Post 16 Prospectus
For most students thinking about their Post 16 options we simply advise that they pick subjects that interest them and where they think they will excel. For some, this will mean continuing with a subject or subjects where they have a proven track record of success and will go on to build on these strong foundations at Post 16. For others, it will mean picking new subjects that they have never studied before and which will give them a real opportunity to try something different and study more specialist subjects not on offer at GCSE.
However, students who are looking at particular careers or top Russell Group universities or Oxford or Cambridge will want to ensure that they choose subjects which give them the best chance of being accepted onto the courses/universities required to move into this area. Not only are these subjects/institutions extremely competitive, many will require specific courses to be studied at Post 16.
Oxford or Cambridge
Specific subjects will depend on the university course chosen. However, both Oxford and Cambridge prefer certain subjects, or a combination of particular subjects. For example, the University of Cambridge states:
University of Cambridge
“The A-Level (or equivalent) subject choices made in Year 11 can have a major impact on your course and university options. At the University of Cambridge, we generally prefer applicants to have taken certain subjects, or combinations of subjects, because we believe that they are more likely to provide an effective preparation for study at the University.”
Subjects which are said to prepare students the best for the top universities (Oxbridge and Russell Group in particular) are often known as facilitating subjects because they facilitate (prepare) students for almost any degree course. These subjects include:
- English Literature
Oxford/Cambridge and Russell Group universities are extremely competitive and also require high grades, whatever courses are studied. For example, Cambridge also state:
“For each subject we will normally expect you to pass with an A or A* grade at A-level or equivalent, and generally we do not specify the A* for a particular subject. Occasionally applicants may be asked to achieve an A* in a particular subject, depending on individual circumstances.”
In order to study Medicine or Dentistry you will need to study Chemistry and Biology A Levels. Some universities will also require a third science subject but this will depend on the institution and may include subjects like Psychology. Maths is also often either an essential or desirable subject.
Pharmacology related degrees generally require A level chemistry and normally one other subject from Biology, Physics or maths. In other allied medical professionals (i.e. physiotherapy, radiology, speech therapy and nursing) you will generally need at least one Science A level. Depending on the field Biology may be preferred.
Veterinary Science often requires a similar set of subjects to be studied as for Medicine/Dentistry; namely A Level Biology and an additional Science or Maths.
In order to study Law at degree level, it is not necessary to have studied at at Post 16. In fact, many universities actually dissuade this and would rather you studied either a broad range of subjects and/or a subject which gives you the skills needed to succeed in a Law degree, rather than any particular legal understanding. The subjects which are most relatable to Law are History and Politics. Both subjects involve studying different perspectives, analysing sources and arguing/debating, all of which are extremely important skills for a Law degree.
Please note that many of the subjects/institutions outlined above will also involve an admissions test prior to applying. Further information about university courses and entry requirements can be found at https://www.ucas.com/explore/subjects.