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    (Original post by 0404343m)
    While I agree in general there, I'd remove Leeds from that group: It's research and teaching scores are in the top half-dozen or so in the UK (no mean feat for a department that big), and its resources are fantastic. It asks for AAB I think now- the only reason why people (read: school leavers) wouldn't want to study there over somewhere like Durham (less staff, less well equipped, scored less well in teaching and research) is because (taking a dislike to Leeds/city environments aside) they have this 'prestige' nonsense in their head where they think Durham is a cut above, probably because the Times tells them that one is 8th and the other 27th overall. In terms of programme quality, Leeds is top notch (Glasgow is arguably even better, but it'll be years before half of England acknowledge the city isn't a **** hole), but its probably because of this idea of studying in certain fashionable places- of which St Andrews and Durham are undoubtedly examples, which keeps the entry requirements high, and thus keeps each year of school leavers thinking that they're somehow much better than their rivals.
    Exactly. The same could have been said to extent for my uni several years back but now it ranks quite highly (9th in UK) and has more departments than St Andrews and Durham and has both a medical and a dental school as well as offering most professional courses (with the exception of Vet Med).

    St Andrews medical school doesn't offer clinical teaching (you have to go elsewhere for that) and Durham only has you for the first two years after which you join up with the rest of the Newcastle students and ultimately have your degree awarded by Newcastle Uni.

    Durham and St Andrews don't offer half of what places like Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Exeter, Liverpool, York, Cardiff or even Leicester offer and as you rightly pointed out people seem to fall over backwards for them. They are both very good universities but St Andrews popularity only increased in recent years due to a certain member of the royal family going there and Durham for some reason has always been viewed as number 2 to Oxbridge when I would happily rate the above mentioned universities above Durham (mainly because they offer the full scope of degrees whereas Durham seems primarily focussed on Arts).

    Queen's University Belfast is another place that doesn't get the credit it deserves despite it now recently becoming a member of the Russell Group and asking for a minimum of AAB in nearly every subject.
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    I'm looking forward to studying at Durham for many reasons, but one of them is so that I can speak honestly, and with justification, about the university and the English department. I've said this before, but many people seem to think that after doing my undergraduate degree at Leeds I'm somehow making a massive step up by attending Durham for my MA.

    I honestly believe that I studied on one of the very best English courses in the country at Leeds, and I know that it will be seriously hard to beat. But obviously, I'll reserve judgement on that for now, because Durham may beat it. The thing I don't get, though, is that even with the information we have available to us--some of which is useful, some not--Durham rarely outperforms Leeds. The Leeds English Department RAE score was better than Durham's. Leeds was given more postgrad funding than Durham. And moreover, Leeds, without doubt, has a much larger and more diverse range of modules on offer at both undergrad and postgrad. But I also accept that Durham outperforms Leeds on spending and staff:student ratio, which contributes to its high Times position. All of the above also applies to Glasgow -- like Leeds, its English department is drastically underrated.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Leeds is better than Durham for English, or vice versa. My point is that I don't know how people come to conclusions on this forum. Like I say, the information that's available (league tables, RAE, funding, etc) may be dodgy (RAE less so), but at least it's some basis to judge a department, even if it's horribly inaccurate. I'd rather shoot someone down for saying 'Durham's good because it's high in the Times', than read someone saying 'Durham's amazing for English because it just is' (which is what many people on this forum do say indirectly.) Plus, many people seem preoccupied with league tables, but don't consult RAE scores, which I believe to be highly important on an English course.
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    What you have to remember, is entry req is as much a reflection of supply and demand as it is the quality of the program. UCL have a good English dept- but their staff levels and thus course capacity (about 80 a year) mean they can be incredibly picky with applicants- they have about 13 to every place. Places like Glasgow, which is statistically the most popular university for Scots to apply to but much less so from those in England, and has three times UCLs capacity, gets about 6 applicants per place, ergo the AAB-ABB depending on circumstances. If the OP is looking for realistic insurances but doesn't want to scrimp on quality, they'd do well to look around places like those mentioned above. A slight dip in demand for some of the less fashionable places this weather (St Andrews has went from BBC to AAB in a decade while Edinburgh has remained BBB), while being aware that personal tastes change pretty rapidly (Nottingham's dip in applicants being a notable example) means students can sometimes get on high quality courses by virtue of just not following the current trends in the places everyone wants to study at.
    Excellent points. There are definitely some relative "bargains", even for a subject as competitive as English.
    Plus, many people seem preoccupied with league tables, but don't consult RAE scores, which I believe to be highly important on an English course.
    RAE scores are a useful indicator of research quality but need to be read cautiously: how many staff were submitted? how do you weight % of 4 "world class" vs. % of 3 "international". Looking at some of the departmental leaflets my brother has collected, unis are quoting the RAE selectively as a marketing tool.

    Durham for some reason has always been viewed as number 2 to Oxbridge
    I don't have any particular reason for championing Durham. But I think what is at work here is overall uni reputation rather than departmental factors (or location which often makes large city unis more in demand). Some candidates believe that certain unis have more cachet with graduate employers (according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters, 30% of their members target 10 or less unis, another 30% target 20 or less unis). Depending on what you plan to do after graduation, this may justify the "premium" a Durham say has over say Glasgow.
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    (Original post by peachmelba)
    RAE scores are a useful indicator of research quality but need to be read cautiously: how many staff were submitted? how do you weight % of 4 "world class" vs. % of 3 "international". Looking at some of the departmental leaflets my brother has collected, unis are quoting the RAE selectively as a marketing tool.
    Yeah. I agree with all of this, and probably should've said it above. It's definitely worth studying the RAE results, and not just reading them (if that makes sense).
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    (Original post by peachmelba)
    Excellent points. There are definitely some relative "bargains", even for a subject as competitive as English.

    RAE scores are a useful indicator of research quality but need to be read cautiously: how many staff were submitted? how do you weight % of 4 "world class" vs. % of 3 "international". Looking at some of the departmental leaflets my brother has collected, unis are quoting the RAE selectively as a marketing tool.

    I don't have any particular reason for championing Durham. But I think what is at work here is overall uni reputation rather than departmental factors (or location which often makes large city unis more in demand). Some candidates believe that certain unis have more cachet with graduate employers (according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters, 30% of their members target 10 or less unis, another 30% target 20 or less unis). Depending on what you plan to do after graduation, this may justify the "premium" a Durham say has over say Glasgow.
    Depends- I'm always wary of people comparing English and Scottish unis in the same employment bracket- especially with targetting. Employers tend to be (aside from a very select few firms) pretty local in their outlook, so the central belt in Scotland, assuming you want to stay there, is pretty heavily targetted since 75% of the population and 90% of large employers are based there- in short, I wouldn't be surprised if Strathclyde or Heriot Watt, let alone Glasgow and Edinburgh actually has a higher proportion of graduates in employment at a higher starting salary than Durham or York or similar. How that translates down to London (remember London Met is about 5th in the UK for starting salaries) is debateable. All the current stats point to uni name not being very important at all beyond some very selective firms, and most of the rest targetting the big local ones- Liverpool, Bham etc. I very nearly did PG work at Durham, so I know a bit about it- but I'm actually a bit unsure of why exactly its reputation is so high among school leavers- its excellent, but I don't think (or can't find any figures anyway) that its going to benefit the vast majority of its graduates significantly in the long run. That said, it might well be seen as the premier institution in the North East, and that its Oxbridge-esque setup (which is played on more by prospective students I find than current ones) can perhaps be to its advantage.
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    Depends- I'm always wary of people comparing English and Scottish unis in the same employment bracke
    Your points about the differences between English and Scottish graduate jobs markets are well made. I still believe that for an English student, the reputational pull of Durham probably accounts for the greater demand for its courses and hence higher offers.

    Another factor is the herding instinct. Unis like St. Andrews and Durham have much higher than average proportions of students from independent schools (as well as the faux Oxbridge features you mention). It may be that they are simply more comfortable going to a uni where there are lots of "people like us".

    At any rate, I think academic excellence is only one of several things that explains the varying popularity of universities.
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    (Original post by peachmelba)
    Your points about the differences between English and Scottish graduate jobs markets are well made. I still believe that for an English student, the reputational pull of Durham probably accounts for the greater demand for its courses and hence higher offers.

    Another factor is the herding instinct. Unis like St. Andrews and Durham have much higher than average proportions of students from independent schools (as well as the faux Oxbridge features you mention). It may be that they are simply more comfortable going to a uni where there are lots of "people like us".

    At any rate, I think academic excellence is only one of several things that explains the varying popularity of universities.
    I think you're onto something with the herding instinct- and this helps keep the myth going. More than University name, Investment Banking and the like has a better correlation towards social backrounds. In other words, people see IB full of Oxbridge grads, so think they must go there, so the parents from these backgrounds push their kids towards the same type of institutions, and so on. Academically, in terms of number of subjects with a significant percent of 'world class staff', there isn't a massive difference between Aberdeen and Durham- the biggest difference between the two universities is not on the quality of work that goes on there, but the type of students that do. Durham is 40% privately educated and just 10% from working class backgrounds, Aberdeen is the reverse. Now its these kind of people, those from richer backgrounds, who usually aim for certain professions, thus skewing the number of graduates in these fields towards certain institutions- people then begin to equate them with excellence, the demand goes up, the entry goes up. Its a bit chicken-and-egg esque, granted, but there's little evidence to suggest that purely the name on the degree is whats gaining the applicant the job- its far more likely to be other factors.

    What can't be overlooked is that IB and the like make up a minute percentage of graduates- 75% of Oxbridge, let alone anywhere else, won't end up in these high-end professions that people seem to aspire to, yet they're given an inordinate amount of weight. It's been shown that going to an older university in a large city (all of which are Russell Group) is actually the biggest employment premium around- not because of a higher level of academic excellence, but because of the huge number (statistically) of people and employers that tend to be in these areas. Providing you didn't necessarily want to use your degree abroad, Liverpool graduates have a strikingly good record at gaining employment in many sectors- purely because of the employers in that area. Strathclyde, Glasgow and Edinburgh are even better, as it so happens, but you'd be hard pressed to find this in a league table, as the average Scot is less likely to be privately educated, and thus drop out more, be less satisfied, and more likely to fail to achieve the 2:1 minimum. Big universities usually struggle on the staff/spend areas vs a much smaller institution, so with a couple of notable exceptions, they're usually writing off the chance of being in this much vaunted 'top 10' in a newspaper.

    But we've drifted off the point. If the OP wants to look around for English departments, they should do so with an open mind. While I liked the look of Durham (for history) back before I turned it down, I see no reason to suggest the average person will be any better off for attending there than Leeds. Those that end up as a company director will a) be few and far between and b) more likely to be from a certain social group than explained by the name on their degree, although these kinds of people usually end up in certain places- predominantly the RG + Dur/Exeter/St A etc. I'd not take entry req as any indication of course quality, and more than anything, I'd take my research on the department in question very seriously. If I was to be sinking potentially 20k+ over three years to live and study in a location, I'd make sure it wasn't on false pretenses that thinking that because the Times reckon its 5th in the country, they'll be better off in the long run as a result.
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    there's little evidence to suggest that purely the name on the degree is whats gaining the applicant the job
    So, outstanding job applicants from Oxbridge say were probably going to be outstanding whichever uni they attended (in terms of extracurriculars, internships secured through family connections, interesting gap years, consistent academic performance). What they learnt at uni in academic terms would be almost an irrelevance.

    But employers know that a limited number of unis will have relatively high concentration of these high performing students (the unis have done some of the pre-selection for them), so target their recruitment at them. It's about efficiency rather than bias.

    But to get back to the OPs question, given a degree from QM is going to cost at least as much as say Birmingham or Leeds or Oxford, I know which I would pick!
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    Regarding Leeds - I applied for it as I wanted to pick one with an AAB offer, without appreciating how competitive it is. I got 4A*s, 5A*s, 2Bs at GCSE. AAAAB at AS, AAA predictions... and rejected. It's probably more acurate to think of it as an AAA uni.
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    (Original post by AisAis)
    Regarding Leeds - I applied for it as I wanted to pick one with an AAB offer, without appreciating how competitive it is. I got 4A*s, 5A*s, 2Bs at GCSE. AAAAB at AS, AAA predictions... and rejected. It's probably more acurate to think of it as an AAA uni.
    Me too :mad: did they offer you 'Cultural Studies' too?
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    Regarding Leeds - I applied for it as I wanted to pick one with an AAB offer, without appreciating how competitive it is. I got 4A*s, 5A*s, 2Bs at GCSE. AAAAB at AS, AAA predictions... and rejected. It's probably more acurate to think of it as an AAA uni.
    You may actually have been rejected because your academic profile indicated that you would have been unlikely to take up an offer i.e you were too strong a candidate. Leeds probably gets more than its share of people who decline their offer, so may be trying to identify those more likely to accept.

    In 2005/06 for English, they received 1334 applications, made 739 offers (55%) and rejected 576. Of those made offers, 254 accepted as conditional firm, 140 as conditional insurance, 339 declined.

    So, in that year you'd have had slightly better than 1 in 2 chance of getting an offer, all other things being equal. Which of course they aren't given variance in PS and references.

    I tracked down these stats in a Leeds study of decliners. I may be a geek for this stuff, but I think these sort of stats should be available for every uni so people can make an informed decision.

    What happened with your other apps out of interest?
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    From what I've seen some of the better insurance choices are probably:

    Leciester, UEA (as have been said above) Lancaster and Sheffield. Leeds and Manchester look for AAA whereas Sheffield will accept AAB an Lancaster is AAB-ABB.
    Liverpool and Birmingham are also good bets.
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    I was predicted AAA and got offers from:

    Southampton (AAB with B in English)
    Notts (AAB)
    Leicester (ABB)

    I got rejected from Bristol (AAA) and Manchester (AAA-AAB) though so be careful about applying to too many AAA uni's (and if you do make sure you actually have AAA at AS because I only had AAB).
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    I back what La Esmerelda said - my mate from Uni applied for a selection of AAA unis for English and got rejected from all four, and took up her place at Sheffield (AAB).
    Just because they ask for AAA doesnt mean you will get in as the English courses at alot of Unis are rediculously over subscribed.
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    When I first started looking at uni's I had no doubt that I wanted to go to Leeds it was an amazing english department. I fell in love with Newcastle, however and struggled to choose between the two. It seems all the good unis want AAA or AAB for english. I'm predicted AAB but i'm worried i might slip up and get ABB. Deciding between Leeds and Newcastle as my firm wasn't half as hard as choosing an insurange. There was no point putting one of those two down as my insurance as they both want the same grades. In the end I went for Northumbria (the old poly of Newcastle). It wants ABC I'm quite worried about this choice as if I was doing a less popular subject I could have had a more respected uni as my insuance. Will I be ok if I end up there? the uni looks like it's respected for an old poly and I liked the campus and course.
 
 
 
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