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    (Original post by The Empire Odyssey)
    *All the stuff in bold is what I shall be giving you advice on*

    First of all, you are only 16 and you have 1 year before you need to decide on what subject you will be dropping and what uni course and where you need to be applying too. Now it's quite common that AS level students will plan to study English at uni because they liked it at GCSE. However they get to AS and absolutely hate it because they thought it was going to be the same at GCSE. You have no idea whether you will like Biology, Chemistry or History at A-level - you might read this and say "oh no, I will like it" but you just never know. I fell in love with the Sociology and read about it in my extra time. Picked it at AS... I dropped it after two weeks. It was the worst. A lot of GCSE students fall in love with the idea of their subject, instead of falling in love with their subject.

    Having said that, by your description you seem very enthusiastic to study History at A-level. All the things that you mentioned abotu Horrible Histories and etc you could put in your introductory paragraph in your PS. But, I believe many Admissions Tutors for History would have read that over and over again. Depending where you live, there could potentially be quite a few work experiences you could do. You could work in a school, shadow a History teacher and look at how they work with their subject with their students, you could go to museums and see if you could work there. But History work experience will be limited depending on where you live. You probably do love your dad, but at the end of the day, it is your life and you have to choose what YOU want to study. It is unfair to you to go to university and study something your dad has chosen for you. It will seriously affect your uni life and your life in general. It's one of those things where you have to confront your parent about and sit down with them and say this is what you want and it's your life. It's very cliche but it needs to be done. If you want to study something you have a passion to study for, then why should anyone get in the way of your own happiness? Do not use the emotional guilt-trip of "because he's my dad".. no, that just isn't right to feel emotionally blackmailed. Academic interest is not enough. When I was doing my English PS, I wrote about novels that I personally read because the synopsis was good. I also interlinked it with my Philosophy A-level. For example, at the time, we were learning about Conscience and Free-Will, so I linked that with Adam and Eve's choices in John Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost. I also wrote about why I would like to study certain things in Literature such as Sexuality and Victorian Literature.

    You can also do a science subject too. However, it really should depend on what you would like to do after uni. If you don't have a vague thought about what you'd like to do after, narrowing a degree becomes 10x harder. You shouldn't pick a science degree simply because finding work experience will be less harder than finding a History one. I know that an ex-friend of mine did Human Biology at uni... ending up working as a manger in Starbucks at an Airport.... I personally would hate to be in 30K debt just find myself in a job that has NOTHING to do with my degree. It's just a waste. As you get further into your studies, you will know the topics in Chem and Bio that you will like, enjoy and dislike and hate. So perhaps you will like botany or learning about the immune system and that would steer you into more of a direct approach to Biology. Who knows.

    Some students who do not know what they want to study right up until the point of having to apply, tend to apply for both subjects. They might apply for History and Biology so they tend to right their PS 50/50 on both subjects. However, I personally wouldn't do this because it could show unis you are not dedicated to one particular subject and you are indecisive. I mean History and Biology joint honours really won't work and I doubt a lot/any unis do this. However, it's not to make up for this but I do know some/a lot of History degrees do look at science/medicine in their modules so perhaps you could look into that? And who knows, in your 3rd year of History, you could be writing a Dissertation on the history of medicine. You never know to be honest.

    There's a lot of time to wait until there's any real pressure to decide on what you want to study at degree level. (A-levels are the worst btw)!


    Wow, I cannot thank you enough for such a comprehensive and detailed answer, this was very helpful indeed! I completely understand what you mean regarding my Dad, I know he'd be supportive regardless of what subject I decided to take.

    Although you said A Levels are the worst, which, to be frank, scared me quite a bit :eek:, I think I'll do what you said and wait until I actually start my AS Levels to find out what I like about a subject and steer my choice in that direction. Once again, this answer was very helpful.

    Thank again, all the best!
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    (Original post by jelly1000)
    This is a popular myth circulated by schools sadly. For an academic degree which doesn't lead to a particular job then academic interest is enough as this is what it is all about. Obviously if you have some kind of work experience you can talk about that would look nice but its not a requirement- do it out of interest not just for the sake of your PS. Places to consider for work experience would be a local musem or heritage centre, National Trust/English Heritage property- along those line.

    It is true that because History and Biology are so different you can't study them together (unlike History and Politics or Bio & Chem).

    Honestly my advice though would be don't panic yet, you haven't started A-Levels, wait until you see how you get on with the subjects at A-Level, they can be a step up from GCSE.
    Okay, thank you very much for this answer! I think I will do just that and wait until I start my AS Levels until I make the correct decision. Thanks again!
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    (Original post by Ndella)
    Well just start your course in September and see what subjects you enjoy more, you're only about to study AS so you have about a year to decide. The jump from GCSE to A Level is very big so you have to be dedicated and engaged with the subjects you're doing so you can decide what you would like to pursue further.

    Thank you very much, I'll do just that!
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    Definitely History. You'll have a far better time in terms of work load.
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    (Original post by shoshin)
    Hi, I'm reading History at Oxford - until next Tuesday!

    Your 'biggest issue' isn't an issue at all as far as History at Oxford is concerned. No extra-curricular activities will be expected and neither will they directly advantage your application. In fact, your Personal Statement won't 'wow' Oxford as far as History is concerned, because very little weight is placed upon it. However, most other unis may well put more emphasis on the PS, because they do not tend to have aptitude tests and interviews as part of the selection process.

    If you came up to Oxford to study a Science, there would be plenty of opportunities to pursue your love of History. For example, you could join the University's History Society.

    Prob'ly best to see how you feel in a year's time; the choice may have resolved itself by then in terms of your progress and interests.

    Good luck

    Wow, what a well put answer, thank you! I'm very grateful for the advice and I think I will just sit tight until September and see where it all takes me! As you said, my 'progress and interests' will guide me to where I want to be.

    I must say that your final sentence was breathtaking, it was very helpful! As was the sentence above, I was aware that there are societies, but I now I know that I can still join the x society if I decided to take y as a course!

    Thanks again, and all the best!
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    (Original post by toofaforu)
    Definitely History. You'll have a far better time in terms of work load.
    I'll take that under consideration, thank you!
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    (Original post by DanMargetts)
    Okay, thank you very much for this answer! I think I will do just that and wait until I start my AS Levels until I make the correct decision. Thanks again!
    Good good, you might find after a few months studying at A-Level that you start to prefer one over the other
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    (Original post by jelly1000)
    Good good, you might find after a few months studying at A-Level that you start to prefer one over the other

    Exactly, I hope so!
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    No problem. Glad I could put the problem into another perspective for you.
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    (Original post by Riivus)
    No problem. Glad I could put the problem into another perspective for you.

    You'd make a great Sage!
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    If you have any questions about a Biochemistry degree then I'd be happy to answer as I've just finished mine. With regards to work experience, no unis will expect you to have lab experience at this stage but by all means it would look good on your personal statement.
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    I'm studying History in September - academic passion could actually be enough. For my PS I talked about going on school trips to historical places (but if you go to them in your spare time thats also quite good), books I'd read on it, and also some voluntary work I did for a local archaelogical dig - however this could easily be replaced by doing an EPQ. Alongside my nonhistory related extra curriculars, I had plenty to talk about in my statement, and got 5 offers. Basically you could easily pick up stuff for your statement if you really like history, I did do history-related work experience but you don't need it at all, just a pure interest in it that you can demonstrate.

    Anyway, perhaps it'd be easier to pick your course when you start your A-Level and find what subjects you still enjoy by the end of your AS. I would advise perhaps getting some biology experience in hospitals or whatever while also doing a bit of extra historical reading (and biology too if you wanted) - then when the time comes to pick, you won't be slacked down on anything.

    I don't know if you could do Biology and History joints (my gut feeling is you couldn't), there's no reason why you still can't enjoy history outside of studying biology and vice versa. Enjoyment doesn't mean getting a qualification in it necessarially
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    (Original post by DanMargetts)
    I'll take that under consideration, thank you!
    I know it might seem silly to take it too much into account - but it can't be overemphasised. The work load for History is so minuscule compared to science subjects it's a joke. Don't ruin a good three years by studying a science degree.
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    (Original post by DanMargetts)
    Hello, first off, I'm a 16 year old boy in the Summer of going into Sixth Form to do my AS Levels (Biology, Chemistry, History and Government&Politics) - I've picked 2 Sciences and 2 Essay based subjects so as to meet the subject requirements for the eventual Uni course that I decide... whenever that might be!

    Anyway, I just cannot, for the life of me, decide which of the 2 to study at University (for Science, it'd more than likely be Molecular Biology or Biochemistry... something like that).

    Okay, for as long as I can remember, I've LOVED History, I used to read those Horrible Histories books when I was younger and watched the TV version. I also avidly read History books (e.g. Marr's A History Of The World), Political books like 1984 and Animal Farm and watch History documentaries. I also thoroughly enjoyed History at GCSE and have no doubt that I'll enjoy it at A Level! The only problem is that, well, firstly, my Dad doesn't really want me to study History at Uni, although he is interested in it as well, and the biggest issue I face is some kind of work experience or extra-curricular activity involving History. I have no idea where to go or what to do so I an put it on my personal statement and 'wow' the University if I chose History, as I'm aware that just academic interest is not enough, right?

    Now for Science. Once again, I have always been hugely interested and curious as to why things around us work, what makes them work and I often ponder the, still, unanswerable questions such as: what is life? Where did we come from? Who are we? I also often read Science books and watch Science documentaries on TV... because that is the only way to judge interest in a subject! This section of the question may not seem as interesting or as eye-catching, but honestly, I do LOVE Science too, I always have and I'm pretty sure I always will. As for my Sixth Form, because I have opted to do 1+ Science AS Levels, I am automatically enrolled into their Science Academy, which is where they take us out on trips to NHS hospitals, engineering conventions etc, lots of things like that where you can experience Science in industry. Also, work experience wise/extra-curricular, my Mom works at the local NHS hospital and so I could try and work/volunteer there in the Pathology section for a bit and gain some experience. As I imagine that would be very beneficial if I was applying to a Biology course at Uni, right?


    Thank you for sitting through this. This question has pervaded my mind incessantly over the last few months, if not the whole year really! I just think that the earlier I have an answer, the Better it'll be!

    Lastly, another issue I face is that if I choose one subject, I will NEVER be able to do the other. Is that right? As I believe that it'd hurt a lot just because I have a burning passion for both. Thanks again!
    Hi, basically as some other posters have mentioned, if you're definitely interested in both arts and sciences a combined course sounds like it would be the best option; UCL even allows you to combine biochem and history as subjects

    For history, I'm a current offer holder for Cambridge and I really only took an academic interest in the subject; I did no relevant work experience or extra-curricular activities- just extra reading - and that got me in. However, I do think work experience and extra-curriculars related to history do have value- for work experience you might like to consider the national trust who I believe have some placements, or alternatively volunteering at your local museum always looks good on your PS. Also, I understand where your dad is coming from; my parents were like that at first :rolleyes:, but it's worth remembering that as a degree history has a lot of transferable skills and is well-regarded, so I would base this choice on which subject you enjoy the most rather than employability .

    In terms of sciences, the programme your school runs sounds really good in terms of allowing you to get a feel for a career in science, and alongside this I would recommend extra-reading, and for history as well- this allows you to get a feel for topics you might study and uni (and at interview), but also this way you can see how interested you are in the subject. I would say that the work experience you've described would be helpful, but not as important as you've implied; it would be essentially considered an extension of your interests, unless you're applying for medicine.

    Worth noting since you've placed this in the Cambridge forum that you can't do straight biochem or biology at cambridge; only natural sciences
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    (Original post by DanMargetts)
    Wow, I cannot thank you enough for such a comprehensive and detailed answer, this was very helpful indeed! I completely understand what you mean regarding my Dad, I know he'd be supportive regardless of what subject I decided to take.

    Although you said A Levels are the worst, which, to be frank, scared me quite a bit :eek:, I think I'll do what you said and wait until I actually start my AS Levels to find out what I like about a subject and steer my choice in that direction. Once again, this answer was very helpful.

    Thank again, all the best!
    It should scare you. They are beyond hard (for everyone).

    And no worries... You could give me a rep for my positive services?
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    May I ask why you asked this on the Warwick forum? Anyways, to answer your point:

    You should do some serious thinking over what career you see yourself doing later on. Sure, there is no harm in going to university and studying something that you love, but studying without any solid plans is essentially a waste.

    You said that you love History as a subject - perhaps you would enjoy a career as a historian, or in another field that uses a similar skill-set (Law comes to mind). As a degree on its own, I can tell you that is very well respected - I don't think you'd have any problems with employability. However, bringing Science into the picture does change things a lot. I guess for Biology or Biochemistry, you should be comfortable with the sciences academically and have a proper interest in them. As I said before, you definitely need to be sure of what career you would like before jumping in and choosing your course.

    I think your A level subject choices are fine for either subject, although perhaps you could exchange Government and Politics for Maths (just a suggestion). As you're just starting off, see how you enjoy each subject and ask others who are already at uni or even university representatives about what would be involved with further study of your chosen subjects.

    If I could give some advice, it would be this: Fulfil your passion for science at university but continue reading History books, following documentaries etc. so you have the best of both worlds

    Good luck!
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    Well the science academy stuff sounds good so see how that takes you during the next year. That should be really good for insight into careers.

    You might like all these subjects now but things could change a lot. I loved biology in school, and was so sure I was going to do a biology degree. I only took chemistry at a-level after being told by a senior lecturer in neurology at Leeds University that if I wanted to do any high level biology i'd need to understand lots of chemistry so i'd be shooting myself in the foot by not taking it. Turns out I didn't like a-level biology, still like the subject, but I couldn't study it exclusively. I actually turned out to really enjoy chemistry, oddly enough, as it seemed to fit the way I thought about things. A few years down the line i'm almost through a chemistry degree!

    You won't be able to get a job in biology if you do history, that's for sure. I'm not sure there are that many history specific jobs to be honest, i.e. entering that field at a later date should be doable. Plus, if you find a barrier is not having the right qualifications then that can be fixed, but history is easier to self-study than a science because the majority of a science degrees comes down to practical work. You need understanding, which is why the theory is taught, but in the real world it's pointless if you can't "do" something. Never say never, there's ways and means of changing careers but it can just be difficult financially, timing etc.
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    I was studying history for a year and hated it despite loving the subject at A-level and GCSE. The problem wasn't so much the content, more where the content could take me. I found that universities will say just about anything to make a course sound like it will be a good thing to have in the future. With history I just couldn't see myself doing what I wanted to do once I finished the course. I felt I would enjoy a STEM related degree much more and felt it was more beneficial in general.

    I lost all motivation to study the subject, this was largely due to my mind state in regards to a history degree, I just felt that it was pointless studying the subject at degree level and it is hard to continue with something when you feel that way about it. Though I have to say, around this point I started to become depressed and that no doubt affected my mindset, I don't see history as a pointless subject, lots of people do well for themselves with a history degree. However most of the careers/masters degrees I that really appealed to me asked for or preferred STEM degrees. So I dropped out and that was that.

    I just finished a foundation year in science and I'm starting natural science this September.

    With regards to having a passion for both, you can always study a science that is related to natural history? For example something in geosciences such as palaeobiology (I know Leicester offer that one). But personally I don't think you should try sit on the fence and find a sort of hybrid subject for the sake of finding a middle ground.

    If you enjoy history so much, what is stopping you from studying biochemistry like you suggested, but also reading history books in your spare time? That was another thing that made me change my mind about the subject, I kept thinking that I could be studying a different subject that may get me into careers I'd prefer to do and at the same time read history books in my free time.

    By the way, you don't need work experience in a history related field for a history degree. Just let them know you have a career in mind.

    As mentioned already, you can't do a masters degree or get a graduate job that requires biology with a history degree, whereas there will be a lot less doors closed to you if you opted for the biology degree. For example careers you can do with a history degree, accountancy, law, civil service etc...all are possible with a biology degree also.

    You've got 2 years before going to uni, so you might change you're mind about everything. Though until you are a little more certain it is best to leave university for a while, go travelling or something for a while after 6th form and go to university after you are a little more certain.
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    (Original post by Et Tu, Brute?)
    I was studying history for a year and hated it despite loving the subject at A-level and GCSE. The problem wasn't so much the content, more where the content could take me. I found that universities will say just about anything to make a course sound like it will be a good thing to have in the future. With history I just couldn't see myself doing what I wanted to do once I finished the course. I felt I would enjoy a STEM related degree much more and felt it was more beneficial in general.

    I lost all motivation to study the subject, this was largely due to my mind state in regards to a history degree, I just felt that it was pointless studying the subject at degree level and it is hard to continue with something when you feel that way about it. Though I have to say, around this point I started to become depressed and that no doubt affected my mindset, I don't see history as a pointless subject, lots of people do well for themselves with a history degree. However most of the careers/masters degrees I that really appealed to me asked for or preferred STEM degrees. So I dropped out and that was that.

    I just finished a foundation year in science and I'm starting natural science this September.

    With regards to having a passion for both, you can always study a science that is related to natural history? For example something in geosciences such as palaeobiology (I know Leicester offer that one). But personally I don't think you should try sit on the fence and find a sort of hybrid subject for the sake of finding a middle ground.

    If you enjoy history so much, what is stopping you from studying biochemistry like you suggested, but also reading history books in your spare time? That was another thing that made me change my mind about the subject, I kept thinking that I could be studying a different subject that may get me into careers I'd prefer to do and at the same time read history books in my free time.

    By the way, you don't need work experience in a history related field for a history degree. Just let them know you have a career in mind.

    As mentioned already, you can't do a masters degree or get a graduate job that requires biology with a history degree, whereas there will be a lot less doors closed to you if you opted for the biology degree. For example careers you can do with a history degree, accountancy, law, civil service etc...all are possible with a biology degree also.

    You've got 2 years before going to uni, so you might change you're mind about everything. Though until you are a little more certain it is best to leave university for a while, go travelling or something for a while after 6th form and go to university after you are a little more certain.


    Thank you very very much, this was really helpful indeed, I'll take all of this advice on board
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    (Original post by Nymthae)
    Well the science academy stuff sounds good so see how that takes you during the next year. That should be really good for insight into careers.

    You might like all these subjects now but things could change a lot. I loved biology in school, and was so sure I was going to do a biology degree. I only took chemistry at a-level after being told by a senior lecturer in neurology at Leeds University that if I wanted to do any high level biology i'd need to understand lots of chemistry so i'd be shooting myself in the foot by not taking it. Turns out I didn't like a-level biology, still like the subject, but I couldn't study it exclusively. I actually turned out to really enjoy chemistry, oddly enough, as it seemed to fit the way I thought about things. A few years down the line i'm almost through a chemistry degree!

    You won't be able to get a job in biology if you do history, that's for sure. I'm not sure there are that many history specific jobs to be honest, i.e. entering that field at a later date should be doable. Plus, if you find a barrier is not having the right qualifications then that can be fixed, but history is easier to self-study than a science because the majority of a science degrees comes down to practical work. You need understanding, which is why the theory is taught, but in the real world it's pointless if you can't "do" something. Never say never, there's ways and means of changing careers but it can just be difficult financially, timing etc.

    Thank you for a very helpful answer!
 
 
 
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