Choosing the best A-level Subject Combination can be a difficult decision. You want to strike the fine balance between your passions, pre-requisites for universities, and achieving your career goals.
Here is a list of the best A-level Subject Combinations that universities prefer:
- Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math
- Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy
- Business Studies, Economics, Maths (and Further Maths)
- English Literature, History, Philosophy
- Chemistry, Physics, Maths (and Further Maths)
- Modern Foreign Language, Literature, Language
- History, Geography, Environmental Science (or Archaeology)
- Accounts, Economics, Maths, Computer Science
- Biology, Chemistry, Maths
- Physics, Maths, Further Maths
- Art and Design, Theatre and Film Studies, Photography
- Religious Studies, Psychology, Philosophy,
- History, Economics, Politics
- Art, Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science
- Law, Politics, Business Studies
These are a list of good A-level combinations to help you make this very important choice. These are common and popular combinations based on the general consensus of students and should not deter you from creating your own combination especially if it aligns with your goals.
1) Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths
Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths is the perfect traditional science and math combination for A-level students. It unlocks the dual option of pursuing Engineering and Medicine related careers in the future.
Universities are looking for students who have a strong science and math background. The reason this combination is so popular amongst students is that it provides students with nearly unlimited options in the future. You can pursue degrees such as Psychology, Physics, Architecture, Economics, Business and many more.
Medicine students prefer taking 4 subjects due to the competitive nature of medicine-related fields. This combination will provide exactly that. Moreover, may of the laboratory skills are quite similar; the consistent reinforcement of the lab sessions will make you an expert at handling lab exams.
2) Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy
The combination of Sociology, Philosophy, Psychology is often known as the ‘social sciences’ group. This combination will teach you several soft and transferable skills that employers and universities are looking for.
Furthermore, you will have a better understanding of the human mind and society as a whole. More importantly, Psychology and Sociology help improve your EQ. EQ will not only make you a better communicator but also allow you to tap into the problems in your own life.
In today’s fast-paced world, automation is making its mark, and before long many careers will be replaced by robots and AI.
AI excels at handling data and making simple decisions for its users. However, it struggles with providing therapy, understanding emotions, feelings, how society functions and how the human mind works. Areas like these are where a Sociology, Psychology or Philosophy degree will be extremely valuable.
By taking this combination in your A-levels you can future proof your career. AI is not going to take the role of humans in highly complex fields. AI might take over the careers of Accountants, translators, proofreaders and couriers; but it is far from replacing those careers which require a human solution to the problem or task at hand.
3) Business Studies, Economics, Maths (and Further Maths)
Business Studies, Economics, and Maths is the perfect subject combination for students who want to study Economics and Business related fields. The top universities in the United Kingdom will give preference to those students who have Further Maths as well.
Business Studies and the Microeconomics section of Economics cover several similar concepts. They both focus on common aspects affecting a business or institution. The other half of Economics namely Macroeconomics provides the much-needed balance by having a holistic outlook on the economy.
Compared to GCSE, both Business Studies and Economics are a lot more maths-heavy at A-level. This is where A-level Maths will help smoothen the transition. You should expect a lot more graphs and tables at the A-level. The maths will become even more complicated at the university level, which makes sense to take Further Maths as it will provide you with the much needed mathematical base to succeed at university courses
Overall Business Studies and Economics are classic career options that have stood the test of time. Even today careers in Economics, Business, Finance, and Actuarial Sciences have the highest paying jobs and have almost no fear of automation.
4)English Literature, History, Philosophy
The English Literature, History and Philosophy A-level subject combination is extremely popular amongst students and well-liked by universities.
You should only choose this combination if you want to study Politics, History, Law, Philosophy, Literature, and Language at the university level. This combination will limit your options since it is highly specific.
However, it will greatly improve your researching, writing, and presentation skills. Unlike maths or the traditional sciences, these subjects have no right or wrong answer. Instead, examiners mark students for their approach, opinions backed by evidence, critical analysis and writing skills.
This combination of subjects, values individual input more than any other subject combination. As a result, the possibility of relevant jobs being taken by AI and robots should not bother you at all.
The vast majority of students have a fun time studying these A-level subjects, especially if they are passionate about them. The trio of Literature, History, and Philosophy will lead to good career prospects and you can expect medium paying jobs when you graduate.
5) Chemistry, Physics, Maths (and Further Maths)
Chemistry, Physics, and Maths is the most popular and best subject combination amongst Engineering students. The addition of Further Maths will make you a strong applicant for the most competitive universities in the United Kingdom.
Engineering students are highly regarded by employers and universities. Chemistry, Physics and Maths are considered facilitating subjects and they have the power to open a plethora of options in the future.
If you were to study A-level Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths; there will be an overlap of common concepts and knowledge amongst the subjects. For example, Moles will be studied in both Chemistry and Physics. Similarly, you will study integration and differentiation in both Maths and Further Maths. It will feel like you are studying for 3.5 subjects instead of 4.
6) Modern Foreign Language, Literature, Language
This is a subject combination preferred by students who want to improve their literary skills, proficiency and understanding of English and other languages. In a highly globalized world being fluent in multiple languages is a huge asset.
A great fear amongst students studying multiple languages is that they may not be employable in the near future due to rapidly growing technology such as Google Translate. This is far from the truth; it will probably take decades before AI becomes sufficiently advanced to beat humans at their literary skills.
Apart from teaching and translating, there is a superfluity of fields that accommodate students with this subject combination. You can study Law, Business, History, Philosophy, Psychology and Linguistics. You can pursue a career in Journalism, Performing Arts, Content Writing, as a Tutor, Social Media Manager and Copy Writer. The opportunities are endless.
Travelling to a country where you are familiar with the local language will provide you with new possibilities. Many multi-national companies actively search for individuals who are proficient in multiple languages as they require their employers to interact with the locals.
7) History, Geography, Environmental Science (or Archaeology)
This is the perfect combination for students who want to learn about both the former times and the present world. The subjects in this combination are inter-linked and studying them together will greatly improve your overall understanding of the world and its people.
For instance, A-level History will teach you about the historical events, Studying Geography will help you map out those historical events, and scrutinizing artefacts and sites in Archaeology will support your mastery over those historical events.
Universities prefer students who have clear goals and aspirations. This subject combination will limit your choices, but allow you to be laser focussed.
History, Geography, and Archaeology degrees lead to average paying jobs. However, they are relatively stress-free and are not under the risk of being taken over by automation. This is because careers in such fields require a high degree of individualization.
These fields are also very research-intensive and there are new things being discovered all the time. History and Geography classes are quite interesting and fun. Moreover, these subjects are not as difficult as some of the traditional sciences or mathematics.
8)Accounts, Economics, Maths, Computer Science
A-level Accounts, Economics, Maths, and Computer Science forms one of the best A-level Subject combinations for students who want to study Accounting, Business, Economics or other commerce-related fields.
The world is rapidly becoming technology-oriented. At one point in time, all of a company’s operations were paper-based. Today many companies have already made the shift to become entirely paperless whereas other companies are in the process of doing so. This is good news for the trees and forests but bad news for many employees especially Accountants.
The proficiency in computer science and I.T. is an invaluable asset for Economists, Accountants, and those pursuing other commerce careers. Computer literacy will provide them with the much-needed edge in a relatively saturated job market.
Universities recognize this distinction and will prefer students who have computer skills along with the compulsory subjects.
9) Biology, Chemistry, Maths
Medicine is a highly competitive field. If you feel you cannot handle the pressure of four A-levels than this combination would be perfect for you, as 3 A grades are better than 4 B grades. Hence this combination will help you focus and give your best shot at scoring top grades.
You can study Dentistry or Zoology in the future as well. This combination will also allow you to pursue Biology, Chemistry, or Chemical Engineering degrees in the future. STEM careers often lead to some of the highest-paying jobs.
If you are sure you do not want to pursue Engineering but rather study Medicine or Psychology then A-level Biology, Chemistry and Maths will suffice. This is the best A-level combination for Medicine.
10) Physics, Maths, Further Maths
This combination is perfect for students who want to study Mathematics, Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics. You should try to take subjects that match your strengths and this combination is for people who are mathematically inclined.
Univerities give preference to students with A-level Further Maths over A-level Computer Science even for students who want to pursue Computer Science in the future. Similarly, universities prefer Further Maths over Chemistry when it comes to Engineering students.
This is a testament to the value and importance of A-level Further Maths and why this combination is highly regarded and liked by universities.
The ability to do complex and advanced mathematics is one of the most sought after skills in today’s competitive job market. Advanced Calculus, Trignometry, and Mathematical Analysis enable students to become employable in a plethora of fields.
Maths is used to solve problems, handle and interpret data, research, build bridges, create programs, in business, trading and economics etc. These are just a few areas and fields I can list from the top of my head.
Proficiency in advanced mathematics can provide numerous opportunities and unsurprisingly AI is not even close to robbing mathematicians of their share in the job market.
11)Art and Design, Theatre and Film Studies, Photography
This is one of the best combinations for students who are interested in exploring their creativity and individuality in various forms of art, film and photography.
The avalanche of digitalization has made photography more prevalent in our lives than ever before. The increasing popularity of Instagram is living proof that photography is here to stay. In fact, professional photographers are some of the most highly paid professions. . Everyone having a camera attached to their smartphone does not decrease the demand for photographers.
Art and Design are extremely relevant to so many fields. Whether you are creating an app or other software, designing clothes or accessories, creating hardware, woodworking, constructing a house or furniture; you must have aesthetic and appealing designs to entice customers to buy.
Covid-19 and the popularity of Youtube might seem like a threat to the filmmaking industry. However, it is not. The film making business is going nowhere; it is too complex to be automated.
In the near future, you will probably not see a packed cinema hall. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The relatively easy accessibility of Youtube and Netflix have given so many more filmmakers a chance to show their talent to the world. This was unheard of, in the past.
The trio of Film Studies, Art and Design, and Photography are one of the best A-level Subject combinations. The subjects in this combination are interlinked and have many similar topics. Proficiency in all three areas is something universities are looking for as it shows the focused approach of a student.
12) Religious Studies, Psychology, Philosophy,
The subject combination including Religious Studies, Psychology, and Philosophy is great for students who want to learn about the fundamental truths, appreciate various religions, and understand the human mind all at the same time.
This subjects in this combination are rather abstract and the focus is on intangible things such as reason, logic, and existence. Philosophy and Religious studies will help you explore the deeper questions in your life.
Universities prefer this combination as it is laser-focused and the students studying the subject have clear goals ahead. Moreover, the subjects are related and have several key concepts. This makes studying for the exams easier.
Unlike Physics or Maths where there is only one correct answer, the subjects in this combination allow for individual input as long as it is backed by reasoning and logic.
13)History, Economics, Politics
Universities want to see this combination as it is perfect to secure competitive and high paying jobs in the future. You can pursue many careers with this combination such as government, politics, finance, business, and law.
This combination is rather hard as there is little overlap in the subject content. However, the subjects will give you a chance to explore different subject areas. This will help you become more open-minded, objective and tolerant to new ideas. This is an attribute universities love to see in their students.
All the subjects are largely essay-based. You will learn how to push your opinion out in the world. There will be numerous essay-writing tasks throughout the course where you will be asked to back your opinions with evidence. This will improve your critical-thinking skills as a mere regurgitation of facts will not be sufficient.
You will also develop evaluative and analytical skills as you learn about different economies, political ideas, and historical events. These transferable skills will help you in various aspects of your life. Universities highly regard these skills as they show your ability to think for yourself.
14) Art, Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science
This is perhaps the best A-level subject combination to study Architecture at university and pursue it as a career in the future. A degree in architecture can lead to a high-paying job and a stable career.
A-level Art will help you develop the arts and designing skills necessary to pursue architecture. You will be exposed to various designs and forms of art which are pertinent to having a career in architecture. It will also teach you how important it is to pay attention to details.
A career in architecture requires strong mathematical and analytical skills which you can get by studying Physics and Maths. These two subjects will teach you how to estimate quantities of the materials required, the various forces that act on a structure, adjust proportions and figure out scales to create strong buildings.
The addition of A-level Computer Science in your subject repository will give you a leg up in the field. Today many blueprints and structures are created online. Having a basic understanding of, technologies, programming, and other computing ideas will enable you to seamlessly transition from paper to digital especially since that is where the architecture industry is heading.
Apart from Architecture, this combination will enable you to pursue engineering, computer science, physics and several other fields. This combination will allow you to have a needle-like focus in architecture but also be broad enough to pursue a multitude of other fields.
15) Law, Politics, Business Studies
Law, Business Studies, and Politics is highly regarded by universities and is another really good A-level Subject Combination that you should consider especially if you want to go to a business or law school.
This combination is rather challenging as the subjects have vastly different topics.
The benefits of choosing these subjects together is that they provide you with a great deal of balance and several options in the future. These subjects are based on case studies and you will learn through past businesses, legal proceedings and political ideas and events. The exams will ask you to apply your knowledge and critical analysis in novel situations.
The ability to apply your understanding in various contexts is something universities and employers actively look out for. Taking these subjects will help you develop these skills.
The list of the best combinations is based on the general consensus of students and overall popularity. It should not discourage you from taking a combination that is not in the list.
Ultimately you know your university plans and your future aspirations better than anyone else. Therefore you should select a combination based on fulfilling the pre-requisite of the course you want to study at university.
Universities have a list of recommended subjects that they prefer to see when students are applying for a particular course. For example, Universities prefer students who have taken Further Maths for Engineering and Computer Science courses.
The prevalence of Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Computer Science, Chemistry and History in the A-level combinations list shows their importance especially since they can open up many university courses.
I would recommend taking four subjects up until As-level. This will help you with keeping your options relatively open. Plus you will get a better idea of your likes and dislikes once you study those subjects in greater detail at the As-level, and you might want to reconsider your plans moving forward.