Can my son get to university to study philosophy on 320 points?

Ask Brian: There are plenty of options within the greater Dublin area

My son should be asking you this, but I am still waiting for him to grow up (fingers crossed). He did his Leaving last year and got 315 points. He’s applying to the CAO again this year and is interested in philosophy and wants to go to university in Dublin. Is it possible on these kinds of points? Or is a PLC a better option?

Where would our children be if wasn’t for the Irish mammy? If your son could rouse himself sufficiently to undertake some research, he would quickly discover that 315 CAO points last year provided many opportunities to study philosophy at honours degree level from September 2019.

For example, Maynooth College – also known as the Pontifical University – offers theology alongside philosophy (MU001) which required 300 points last year. The BA in Maynooth University itself (MH101), in which he could select philosophy alongside any other subject of his choice, was 320 points in 2018. Given the overall softness in BA applications to date this year, it is quite possible his 315 might secure him a place in 2019.

He could place it high on his list of course choices and if the points requirements are over 315 this year, the computer will simply drop down to his next choice.


Even though he seems to want to remain in the Dublin region, he would almost certainly secure a place on a BA programmes in NUI Galway (GY101) or UCC (CK101), which both offer philosophy, where the CAO points requirements were 300 last year.

Within striking distance of the Dublin region, the BA (Hons) in arts and humanities in St Patrick’s College Carlow is a four-year flexible, multidisciplinary degree, offering a wide variety of subjects within five streams: history; psychology; English, creative arts and media studies; philosophy and theology (and teaching placement). The CAO points requirements were 261 in 2018, which is well within your son’s range. This degree would allow your son to specialise in two of these subjects.

As he has registered with the CAO this year, he has until July 1st next to explore all the options outlined .

If you are concerned his interest in philosophy might be fleeting or a passing fad, he could easily secure a place on the pre-university arts programme in Plunket College, Swords, which offers philosophy as one of its subjects. Having secured this level 5 award, he would probably be left with the same list of CAO options in 2020 as I have outlined above; so if he is sure of his philosophy interest he should act now and visit the institutions above.