    Science is the new hip degree.

    Market forces are going to push journalism, media studies and associated ‘weak’ qualifications to the margins. They’re already in League 2 well below History, Sociology and English Literature in the Chamionship and lower echelons of the premiership. The football metaphor is apt for academia.
    Physics,Chemistry and Mathematics will always be the top three. (Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science lie within. ) Then Biology, History, English and Modern Languages. (Latin and Classics an aberration). Good job at £25000+
    After that the upper mediocre. Economics, Sociology, Philosophy , Nursing and Law. reasonable job at £22000+
    Lower mediocre is anything with the appelation ‘studies’. Business, Health, Media, Culture etc.
    Dosey job at £15000+, if lucky.
    Everybody else, uneducated, try for PSNI or refuse collection ,top level money for doing nothing.

    Take your pick.

  • FuturePhysicist

    To be fair nightrider working in PSNI forensics is one of the few viable science jobs for a non-medic there is in this region. Most science and engineering graduates are probably shoehorned into economics, IT, finance and civil servant jobs anyway.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Actually I would probably say most are probably shoehorned into retail, bar-work, cleaning, hospitality and refuge collection, hoping they MIGHT get into economics, IT, finance and civil servant jobs.

  • nightrider

    go along with that.

    But the civil service/public sector have stopped recruiting. And Retail is looking forlorn.

    Back to the 80’s.
    At least the soundtrack was good.

  • FuturePhysicist

    The economy in Northern Ireland certainly isn’t the knowledge economy that the Republic of Ireland is.

    In terms of private sector R&D you have only around 10% SME’s investing in this area and bigger business dependent on university research initiatives. We have politicos talking about skills shortages not addressing the job shortages.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Of course there’s always the Brain drain, for some.