Economics degree without A level economics

(61 Posts)
ProfessorLayton1 Fri 22-Sep-17 07:23:47

Dd has just started A levels... she did not decide what A levels she wanted to till she had her GCSEs . Scored well in GCSE - she is taking French,chemistry, biology, maths and FM.
Last week she wanted to take English literature but decided against it ( I was happy for her to swap any of her subjects with this)
This week she wants to try economics😳
Is this normal?
I have trawled through economics requirements for various universities and A level economics is not required??
Has anyone done economics at university without A level economics..knowing her she would try for Cambridge/LSE but I understand that this is only one of 5 choices.
Frankly I have had enough of this and would like to settle down on her subjects at least by the end of this month...
Although the universities say you don't need economics will she be disadvantaged?

OP’s posts: |
palmfronds Fri 22-Sep-17 07:26:39

If she's taking maths and further maths I would have thought she'd be fine - economics at degree level is very very different to economics at A-level. I don't think she'd be disadvantaged at all.

Trying2bgd Fri 22-Sep-17 07:33:10

Agree with palm. Having economics A-level is helpful as you have a better idea of principles discussed in first year but actually a maths A-level is far more useful

Needmoresleep Fri 22-Sep-17 07:44:34

Her issue will be convincing Universities that she has sufficient interest in economics to sustain three years study. Academically I don't think you need the A level. (Indeed maths grads sometimes switch into economics at Masters level.) Most, however, will have it, and Universities seem to value the new A level syllabus more than the previous one.

One advantage of taking the A level is to find out whether she enjoys the subject. Like psychology and other new subjects, people can find it does not suit them. Also places on top, more mathematical, courses, are very oversubscribed. Unless she has other ways of demonstrating a strong interest in economics, she might end up having to focus applications on maths with economics type degrees, where the competition is less intense.

biscuitbasket Fri 22-Sep-17 07:46:52

Really? Ds1 wants to do PPE and the advice seemed clear that he needs to maths, but shouldn't do economics at a level....

boatrace30 Fri 22-Sep-17 07:52:04

Some universities will prefer students NOT to have economics a level

exexpat Fri 22-Sep-17 08:01:00

Maths is crucial, economics not essential, and an essay subject is helpful - or at least that is the advice DS was given when talking to teachers & universities. He did maths, FM, history & economics, and is now doing an economics degree.


astoundedgoat Fri 22-Sep-17 08:01:37

For PPE, just maths is fine - no need for economics.

(I wish I had done economics way back when - such a great field).

AuntieStella Fri 22-Sep-17 08:07:17

Advice from our school was that it's not an absolute requirement because quite a lot of schools don't offer it. But if you go to a school which does, then yes you'll need to show that you have a real interest in economics that properly explains not choosing it. Our schools does offer it, and very nearly all those who do economics at university have done it at A level.

If not doing economics A level, they strongly recommend maths plus an essay based subject (specifically recommending history). It might nit be a formal requirement, but it's what they think shows the right skills/interests

Spam88 Fri 22-Sep-17 08:07:49

I think it's better to have core subjects, especially if she's changing her mind all the time about what she wants to do, it keeps more options open. That being said, the benefit of taking it now is that she could see whether she actually enjoys it.

exexpat Fri 22-Sep-17 08:17:38

For what it's worth, A-level economics nearly put DS off doing it at university - he didn't much enjoy the course, and nearly dropped his UCAS offers for economics to reapply for something else, but decided at the last moment to go ahead. As it turns out, he is really enjoying economics at university level, and it is very different from the A-level (much more mathematical, for a start).

homebythesea Fri 22-Sep-17 08:23:15

I was at Cambridge with an Economics undergrad who had not done it at A level. I did do it and he came to me for help in the first couple of terms grin

senua Fri 22-Sep-17 10:53:20

Is this normal?

I believe that people who are "Cambridge/LSE" standard often excel at, and enjoy, several subjects and therefore have real trouble trying to decide what to drop at sixth form.
Are you saying that she wants to do Economics at University, or that it might be a possibility?

Ideally, she should have an idea of which degree she fancies and thus take the most appropriate A Levels, as shown on the UCAS site. But. as we all know, life is never ideal!

CreamCol0uredP0nies Fri 22-Sep-17 13:20:48

Some universities don't require A level maths to study economics but it depends on the institution and the amount of mathematical content in the course.
The best course of action is to trawl through UCAS and individual universities for entry requirements.
Even with an economics degree, there are some employers who still like to see an A level maths in the mix.

irregularegular Fri 22-Sep-17 13:41:27

For PPE it does not matter at all whether you have A-level Economics. It's probably about 50/50 whether the students have it or not and by the end of the first year you cannot tell the difference.

Maths is extremely useful and I think over 90% of PPEists have A-level Maths.

BubblesBuddy Fri 22-Sep-17 15:38:11

LSE want Maths and Further Maths is an advantage as a 4th A level. No-one seems to require Economics but there is clearly no harm in it. I think Maths will be required at all top flight universities such as the ones you mention.

I am not sure she should do 5 A levels unless you are French speakers of course. She seems to have left doors open for science degrees and economics degrees, plus maths at the moment so changes of mind may well happen.

A language is always useful and would sit well with Maths, FM and Economics. If she defiitely wants science, then no point in Economics or English or French. Lots of universities offer the opportunity to study in France and French may be useful. I amnot sure if the universities you mention have links with Sciences Po, but this could be an avenue worth exploring.

Needmoresleep Fri 22-Sep-17 16:25:14

No harm in taking five if it is not a burden. It will not be unusual for applicants to LSE/Cambridge type places to have taken five, perhaps more. Though with the proviso that you drop one if the others start to suffer. Taking five proved a lifeline for DS who got a bizarrely low mark in one of his history papers, bringing his overall grade down to a B. (It happens!) FM did not count but his fifth A level did, so he met his offer.

user918273645 Fri 22-Sep-17 17:34:06

It will not be unusual for applicants to LSE/Cambridge type places to have taken five, perhaps more.

It will be unusual under the reformed A levels. I don't think five was ever that common for Economics - outside students from top private schools like Westminster. Expectations for Westminster students are certainly not the same as expectations for students from state sixth forms. Note that many state sixth forms are currently unlikely to allow students to do more than 3 subjects, unless the fourth is FM.

ChocolateWombat Fri 22-Sep-17 17:43:30

Economics A Level is not a requirement for degree level study and a good number of students won't have taken the A Level. They will be absolutely fine and the universities won't look negatively on their applications.
They should aim to show a genuine interest in the subject in their personal statement (in case it is read) as should all students applying to take it. It would be good to show how aspects of others subjects taken at A Level relate to economics or how they led to their interest. Reading of stuff related to economics is a must.

Economics A Level is never a facilitating (required) subject. Maths is very often a requirement and even in the very few courses where it isn't, not having maths if studying Economics is a problem. People should have that made clear to them when choosing A Level Economics.

Of course it is possible to take A Level Econ knowing you want to study something else at uni, making it fine not to have Maths.

BizzyFizzy Fri 22-Sep-17 17:50:21

My DD is doing Economics without the A-level. She's just started her third year and on the cusp of. 1st/2:1.

Needmoresleep Fri 22-Sep-17 18:14:05

User, I take your point, however my observation is that overseas students, and top economics degrees often have a high proportion of non UK students, have often taken more than three. I was really responding to Bubbles, whose daughter I believe went to Imperial from a private school, and who will have come across a significant minority who took three sciences with double maths.

And in response to Wombat, LSE, Warwick and UCL were all very clear when DS applied three years ago that PS' were read very carefully. LSE lists economics as a 'Common traditional academic/'generally preferred' subject'. It makes no mention of facilitating subjects. I think that terms comes from another University. In fact they go a bit further and say "In addition to Mathematics, we are looking for subject combinations which indicate that you possess both analytical and writing abilities. Subjects which appear as common post-16 choices are Economics; Physics; History; Chemistry; English and Government and Politics."

Its detail, I know, but these courses are really competitive, and other than Cambridge, Universities usually don't interview. Everything on the UCAS form then becomes very important. I don't think people are being done any favours by suggesting that the PS does not matter. Its actually the opposite: read the guidance and follow it.

Allthebestnamesareused Fri 22-Sep-17 19:08:58

Most economics degrees require Maths A level but are not specific about the other A levels.

The top 6 for Economics (Oxbridge, Warwick, UCL, LSE, Imperial) require 2 x A* A or A*AA (except Oxford who require AAA but I assume usually have candidates of A* calibre anyway). Some of these require the A* in Maths but some are happy with a mere A in Maths grin

ChocolateWombat Fri 22-Sep-17 22:17:46

I did emphasise that all students should work hard on their personal statement and ensure they provide good evidence of a genuine interest in the subject. This is very important. Not all universities do carefully read the personal statement - this is a fact. However, at no point did I advocate not putting in great effort - quite the opposite, because some universities will read them carefully.
In reality most will sift before they read. Anyone with grades lower than a threshold will be binned and not read. Not all will be read. This isn't an excuse not to bother writing a good statement.
And it should also be recognised that not all students applying for Econ are A grade students or applying to top institutions either.

Students who get the offers for top Economics courses at the best universities have first of all got stellar grades - that is stellar GCSEs, plus stellar predictions. They have maths and usually further maths A Level and other academic subjects too - these might be sciences or humanities or languages or a combination. Without these great GCSEs and great predictions, even a brilliant personal statement won't get a place.
Being able to demonstrate a genuine interest in the subject beyond A Level (if you are studying it) or if you are not already studying it is vital. Entry to essay competitions, attendance at conferences, taking part in things like the Banknof England's Target 2.0 competition, a range of reading, relevant work experience or visits, delivering presentations to other groups of students, all of these help separate out candidates when huge numbers have high predicted grades. These can only be evidenced on the personal statement.
Not only is all if this good for the statement, of course it is good for students testing themselves to see if they actually do have a genuine provable interest, rather than simply stating they have a 'passion'.

ChocolateWombat Fri 22-Sep-17 22:25:57

'Facilitating subjects' is the term given to subjects that are a specific requirement to do certain courses at RG universities. It is a term used by the Sutton Trust which publishes 'Informed Choices" - a booklet for those choosing A Levels. It helps inform students about the impact their A Level choices might make on their degree options.
It emphasises the need for academic, standard qualifications. It lays out which subjects have specific requirements and also which subjects appear as those requirements.
Economics is not a facilitating subject because no Economics degree requires it. Maths is a facilitating subject because a number of degrees (including Economics) require it. 'informed Choices' recommends that students wishing to choose competitive subjects at RG Unis look to include some facilitating subjects, especially if they are unsure what they wish to study, because these keep doors open.

There is no suggestion that Economics is a soft or lesser A Level subject. It is highly regarded as an analytical, essay based subject. It would be highly regarded by universities looking at Economics applications or other subjects. However, it is not a requirement.

BizzyFizzy Fri 22-Sep-17 22:44:13

My DD1 is doing Economics at RHUL. She does have Maths A-level (as well as Physics and G&P) but they have a stream there for students that didn't come with Maths, and another that did. I think in the non-Maths stream they do a lot of Maths teaching.

DD2 has just started Economics at Edinburgh, and her A-levels were Economics, Maths, Chemistry. She is aware that her advantage in Economics will vanish in the first few weeks. What she did learn, however, with a more scientific mindset, was how to write (as did DD1 with her Politics A-level).

Economics is offered at such a wide range of universities, so most A-level options can be accommodated.

You have to overlook the Mumsnet for Oxbridge, etc, and realise that there is a wider world out there.

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