Geography at semi target or Econ at non targets (in the UK)

So I achieved AAB at A levels and am applying to uni for entry in 2024 and I need to chose what course and 5 unis to apply for. Due to my grades doing Economics or related courses at targets and more prestigious semi targets (Bristol/Durham/Notts) isn’t possible. The courses that I’m able to do are either Politics & Economics at non targets/lower semis and Geography at a mixture of semi/non targets. From what I’ve read on this site the target/semi target rules aren’t as hard and fast as they are in America and non targets seems to have become much better at recruiting. However I’m slightly unsure as to the extent that the university brand is more important than the course being studied at semi target and non target levels. 

The unis at which I can do Politics & Economics are Birmingham, Bath, Cardiff, Glasgow, Newcastle, Sheffield, Southampton and York. I believe out of these Bath is a mid tier semi with York, Birmingham, Southampton and Newcastle being prominent non targets. 

The unis at which I can do Geography are Birmingham, Exeter, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton. Out of these I’m aware that Nottingham is a very strong semi with strong placement with Manchester being a prominent non target.

Essentially my question is would doing Geography at Nottingham be better than doing Politics & Econ at places like Newcastle or Birmingham. Also if I were unable to get admission to Geography at Nottingham how bad would doing Geography at one of the unis listed hurt my chances of recruiting in IB.


Based on the most helpful WSO content, it seems that both the university you attend and the course you study can play a role in your chances of recruiting in Investment Banking (IB).

From the universities you've listed, Nottingham is indeed considered a strong semi-target with good placement rates. Studying Geography there could potentially give you a good shot at breaking into IB, especially if you supplement your studies with relevant internships and networking efforts.

On the other hand, Politics & Economics is a more directly relevant course to IB, and studying it at universities like Newcastle or Birmingham could also be a viable path. While these universities might not be as prestigious as Nottingham in the finance world, they are still recognized institutions and you could certainly make your way into IB from there, especially if you excel in your studies and make good use of networking opportunities.

If you were unable to get admission to Geography at Nottingham, studying Geography at one of the other universities you listed wouldn't necessarily ruin your chances of recruiting in IB. It might make the path a bit more challenging, but with strong grades, relevant internships, and effective networking, it's certainly possible to break into IB from these institutions.

Remember, while university prestige and course relevance can play a role in IB recruiting, they are not the only factors. Your personal drive, networking skills, and internship experiences can also greatly impact your chances. Good luck with your applications!

Sources: UK Target Admissions?, Screwed up my A Levels, what courses can I go for to still make it in IB?, Target School Econ vs. Semi-Target School Finance, 20 Most Frequently Asked Questions - London Edition

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

I may be wrong but off pure university prestige isn’t Notts a fair bit better than Bath, with Notts being one of the strongest semi targets alongside Bristol and Durham. Also not trying to be rude but I feel your slightly biased towards Bath lol.


Don't study Geography unless you wanna make breaking into IB harder. I studied Business (not Finance) and still had to go through all the financial concepts myself in my free time. Why to spend time on studying soemthing unrelated if you can study something more suitable for the IB role (e.g. Economics)? 


I disagree, Econ wouldn’t provide much of a leg up on the job or in interviews as technical questions aren’t difficult and just require basic memorisation. Also, Econ will likely require Maths A-Level and OP may not have done it.


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