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Pros and cons of A-level Biology and Geography(27 Posts)
Currently debating the pros and cons of A-level options in our house and trying to decide between A-level Biology and Geography. Biology would be the only science A-level taken. If your child has recently taken either of these subjects I'd love to know how they found them eg difficulty, content amount, would they choose it again etc?
OP, need extra info for best advice - will depend on other A levels being chosen, and what the post 18 plans are for your DC.
The OFQUAL investigation into the grading of science and language A levels from 2017. In summary A level Biology is very hard, the 5th most difficult of A levels but the powers that be in Higher Education have no wish to see the grade boundaries lowered. This is because so many very bright pupils sit science subjects that it is difficult to differentiate and lowering the boundary just puts more fish into the pool. Geography is probably a better option.
Oops extra information is: AQA for both Biology and Geography. Other subjects are English and Sociology (both firm favourites). Definitely headed to University but not sure what subject. Wants to keep as many options open as possible....
Geography fits with Sociology, however if he is more interested in the environmental side Biology would be a good alternative.
Another vote for Geography (human) as a good fit with Sociology
Not sure a Science on its own is a great A level choice - it keeps the door open for Biology but not sure what else. Geography and Biology are better. Or Sociology and Geography.
Know of students who studied Geog, Bio and one other. Seemed a vey good combination. They've gone onto a wide variety of things, Geography in particular is a very good facilitating subject as it crosses arts and science. None of them studied English as a third, it tended to be History, Chemistry or Maths. Schools didn't offer Sociology at A Level. It's not regarded as highly as other subjects at A Level. I get the points about Bio being hard and some found it hard if they weren't doing it with Chem or Maths
Geography is a good subject as it covers a lot of different areas, like statistics, physics, sociology, history etc. Is it apparently one of the most employable degrees to have for this reason, so probably a good A level choice.
Many subjects at degree level can be studied without having related A levels anyway (although not sciences or maths).
Little point doing Biology unless with another science. Go for geography.
My DS is doing biology and no other science (unless you count PE; apparently basically biology!). I don't think it closes doors especially, he's planning to do a biology degree and his other choices seem to work for other options too as far as I can see (maths with the PE). Obviously you can't do medicine or dentistry but then I don't suppose you want to if you are doing English.
The best thing is to do what you enjoy. Dd did geography alongside Eng lit and French. She found it hard, specifically one paper, the biggest, which pulled her mark down. Others found it ok tho.
I was counting Maths as a science! Maths Biology and PE is a very sciency combination. Biology sociology English - not.
I did both a few years ago now (2012/3) - Biology is thought of as a ‘stronger’ option (I did Geography, Geology and Biology FYI), enjoyed Geography a lot more but it was my best subject and I found the content more interesting (natural world - Biology was more geared towards human biology generally). I’d say if she isn’t doing another science it will definitely help to do Biology, I did Chemistry AS and it was so, so hard and I’ve heard physics is tricky without doing maths alongside it. So if they want to do science then biology is the one to go for, very few universities consider geography to be a science (at least when I applied). Hope this helps
DC1 did Geog, Biology and History in 2011 plus Economics and critical Thinking at AS level and did a Geography degree and its now an Accountant.
DC2 did Biology, History and English in 2014 plus politics and chemistry at AS level and did a History degree and post grad..
Both got A/A* for Biology at GCSE, and found the course OK but it was their weakest grade at A level . DC2 found the chemistry helpful. TBH I'm a bit surprised that PP suggested a DC was looking at a Biology degree without another science.
I would go for Biology and Geography and forget the Sociology.
There is a Univeristy of Cambridge leaflet about A level choices and keeping options open and the Sutton Trust run study days called something like the subject matters. www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/sites/www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/files/publications/the_subject_matters.pdf
The WHich leaflet might be worth a look as well:
Both documents talk about enabling subjects. The Cambridge leaflet is interesting and gives some good general guidance.
DD did biology and geography (and chemistry) last year. It was the first year of the new spec geography and the jump from GCSE was as difficult as it was for the other 2 subjects.
I would say that you are looking at all essay heavy subjects. There is also the dreaded NEA, which a lot of students struggled with. DD's came to about 6,000 words in the end, but the planning and research element will be useful for her degree.
I was talking to the Director of Studies at DS’s school recently and asked him what his advice on A Level choices was. He said that unless you have to do a particular subject for the course you want to do at university, his advice to students is always to do the subjects you enjoy most. The ones you enjoy will be the ones you work hardest at and therefore the ones where you get the best grades. Good advice, in my opinion.
University science lecturer here
Biology as the only science will not keep options open, needs to be with chemistry, physics or maths.
Needs to have some idea of degree choice. If loves English then geography. If may want to do a science degree then English, geography and biology makes sense.
Not a lecturer but eg Nottingham Biology will take biology & geography as two science A levels.
to do a Biology degree (in a top uni) don't you also need Chemistry?
English, Sociology, Geography makes more sense than English, Sociology, Biology.
I think the advice to do the 3 A levels you enjoy the most is not good advice. Many degrees want combinations. Maths is always a good one to have if you are capable of a good grade.
Sociology, biology & geography could lead to www.bristol.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/2020/geoscience/bsc-environmental-geoscience/ which has some good industry links.
These are the types of course DS is interested in.
It's my ds that wants to do a biology degree, Warwick (reasonably top) gives you a lower offer if you have an extra science (which includes maths and geography!) but you can still apply with just biology.
Bristol (another top one I suppise) asks for another science from a list that also includes maths and lots of others. So no, you don't need chemistry. He's much better at maths and enjoys it more, so it's good to see that universities have some flexibility.
My DD is in her second year of A levels for Biology, Psychology and Computer Science. Hopes to study Zoology at University.
By the way I imagine if the op's dd isn't sure about biology A level, she's not thinking of a degree in it, so all the "single science ispointless" is a bit off the point, surely?
Dd took French A level with no intention of a French degree. If she'd enjoyed biology GCSE more it would have been just as good a choice.
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