Biology vs. Chemistry A-Level Watch

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Thanks for your response. I am just unsure as I have never really had a passion for chemistry but I believe that, arguably, it is the science which is demanded the most in the entry requirements for the majority of science degrees.
University of Bath
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Report 6 days ago
Hi there,
I am a current Natural Sciences student at Bath so hopefully I can help.

I do modules in pharmacology/physiology, biology and chemistry. I did biology, chemistry, maths, classics and art at A-Level.

The first thing I'll say is to definitely look at the modules/stream combinations at different unis and look at the A-level requirements, as they vary massively between unis since different unis do the NatSci course differently.

Having looked at the A-level requirements for NatSci at Bath (you can look at all our available modules and their A-Level requirements here), further maths isn't required (not even for physics). If you are torn between chemsitry and biology, it might be worth considering takes Maths, Physics, Chemistry and BIology instead, as this will leave you with a lot more options. However, if you are looking at straight physics degrees, further maths may be necessary. Essentially you just need to look at the course requirements at the universities you are most keen on, and decide which combination is best.

If you do decide to do FM, then chemistry might be a better A-level to take as this is a more common entry requirement than biology. For example, at Bath the chemsitry A-level is required for modules in biochemistry, chemistry, environmental science and pharmacology. Biology is only required for biology modules (however, it is preferred but not essential to have biology A-Level for modules in biochemistry and pharmacology). Overall, chemistry will allow you to do more modules, but if you want to do biology modules, you have to have biology. So, a biology A-level isn't pointless if you are intending on doing biology modules, but it isn't necessary.

In my opinon from my experience, chemistry didn't get much more interesting at A-level. It was a bit more engaging as it was more complex and was being applied to real-world scenarios more, but I personally always found biology really interesting and got a bit bored by chemistry.

From my experience of NatSci courses, you won't be able to fully continue with 3 sciences for a whole degree as it's simply far too much information. In NatSci courses, you usually focus on 2 of the sciences and then just do a little bit of a third. For example, at Bath you choose a major, a minor and then an optional module (so I do biology major, phamacology minor and organic chemistry as an optional module). You do the same number of modules for your major as your minor - the only difference is that you major is what your final year project will be on. At Bath you cannot do an optional module if you take physics, as you have to do a compulsory maths module. So you, hypothetically, could study Physics with Biology, or Physics with Chemistry, and you'd have a module of maths. You couldn't do biology, chemistry and physics as this is simply too many modules to fit into a degree. If you did do a degree where you studied 3 full sciences, you wouldn't be learning it to as much depth as other students which isn't really beneficial. Rather study 2 sciences and know them well, than study 3 sciences and only scrape the surface.

In terms of US universities, they work in the same major/minor system as the Bath NatSci course does (I think). US universities are also very expensive and I don't think you'd be able to get as good financial support as you could at a UK university. The application process is also a lot different, so you'd have to do a whole second round of applications alongside your UK ones. Personally, I don't think it's worth looking that much as US universities, but if it's something that you're interested in and can afford, then perhaps take a look.

In summary, from my experience I would recommend not taking FM (unless one of the universities you are looking at requires it for physics, as physics is your main interest) and instead taking both chemistry and biology. If you are going to take FM, then I'd choose chemistry as this leaves you with more options to choose from at univeristy, especially in NatSci. If you are justwant to do biology modules out of interest, and not for a career, then I don't think it's worth it, whereas you seems to want to do chemsitry and physics seriously so they are better choices. It is highly unlikely you could do all 3 in a degree, so it'd probably be best to prioritist chemistry over biology. Again though, look carefully at the entry requirements for all the universities that you're considering.

I hope this has helped,
Jessica, a second year Natural Sciences student

(Original post by Kaedra)
Hi all

I'm choosing my A-levels soon, and would like some advice; I'm looking to do Physics at uni (although hopefully NatSci) and will be doing Maths, FM and Physics A-levels, but can't decide between Biology and Chemistry (the options limit is so annoying!). I find Biology more interesting atm, but Chemistry might be more related to what I want to do. I'm good at both so that isn't an issue.

If I manage to get into NatSci, would like to do either Maths/Physics/Computing/Biological option (Physiology/Evolution) or Maths/Physics/Chemistry(?) + 1 other. I might still be able to do Physiology of Organisms though as according to the Cambridge website it requires either Physics or Biology, and for Evolution & Behaviour Biology is only recommended.

(btw biological options are more out of interest)

My understanding is that Chemistry is more concepts-based whereas Biology is more about memorising a large amount of information.

So, questions:

- Does Chemistry get more interesting at A Level and further? (I do iGCSE btw)
- Is Biology A Level worth doing or is it pointless?

Anyone doing NatSci, your input is obviously also welcome

Final question: Is it worth looking at US unis for breadth? Would I be able to continue with all 3 sciences or is it not worth doing?

Sorry for the long post! Thanks if you read this far, and any input is appreciated!

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