A level choices if you want to study physics.

(30 Posts)
trippingthelightfantastic Mon 10-Mar-14 22:12:45

My DC is an able all rounder he aspires to study physics at a top university. He's A level choices are definitely physics and maths an A* for both is realistic, he can choose further maths and his maths teacher predicts he'll do also well in this as well. His other definite choice is a MFL again he's expected to do very well. But he's been told he doesn't have to have further maths in which case he would prefer to do art he's considered to be very talented and he finds it very satisfying.
My question would he be in a stronger position to get into a university like IC if he had further maths?

Can he do further maths as an AS without using up any timetable space?

Am I right in thinking he's proposing: Physics, Maths, MFL, Art? I think Art A-level takes up a LOT of time. He would need to be careful that the MFL and Art coursework didn't push out the Maths / Physics study.

trippingthelightfantastic Mon 10-Mar-14 22:45:01

No he can't do AS further maths no space in timetable. He's already virtually finished A level maths although won't sit it till 2016 so there shouldn't be too much work there and he weekly boards so he can go to the art dept/language lab in his spare time e.g. Sat PM he doesn't do a major sport.
He loves art, he finds it very therapeutic he loves being creative although doesn't see it as a career so he I hopes if he carries it on till A level then he will keep doing it as a hobby as when he's an adult.
I wish he didn't have to choose.

noblegiraffe Mon 10-Mar-14 22:49:45

If he's doing physics, then I would strongly recommend further maths. He might not 'need' it (universities don't have it in their requirements because not all sixth forms offer it and it would drastically reduce their pool of potential candidates) but he would certainly find it useful, especially if he took the mechanics options.

Art might be best kept as a hobby. It's exceptionally time-intensive, especially if it would just be a fourth A-level rather than the main focus of his studies.

trippingthelightfantastic Mon 10-Mar-14 23:22:00

Yup I/he knows your right noble he should choose the further maths. But he will be sad to give up his art, something that simply gives him so much pleasure, and it seems terrible to start on this maths dominated narrow path when he's so young.

noblegiraffe Mon 10-Mar-14 23:43:57

Why is it sad? Maths is great! wink Anyway, it's not just maths, it's maths, a science and an MFL, that's not that narrow a focus. He's not having to give up his art, he's just not taking exams in it. Sometimes exams in a creative subject can kill a love for it, so it's not necessarily a bad thing.

AtiaoftheJulii Tue 11-Mar-14 00:05:09

If he's almost finished covering the A level syllabus already, he's going to have a very boring couple of years if he doesn't do FM!

trippingthelightfantastic Tue 11-Mar-14 00:08:48

Both points are very valid. I'll tell him and I'm pretty sure he"ll do the FM.
Thanks for your input.

akebah Tue 11-Mar-14 06:26:41

Just to echo what someone further up the thread said about further maths - at university I knew various physics students - the ones who struggled were the ones who had not done further maths - it would allow him to hit the ground running so to speak in the first few terms (and def. do the mechanics/pure options - not sure how it is arranged these days but in my day it was applied vs mechanics/pure)

BeckAndCall Tue 11-Mar-14 07:41:39

As an indicator on how important further maths is at top unis, if you go to Oxford and first of all get in without FM, you have to go to extra maths lessons to catch up with the rest of the group.

My son's choices were similar to your sons's, OP. He did physics at a ( not quite!) top uni with maths, FM, physics and Spanish A levels. It's interesting that now he says he wished he'd taken chemistry instead of Spanish as it was so relevant ( and he's about to to a masters in a specialist topic where it's particularly relevant, so his view may be different from the norm).

As an aside, if he chooses not to take MFL, a lot of unis offer the chance to do a language as an option for one module each year, or even offer additional chances to carry on languages as extra paid courses. ( applied to both my elder two in two different RG unis)

trippingthelightfantastic Tue 11-Mar-14 08:05:24

The MFL is very important to him in fact he has considered two MFL and maths and physics. His other thought is to study a MFL at university.

Now you've said the type of school I'd be surprised if the school doesn't offer the following:
a) Further maths in the maths timetable slot, for students who have finished the A-level syllabus.
b) Access to the art block even for those who are not studying art.

Also, yes yes to the MFL and carrying it on at University if he can (I studied Electronic Engineering, and did my final year at a German University, it was brilliant).

MrsMarigold Tue 11-Mar-14 09:58:52

How about Chemistry and Biology and Art as an extra?

nerfgunsftw Tue 11-Mar-14 10:01:41

Further maths is a massive advantage when doing a physics degree. The people on my degree course who had not done it really noticed the difference and had a tougher first year

circular Tue 11-Mar-14 13:04:28

Has he checked option blocks for the MFL vs Maths and Physics.
As its not the most usual of combinations, can they fit?

DD1 currently doing AS Music, Maths, Physics and French. had to Change schools to get those options. Even so, still finds extra lessons clash with Physics & French. And all the MFLs have extra spoken lessons on top of timetable to fit in. Music very time consuming and demanding (would expect Art to be more so) but that's what she wants to do at Un.

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Mar-14 14:04:39

If he is really keen on the MFL has he considered doing Physics with a Year in Europe at Uni? A course like this:

www.physics.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/undergraduate-courses/physics-with-study-in-europe-mphys/

Then he would get to keep up his languages as well as do physics.

trippingthelightfantastic Tue 11-Mar-14 14:15:43

All combinations he"s considering are possible.
The reason why I think it's sad Is that at such a young age (15) you have to close off options and give up subjects you like and may wish to continue. He finds MFL's exciting, formulating words and expressing yourself in a language that's not your own. On the other hand he's passionate about physics and he is fascinated with maths. Then there's art, his life long interest which we've encouraged since he was toddler, like many artists he has no faith in his ability, constantly struggling to get what is inside his head to actually come out.
MrsMarigold he hates bio and he feels that in comparison with physics chemistry isn't a real science. "M

trippingthelightfantastic Tue 11-Mar-14 14:16:31

noble yes this is what he wants to do IC do a similar thing.

Veering wildly off track, but maybe he could consider doing international baccalaureate instead? That way he could keep the art and the MFL, while still studying Physics and Maths at a high level.

crazymum53 Tue 11-Mar-14 14:50:11

If he is aiming at a top university then Art is not a "facilitating" subject so would not be seen favourably.
Ideally a second Science such as Chemistry (good overlap with Thermodynamics and Properties of Materials) or possibly Computer science as many Physics graduates end up working with Computer systems. Chemistry is more mathematical at advanced level so may better fit with his ideas of a "proper" Science.
The IB is a possibility, but I think that students also have to take English Literature and some schools may not offer all the possible subject combinations. Higher Maths would cover many aspects of Further Maths though!

trippingthelightfantastic Tue 11-Mar-14 14:58:14

The IB would probably be better (in retrospect) but he can't move all suitable schools who do the IB within sensible commuting have already selected for their 6 th form. We've already looked at this.
I'm aware art is not a facilitating subject but it would be his fourth subject the uiversities seem to want three A*/A's it would just an extra subject.

BirdintheWings Tue 11-Mar-14 15:01:00

If he loves the creative side of Art but lacks faith in himself, doing the A-level is probably not the way to go (lots of analysing other artists and even writing (gulp) essays). Could he get stuck into scene painting for a school or local theatre show, draw cartoons, design comic books?

BTW I did physics at a 'top university' without further maths, and it was very hard going.

trippingthelightfantastic Tue 11-Mar-14 15:10:10

Painting/drawing is not his chosen medium. He believes he can't draw, he can of course. He's been drawn to the work of many artists since tiny, analysing artists from an early age he loves it and he is also aware that there is an essay to write. Art is almost a luxury subject, an indulgence something you do even though you know career wise it serves no useful purpose.
Sitting here he's just sent me a txt he's decided FM, physics, maths and a MFL.

crazymum53 Tue 11-Mar-14 17:00:41

Have just realised which degree course requires Art, Physics and Maths- Architecture!
But if he's made up his mind about taking Physics his text is a good combination.

Educatingme Tue 11-Mar-14 17:08:19

I would suggest that he doesn't at all need to give up his art; but that he shouldn't take an A level in it. Hobbies matter too.

If he wants to do physics I think most Unis would very, very strongly recommend both Maths and further Maths.

He can do maths with MFL at UCL of course; has he seen that? here

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