22nd July 20
Advanced Level courses, also known as ‘A-Levels’, are the most commonly recognised qualifications students can take to gain place at a UK university. A-Levels also have the benefit of being a well-respected global qualification, so universities outside of the United Kingdom will also accept A-Level students.
Typically, A-Level students will take 3 or 4 subjects over a period of 2 years, starting every September – although our college also offers an 18 month January start option. There are a wide range of A-Level subjects to choose from in subject areas including; science, humanities, business, languages, social sciences, and mathematics. With so many subject options to choose from, it can be difficult to know which combination of subjects to study to access your preferred university course.
Universities will often ask students to take a specific combination of A-Level subjects to gain entry to particular undergraduate courses, and will also ask students to achieve a qualifying UCAS ‘score’ for successful entry, which is derived from the grades across the subjects they have studied.
With so many subject options to choose from, it can be difficult to know which combination to choose to access your preferred university course, or perhaps you may not quite know which university course you want to study yet, and want to keep your options open. Let’s consider the best subject combinations to access a wide range of undergraduate courses at UK universities.
Mathematics is a highly regarded A-Level subject, giving access to a wide range of university courses. If you are a strong mathematics student, you could consider also taking the further mathematics A-Level in order to gain two prestigious subjects and target top ranked universities such as Oxbridge or LSE. Combining maths and further mathematics with physics A-Level demonstrates clear numeric and logical skills and gives the option to progress to a variety of engineering, computer science and data science related courses at top universities.
This is the key subject combination for students looking to study medicine or dentistry at a UK university. Many medical schools will ask students to have studied mathematics and one or both of chemistry and biology. Be aware that medicine is one of the most competitive courses at UK universities for international students, and you will probably need to achieve at least A grades in all of your A-Level subjects to be considered for a place.
If you are not interested in biology at A-Level, taking maths, physics and chemistry in combination will give access to a wide range of science related courses. Math and Physics deliver key skills and knowledge for engineering related courses, and are also great choices for students wanting to study computing courses. Adding chemistry to the mix also gives access to prestigious degrees such as chemical engineering, and also keeps the natural sciences undergraduate pathway open to you.
This is the perfect A-Level combination for students looking to study architecture at university. Architecture applicants need to have good grades in maths and physics to demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles of architecture, such as how forces impact upon buildings, to accurately estimate the quantities of materials required in a build, and to work to and manage construction budgets. They also need to align these practical skills with an understanding of creative thought and process, different styles and eras of architecture, and skills such as drawing and painting and a grasp of scale.
This is a great combination of subjects that are closely related and complementary, meaning that the skills you gain will help you to improve your learning in each subject. These subjects also help access undergraduate courses that lead to high income, high demand careers such as law, finance and management and government, politics and leadership.
This combination is great for students looking to move into undergraduate courses such as finance, economics, accounting and management. This combination will also showcase student’s numerical skills alongside their ability to analyse, present and communicate, qualities which are highly valued by both universities and employers.
These subjects all require extended writing skills, teamed with an analytical mind-set, key qualities for students looking to study law at university. Throw in in Psychology to gain an understanding of how people think, and you will have a great basic skill set for law.
Taking Art in combination in business and mathematics can lead to a wide range of creative and business related courses such as fashion or media management. The creative industries are already huge and are growing, so there are great opportunities for students who are able to combine creative flair with understanding of business and finance.
An unusual subject combination, but one which could lead to a wide range of environment related university courses such as geology, earth sciences, agriculture studies, environmental science and sustainability. Adding physics to the combination means students can also access environmental engineering focused courses and careers, including oil and gas, or minerals engineering.
This is a good choice for students keen to study a broad range of science subjects at university, but who don’t want to take A-Level maths (but be aware that all of these subjects will still require some basic maths skills and knowledge). These subjects could lead to university courses such as pharmacy, physiotherapy, psychology, biomedical science, forensic science, or sports science.
So these are some interesting subject combinations that you can consider to access a range of undergraduate courses at UK universities. At Abbey College Cambridge we provide expert guidance to each of our students to help them select the right A-Level subjects to maximise their grades and gain access to their first choice university course.