Some University degree courses require specific A level choices although not all higher education establishments have the same requirements, and there is often a level of flexibility. However, if you apply with an unconventional combination of subjects for a particular course you may put yourself at a disadvantage in relation to other applicants. Some A level subjects will be cited as ‘Required’ and are therefore essential and others will be ‘Recommended’ which means that whilst they are not necessarily essential they will be the qualifications held by the majority of people applying for that course. The most up to date information is usually on the UCAS website which may also direct you to individual university websites, and university Admissions Officers will respond to specific queries if the answer cannot be found on the website.
Although they may not be specified as required subjects, many successful applicants to popular courses in some of the most prestigious and Russell Group Universities do have A level qualifications in at least two of the facilitating subjects (see below).
Some of these courses may still have a preference for some of the facilitating subjects and one or two universities may be more prescriptive in their subject requirements – check the Entry Profiles on UCAS Course Search.
- Maths and Further Maths
- English Literature
- Languages (Classical and Modern)
There are some A level subjects which provide suitable preparation for entry to university generally, but which are not included within the facilitating subjects, because there are relatively few degree programmes where an advanced level qualification in these subjects would be a requirement for entry. Examples of such subjects include Economics and Religious Studies.
Some courses will be happy with a subject at a lower level (for example, at AS-level instead of A-level). This will be something to check before you apply.
Some popular degrees will often be open to you without any specific subject background; these include: Accountancy, Anthropology, Archaeology, Business Studies, History of Art, Law, Management Studies, Media Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Religious Studies, Sociology, Surveying although there are often preferred subjects – see notes below.
NB. Sustained and relevant work experience may be a requirement for some courses.
Some courses require Maths, and Business Studies and Economics can be useful.
Animal Sciences / Zoology
Biology and Chemistry preferred. Relevant work experience is useful.
History, Geography, English and / or a Science subject may be preferred. 2 Sciences required for Archaeological Science courses.
Biology and Geography preferred for some biological anthropological courses, however for Social Anthropology there are no specific requirements.
Architecture / Architectural Engineering
Maths and/or Physics required or preferred for some courses. Graphics or Art are sometimes a requirement and a portfolio of art work is often requested.
Art / Design
Art A level and portfolio of art work required by many courses. You may choose to complete an Art Foundation course prior to university.
Bioscience / Biochemistry / Biomedical Science / Genetics / Physiology
Chemistry required. Biology usually preferred, one or two Maths / Science subjects required.
Business and Management Courses
Maths is often essential or desirable. There is a wide range of courses, some show preference for Economics, Business Studies, Geography, English or a Foreign Language.
Chemistry / Chemical Engineering
Two Science subjects including Chemistry (Chemistry, Physics and Maths is a good combination).
Maths and Further Maths, with some preference for Physics and Computing. STEP used by some universities as part of conditional offer.
Chemistry and Biology usually required. Another Science subject may be required or preferred. Proof of precision motor skills required, examples might be model making, painting or playing an instrument.
Drama / Theatre Studies
English and Theatre Studies may be required. Extensive record of involvement in theatre productions often required. Not all courses involve acting – you need to check.
Maths and Economics may be required or preferred. Check university websites carefully for other preferred subjects.
Education Studies / Teaching
A level in the main subject of choice required plus one or two other A levels. Other useful subjects for Primary Teaching are English Language or Maths, a language, a practical subject, Health and Social Care.
Earth and Ocean Science
Sciences required – usually at least two out of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Geography.
Engineering - including electronics, civil engineering, mechanical engineering etc
Maths and/or Physics usually required. Further Maths sometimes recommended and for some courses Graphics may be an advantage. Some universities may use STEP as part of conditional offer.
One or two Science subjects are usually stipulated. Maths may be required.
Events Management / Marketing
Relevant work experience is required. Business studies is an advantage together with subjects that show your communication skills.
Geography with two other subjects. Maths or Science required for BSc.
Maths / Science subjects usually required. Geography may be accepted as an additional Science. Chemistry, Maths and Physics often preferred.
Journalism, Media & Cultural Studies
No specific subject requirements but students should have studied at least one subject in which significant experience of academic essay writing has been gained (e.g. English Literature, English Language, History, Government and Politics, Economics). Students should also show an interest in the world of current affairs.
A very high standard required in 3 subjects. Focus should be on the facilitating subjects, preference for at least some essay based subjects.
Management Studies / Marketing
Useful subjects include: Maths, Economics, Business Studies
Maths, Physics and/or Chemistry
Mathematics / Statistics
Maths and Further Maths, preference given to Physics. STEP may be used.
Chemistry required together with Biology, often Physics or Maths. Subject requirements vary – check university websites carefully. High grades at GCSE and AS level and relevant work experience are essential and an interview will be required. Additional admissions test may also be required (BMAT, UKCAT)
A level Music plus instrumental grade usually required.
Nursing and Midwifery
Usually Biology or another science will be required. Psychology or Health and Social studies can be helpful. Relevant work experience required.
Some courses ask for Biology. There may be a preference for Psychology, Physical Education or another science.
Optometry (Ophthalmic Optics)
Two from Biology, Chemistry, Maths or Physics (some courses prefer Biology as one of the choices).
Biology is essential; some universities prefer candidates to have one or more out of Chemistry, Maths, and Physics.
Chemistry and one from Biology, Maths and Physics keeps the vast majority of courses open to you. Some courses like to see Chemistry, Biology and Maths. Doing Chemistry and Biology keeps most courses open.
Philosophy / PPE - Philosophy, Politics and Economics
Usually ‘No specific subjects required’ but in our experience Maths is often essential and very useful for logic (and Economics) and an essay-based subject can give evidence of ability to expand on ideas.
Physics and Maths (and Chemistry sometimes preferred). Further Maths is desirable for some courses.
Most courses will consider you with just Biology. However, some also require a second science from Chemistry, Maths or Physics. Other useful subjects include Psychology.
Physical Education / Sports Science
PE and Biology are required for some courses.
No subjects specified. History or English are useful.
Look carefully at individual course outlines – some are more science based than others and so may require Biology or another science. Others will be more arts based.
Town and Country Planning
Geography may be specified.
Excellent GCSE grades essential. Extensive and varied work experience over a long period of time essential. (Work experience in as many different situations as possible – small / large animals, etc.) You should do Chemistry and Biology and one from Maths / Physics so that you have all universities open to you.
More information can also be found at - http://university.which.co.uk/advice/six-things-you-need-to-know-before-making-your-a-level-choices