Top tips for clearing: your key questions answered

We spoke to London Met staff Dr Karen McNally, Michael Upton, and Mark Thompson about what to expect from clearing, and how to prepare for the call.

Date: 16 August 2022

What are you looking for when students call up through clearing?

Karen McNally, Reader in American Film, Television and Cultural History (KM): What every academic wants to know is that a student is enthusiastic about the prospect of study. If you already know that you'd like to apply for Film and Television Studies or for its combined course with Journalism, then we'd love to know why you think one of these courses is right for you. What interests you about this subject area and what would you like to learn? If you're interested in the broader field, for example media, hearing about your interests will help us to direct you to the course that would best suit your interests.

Michael Upton, Head of Academic Portfolio (MU):The first thing we want to know is do they have the entry requirements , which are often lowered during clearing so check those in advance. But beyond that if they are a mature applicant then relevant work or voluntary experiences - we're a university that recognises achievements outside the academic space can be just as useful (sometimes more) to prepare you for studying a degree. Students should be ready to give a clear summary of these things when they call so we can give them the best help possible.

Mark Thompson, Senior Lecturer in Psychology (MT): We are looking for students with the capacity (evidence through grades and/or experience) and passion for the subject to thrive at London Met. This is a student-first university, so it stands to reason that passionate and energised students stand out to us.

How can students prepare for the call?

KM: One of the key things to do before calling is to look at the course options on the London Met website and the details about the course(s) that interest you. Clicking on each module to read the descriptions of what you'll be studying will give you enough information to discover whether this is the right course for you. Be prepared to discuss why you're choosing a particular course and what interests you generally about this subject. We don't expect you to be knowledgeable about it or to have studied it before, but we'd love to know that you're excited to start learning!

MU: From an academic perspective, applicants showing they've done some research about what the course is about is a big plus, or if they are not sure about the programme they want ,some research in advance about the University. For some courses (film, art, design , architecture, music) we also want to see good examples of creative work - so being ready to share that portfolio online is important. If you speak to a teacher from the course, sound as passionate and curious about the subject as possible!

MT: Firstly have all your appropriate paperwork ready! So UCAS personal ID, grade transcripts, personal statement (this is a useful guide to help you get across your skills, experience, and passion for the subject and course). Then, just take a moment to compose yourself before the call - clearing is a wonderful opportunity, not a threat!

What would you most like to tell prospective students about your course?

KM: On the Film and Television Studies BA, we're fascinated by film and TV and their cultural and historical impact. So we want to not only teach our students about these media but also to enable students to use their own interests to write about film and television, make documentaries, write scripts, direct short films and prepare for whatever role they choose in the creative industries. Our course team are active researchers and practitioners who have a wealth of industry experience or write books about subjects from movie stars to TV and US politics. All of this knowledge and experience is central to what and how we teach students about film and television and what students transform into their own research. At London Met, students will be experiencing their course in an environment that's both diverse and inclusive and in a School that provides multiple opportunities to expand their learning through conferences, guest lectures and other events, and to mix with students on a variety of media courses.

MU: I'm teaching this year on Film and Television Production so I'd be emphasising the great balance of the practice and theory on the course, the success of alumni from the area as directors and producers and of course our brilliant new film studios. More generally I'd tell an applicant about the University's inclusive, student-centred approach, its commitment to social justice and the exciting and diverse community they may be joining here.

MT: I have been involved in a number of institutions, but London Met is most certainly the most student-centred university I have worked or studied at. It is a excellent institution with field-leading researchers and educators, as well as possessing a wonderfully diverse student population. Finally, you'll be living in London - the world's city! I have no doubt that choosing London Met will be a wonderful decision for so many people

Why is clearing important?

KM: Clearing provides an excellent new opportunity for prospective students to look again or for the first time for a course that will suit their interests and learning needs. Individuals access clearing for a variety of reasons that are not only about grades. Often this choice is about other factors in people's lives and working situations, so clearing makes space for those who want or need to make later decisions. It's never too late to choose to study, and clearing is part of enabling individuals to continue their path or make a change for their future. 

MU: Clearing has increasingly become a period where many people apply for the first time so it is as important as the main UCAS cycle - just at a later stage. It is a great opportunity for students who have changed their minds completely (or followed their heart) and head down a different path from the one they had chosen, so that call to the hotline can have a huge and very positive impact on an individual’s life. We have lots of students who have joined in clearing and gone on the get great degrees and careers afterwards. It can feel like a stressful time, but try to keep calm - you will be speaking to someone who will guide you through the process and answer any questions.

MT: Clearing is a safety net for students to consider other options that they may not originally have looked at. Each year it offers students the opportunity to study the subject that they love (like Psychology!), and there are countless examples where students end up being happier than they would have been at their original first-choice institution.

Is there anything else you would like to tell prospective students?

KM: It's important to note that coming onto the course through clearing has no impact at all on your studies, and that you can be just as successful as every other student. I've seen many students on Film and Television Studies and on Journalism, Film and Television Studies emerge after three or four years with excellent grades and First Class degrees. Your degree can be a path to a satisfying and successful career, and clearing is a great way to begin that journey.

MU: One thing I'd add is that clearing places often go quite quickly, especially if there are only a couple of places on a programme so applicants do need to be prepared to act quickly if they get an