Politics or Psychology A level? *edited by MNHQ*

(36 Posts)
Coconutty Thu 06-Feb-14 21:48:32

DS has chosen maths, economics and geography for A level.

He now needs to choose a fourth one and has narrowed it down to Psychology or politics. He would probably prefer psychology as a subject but isn't really keen on essays.

Are they both regarded the same by the universities and has anyone got any advice/opinions on either?

Coconutty Thu 06-Feb-14 21:49:48

He also liked the sound of DT but wasn't sure it would be viewed as well as the other two. Also been told its very hard to get an A in it, which put him off a bit.

EverybodysStressyEyed Thu 06-Feb-14 21:51:05

I did his 3 (plus an extra maths) and went on to do politics at university

i would say they are both well regarded and they will both be essay subjects. I would choose the one he is more interested in.

EverybodysStressyEyed Thu 06-Feb-14 21:51:32

What does he want to do after A levels?

KatherinaMinola Thu 06-Feb-14 21:53:33

Neither is regarded as a 'traditional' subject, and both are frowned on a little by certain universities. (Actually, the same goes for Economics in some cases). Depending on what he wants to do, he might be better off going for a more traditional subject. Take advice.

meerschweinchen Thu 06-Feb-14 21:53:57

I'm a bit confused! Is he choosing between Politics and Economics or between Psychology and Politics?

Coconutty Thu 06-Feb-14 22:04:17

Between politics and psychology. Economics is one that he is definitely taking.

Coconutty Thu 06-Feb-14 22:05:17

Not sure yet what career he wants, but wants to go to uni.

EverybodysStressyEyed Thu 06-Feb-14 22:10:51

Does he know what he wants to study or where he wants to study?

EmmaGoldmanSachs Thu 06-Feb-14 22:13:40

Unhelpful, but if he might want to study Economics then would further maths be worth considering?

Ouchiebum Thu 06-Feb-14 22:16:07

My husband is a p

Ouchiebum Thu 06-Feb-14 22:20:22

My husband is a politics teacher. His advice is if he doesn't like essays don't do politics. Or economics or geography! He says that pyschology and politics are both well regarded by unis but politics is more established and more traditional. His bottom line is, you don't like essays don't do politics.

Coconutty Thu 06-Feb-14 22:30:08

He did consider further maths but though just maths would be enough for him.

No idea what or where he wants to study after A levels which makes it harder to choose what to do now tbh.

EverybodysStressyEyed Thu 06-Feb-14 22:32:23

I would do psychology then. It gives a broader range.

Both economics and geography cover some politics

MillyMollyMama Thu 06-Feb-14 23:52:43

People who do economics beyond A level have to like Maths and want to do it. Further Maths would be better than anything else. If he does not like essays, some of these subjects will not be suitable for him at university where essays will be required.

EverybodysStressyEyed Fri 07-Feb-14 08:31:06

Essays are a necessary evil though. He might not like them but if he learns to do them well it will stand him in good stead.

I'm an accountant now and the one area candidates let themselves down is in their written skills.

ChocolateWombat Fri 07-Feb-14 09:01:25

Just to point out that your post title is misleading, as it sounds like the choice is between politics and economics.

People wanting to go to RG Unis are advised these days to have 2 of the core subjects (Eng, Maths, Hist, Geog, Lang, Sci) which are known as facilitator subjects. If they have these 2 , having a third non facilitator is fine as long as well regarded. Both Economics and Politics would fall into this category. So at A2 if you are down to 3 subjects at that point ideally you don't want more than 1 non facilitator and you need to make sure it is well regarded. Choosing 4 for AS is important, because you don't know what you will drop, but will ideally not want to be left at A2 with 2 non facilitators.

Facilitating subjects are those which can be a requirement to do certain Courses. The reason Econ and Pol are not facilitators, is not because they are academically inferior, but because to do those at Uni, you don't actually require an A level in them. If you are applying to do Econ or Pol these would be regarded well, as would they if applying to do something else, but should be balanced with other academic facilitators.

If you are not interested in RG or Oxbridge, it's not such an issue.

ChocolateWombat Fri 07-Feb-14 09:04:58

Would also confirm that it is very good to do maths with Econ. Very hard on a good Uni course to do Econ without maths. At Uni it is very mathsy and you would be foolish to try to do such a course without maths A level. It isn't very mathsy at A level.
So important kids get the right advice when choosing A Levels. The RG have done research and produced documents to show kids and parents what RG Unis want, so they can make I formed choices. Unfortunately being told 'choose exactly what you like best, in whatever combination you fancy' is not helpful advice. Kids need to know how to keep door open.

My DS did this same combo at A2 and fell in love with economics but couldn't get in as he didn't have further maths. So you do have to plan ahead really early, even before you've started!

reddidi Fri 07-Feb-14 13:50:21

"My DS did this same combo at A2 and fell in love with economics but couldn't get in as he didn't have further maths. So you do have to plan ahead really early, even before you've started!"

Couldn't get in where? I think it's only LSE that requires further maths for economics and then only at AS. How about Oxbridge, Warwick, UCL ...?

reddidi Fri 07-Feb-14 13:51:48

OTOH Maths at A2 is often required, sometimes with A*.

Warwick laughed at him, as did Oxbridge! And I do mean literally. It may not be an explicit requirement but it is expected, especially if you come from a school where it is offered and you could have done it.

He didn't know at the stage he selected that he would be interested in applying for economics so it didn't occur to him it mattered.

reddidi Fri 07-Feb-14 14:02:05

OTOH again if you are can handle further maths it is an excellent choice because (1) further maths is a much better indicator that you can handle the maths in a degree course with mathematical content, A level maths doesn't go far enough and (2) there is some overlap between the courses so much of the work you do in further maths strengthens your ability in maths.

reddidi Fri 07-Feb-14 14:10:29

That's interesting WorkingItOutAsIGo, didn't used to be the case. Shows how important it is to contact admissions tutors early in Y11.

I'm still surprised though, what was his UMS mark at AS?

reddidi Fri 07-Feb-14 14:16:33

"My husband is a politics teacher. His advice is if he doesn't like essays don't do politics. Or economics or geography! He says that pyschology and politics are both well regarded by unis but politics is more established and more traditional. His bottom line is, you don't like essays don't do politics."

Exactly this. In fact Psycholgy can be quite essay based with some exam boards. For these subjects "isn't really keen on essays" is a really bad thing to say, not just at A level but for a degree in anything except a STEM subject, essays are what it is all about!

Lovemytablet Fri 07-Feb-14 14:25:42

Also surprised working it as my dc is at warwick doing Econ and didn't do further maths. Mind you he's finding the maths side tough and wishes he had done it. Most of the others have FM and A* single maths - he has neither. Not sure how he got in really!

ChocolateWombat Fri 07-Feb-14 15:04:33

Yes, an another poster said, Economics courses will never require Economics to do the degree,but they may make Maths a requirement. That is why maths is a facilitating subject and Economics is not.

If your kids are not being told this info when choosing A Levels, you need to speak to the Careers Dept or whoever gives them advice about choosing. Schools which get high numbers into RG Unis make sure their kids know this stuff. The RG is circulating info to make sure it isn't only kids in the nice middle class or private schools that get the info.

If you haven't got the right combination of subjects, you are excluded from certain subjects whatever your ability. Doors are closed. This in itself is not shocking, but the fact kids don't get told or don't have it really emphasised to them is shocking.

OP since your DS is looking at a 4th subject I don't think it matters. I would find out the exam board for both subjects and have a look in detail at what is covered. That might help him choose.
My DS is also undecided career wise and I have tried to advise him so as as to keep his options as open as possible. He has actually applied to do 5 subjects, Maths 3 sciences and computer science. The sixth form have said he can make his final choice in August. I think he will probably do four AS and 3 A2 though.

As to Further Maths. It's very tough. DS1 is doing it and he reckons there has been a huge drop out rate. Many GCSE A* students have struggled with Further Maths.
As others have said you don't need FM at most Unis for a Maths degree but if your school offers it you would certainly be expected to take it for the top unis.

I think economics has really changed and is now very mathematical in most places. It doesn't need to be - it's just part of economists fooling themselves it's a science wink. I write as a mathematician who studied economics as it was like real life maths and in the end concluded it was all politics really.

So does this help OP - I guess what we are saying is if your DS has an inkling of what he might study later this should drive his subject choice. I would say politics not pyschology but if he is good at maths consider that instead. Most universities will rate that higher she said in a broad generalisation!

And Reddidi re my DS he got that reaction on open days and at a UCAS fair early in his lower sixth so his UMS wasn't relevant at that stage. And I don't know what it was in fact...all turned out well as with more experience under his belt he realised his heart lay in something different and he will be studying that at Cambridge from October this year.

Coconutty Fri 07-Feb-14 17:39:04

He thinks he would enjoy psychology more but isn't really sure. It seems like quite a big decision tbh and one we want to get right.

No-one has commented on DT, would that be a total mismatch?

ChocolateWombat Fri 07-Feb-14 18:41:03

DT might be useful for some careers. In the broader academic sense though, not so highly regarded.

Coconutty Mon 10-Feb-14 19:39:20

Everyone keeps telling me maths A level is crazy hard and are really making me question if it's a wise choice or not.

He is predicted A* at GCSE and is doing a further maths GCSE. He did a test today on FM and said it was really hard.

God, it's so difficult isn't it?

Coconutty Mon 10-Feb-14 19:41:57

Has decided that psychology is going to be better for him than politics btw.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Mon 10-Feb-14 20:47:06

I teach Psychology (picked up psychology after years of teaching Biology A level) and really enjoy the content as do most of the students. It might be good if he borrowed a copy of the AS textbooks and have a flick through to see if he likes it as many students have a misconception as to what they will be studying in psychology.

It is very essay based in the A2 though.

OP thanks for the update!

Maths A level isn't crazy hard so long as you are good at maths - sounds like your son is. And it's a nice contrast to essay subjects as well as being in my biased view the most valued one by employers.

Coconutty Wed 12-Feb-14 19:46:31

Thanks working, I think he's just a bit concerned by everyone saying it's a very difficult.

Geography and economics are definitely in.

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