A-level choices

(27 Posts)
scarletthw Sun 29-Apr-18 19:23:43

Hello all,

Anyone whose DC’s have chosen a-levels, help! DD has to choose soon and has no idea! She is considering
• English literature
•Classic civilisation
• Government and politics
• Religious studies

If anyone has any experience with these, please let me know!!

OP’s posts: |
scarletthw Sun 29-Apr-18 19:24:09

Oh and drama, I forgot that one!

OP’s posts: |
eatinglesschocolate Sun 29-Apr-18 20:30:58

DD doing Eng Lit and Classic Civ - be prepared for a lot of essays! She was told there would be a lot but there's A LOT more in Classics than English! She hadn't done History or Latin beyond prep and felt a bit disadvantaged at start of year with those that had done them for GCSE but seems to have bridged the gap now (L6th).

BubblesBuddy Mon 30-Apr-18 16:48:10

Of these, DD did French, Govt and Politics plus another Language and History.

She ended up doing MFL at university. Therefore get DD to think what she might want to do later. For example, English and Drama go well together. French and Spanish can be combined for a degree. Many degrees can be combined with French or Spanish. What might she be interested in?

You don’t need to do Gov and Politics to do Politics. RE is not necessary for many degrees either. Therefore they should go with two facilitating subjects. However, Latin and Classical Civ go together well, but again she should do one more facilitating subjects if possible. Thinking about a degree/career would help her to sort out what to drop. I feel History is the missing link for quite a few subject combinations you have listed though. Even if she does languages, an essay subject is a good way to go.

LIZS Mon 30-Apr-18 16:53:44

What does she enjoy? Make sure there is at least one facilitating subject on her list to keep options open.

lechhy Mon 30-Apr-18 17:14:37

You don’t need to do Gov and Politics to do Politics. RE is not necessary for many degrees either. Therefore they should go with two facilitating subjects.

Tbh, I think Facilitating subjects are overrated and govt / schools trot out this advice without necessarily thinking this through.

Of your daughter's list,

• English literature
•Classic civilisation
• Government and politics
• Religious studies

English Lit / French / Spanish / Latin require previous study in order to take them for degree. Is your daughter considering studying these at uni? If so, then she needs to do them for A level. If not, then the whole facilitating subjects things is irrelevant and to be ignored. If your daughter is thinking of doing Govt and Politics at uni, then there's no need for her study any facilitating subjects at all.

I think the thing that makes me angry about the whole facilitating subjects push... is that students are pushed onto courses that are not right for them. Your daughter would be best off doing the subjects that she enjoys and are good at - not just st choose the subjects from some random list. I've seen students who have been pushed into doing facilitating subjects and then getting lower grades, because they're not naturally that great at them, whereas they would be better off doing the subjects they enjoy and do well at. After all, Universities Like Bristol wont suddenly say, you only got bs and cs, but because they're facilitating subjects we'll let you in anyway. I used to teach in FE and have seen far too many students pushed into doing facilitating subjects, and then doing far worse, when they should have done Economics, Philosophy and Psychology which are perfectly acceptable A levels, and will just as easily lead a student to their preferred Law degree, for example.

I think when students did 4 AS, then it made more sense to make two of these facilitating, after all you could drop one after a year when you had a better idea of what you wanted to do (and were a few months off applying). But now students only do 3 A levels, to make 2/3 of your studies from a very restrictive list, that you may not even enjoy studying, I think is no long such great advice, unless it is subjects you are thinking of possibly doing at A level.

Unfortunately, I've seen far too many students learn this one the hard way. 😞

lechhy Mon 30-Apr-18 17:16:45

Sorry, didn't clarify - classics may require Latin, or just evidence of linguistic ability (so MFL) according to Informed Choices.


AlexanderHamilton Mon 30-Apr-18 17:17:20

Dd is hopzing to do English Lit & Philosophy & Ethics. She’d have liked Music but it’s in the same option column as English.

senua Mon 30-Apr-18 17:21:31

What does she want to do after sixth form, and which of those subjects will help make that happen?

yikesanotherbooboo Mon 30-Apr-18 17:34:42

All things being equal and still uncertain about what to do at university ? I think having a mfp can keep doors open.

Skiiltan Mon 30-Apr-18 17:39:49

Thank you @lecchy. I sometime wonder whether I'm the only person who thinks the whole "facilitating subjects" thing is bollocks. I'm tired of having to tell prospective medical students (and their parents, and their teachers) that doing A-level history will not give them an advantage over students who have done A-level psychology, sociology, economics, etc.

The point of facilitating subjects - so far as there is one - is to keep students' options open if they have no idea when choosing A-level subjects what they want to do afterwards. But even Russell Group institutions themselves (who made the nonsense up to make Michael Gove shut up & go away) end up with baffled prospective students who are being told by their schools not to do music A-level, for example, even though they want to do music at university.

BubblesBuddy Tue 01-May-18 12:26:18

Facilitating subjects were also a list of subjects produced by Cambridge university. Well, that's the one I looked at anyway. The subjects are best preparation for rigourous degrees from the best universities. However, you do not need three of them. If a student wishes to apply for the university of blog, it undoubtedly does not matter what is studied. If you want History or English at Oxford, it probably does because of such fierce competition to get in! Law at the university of blog is far less competitive but won't lead to a great job either. Many courses do require facilitiating subjects and state this. The choice of the third or sometimes a second subject is frequently of little consequence but students do not get selected for highly competitive courses with less than competitive A levels for the course. Who on earth would tell a child not to do Music A level when they want to study Music? That is just professional incompetence!

Every pupil should be encouraged to read, on the university web site, what their chosen course requires, not what a teacher or parent thinks is required or not required. Some universities clearly state the subjects that successful students have studied at A level. This is the best information available. If a student cannot succeed at the subjects that are best for the university/course they really covet, then of course they should lower their sights and do something else. They canstudy what they want, but the top courses may then be out of reach.

I cannot see why History would be an advantage to a medical student: I agree that would be odd. However, those students are already doing Maths and Chemistry (probably) so they have the necessary facilitating subjects anyway. No medical students gets onto the course with Economics, Sociology and Psychology as their three A levels do they? I did say two facilitating subjects was a good idea, not three.

So, it is pays to be wise about what degree/job after A levels and, if she is not sure, do A levels that keep doors open. Good combinations are also worth seeking out. So English and Drama, Classical Civilisation and Latin, two MFLs makes life easier to get onto MFL degrees, etc.

AlexanderHamilton Tue 01-May-18 17:11:56

Someone made a Freedom of Information request to several RG universities & it turned out that Drama came out very high in the list of subjects studied for those applying for Law degrees.

I think facilitating subjects is only applicable if someone has no clue what they want to do. And the Informed Choices booklet even states that a student wanting to apply for a Music degree should have music as one of their subjects.

Xenia Wed 02-May-18 08:52:15

You need to start with university subject in my view. Eg one of my son's A levels is one of his A level subjects (he is in year 1 at university). If you don't you can end up with difficulties over what to do at university unless they are set on law, medicine etc.

Of that list I would do:-

• English literature
•Classic civilisation

I don't know if you still do 4 in lower sixth. 4 of my children enjoyed economics at either AS and/or A2. i am assuming it is just three now.

My third choice above is probably easier. Spanish with the French though would be a good combination too but probably a bit tougher to do.

BubblesBuddy Wed 02-May-18 15:16:11

Classical Civilisation, whilst interesting, is best studied with Latin if you possibly can. There are pros of studying most of these, but in the right combinations for further study. So, try and decide what the further study is. MFL, Classical Civilisation, English, Politics? Or something completely different?

purplegreen99 Wed 02-May-18 17:20:48

Does she have no idea what to choose because she enjoys all of these subjects, or because none of them particularly appeals to her? Hopefully it's the former, in which case I'd look at some university courses for these and related subjects. If you have a good university within reasonable travelling distance, maybe see if they have an open day coming up. Going to departmental talks, chatting to students, etc might give her some ideas for what she'd like to do after A levels and help narrow down her choices. I found with my dd that she needed to get ideas for where A levels would lead before she could make the decision.

Lottie4 Thu 03-May-18 10:57:28

DD is doing A level RE & philosophy and thoroughly enjoying it. However, she finds it hard being concise and getting it all down within the 40 mins they have for each section, she is in a bunch of very high achievers though. She chose exactly what she enjoyed, music, RE and geography which don't exactly go together. She was originally going to do a Music Degree, has since changed her mind and wants to do Geography or Liberal Arts. RE isn't holding her back, in fact, some Liberal Arts courses have modules in philosophy.

Does she has an idea what she's like to do after A levels. If so, and it's uni, looks at courses. If not, choose what she really enjoys and is good at.

slalomsuki Thu 03-May-18 11:35:50

My DS is doing 2 facilitating subjects and then government and politics. Of the 3 it's the politics that he is liking the best and loves the debating aspect and current affairs that comes up. A year ago when we chose A levels it wasn't on the list but was a last minute substitution for Biology which he liked at GCSE and would have fitted with at least one of the other subjects however one year in to A levels I would say pick subjects that you enjoy as 2 years is a long time to just study 3 subjects.

BitOutOfPractice Thu 03-May-18 11:56:21

Dd1 is about to sit her a levels. She's doing politics and has LOVED it. Lots of essays and extra reading etc but she's really enjoyed it.

Xenia Thu 03-May-18 14:36:40

I thought my older son would love have loved politicis as it is one of his main out of school interests but he gave that one up after AS. i suppose they also change quite a bit at that age which makes it quite hard to pick choices. I have had a child doing classical civilisation without latin (although they did some latin when younger). Anyway lots of food for thought on the thread.

BubblesBuddy Thu 03-May-18 15:55:38

I sounds like the Govt and Politics A level has changed since DD did it. It was sold as debating and lively, in effect it was turgid, fact heavy, partly American, and pretty dull. It’s a perfectly good essay subject though.

I think Latin with CC is most useful if you go on to degree level. Ditto for Ancient History. One of DDs friends had to swap from Ancient History at Exeter because Latin and Greek defeated her! Geography degrees usually ask for Geography A level and don’t worry too much about anything else. Liberal Arts degrees are for people who cannot decide what they want to do so try everything. Therefore no special subjects required.

Choosing exactly what you enjoy can leave you with limited options when applying for degrees though. Your fun choices may not be the combinations you need. Therefore looking at possible degrees helps DC make a more informed choice. Wanting a Geography degree without Geography A level could be problematic, but a Law degree without Law A level is the norm and possibly preferred. You have to check it all out.

Scabbersley Thu 03-May-18 15:59:19

I have a similar sounding dd

She definitely wants English Lit. Almost certainly Philosophy and Ethics. She's quite keen to do Textiles as her third despite wanting to do English Lit at Uni!

Or she might do the IB.

Xenia Thu 03-May-18 17:15:43

You can read ancient history at university without latin though - we have family who have done that.
i am not sure I would enlish lit, philosophy and textiles particularly. Check the universities she wants to go to as to what A levels not only they say you are allowed but the Alevel subject people usually do who are accepted on the course.

AlexanderHamilton Fri 04-May-18 00:49:49

Dd will be doing English Lit, Philosophy & Ethics & a Dance Diploma.

scarletthw Mon 16-Jul-18 22:38:00

DD told me a few weeks ago that she is considering IB too, but with no interest in maths, and little interest in science, i don’t know if this is a good idea!

She had her heart set on English as a degree for many years, but has started to veer away from that pathway slightly. Her main passions are creative writing and drama. She is fab at languages and everyone is urging her into languages but she doesn’t know if that’s what she wants to do. She is absolutely clueless, poor girl. They have to decide so young!

Anyway, thanks for your advice all. If she gets the grades for new school (6A*’s- which she should get) then she has chosen
- Spanish
- English
- Politics
- Drama

If she stays at current school then she will do
- English
- spanish
- Latin
- history of art (she doesn’t do history or art!!)

These choices don’t have to be finalised until the last week of August, so she still has time to inevitably change her mind!!

As for those addressing lack of history, she didn’t do it for gcse

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