Bobjim12
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hello, i'm unsure as to which A levels i should pick as i want to go onto do computer science.

2 places which i want to go so far are Cambridge and Glasgow.

they both ask for maths, a physical science and/or further maths
(Cambridge wanting A*AA and Glasgow wanting AAB).

now for AS i have to do philosophy (which i can drop at A2)
i want to do Spanish as i believe i can get an A and quite possibly an A* at A*. i have to do maths if i am to get anywhere in computer science so there's 3 a levels already

but i also want to do: physics, further maths and IT.

but i think IT is a btec and so i am unsure whether or not i should do that.

which would be the better choice? or even both?

if they would be equally worthy to a university, which is easier? i like maths, but physics is very interesting and i think i would enjoy studying physics more..

thanks in advance..
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bencs25
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Maths is an obvious one and further maths if your school happens to offer it; computing is also a clear choice (and after looking it up is recognized by Oxford and such as a main A level). Finally, physics is always deemed important for computer sciences, e.g. Oxford also mentioned that the "A*" in their "A*AA" typical requirements should be in physics, computing, maths or further maths.
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Bobjim12
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(Original post by bencs25)
Maths is an obvious one and further maths if your school happens to offer it; computing is also a clear choice (and after looking it up is recognized by Oxford and such as a main A level). Finally, physics is always deemed important for computer sciences, e.g. Oxford also mentioned that the "A*" in their "A*AA" typical requirements should be in physics, computing, maths or further maths.
Do you know what, i never even considered Oxford. are you referring to a specific computing a level course or just any in general? i'm not quite sure what it involves, my school have left it a bit vague..
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bencs25
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Also, I hear that further mathematics is typically referred to as one of the most respected AS/A2 courses due to its challenging content. I think you can't really distinguish normal maths and physics (remember that physics is heavily mathematical), and I have no clue about computing!
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bencs25
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(Original post by Bobjim12)
Do you know what, i never even considered Oxford. are you referring to a specific computing a level course or just any in general? i'm not quite sure what it involves, my school have left it a bit vague..
The only computing I know of is, well, computing! I looked up the courses offered by Sir John Deane's Six Form College (which should have one of the broader arrays of courses), and they only offered computing as a general course; their were no specific "courses" within computing that were available.
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Bobjim12
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(Original post by bencs25)
The only computing I know of is, well, computing! I looked up the courses offered by Sir John Deane's Six Form College (which should have one of the broader arrays of courses), and they only offered computing as a general course; their were no specific "courses" within computing that were available.
it was more that my school don't call it: "computing" as such. IT and ICT are 2 that they do but i think ICT is rubbish..
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bencs25
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Do any of the courses involve any form of programming or something that isn't more "use software X to make an animation/PowerPoint etc"? If not, just forget computing as Physics, Maths & FMaths will be fine to satisfy the higher universities; they'll recognize the pack of computing courses at some schools. Simply choose a fourth A level in a subject that you like or want fo try out! Sociology, psychology, whatever!
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Bobjim12
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(Original post by bencs25)
Do any of the courses involve any form of programming or something that isn't more "use software X to make an animation/PowerPoint etc"? If not, just forget computing as Physics, Maths & FMaths will be fine to satisfy the higher universities; they'll recognize the pack of computing courses at some schools. Simply choose a fourth A level in a subject that you like or want fo try out! Sociology, psychology, whatever!
well, the last 4 units are: Communication technologies, Procedural Programming, games development and website production Web site production

i might instead do philosphy (compulsory), maths and further, physics and spanish and then do 4 A2s. would that be too difficult?
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bencs25
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I feel that would be more of a suitable question to ask your teachers, and judge upon your GCSE results as well. 5 AS levels can be a bit stressful but us manageable, same with 4 A2's (although 4 A2's is pretty common).
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Oxford Computer Science Dept
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(Original post by Bobjim12)
hello, i'm unsure as to which A levels i should pick as i want to go onto do computer science.
Hi. This is an Oxford answer, but we're not too different to other top Universities, so hopefully it will be useful to you.

For our straight computer science degree we will normally make an offer of A*AA on three A-levels including at least an A in Maths. The A* must be in Maths, Further Maths, Physics or Computing. (Note the order is significant.)

We don't make offers on more than three A Levels. We'll notice if a candidate has done more, but they wouldn't form part of any offer we make. If you really want to do five do it because you think you'll enjoy them and excel at them. We wouldn't see something like AAAAA as equivalent to A*AA. It's important you don't stretch yourself too thinly and miss the A* in the important subjects - ie Maths.

We talk more about subject choice at school here: http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/ugadmissions/...l_offers.html#. (Basically Further Maths is strongly recommended. Physics is useful too.)

ICT really isn't relevant to us and wouldn't be seen as a particularly positive thing on any application to us. We often see people who've done something like a modern language on the side of more Mathsy things. No problem with that at all.

If you like philosophy you might find our joint honours degree in CompSci and Philosophy interesting. http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/ugadmissions/...se_course.html

Hope that helps. Do feel free to get in touch if you've got questions we can help with.
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ageshallnot
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(Original post by Oxford Computer Science Dept)

If you like philosophy you might find our joint honours degree in CompSci and Philosophy interesting. http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/ugadmissions/...se_course.html
Without wishing to hijack the thread, I just wanted to say that I thought this new degree looked exceptionally interesting to those with the right mindset.

I write not as a potential applicant - I studied History in the 1970s and took a Master's in Librarianship & Information Studies in the early 80s - but as someone who values the ability to think outside one's immediate 'box'.

Using my own experience as an example, for my Master's I learned Pascal for my dissertation so I could write a program to correct spelling errors. While a journalist, I had to learn a bespoke batch processing language to handle automated functions, and later I taught myself html in order to create some of my employer's first websites.

More importantly, I have worked alongside many technical people, computer programmers among them, and the ones who were truly valuable were those who could see the bigger picture rather than 'just' write code. This is not to denigrate the latter, vital skill, but those who could appreciate the needs and input of non-programmers, who could express themselves clearly to non-experts, and who understood the organisation's aims and objectives - these were the people who rose to the top.
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Bobjim12
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(Original post by Oxford Computer Science Dept)
Hi. This is an Oxford answer, but we're not too different to other top Universities, so hopefully it will be useful to you.

For our straight computer science degree we will normally make an offer of A*AA on three A-levels including at least an A in Maths. The A* must be in Maths, Further Maths, Physics or Computing. (Note the order is significant.)

We don't make offers on more than three A Levels. We'll notice if a candidate has done more, but they wouldn't form part of any offer we make. If you really want to do five do it because you think you'll enjoy them and excel at them. We wouldn't see something like AAAAA as equivalent to A*AA. It's important you don't stretch yourself too thinly and miss the A* in the important subjects - ie Maths.

We talk more about subject choice at school here: http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/ugadmissions/...l_offers.html#. (Basically Further Maths is strongly recommended. Physics is useful too.)

ICT really isn't relevant to us and wouldn't be seen as a particularly positive thing on any application to us. We often see people who've done something like a modern language on the side of more Mathsy things. No problem with that at all.

If you like philosophy you might find our joint honours degree in CompSci and Philosophy interesting. http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/ugadmissions/...se_course.html

Hope that helps. Do feel free to get in touch if you've got questions we can help with.
hi, thank you for your reply. Sorry when you said a modern language, do you mean a computer language or an actual language ( like Spanish for example).

does the A*AA being better than AAAAA (for those that require A*AA or about the same) apply to all universities?

so basically i should be looking at choosing: maths, further maths, physics in this order? or would say an A* in physics be better than if i were to get an A in further maths? (assuming i have already gotten an A* in normal maths)
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Oxford Computer Science Dept
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(Original post by Bobjim12)
hi, thank you for your reply. Sorry when you said a modern language, do you mean a computer language or an actual language ( like Spanish for example).
You're more than welcome. I meant a natural language like Spanish. We also quite often see students who've done history, or English or something like that alongside other more mathsy things.

(Original post by Bobjim12)
does the A*AA being better than AAAAA (for those that require A*AA or about the same) apply to all universities?
It does differ a bit from university to university. For us it's really important that you get to the A* level. Universities are generally really happy to talk to prospective students. You could always get in contact with any you're interested in applying to, to ask their stance.


(Original post by Bobjim12)
so basically i should be looking at choosing: maths, further maths, physics in this order? or would say an A* in physics be better than if i were to get an A in further maths? (assuming i have already gotten an A* in normal maths)
Maths, Further Maths and Physics are very common (and very useful) combination for people wanting to do Computer Science.

Our courses are really mathematical. We're looking for people who've really developed our mathematical thinking. So Maths and Further Maths are what's most important to us. We also suggest Physics, less because of the actual things you learn in it, but because it uses a lot of Maths.

But, when you apply to Oxford you sit a Maths Aptitude Test (MAT) and are (if shortlisted) interviewed. How you candidate does in those areas of the application process are really important. (More important than exactly where the A* goes, assuming the conditional offer can be met.)

If a candidate has already done A Level Maths in their lower sixth year (so is doing Further Maths in their upper sixth) we're happy to use that grade to go towards the A*AA. There are some universities that won't give you credit for an early mark, but as far as we're concerned you've earnt it so it should be counted.

Hope that helps.

(Original post by ageshallnot)
I just wanted to say that I thought this new degree looked exceptionally interesting to those with the right mindset.
Indeed! We're quite excited about it too. It's a pretty small course, but there's been quite a lot of interest.
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