Choosing A-levels - Best for English and Law
December 28, 2017
Choosing A-levels: A Guide for GCSE Students, Part II
The best A-levels for specific degree subjects – English and Law
Choosing the right A-levels can be a huge dilemma, particularly for those of you who are unsure of what you’d like to do at university and beyond.
However, the decisions you make will set you on a course that can be difficult to change; it’s important to make the right subject choices at this early stage.
This guide aims to help you see things more clearly, and to get a good impression of your options, whether you’re set on a particular career path or not. We’ll consider the best A-levels to take for a variety of popular university subjects, then give you some more general advice (if you remain unsure regarding your options).
Let’s look at recommended A-level subjects for those who know what subject they want to take a degree in.
Typically Universities differentiate between subjects that are essential for studying a particular course and subjects that are merely useful.
Therefore, in the lists that follow each subject, those in bold are widely deemed essential for studying the subject; those in italics are often seen as useful but not necessarily required.
The rest are subjects that complement the course (i.e. with transferrable skills or useful background knowledge), and suggestions based on ideas offered by a selection of university admissions pages.
A-levels that demonstrate skills in essay-writing, critical appreciation, and linguistics are desirable for the study of English. Latin and Classical Greek aren’t offered at every school, but some knowledge of them can be useful grounding since so much of English grammar and vocabulary derives from them.
· English Literature
· English Language and Literature – You don’t have to do this if you’re doing English Literature, but it will suffice as an alternative if your school doesn’t offer English Literature as a stand-alone subject.
· Foreign languages
· Classical Greek
There are no set A-level requirements for studying law at university. Contrary to what you might expect, Law isn’t necessarily a good A-level to select. This is because tutors often have to ‘un-teach’ what students have learned at GCSE and A-level. While it won’t disadvantage you in your applications, it’s unlikely to give you a special advantage either.
“Though we do not frown upon the taking of Law at A-level, we do not in any way require it or even recommend it.” -- Churchill College, Cambridge
Furthermore, Law isn’t available at GCSE and A-level in many schools. Therefore, most universities welcome law applicants with a range of backgrounds; either in the sciences, humanities, or both, but certainly in traditional subjects.
A-levels that rely on careful examination of evidence and thoughtful construction of arguments, or that offer useful background knowledge, will strengthen your application.
· English Literature/Language and Literature
· Maths – Some universities require you to demonstrate a level of numeracy in order to study law, usually a GCSE with grade C or above. If you feel up to the challenge, why not do it at A-level?
· Government and Politics