What to Choose
1. Certain university courses will be looking for specific A-levels.
Listed below are a few examples of these:
- Pharmacy must have: Chemistry, plus at least one from Biology, Maths and Physics.
- English must have: usually English Literature, maybe English Literature and Language or English Language.
- Geology / Earth Sciences must have: at least two from Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
- Economics: In Pure Economics Degrees Maths is more essential than Economics, and as an additional subject Economics is preferred to Business Studies. In Applied Economics Degrees e.g. Development Studies Maths is not required, and Economics is desirable.
KEY Here – Get to know your University Course. For more info, see our list of university subjects and their typical A Level requirements or go online to http://university.which.co.uk/advice/what-a-levels-do-you-need-for-the-degree-you-want-to-study.
If you already know what you want to study, check out the full entry requirement details for a range of courses at different universities to make sure you’re ticking all the boxes with your subject choices.
2. Taking certain A-levels will open up more university course options.
If you are not sure what you want to study yet at University think about choosing ‘Facilitating Subjects’. These are good general subjects that will keep many degree options open to you. Take your pick from:
Biology Chemistry English Geography History Maths Modern languages Physics.
The more of these you choose, the more courses at university will be open to you.
3. A-levels are a lot tougher than GCSEs.
The reason you take a particular subject is usually one (or more) of these three scenarios: you need it to pursue a particular career, it’s a subject you enjoy and are good at or it’s a subject you’ve not studied before but you think will suit you. Either way, be prepared for a big jump in the level of difficulty when you shift from GCSE to AS.
You will need to develop a high level of independent study where you will be guided and supported in finding out information for yourself.
4. Some courses and universities have lists of subjects they don’t accept.
Particular courses – take, for instance, an architecture course at the University of Bath – will view certain A-levels as less effective preparation for university studies than others. Similarly, some universities – such as the University of Sheffield – list which A-level subjects they prefer. Others, like the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), have ‘non-preferred’ subject lists.
If your subject choices don’t match up, you shouldn’t necessarily discount the A Level, or be put off from taking a creative or vocational A-level subject you’re really interested in. Discuss this with your subject teachers. Taking a subject such as Economics, Government and Politics, Media Studies, Psychology, and Sociology in conjunction with at least one (ideally two) of the ‘facilitating’ subjects listed above shouldn’t be an issue if you get the grades.
5. Know myth from reality.
Don’t take everything you hear at face value – the reality might be quite different.
Say you’ve been told you’ve no chance of getting on to an ultra-competitive Law Course at the University of Durham because it doesn’t accept Psychology A-Level. Is that really the case? It’s best not to rely on pre-conceived assumptions – always double check your facts.
First, take a look at what the university itself has to say. In this case, Durham Law School proactively states on its website that ‘we do not make offers in respect of critical thinking or general studies, but we are otherwise unconcerned by the subjects you take’. Couple that with a closer look at what A-levels current students on the course took – actually, 14% of students studying law at Durham arrived with A-level psychology.
6. Many universities and courses will consider you whatever you choose.
Q: Accountancy, Anthropology, Archaeology, Banking, Business Studies, Classical Civilisations, Hospitality, Information Science, Law, Management, Marketing, Media Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Public Relations, Religious Studies/Theology, Retail Management, Social Work, Sociology, Surveying, Television, Travel and Tourism… What do these University Subjects have in common?
A: They will all consider a very wide range of A-level choices and do not normally have essential subject requirements.