Wrong A level subjects - what to do

(9 Posts)
idea888 Sat 10-Feb-18 18:42:42

My dc is in Y12 and taking maths, biology & history. Originally planned to do physics instead of biology & I'm not really sure why she changed her mind as that was her favourite subject, I think maybe it was because none of her friends were doing physics and she got cold feet. She has been looking at maths degree info in a slightly half-hearted way and it transpired that she is deeply regretting giving up physics and wishes she'd done it and could then do a physics degree.

So I am wondering if anyone could help with some ideas for what options she might have? Could she do physics A level in a year after finishing Y13 and then apply for uni? Would this be a problem as she wouldn't have done all her A levels in one sitting? Is there any other way she could get onto a physics degree?

OP’s posts: |
user369060 Sat 10-Feb-18 18:52:38

In the UK theoretical physics research is often housed in mathematics departments and accordingly many/most mathematics degrees in the UK include theoretical physics. So if she would be happy with doing theoretical physics she could effectively get to this via a mathematics degree without having to take physics.

If she really feels she wants to do a physics degree, she could do physics A level and then apply - it would not be an issue that she hadn't done all A levels in one sitting, as she would in any case have done three in one sitting. Her other option would be to do a foundation year at university, covering the required physics.

There has been discussion in the UK of dropping the requirement of physics A level for physics and engineering degrees, as this might attract more students who took the "wrong" A level options. This would be quite hard to implement in practice though.

I would strongly advocate looking at the route of maths degrees in math departments with a large amount of theoretical physics research (and hence many physics modules options), because this would save her time and money.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Sat 10-Feb-18 20:13:12

Manchester has a science foundation year, which allows students who have either underperformed in the right A Levels for legitimate reasons, or who have got good grades in the wrong A Levels, to switch to a science degree.

They're treated like any other student during the foundation year, live in halls, get student finance, do students union stuff etc etc. So long as they pass the year, they're guaranteed a place on the first year of their degree course


idea888 Sat 10-Feb-18 21:42:24

Thank you user and Avocado. I showed dd your answers. She is not sure about theoretical physics and is going to do some research. We hadn't thought about a foundation year - for some reason I thought they were for students who don't speak English well enough to go straight onto a degree, but looking at the Manchester one and others we've just found on the UCAS website, this could be perfect.

I think dd needs to work out if her interest in physics is serious enough to justify the cost of an extra year of study. Some of the universities with physics foundation years are ones she was thinking about looking at for maths, so if she hasn't made a decision by then, she can look at both maths & physics foundation year at open days.

Thank you both for your help - dd is quite excited to know there's a possibility of getting back into physics.

OP’s posts: |
GnomeDePlume Thu 15-Feb-18 00:36:29

I asked DD about this (currently Y13) studying Maths, FM, Physics, Chem aiming to study Chemical Physics at uni.

Her take on this was to suggest that your DD resat Y12. Do the A levels that she wants to do. Another year studying her A levels will only help. Try not to take any exams this year (maths can still be modular).

Haskell Thu 15-Feb-18 00:41:57

Is she in a state school or an independent school?
A state-maintained school/college are unlikely to let her repeat a year unless she does three completely different a levels, as they won't get funded to teach her from the ESFA (funding agency).
Likewise, if she wants to do physics a level in a year after sitting the other three, they only get reduced funding for Y14 students, and indeed for someone only sitting one course. If it's an oversubscribed institution, they'll want a FT student attracting full funding.

idea888 Thu 15-Feb-18 08:19:51

Haskell yes it is a state school and very oversubscribed, and I think they only allow students to resit year 12 in exceptional circumstances e.g. a year disrupted by illness, so I don't think that would be an option. We've looked at foundation years - didn't realise they were even an option until mentioned on here, but it seems there are quite a few universities offering this & she should get good grades so hoping she could apply for those in the "good A levels in wrong subjects" category & just swallow the extra cost.

OP’s posts: |


WannabeMathematician Thu 15-Feb-18 22:16:27

I would ensure she understands the funding for a foundation year as well. I think it isn't possible to have a foundation year and an integrated masters funded. But it has been a while since I checked.

Many people do integrated masters science degrees now so it's just something to be aware of.

spababe Sun 18-Feb-18 17:26:08

I don't know if this is any help but there are tutorial colleges that allow you to sit an A level in 1 year. My DC is doing this. It's a private college they attend for 6 hours a week and fees are £1200 per term per A level BUT if you are only there for 6 hours a week + home study, it's perfectly possible to get a job on the other days to fund the study fees and I know that is what some students do. Just a thought

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