Researching Courses

It is important to thoroughly research the courses in which you are interested.  Follow the steps below to get the most out of your research.

  1. For courses in Ireland search through the Qualifax website; and the CAO website;  You can also go directly to each of the college or university websites.
  2. For courses in the UK search through the UCAS website;
  3. Location is a major factor when choosing a course.  Would you be happy about moving away from home and have you thought about the cost of this?
  4. Be clear on the CAO or UCAS application processes for your chosen course, i.e. how do you apply and when are the deadlines?
  5. Understand the entry requirements for the course:
  • What are the basic admission requirements for the course?
  • What were the CAO points or grade requirements (UK) for entry last year?  Check for last year’s points and for UK grades.
  • Do you need to have studied specific second level subjects for entry to the course?
  • Do you need to make additional submissions (e.g. a portfolio) or complete an interview (e.g. in Music) as part of the entry requirements?
  • If you have a disability or specific learning difficulty you are encouraged to indicate this in your application as it will facilitate the College or University in addressing any specific support needs you may have.

6. Look at the subjects or modules for each year of the course, not just 1st year  (this will be available on the relevant college or university website). You need to make sure that your expectations and the actual reality of the course are in line with each other.  The objective is to enjoy the course throughout your time in college.

7. Also consider the following when you are researching the courses:

  • Will there be work placement during the course?
  • Will you need to pick a specialism as the course progresses, e.g. after first or second year?


8. During your research contact the relevant college or university department with specific questions about the course.  Request a meeting or a tour of the department to ensure you are fully informed about the course.

9. Also talk to your Guidance Counsellor in school about your options in 3rd level.

Tip: If you are not entirely confident of achieving the CAO points (as per last year) for your 1st course preference, you should still put it down as your first choice on the CAO form.  You never know what will happen around demand for the course and availability of places.  However, always have a back-up plan with other course choices.

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