Getting into a top uni (UCL, Imperial, etc.) with a 2.2? Watch

cammathmo
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I have a 2.2 in Mathematics from Cambridge. Can anyone shed any light on whether it's possible to get into UCL, Imperial and the likes to do a course like Machine Learning? Has anyone been able to? Really any info would be much appreciated.
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returnmigrant
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Unlikely.

These Unis are 'top' Unis for a reason - they only accept high-achieving graduates for postgrad work and their output reflects that. Its possible that someone with a 2.2 might get an offer of a place - but there is no automatic funding at postgrad level like SF and your chances of securing whatever discretionary funding might be available will be nil with a 2.2.

Alternatives are to look at doing an MSc part-time (whilst working) - both UCL and Bristol offer this option - but you would still have to pay the fees yourself.
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The Champion.m4a
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Read their webpages and check their requirements.
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Bill_Gates
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Personal statement will play a large part.
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poohat
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Yes it can be done, one of my good friends just got accepted into an MSc at both Imperial and UCL despite having a 2:2. Also a few months ago I was giving advice to someone on this forum about their chances of getting onto a different applied mathematics) MSc at a top London uni with a 2.2. I told them just to apply because I thought they had a decent shot, and they also ended up getting accepted.

The quality of your undergrad institution will matter. Getting a 2:2 from Cambridge is not the same as getting a 2:2 from Manchester, which is not the same as getting a 2:2 from London Met. To be frank, a 2:2 from Cambridge isn't that much worse than a 2:1 at a low/mid-tier Russell Group and this will be taken into account (both the people I mentioned above got their 2.2s from top universities). Unless you are going for one of the ultra-competitive Masters programs, you probably have a decent shot, although obviously don't get your hopes up.

The personal statement will also matter, as others have said.
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Clip
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I got a 2ii and starting at UCL. Had mega referees, though.
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poohat
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(Original post by clh_hilary)
Read their webpages and check their requirements.
Read the requirements to get a general idea, but ignore them and apply anyway. Explain on your cover letter why you got a 2:2, and tell a story about how you have improved.
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returnmigrant
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(Original post by Clip)
I got a 2ii and starting at UCL. Had mega referees, though.
But did you get funding? That is the crucial bit for most potential postgrads, not the place itself.
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returnmigrant
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(Original post by poohat)
a 2:2 from Cambridge isn't that much worse than a 2:1 at a low/mid-tier Russell Group
What is your source for this assumption?
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Tasha1986
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Well one thing is for certain: if you don't even apply you definitely won't get in.

...
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ihavemooedtoday
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At Imperial, you have 2 options if you want to do Machine Learning - MSc Advanced Computing or MSc Computing with Machine Learning specialization.

AC is for people with a computing UG or equivalent experience, and MSc Computing is for people without computing UG but still significant experience.

Both those courses list a first as a requirement, and I have no idea which one is harder to get into. I did get into AC with equivalent of a high 2:1, though (through conversion, since my UG is in Canada). But I do have quite a bit of relevant work experience.

It does appear to be quite competitive (Computing at Imperial in general) according to the statistics they published. Admission for Computing postgrad is 15% or something.

I am planning to specialize in Machine Learning as well. It's a pretty fun field!
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poohat
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(Original post by returnmigrant)
What is your source for this assumption?
It's just how I view things, and how many others do too. Generally speaking (and ignoring isolated examples of grade inflation), its harder to get high grades at top universities because you are competing with better students, and both exam difficulty and grade boundaries are partially set based on the distribution of student ability. You can't just say "a 2.1 is a 2.1 regardless of where it comes from" and that isn't how anyone views it, neither in academia nor industry.

You will be on safer grounds with a 2.1 from a decent Russell Group than a 2.2 from Oxbridge/etc for sure, not least because you won't be automatically screened out at places that use a very inflexible set of criteria and simply refuse to consider anyone with a 2.2 (more common at oversubscribed industry grad schemes than postgrad admissions). But if your 2.2 is from a top place and you can tell a good story about how you expect to perform better in the future, there is a decent chance that you will be able to sneak in even if a 2.1 is generally preferred.
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poohat
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(Original post by ihavemooedtoday)
At Imperial, you have 2 options if you want to do Machine Learning - MSc Advanced Computing or MSc Computing with Machine Learning specialization.
!
Don't rule out the statistics MSc in the maths department too, which has a very applied focus. Imperial is stronger for statistics than it is for ML (which is one if the reasons they don't run a dedicated ML masters degree and instead just have a few optional ML modules bolted onto a general computing MSc). There is a lot of overlap between applied statistics and ML, and one is essentially as good as the other for most purposes.

UCLs CSML degree is probably the best ML option in London but would be harder to get into with a 2:2 since it is quite competitive (but you should apply anyway). The straight ML degree there is also worth applying to.
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poohat
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(Original post by returnmigrant)
But did you get funding? That is the crucial bit for most potential postgrads, not the place itself.
Noone should expect funding for a masters.
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The Right
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(Original post by returnmigrant)
Unlikely.

These Unis are 'top' Unis for a reason - they only accept high-achieving graduates for postgrad work and their output reflects that. Its possible that someone with a 2.2 might get an offer of a place - but there is no automatic funding at postgrad level like SF and your chances of securing whatever discretionary funding might be available will be nil with a 2.2.

Alternatives are to look at doing an MSc part-time (whilst working) - both UCL and Bristol offer this option - but you would still have to pay the fees yourself.
Is UCL really a top uni though
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gr8wizard10
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(Original post by The Right)
Is UCL really a top uni though
Yes, it's up there. Not your Oxbridge/LSE/Imperial but it's quite superior in comparison to places like Bristol/Nottingham/Durham, generally speaking.
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Clip
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(Original post by The Right)
Is UCL really a top uni though
You don't understand UC. They don't want to compete with Oxford and Cambridge. They want to compete with Harvard and Yale - in the financial sense. The endowments these American private schools have are enormous compared to UK ones - in the tens of billions.

Why should UC worry about LSE being "better" when they might be thinking about owning them in years to come? As it stands, UC look to be taking a lot of what was the University of London, most recently the IoE, and the amount of property they have in London is quite amazing. It wouldn't surprise me if they take a few other small schools and colleges soon. I think in the next ten years they will move for LSHTM and the ULU building, and will effectively own half of Bloomsbury as an enclosed campus. In fifty years, SOAS and maybe Birkbeck.
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The Right
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(Original post by Clip)
You don't understand UC. They don't want to compete with Oxford and Cambridge. They want to compete with Harvard and Yale - in the financial sense. The endowments these American private schools have are enormous compared to UK ones - in the tens of billions.

Why should UC worry about LSE being "better" when they might be thinking about owning them in years to come? As it stands, UC look to be taking a lot of what was the University of London, most recently the IoE, and the amount of property they have in London is quite amazing. It wouldn't surprise me if they take a few other small schools and colleges soon. I think in the next ten years they will move for LSHTM and the ULU building, and will effectively own half of Bloomsbury as an enclosed campus. In fifty years, SOAS and maybe Birkbeck.
That sounds awesome
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The Right
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(Original post by Abdul-Karim)
Yes, it's up there. Not your Oxbridge/LSE/Imperial but it's quite superior in comparison to places like Bristol/Nottingham/Durham, generally speaking.
Yeah I had a feeling it had somewhat drifted from the likes of imperial and LSE in London
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poohat
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(Original post by Clip)
You don't understand UC. They don't want to compete with Oxford and Cambridge. They want to compete with Harvard and Yale - in the financial sense. The endowments these American private schools have are enormous compared to UK ones - in the tens of billions.
Harvard and Yale (like all elite universities) have a very small undergraduate body - Harvard only has 7,000 undergrads, compared to 13,000 at UCL already. The idea that getting bigger makes a university more elite doesn't really make any sense.

Also Oxbridge completely dominate UCL (and every other UK university) in terms of endowments - those two are the only ones that are even remotely comparable to US colleges financially, and even then they are only at the level of a top 10 US place and nowhere near Harvard/Yale/Stanford. Oxbridge have about £4bn endowments each, nowhere else in the UK has over £500m. The top US places have $20bn+
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