CAO Points breakdown: Finance course breaks 600 points barrier

Engineering and computer science see the biggest rise in points of any courses

Click here to download a PDF of the CAO's 2019 round one offers:

For so many students, so much hinges on a mix of chance and the choices of tens of thousands of their peers. This year, 51,513 students received an offer in round one but, for many, CAO points rises - particularly for science, technology, maths and engineering courses - will mean it’s not the course they had hoped for.

For disappointed students, it's really worth checking out the range of apprenticeships, traineeships and post-Leaving Cert courses available on these can be excellent qualifications in their own right as well as well as a gateway to higher education.

Arts, social science, languages and journalism


The precipitous decline in interest in arts and humanities courses has been a clear trend over more than a decade, but there are signs that this may now be levelling off. While arts in UCD has fallen from 381 to 336 points, the UCD humanities course, a four-year degree course introduced last year, is up from 301 to 348 points, suggesting that there is a growing appetite among students for humanities courses which offer work placements and research projects that employers increasingly want from graduates. Maynooth University, which has also shaken up its arts degree in recent years, is only down from 320 to 316.

Many students will be disappointed to see points for psychology rise across the board, with only UL’s course staying relatively steady on 498 points (down one).

Points for most modern language courses have fallen, with UCD’s down from 464 in 2017 to 399 last year and 368 in 2019. This is despite repeated calls from employers in a range of sectors for language graduates, and may prompt policy-makers to reflect on what is going wrong. Even in business courses, students do not appear to be taking up a language option in anything close to what the economy needs.

Social science courses have stayed relatively steady, with points only up or down by slightly in UCC, UCD, and WIT - although they have fallen by 20 to 326 at Maynooth University.

Despite a broad fall in applications for journalism courses, points have generally risen slightly. DCU’s journalism course is up one to 401 and have stayed steady for TU Dublin’s course (346 points).


One of the most significant points rises this year takes place at UCD, where its economics and finance course breaks the 600 points barrier, making it one of the most popular courses in the State at 601 points. This easily eclipses the business, economics and social studies (BESS) course at Trinity College, which rises from 511 to 520 points. Commerce at UCC is up 3 points to 465 although most of the international commerce (commerce with a language) courses have dropped in points.

NUI Galway’s commerce course is up 2 to 422 points. UCD’s commerce course and the international commerce degree both stay steady, at 498 and 509 points, respectively.


General entry science is up by a point at both UCD and Maynooth, to 521 and 351, respectively.

At UCC, points for several science courses have dipped slightly, including chemical sciences which is down 1 point to 465, and physics and astrophysics which is down from 521 to 511 points. But biological and chemical sciences is up 10 to 498 points.

Points for science courses at DCU stay relatively steady, with most seeing falls or rises of around ten points or less. WIT’s science course is down 6 to 302.

Engineering and computer science

Engineering and computer science courses have easily seen the biggest rise in points of any courses this year. Engineering at Trinity is up 9 to 497 while engineering with management is up 12 to 522. First-round points for engineering at UCD stood at 511 points while the university’s computer science course is up 10 to 488. At Maynooth, its innovative computational thinking course is up from 498 to 520 points. CIT’s electrical engineering course is up from 300 to 344 points.

Medicine and pharma

Medicine is generally one of the toughest and most competitive courses to get into, and slight points fluctuations can be make or break for applicants. This year, points for medicine stay steady at UCC (729), fall 1 at Trinity to 730, rise 2 at UCD (736), rise one at NUI Galway, and fall one at RCSI to 729.

Points for most nursing courses have stayed reasonably steady, while pharmacy at UCC is up 22 to 577, up 13 to 565 at RCSI and up 12 from 555 to 567.

Points for physiotherapy courses have stayed steady or fallen, down 6 to 548 at UCD. Dentistry stays steady, too.

Construction and architecture

The numbers taking construction courses tends to plummet in a recession and pick up when the economy is doing well, but this can lead to a shortage of qualified staff in the medium term. This year, most construction courses are up, with construction management and engineering at UL rising by 10 to 368 and construction management at TU Dublin is up 10 to 346.

Architecture is a mixed big: up from 447 to 465 at UCC & CIT, down 8 to 618 at DIT, down 12 to 486 at UCD and up 15 to 418 at UL.


After years of points increases, points for primary teaching show signs of cooling. Primary teaching at Marino is down from 462 to 453, down 2 to 462 at DCU, down one at Mary Immaculate College and staying steady at Maynooth (499 points). Science education at DCU falls by 9 points, from 433 to 424.

Agriculture and food

Brexit uncertainty, coupled with the introduction of a new level eight agriculture course at UCC which will allow people study a level eight agriculture course outside Dublin for the first time, may be responsible for a general fall in points for agriculture. UCC’s new course debuts at 473 points, while UCD’s agricultural science course is down 26 points to 425.

As the chef shortage continues to bite, the hospitality industry will be worried with culinary arts at TU Dublin dipping nine points to 271.


Overall, demand for law is slightly but not significantly down. Points for law are down 19 to 476 at UCC, down 2 to 453 at DCU, down 2 to 251 at Griffith College, down one to 429 at TU Dublin and Law Plus at UL is down 4 to 473. Law stays steady at both Trinity and UCD, at 533 and 522 points, respectively.