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Biology/Zoology degree? Or something else?

(35 Posts)
sluj Sun 19-Mar-17 09:43:09

I'm perhaps a bit premature with this but DS2 is in year 11 and struggling with A level choices. He has decided on Biology and Geography but stuck for a third option. He is interested in biology but not plant biology so was thinking long term about maybe a zoology degree. His current choice of A levels looks fine for that.
The degree looks great but I'm not so sure about the career options afterwards.
Can anyone point us to any other options for degree?
Just needing to consider the A level choices and not bar himself from something by making the wrong choices.
Any thoughts on zoology prospects or alternative degrees would be much appreciated.

Devilishpyjamas Sun 19-Mar-17 09:45:36

I did zoology - he may not escape plant Biology completely - he first year can be joint with biological sciences.

Is he taking chemistry? He needs to really.

titchy Sun 19-Mar-17 09:51:30

Accepted school of thought is not to specialise too much at UG level, so Biology over Zoology.

Very few A level and UG level biologists like the plant stuff by the way - at degree level there tends to be one plant module in year 1 and that's all. Pretty much all biology degrees offer a good choice of option modules in years 2 and 3 so plenty of opportunity to follow interests while still having a broad base to be relevant to as wide a variety of careers as possible. Look at degrees with a placement year for relevant work experience.

Regarding the third subject - a few Biology degrees require Chemistry A level, but most don't so anything would be fine! Dd did Psychology as her third which has been useful. She does slightly regret not doing Maths though - you'll never go wrong with Maths.

Ocies Sun 19-Mar-17 10:20:08

Marine biology either on it's own or with oceanography/ocean science?

Ta1kinPeace Sun 19-Mar-17 11:56:39

Maths A level will make a biology degree much easier
(As per DD who notes that those without maths are having to take extra courses)
And YYY to wide rather than narrow for first degree.

AtiaoftheJulii Sun 19-Mar-17 11:57:01

I knew quite a few zoologists (UG rather than current jobs, lol) and the specialisation doesn't seem to have been a problem since. But that was at a good university - lower down the league tables it might make more difference?

I'd probably go for chemistry as the third A level, second choice maths. That would keep lots of options open for degree courses.

sluj Sun 19-Mar-17 12:25:58

Thank you for your thoughts so far. Unfortunately he does not like maths and is turning his nose up at chemistry too. Psychology might be of interest but he's still thinking he can afford to have one of his A levels as the "enjoyable " one. confused
What kind of career comes from a biology or zoology degree? Am I right in thinking not many zoologists end up using their degree?

Ta1kinPeace Sun 19-Mar-17 13:55:33

Science degrees open doors.
Accountancy, finance, law, consulting, business, you name it.
I never ever intended to "use" my degree
when I met up with my fellow students 30 years on around 1/4 had
the rest of us had done all sorts of things.

Eastpoint Sun 19-Mar-17 14:04:44

Dd is reading Biology now & really enjoying it. When she was in year 12 she did maths, chemistry, biology & geography. She dropped chemistry at the end of year 12. I know people who have gone on to become solicitors from zoology degrees, work in TV & work in research. I know of someone else who read one of those two subjects and now works for a very large online retailer.

AtiaoftheJulii Sun 19-Mar-17 14:11:56

What kind of career comes from a biology or zoology degree?

Academia, conservation, university administration, various unrelated jobs.

MiniMaxi Sun 19-Mar-17 14:17:10

I read Biological Sciences a few (18!) years ago and took the following at A level:
- Biology
- Chemistry
- English
- Spanish AS

This was before they changed the whole A level / AS level thing

The arts / languages / science mix was totally acceptable but I had to have chemistry as well as biology to apply for the courses I wanted. It's worth checking before he decides.

With my degree you started with a first year that covered cell biology and the basics of animal and plant, then you specialised from second year onwards. He might find his interests change over the three years - I did.

Oh and I did use my degree for a few years working in conservation but had a bit of a career change and I'd say my job now is environmental-ish but doesn't apply knowledge from zoology aspects of my degree.

Devilishpyjamas Sun 19-Mar-17 14:19:38

What kind of career?

I worked in japan, did a biology PhD, taught a level Biology, became a social sciences researcher, now work in the field of learning disabilities and physical behaviours and an going to return to college to become a speech and language therapist (while continuing the behaviours work).

Friends have done all sorts from law to BBC natural history unit

Devilishpyjamas Sun 19-Mar-17 14:22:52

Quite a few of my zoology friends have ended up in academia - but I did zoology at Oxford (in the days it had a zoology degree) so that may be a reflection of the university rather than the degree itself.

Sunnyshores Sun 19-Mar-17 14:24:29

Is he interested in animals and conservation, you havent actually said - just that he likes biology. If he is, then geography is obviously a good match as he can study human and physical geography to better understand conservation issues.

How about an ecology degree or a geography one?

sunbird17 Sun 19-Mar-17 14:53:43

I did Zoology and loved it. Fields my classmates ended up in include academia, accountancy, management consultancy, agriculture, teaching and conservation. If he goes to a good university, the transferable skills can be great - written reports, presentations, giving lectures, IT skills, data analysis, etc. The most useful A-levels (aside from Biology and Geography) would probably be Maths and Chemistry. Check undergrad course options carefully. He will almost certainly have to do some plant and biochemistry based modules. If he struggles with maths or English he needs to think very carefully as there is a lot of maths and a lot of reading and essay writing. Science degrees are generally quite full-on, so lectures all morning, lab work in the afternoons then reports/essays to do in the evenings. We didn't get the time to do all of the social activities that the arts students did. We felt that we got our money's worth though!

Squirrills Sun 19-Mar-17 15:02:50

I have one doing Biology. He did Maths, Chemistry and Biology A levels and I second what others say about Maths, some of what he has done has been very Maths heavy.
In the first year all the Biology related courses do the same modules. DS has found that he enjoys some topics he didn't expect to (plants) and vice versa a good reason not to specialise too soon.
He had no particular career in mind and still doesn't but thinks it is unlikely to be Biology related.

Eastpoint Sun 19-Mar-17 15:07:09

He needs to check whether geography counts as a science, for the universities dd looked at you needed either two sciences or maths & biology.

catslife Sun 19-Mar-17 15:31:18

but he's still thinking he can afford to have one of his A levels as the "enjoyable " one.
It depends what he means by "enjoyable" OP. I would assume that a dc would choose A level subjects that they are good at, are interested in and enjoy. Am not sure if I would recommend spending 2 years at A level and then 3 years of degree study on a subject they don't enjoy!
Now that most sixth formers are studying 3 subjects from the start of Y12 it's more important to check that the combination of subjects chosen will lead to the correct goal.
Would suggest looking at a few uni websites and seeing which A level combinations they recommend for Biology degrees to make sure that he isn't ruling out too many options by his A level choices.

sluj Sun 19-Mar-17 16:06:23

Thanks for all your advice. He is certainly a different kettle of fish to DS1 who is on the first year of a medical degree and had a definite plan early on. He is academic and also creative but with no fixed direction. He likes biology best and wants to go to university but that's about as far as it goes. He's only 15 till August so perhaps direction will come with maturity but in the meantime those A level choices have to be made.
I'm just keen to make sure he doesn't block of options at this Pont.

mummymeister Mon 20-Mar-17 10:32:10

I think it helps to look through university prospectus's. it just shows the huge diversity of degrees there are out there and also what you need for them before you choose your a levels.

he could consider environmental sciences, natural sciences etc

there will always be a bit of option blocking but personally I would always choose 2 sciences and one arts/other so would pair his current choices with maybe maths or chemistry.

mumeeee Mon 20-Mar-17 16:53:16

DD3 did a Zoology degree. She did Physics Biology and Chemistry for A levels. She also did AS art.
DD3 is now a teacher and is head of Science department. Biology is her thing but she is able to teach all 3 sciences

blaeberry Mon 20-Mar-17 17:02:43

I would say definitely maths A level if he thought he was capable of a good mark in it. I would also consider doing a joint honours in biology and maths. There is a lot of mathematical modelling in biology these days and if not modelling you are likely to be doing quite a bit of statistics.

goodbyestranger Mon 20-Mar-17 17:08:45

Well, except that the DS in question doesn't like maths....

blaeberry Mon 20-Mar-17 17:31:14

Missed that... It such a good option then.

blaeberry Mon 20-Mar-17 17:31:38


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