A Levels for History Degree Watch

Nomes24
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Hi, I want to do a History degree- ideally at a top uni- and I would love some advice on what subjects to take at A Level.

I'm thinking maybe History, Maths, Physics and Economics. However I'm not sure whether to take Economics or Eng Lit. I know a lot of unis say another essay writing subject is useful alongside History- would Economics be fine or would I have to go for Eng Lit? Also, it would be great to hear from anyone who does Economics- do you find it enjoyable?

Lastly, some universities say a language for history is an advantage. Will it disadvantage my application if I don't take a language? I like languages, but don't fancy being examined at them at such a high level. I'd prefer the freedom to learn them in my own time...

Thanks so much for your help.

P.S. What's the difficulty of all the subjects I've mentioned above? At GCSE, I'm predicted A* in all of them, bar Economics, which I didn't have the opportunity to take. I know this is quite subjective, but given my predicted grades and assuming I work extremely hard, is it possible for me to get A or A* at A Level in those subjects?
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Jkizer
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(Original post by Nomes24)
Hi, I want to do a History degree- ideally at a top uni- and I would love some advice on what subjects to take at A Level.

I'm thinking maybe History, Maths, Physics and Economics. However I'm not sure whether to take Economics or Eng Lit. I know a lot of unis say another essay writing subject is useful alongside History- would Economics be fine or would I have to go for Eng Lit? Also, it would be great to hear from anyone who does Economics- do you find it enjoyable?

Lastly, some universities say a language for history is an advantage. Will it disadvantage my application if I don't take a language? I like languages, but don't fancy being examined at them at such a high level. I'd prefer the freedom to learn them in my own time...

Thanks so much for your help.

P.S. What's the difficulty of all the subjects I've mentioned above? At GCSE, I'm predicted A* in all of them, bar Economics, which I didn't have the opportunity to take. I know this is quite subjective, but given my predicted grades and assuming I work extremely hard, is it possible for me to get A or A* at A Level in those subjects?
For history, they usually just ask for history indeed. But another essay subject is very helpful and economics is perfectly fine - your subjects are similar to a yearmates who plans to read History at Exeter with Economics, History and Biology a level (dropped computing).

A language can be advantageous yes. But they are probably the biggest step up in terms of Gcse's to A levels. You won't be disadvantaged because hardly anyone takes languages nowadays (We only have 1 student in A2 doing german I say dont be stupid and pick subjects just because they 'look good' since you need to have interest/motivation to go beyond the subject sometimes. Plus you need good grades.

Economics AS level is fairly straight forward, 25 multi choice questions and a few essays in the exam. Obviously you'll be time stretched a bit, but the questions are usually very similar to past questions in AS (1.5 hour exam). At A2, economics become a more difficult essay subject w/ 2 hr exams and A LOT to cram in. Its definitely easier than history and english i would say.
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Nomes24
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(Original post by Jkizer)
For history, they usually just ask for history indeed. But another essay subject is very helpful and economics is perfectly fine - your subjects are similar to a yearmates who plans to read History at Exeter with Economics, History and Biology a level (dropped computing).

A language can be advantageous yes. But they are probably the biggest step up in terms of Gcse's to A levels. You won't be disadvantaged because hardly anyone takes languages nowadays (We only have 1 student in A2 doing german I say dont be stupid and pick subjects just because they 'look good' since you need to have interest/motivation to go beyond the subject sometimes. Plus you need good grades.

Economics AS level is fairly straight forward, 25 multi choice questions and a few essays in the exam. Obviously you'll be time stretched a bit, but the questions are usually very similar to past questions in AS (1.5 hour exam). At A2, economics become a more difficult essay subject w/ 2 hr exams and A LOT to cram in. Its definitely easier than history and english i would say.
Thanks for your reply! I guess I'll probably not go with eng lit or a language- I'll go with Economics. Do you have any books you could recommend to get a feel for Economics A Level/ whether I'll enjoy it? Thank you
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Protagoras
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There are two ways of looking at history.

Modern history looking at the evolution of the political and economic systems since 1700 -

and you should study: economics, government and politics, history, sociology

or from ancient history from before christ.

so studying: religious studies, english literature, philosophy, classics.
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Jkizer
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(Original post by Nomes24)
Thanks for your reply! I guess I'll probably not go with eng lit or a language- I'll go with Economics. Do you have any books you could recommend to get a feel for Economics A Level/ whether I'll enjoy it? Thank you
The rational optimist is probably the most common 'starter' book. I never read it myself personally though (to be honest, i have probably read 2/3 economics books in my school life, which was only for uni!)

You could even look around for universities 'reading lists' and see what they recommend as starter books (since economics is not as a widely offered a level, as other subjects)
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zimbo97
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I take politics, history, economics and philosophy - so maxing out on the essays.

If I were you I would want to do another essay subject, I'm starting A2 next year (just done AS) and I can tell you that economics isn't really an essay writing subject in that the quality and coherency of what's written does not matter.

That said economics does help a lot with history, in fact all modern history is tied with economics, and so for example whereas other A level students just learn that Mrs Thatcher's adopted supply side polices from the textbook, you will actually know what that means.

If you want to do history then I don't see why you are taking 2 sciences, my advice is take Eng lit, geography or politics; essentially any respected humanity. That isn't to say don't take any sciences, just not 2. Also I would advise you rather than science to take maths unless you hate it, as whatever you do after uni this will definitely help you (employability wise).
In regards to languages I am not aware of any massive advantage possessed by students who take this, most history A level students do not.

In regards to GCSEs, they do not matter unless you are going for Oxbridge. I know that's pretty crushing having just spent 2 months revising for them but the thing is unless you do really badly top unis (save Oxbridge) don't care. I did reasonably well acquiring 7A* and 3As, but I really dn't think that will give me the edge over someone who only got say 4A*s.
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EloiseStar
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I took History, English Literature and Biology, with an additional AS in Maths. I took the science subjects because in y11/12 I had no idea what I wanted to do. Never looked back and thoroughly enjoying History!
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Alex_Drums
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(Original post by Nomes24)
Hi, I want to do a History degree- ideally at a top uni- and I would love some advice on what subjects to take at A Level.

I'm thinking maybe History, Maths, Physics and Economics. However I'm not sure whether to take Economics or Eng Lit. I know a lot of unis say another essay writing subject is useful alongside History- would Economics be fine or would I have to go for Eng Lit? Also, it would be great to hear from anyone who does Economics- do you find it enjoyable?

Lastly, some universities say a language for history is an advantage. Will it disadvantage my application if I don't take a language? I like languages, but don't fancy being examined at them at such a high level. I'd prefer the freedom to learn them in my own time...

Thanks so much for your help.

P.S. What's the difficulty of all the subjects I've mentioned above? At GCSE, I'm predicted A* in all of them, bar Economics, which I didn't have the opportunity to take. I know this is quite subjective, but given my predicted grades and assuming I work extremely hard, is it possible for me to get A or A* at A Level in those subjects?
Im just finishing my A2 course and am doing history next year at either Edinburgh (firm) or Nottingham (insurance) and in terms of a levels I'm doing history, english lit, psychology and spanish so essentially all of my a level subjects apart from Spanish are essay based (psychology is practically all essay at A2).

in terms of what to pick, id just say go with what you freaking enjoy. The jump from gcse to a level is hard. The jump from AS to A2 is even bigger and its going to be even harder if youre not convicted to the subject (i did bio AS, huge mistake). However, another essay based subject would be good id think, no for your application because they only need history, but when you get to exams, having more than one essay subject will get you ready for writing quickly and dealing with it under pressure.
HOWEVER BE CAREFUL... Tailoring your a levels to a specific course can be a mistake too if you change your mind. I started AS sure i wanted to do psychology at uni (hence biology), but by christmas was disillusioned with it and my love for history grew so i made that switch, you want to be able to have that flexibility...

languages are great, but in your application just say that you have a passion for em and learn them in your own time in your personal statement, the jump is a hell of a lot to risk a grade due to pressure.

finally, about the difficulty, ALL subjects get a massive jump in general i think, not just difficulty but also work ethic, unfortunately, you dont realise this until probably the end of year 12/year 13... My gcse grades were great and i did abslutely no work, and the jump to AS didnt seem like much, until the end where you have to develop a very good work ethic very quickly
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returnmigrant
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Lots of advice here about apply for History - http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/History_Degree
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tameimpala
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Without being too reductive, you can usually apply for anything with a History degree as long as you have an A in History. I studied Psychology and English Language alongside it and I had offers from all of my universities.
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