What subjects should I take?
As we explain in the College prospectus, you should choose subjects that you enjoy, that you are good at and that support you in your future plans. In addition, your estimated grades should indicate that you are qualified for your chosen subjects.
If you are planning to progress into higher education, you should try and ensure that your combination of subjects keeps open a range of options which is appropriate for you. Your current plans beyond A level may mean that you are already sure about two or even three subject choices. If this is not the case, it may be advisable to choose at least one and possibly more ‘facilitating subjects’, providing these subjects play to your strengths and
you would enjoy studying them. Facilitating subjects
’ are defined in a publication entitled Informed Choices,
a Russell Group guide to making decisions about post-16 education (https://russellgroup.ac.uk/media/5686/informed-choices-2018-1-6th-edition-final.pdf)
By choosing one or more facilitating subjects, you are potentially giving yourself a greater range of options post-18 if you are unsure about your future plans when making subject choices. Subjects which can be viewed as ‘facilitating subjects’ are Maths & Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English Literature, History, Geography, Modern and Classical Languages. Studying one or more of these subjects may be essential if you are planning to apply for some competitive courses at Russell Group universities.
However, please also remember the following:
Whether or not you choose to study ‘facilitating subjects’, any of the other Advanced level subjects on offer may be entirely appropriate for you, for example if you are considering a future in a specialist area such as Art, Drama/Dance, Media/Film, Music, PE or if you plan to concentrate on a range of subjects in the Political & Social Sciences or in the Economics/Business field.
What matters most is the overall combination of subjects you choose, not the impact of any one subject choice. As stated in the ‘Informed Choices’ publication, students taking one subject outside the facilitating subjects list (for example one with a vocational or practical bias) as part of a wider portfolio of subjects do not experience any problems applying to a Russell Group university.
Depending on how clear you are about your choices, you are advised to enter between three and five A level subjects on your application in your priority order. These subjects and their order can be adjusted later if required.
Information about a small selection of specific career paths:
The information below contains general guidelines, which should always be supplemented by specific careers advice and careful research into the requirements of specific courses in higher education via the UCAS website or individual prospectuses. Please contact our Careers department if you wish to enquire about other specific career paths. Accountancy:
although relevant subjects such as Maths, Economics or Business are useful, they are not usually essential. You can enter directly into a training programme after A Levels, or you can enter the profession after a degree, which can be in a different discipline. Maths GCSE grade 6/B minimum, may be required to study Accounting at some universities. Architecture:
it is helpful to have subjects such as art, physics and maths, but most universities are flexible. A portfolio may be helpful. Check with individual universities. Dietetics:
Biology and typically Chemistry, plus relevant work experience and evidence of working with people. Economics:
Maths is required by some universities. Law:
typically History/English/essay writing subject plus one other traditional academic subject plus the National Admissions test for Law (LNAT) for some universities. (Students can enter Law from a scientific background, with normally at least one essay writing subject). Maths and Further Maths:
sometimes regarded as one subject by some courses at some universities. Both subjects may be required or highly desirable for entry to the most competitive courses in Maths, Physics/Engineering or Economics. Medicine:
If you do Chemistry, Biology and one from Mathematics or Physics you will keep all the medical schools open to you. If you do Chemistry and Biology you will keep open the vast majority. If you do Chemistry and one from Mathematics and Physics you will limit your range of choices much more. Maths and Further Maths will be counted as one subject at many places. Most students are required to take an extra test (BMAT or UKCAT). Voluntary/community work is essential; the widest range of medical schools is available if you have 6+ GCSE grades 7/8/9 or A/A*. Music and Music Technology:
sometimes regarded as one subject by some universities. Some degree courses in Music Technology require Music A level, and may look for Maths and/or Physics as well as Music Technology. Physiotherapy
: Biology although some universities will accept PE, plus evidence of working with people. Primary Teaching:
minimum GCSE grade 4/5/C in Maths, English Language and a Science, plus at least one primary National Curriculum A level subject is needed to take on to higher education. Drama, Art and Religious Studies are also useful. Work experience essential. Psychology
: degree courses often require a science and sometimes Maths as well. Veterinary Medicine:
You should do Chemistry and Biology and one from Mathematics or Physics so that you have all universities open to you. BMAT test may be required by some vet schools. Work experience essential; widest range of vet schools is available if you have 6+ GCSE grades 7/8/9 or A/A*.
The Degree Apprenticeship option is an alternative route into many careers including Law, Accountancy, Engineering, Architecture, Nursing and Physiotherapy. Students choosing this route, will study whilst working and being paid. For more information please see: www.apprenticeships.gov.uk/
General guidance can be found at the following: www.ucas.com
This is the general applications website but it also contains some excellent advice on choosing your A levels; select the '16-18' tab and then '2. Find career ideas'. www.ukcoursefinder.com
You do need to register to use this site but it is a simple process. It then asks you to complete a series of questions and then makes suggestions for possible courses which match your interests. www.icould.com
This is an informative site with the option of taking the “Buzz” test which suggests possible courses which are matched to your personality type. www.university.which.co.uk
By doing a course search you can find out which A-level subjects are recommended for specific courses. The “Six things you need to know before making your A-level choices” page is extremely valuable reading. http://www.studentladder.co.uk
An excellent website with information on graduate schemes, work placements, internships and work experience etc. www.youthoria.org
A site for young people offering advice on lifestyle choices. Also has full, part-time and gap year vacancies with a section on apprenticeships, all in the local area. www.getingofar.gov.uk
The National Apprenticeship website. nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk
The government website providing information, advice and guidance to help you make decisions on learning, training and work.