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Critique DDs A Level choices?

(23 Posts)
QueenofQuirkiness Wed 04-Jan-17 15:21:48

Dd wants to be a detective, and for her A Levels she was thinking of:
History
French
Psychology
Class Civ
But now is having a dilemma as to whether to choose Chemistry over Class Civ as she thinks it will be more beneficial to her? I should add that I don't understand a lot about the process of choosing subjects to study, and I am fine with either choice as she is good at these subjects, whereas if she was choosing a subject she was weak at I would be concerned.
She says Class Civ might have too much writing and be too similar to her other subjects, but is worrying Chemistry will be too hard. Any advice would be appreciated!

PurpleDaisies Wed 04-Jan-17 15:25:07

A level chemistry is a massive step up from GCSE. If she's not nailed on for an A I would advise her against it. There's also a lot of maths in it so again, if she's not strong at maths it's one to skip.

I don't know anything about becoming a detective but they look like good solid subjects. Most schools are advising students to do three not four a levels now. Is that differebg at your daughter's school?

PossumInAPearTree Wed 04-Jan-17 15:26:02

I thought the majority of schools were saying only 3 choices now? Dds academic sixth form is saying only 3 unless maths and further maths are two.

When you say detective do you mean police? I can't imagine they'd really care about chemistry or class civ. does she want to go to uni? What's her predicted chemistry gcse grade? Is she doing triple science?

PossumInAPearTree Wed 04-Jan-17 15:26:34

I mean that the police wouldn't care either way which one she chose.

bojorojo Wed 04-Jan-17 15:48:05

Think about what she might like to study at university. If it is Criminology, look at what subjects are preferred. If it is Law (usually requires higher grades than Criminology and gives immediate access to qualifications that are needed to be a solicitor) look at what is required for Law. History would no doubt be good for both and French is a facilitating subject as well (a subject that keeps doors open and universities like) so keep the French.
If she is interested in History, then Classical Civilisation goes well.

Sometimes Universities like Maths to go with Psychology, but again, if she would like to do this subject at university, check what the universities want. Chemistry without Maths may be a bit pointless although it is yet another facilitating subject. Classical Civilisation is fine to do with French and History. If she really does not need four, keep History, French (it will not be essays) and either Psychology or Classical Civilisation. I cannot see any advantage in doing Chemistry and often people study Chemistry with Maths.

When you look at courses at universities, look at higher regarded ones such as Exeter, Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham etc to see what A levels they want for relevant courses and then look at other universities with similar courses but may want lower A level grades, eg Bournemouth, Surrey, Sheffield Hallam, Oxford Brookes etc. This is just to get a flavour of what is available and check that her subjects are OK for any preferred course. I gather the Police are intending to recruit more graduates now so have they said anything about preferred subjects for degrees? Usually an academic course at a better university is preferred but I think with the Police personal attributes will be very important too.

PurpleDaisies Wed 04-Jan-17 15:51:32

Chemistry without Maths may be a bit pointless although it is yet another facilitating subject.

A level chemistry is easily possible without A level maths. I tutor in both subjects. I wouldn't recommend anyone does a level physics without maths but chemistry is fine as long as you're strong enough to pass GCSE with an A/A*, or in exceptional cases a B.

bojorojo Wed 04-Jan-17 15:57:30

I meant with History and French. What does it add that the others don't in the circumstances described by the poster?

bowchikkawowwow Wed 04-Jan-17 15:57:52

My dad was a detective and helped me choose my a levels because I wanted to do that at the time but later changed my mind.

I did law, psychology, sociology and English literature. Science is unnecessary imo but if she enjoys it then she should still choose it as an option. Technically you don't need relevant a levels as you can start as a police officer and work towards being a detective with experience.

bojorojo Wed 04-Jan-17 16:02:17

The Police have just announced they will be recruiting graduates in future. You will still have to work your way up no doubt. For many high calibre graduates, the idea of working on the beat for several years is not appealing, so they swerve the Police. If they did a graduate intake straight into detective work, they may get very high quality recruits. With crime changing, this is what they need.

catslife Wed 04-Jan-17 16:13:32

Technically you don't need relevant a levels as you can start as a police officer and work towards being a detective with experience.
That may have been true a few years ago, but there are plans for the police to become a graduate profession www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34805856.
Some sixth forms still have students studying 4 subjects in Y12 and dropping one at the end of the year so that 2 subjects are taken in Y13. In some ways Class Civ is similar to History in that it is an essay subject.
Having a qualification in Chemistry may be useful for some areas of policing e.g. drugs squad, but unless your dd wants to be a Forensic Scientist isn't really essential.
My understanding is that the new 9-1 Maths GCSE may be better preparation for A level Sciences than the old specification. Many sixth forms do specify minimum B grade (grade 6 for 9-1?) for A level Science subjects. Chemistry A level students who have the necessarily ability for A level maths can still achieve high grades.

PossumInAPearTree Wed 04-Jan-17 16:23:11

Historically to get onto the police graduate/fast track promotion scheme you needed to be a graduate but what subject the degree was in didn't matter. At least not on paper.

bojorojo Wed 04-Jan-17 17:11:46

Bournemouth University offers Forensic Science and Forensic Investigation Undergraduate degrees. It required at least one science from the list they produce. This includes Chemistry but one would imagine the "at least one" is the absolute minimum if you look at the course content, and people with Biology or Maths as well as Chemistry would be better placed to get on the course, unless theyare desperate to fill places of course.

sendsummer Thu 05-Jan-17 05:21:36

It does n't sound as though she is heading to a forensic science degree from her other subject preferences. If she is not a natural scientist chemistry may be more time consuming than an extra essay subject. Biology is easier conceptually than chemistry and would be useful.
What about RE / philosophy and ethics as a fourth subject? Links well with her other subjects as well as her future career preference.
Alternatively, since her other three A level choices are enough for university entrance, if her sixth form offer it the non facilitating subject of Critical Thinking would provide useful skills.

Crumbs1 Thu 05-Jan-17 05:47:52

Agree if not an asy A student at GCSE then chemistry may prove challenging.

catslife Thu 05-Jan-17 09:34:23

* if her sixth form offer it the non facilitating subject of Critical Thinking would provide useful skills.*
Critical thinking is one of the A level subjects that isn't being reformed as a linear A level so won't be available to students starting A levels in 2017.

bojorojo Thu 05-Jan-17 10:25:26

Yes, sendsummer, that was the point I was making originally in that Chemistry, when viewed alongside the other choices has little value, unless of course she would nail a top grade in it. I mentioned what Forensic Science requires because catslife mentioned it as a possible career option. It isn't though, realistically, so Chemistry is more of an outlier than French. Insome respects, whatever she puts with History and French does not really matter unless a specific degree requires a specific "helpful" subject. This is why having some idea of the degree is useful for a level choices, rather than a career that accepts any degree.

Namechangearoo Thu 05-Jan-17 10:34:07

I got a D in A-level chemistry because the school's career advisor told me I'd need it for a marine biology degree (I didn't, annoyingly). Despite getting a B at GCSE level chem, the step up was too much for me and a D was devastating.

Imagine my annoyance when I got to uni and the first chemistry class I attended was an "introduction to the periodic table".

I could have done an A-level I actually enjoyed, which would have been much better for my mental health than slogging away at something I was rubbish at!

(Ended up as a marine biologist anyway so worked out fine!)

sendsummer Thu 05-Jan-17 12:40:49

Catslife good thing that you pointed that out, I was n't aware. Shame, although not a facilitating subject Critical Thinking has been valued as a useful add on.
I suppose another option would be Politics.

bojorojo what you say is helpful for the OP.

TheUnforgiven Thu 05-Jan-17 13:08:33

Chemistry would be useful for the forensic element of being a detective constable. Yes, they employ forensic experts, but a good level of knowledge is necessary to understand/ interpret/ challenge their work.

If she chooses classical civ over chemistry she will only have two out of four facilitating subjects. This may bar her from entry to many top universities, as most require 3 facilitating subjects (English Lit, Maths, Sciences, Languages, History or Geography.)

catslife Thu 05-Jan-17 14:04:59

I agree with the first part of your post Theunforgiven. The Forensic Science suggestion was based on the type of degree courses that A level Chemistry students often study and could be an option if she changes her mind about being a Detective iyswim.
The suggestion to look at possible degree courses and work backwards is a good one too.
Top universities do not require all 3 subjects studied in Y13 (very few take 4 subjects through to the end of the course) to be facilitating ones. 2 out of 3 should be fine. Some non facilitating subjects e.g. Economics, Art, Music etc. are still valuable and enhance students learning experience.

bojorojo Thu 05-Jan-17 14:20:27

Some science courses, such as medicine, require three facilitating subjects at A level. The Russell Group Guide to making decisions about Pst 16 Educations says on Page 31:

"Q -Do I need to study 3 facilitating subjects at A level to go to a Russsell Group University?
A- It depends what you want to study at University. In most cases, 3 are not required for entry to a degree at a RG university - but many courses do require you to have studied one or more facilitating subjects. Some medicine and other science courses, for example, may require 3 specific subjects".

It goes on to state that the more facilitating subjects you do, the more choice you get but that is very uch aimed at people who have no idea what they want to study. In the OP's DD's case, it does not mean Chemistry is of greater value than, say, Classical Civilisation, if the course required only wants 2 facilitating subjects and essay/language subjects are a better preparation than a science. It really depends what you want to study.

Other people will know more than I do about what A levels are best to study Law at Oxford or Cambridge but this is really high flying and does need three academic subjects, but the ones you choose are open to some interpretation because there are more academic subjects than those labelled "facilitating".

igivein Thu 05-Jan-17 14:57:50

In the very near future a qualifying degree will be required for entry into the police. The College of Policing are working with certain Universities who will be 'early implementers' of this degree, looking to have it up and running in the next couple of years.
Entry will still be permitted to graduates with relevant degrees (Law, Criminology etc) but they will be required to do a conversion course.
If your DD wants to be a detective, she will need to become a police officer, complete her probation (currently 2 years but rising to 3) and then be selected for CID and complete the CID course to become a detective. There is talk of having direct entry detectives, but it's not available yet.

bojorojo Thu 05-Jan-17 17:46:09

As I said yesterday, it is a great shame the Police insist on graduates being a beat bobby/trainee for 3 years because this almost certainly puts off some high calibre recruits. You don't fix the wheels on cars at Jaguar Land Rover if you are taken on as a graduate engineer or work on the shop floor at John Lewis for 2-3 years as a graduate trainee. The Police view seems very outdated now that the job is more intellectual. So a 3 year degree,3 years being a bobby and then trainee CID. It is possible to be a Barrister much quicker than this - or a solicitor. It seems such a drag for bright people.

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