A level choices to study sciences...

(24 Posts)
1805 Tue 16-Jan-18 23:30:20

Hi. My ds is looking to study science. He fancies Oxbridge at the moment, but he is year 11 now, so lots of time yet.
What I want to ask is…
Does he need to do further maths as well as maths, physics and chemistry, or can he do spanish instead?

OP’s posts: |
TheSnorkMaidenReturns Tue 16-Jan-18 23:40:23

Look at the individual websites and admission requirements for each college and uni.

It does depend what he wants to study at uni. For chemistry I wouldn't have thought further maths necessary. Essential if he wants to do a maths based subject though.

Abetes Wed 17-Jan-18 07:08:29

At dd’s school, they said that you should take further maths if you want to do maths, physics or engineering at Oxbridge/top unis. Not so important for biology or chemistry.

amirrorimage Wed 17-Jan-18 07:43:28

1805 there is a thread that asks a similar question that you could look at
Basically as PPs say.
My DC says that there are students without FMs doing physics at Imperial (not Oxbridge though but has a high maths content in course) who seem to be coping but are having to work harder. Just from one term's experiences lectures are from first principles but move through concepts at great speed so makes it easier if student is not playing catch-up from start.
However even for students with FMs there is variability in what the different A level boards cover, for example my DC has done a lot on one topic in FM that is now useful but much less of another topic that was important in the first term.

OhYouBadBadKitten Wed 17-Jan-18 07:48:42

It's not essential, but helpful if he can do it without compromising his other subjects. Cambridge doesn't offer individual Physics, but Nat Sci. entry requirements

ttlshiwwya Wed 17-Jan-18 08:00:15

My DS2 is in his first year of a chemistry degree at a RG uni (top 10 not top 3 so a bit below what your DS is looking at). They do a maths for chemists course to get everyone to the necessary levels. He hasn't FM but has found the catch-up okay.

Would Biology be a better 4th choice? My DS has found this useful alongside his Physics.

1805 Wed 17-Jan-18 08:45:23

I spoke with a friends dd last night who is on a year out before doing her phd. she wished she'd done a language instead of f maths. Oxbridge do not REQUIRE f maths, I haven't looked at IC requirements yet.
We need as many opinions as possible!!

OP’s posts: |


amirrorimage Wed 17-Jan-18 08:58:37

None of the universities require FM for physics, natural sciences or chemistry.
That is beside the point. As I said in the other thread IMO you have to be a keen mathematician at A level stage to enjoy maths heavy physics courses. That is not the case for chemistry and biology or less mathematical physics courses. My DC was similar yours for choices at Year 11 but is pleased to have selected FM as really enjoyed it.
Languages are offered throughout the degree at Imperial through their Horizons' course and many other universities have similar options for MFL as an extra. So if your DS does not do Spanish at A level he can do it at university (except) Oxbridge alongside his science especially if he selects a year abroad.

amirrorimage Wed 17-Jan-18 08:59:22

(except Oxbridge)

NotAnotherJaffaCake Wed 17-Jan-18 09:03:55

I did chemistry at Imperial and you would be absolutely foolish to do the course without maths A level - those who didn't have it really struggled, even though lots of maths help was offered. It wasn't a million miles away from the maths content of the physics degree. I did Chem, Maths, Physics and French and whilst further maths would have been useful I had enough maths to ensure I could learn additional maths content easily. Not all maths A levels are equal - you need a lot of pure maths and mechanics. So if he gets a choice of modules he should bear that in mind, as a decent choice of modules would help with the absence of further maths.

A lot of people take further maths because they don't know what else to take and if you're that way inclined, it's not terribly difficult, rather than because it's an absolute requirement for a course.

amirrorimage Wed 17-Jan-18 09:40:29

NotAnotherJaffacake I don't think that OP was suggesting not doing maths at all, just whether FM could be replaced by another option.
From what my DCs have said I don't think maths A level has much choice in modules unlike FM.

BubblesBuddy Wed 17-Jan-18 10:27:07

It would be intersting to see if there are any stats that show how many successful applicants for the courses you are looking at have actually got FM. My view would be quite a few. I do not know if the universities publish this information but often minimum requirements are just that. Many applicants offer more.

BubblesBuddy Wed 17-Jan-18 10:28:05

By the way OP, there is never a lot of time for Oxbridge applications! Many schools prep from y9.

BubblesBuddy Wed 17-Jan-18 10:32:25

Sorry! I meant to add that there are aptitude tests for some courses at Oxford (Physics for example) and the best schools will prepare candidates for these. Oxford also specifically mention FM for Physics. It is not required but it is desirable. Therefore you really do need to look at the courses and not accept what a friend says.

caringcarer Wed 17-Jan-18 10:35:03

I agree that you need the Mechanics modules to help with Physics. Not all schools do these as they chose Decision which is basically easier. If your sons school does not do Mechanics and this is offered in FM then I would do it. Another option would be to have a Maths tutor just to do Mechanics. This would give your son another choice in exams. Otherwise a language is accepted as fine.

1805 Wed 17-Jan-18 18:04:35

OMG - my head is spinning!!!
Maybe he should look at uni's that offer the year abroad, I'd have loved to have done that! (but I have to remember it's DS's life now not mine!!!)

OP’s posts: |
Bekabeech Wed 17-Jan-18 20:44:21

I thought no Decision is dropped from the new Maths syllabuses. So that won't be an issue.

sendsummer Wed 17-Jan-18 22:45:01

^ Many schools prep from y9.^
Bubbles you usually make some very sensible points but I would dispute this based on what I know and hear of some very selective private schools and grammar school. None of these prepare for Oxford aptitude tests from year 9. The very selective schools will be stretching their able pupils and some may organise practice questions just before. Howeve IME many if not most students are successful from working though past (or similar) papers on their own just as for STEP. I do agree though that it should not be left until the last minute.

OhYouBadBadKitten Thu 18-Jan-18 09:07:50

Decision is available in FM

Needmoresleep Thu 18-Jan-18 09:25:23

Advice DS was given, for economics not physics, but his degree contained as many maths modules as his friend's physics degree, was to learn as much maths at school as you can. The teaching approach is different at University, and though FM content will be covered, it is covered very fast.

I have not heard of prepping for Oxbridge from Y9. Almost the opposite in that DCs school was anxious to reassure pupils that Oxbridge was not the be-all and end-all and that they should research courses carefully. Especially in science schools may not know who will be a sound Oxbridge applicant till Yr 11 or 12, when the material gets tougher and the ones with the right analytical skills start to shine.

Needmoresleep Thu 18-Jan-18 09:31:17

Sorry. DS' friend was taking engineering not physics. Imperial's physics course is apparently seriously mathematical, so though a good mathematician might get a place without FM, the first term would be more comfortable with.

whiteroseredrose Sat 20-Jan-18 21:20:47

I know you asked about Oxbridge but someone asked a similar question at Imperial. The answer was that Further Maths wasn't a requirement but about 80% of those with offers had Further Maths A Level. So he'd probably be at a disadvantage.

FWIW DS has an offer from Imperial to do Physics with a year in Spain. He has GCSE Spanish and was told that he would be taught the necessary Spanish. Would that be an option?

1805 Sun 21-Jan-18 15:04:44


something like that sounds perfect. Well done to your ds!

OP’s posts: |
GnomeDePlume Sun 21-Jan-18 15:12:27

DD is applying for Chemical Physics degrees. Sheffield said that students with FM wouldn't need to do the extra maths course in the first year of the degree.

At open day many of the unis were offering additional language courses to be taken on the side.

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