phillip_a9000
Badges: 9
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 1 year ago
#1
I have a rough idea of what I want to do: study computer science at university. However, I do not know which subjects to take for A-levels. I have narrowed down my options to a few subjects; they are Computer Science, Physics, Maths, History, and Biology.

Due to the option pools, the possible combinations are:
- Computer Science, Physics, Maths
- Computer Science, Physics, Biology
- Computer Science, Physics, History
- Computer Science, Maths, History
- Computer Science, Biology, History
- Computer Science, Biology, Maths
I am certain about doing computer science.

I can do maths (I think), but I don't really enjoy it, and I'm worried I would fail at it.

Physics, I've heard, needs maths. Although, it would go well with computer science.

Biology is interesting, but quite gory. To take it I would have to give up physics. It's probably a good idea to do at least one subject relevant to computing.

I didn't do GSCE history, so I don't actually know if I would enjoy it.
0
reply
artful_lounger
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#2
Report 1 year ago
#2
If you don't enjoy maths and are worried about failing at it, are you actually certain you want to study CS at uni? Most CS degrees (particularly at "highly ranked" universities, which skew heavily towards the theoretical/mathematical side of the subject) are inherently mathematical and will require you to have A-level Maths (or equivalent; the "top" universities would often prefer A-level Further Maths and certainly you would benefit from taking it in those courses) to apply, and will use some of those concepts and develop on them throughout the course. Certainly there will be mathematical bent in a lot of the core CS topics any degree will cover. Remember that CS is not just a degree in programming, and in fact programming is a relatively small part of a CS course. I'm concerned you don't have a wholly accurate idea of what a CS degree entails.

Physics isn't really hugely relevant to CS; there is some relevance in the sense that computers are physical objects that obey the laws of physics and are based on electronic (and hence electrical) principles, but these aren't usually covered in much (if any) detail on a computer science degree (although a computer/information/electronic engineering degree will go more into detail on those things). I'm not really sure why you think A-level Biology is "gory"; a lot of is going to be just learning about molecular and cell biology. Unless you think ribosomes are gory...?

My understanding is A-level History is a bit different from GCSE both in terms of content (usually different periods will be covered) and structure (more emphasis on evaluation and analysis and less on regurgitating "facts"), so not having done the GCSE won't mean you are disadvantaged in taking it. However if you don't have a genuine interest in the subject that might not sustain you very well.
2
reply
phillip_a9000
Badges: 9
Rep:
?
#3
Report Thread starter 1 year ago
#3
Computer Science is the subject I enjoy the most at school, and I have been doing well in it so far, so it seems logical to take it further into A-levels. I agree that maths is a necessity for many CS courses, and I suppose my original statement isn't completely true; I don't really enjoy maths on it's own, but I am fine applying it to a subject that I enjoy. The only thing holding me back is my fear of failing. However, you are right, I don't know much about CS degrees, and it's something I certainly need to research further.

Of course, I'm not squeamish about ribosomes. That would be absurd . I was thinking more of the twelve or so dissections which come along with the subject.

Anyway, thank you for your answer. I will think upon what you have said.
0
reply
artful_lounger
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#4
Report 1 year ago
#4
(Original post by phillip_a9000)
Computer Science is the subject I enjoy the most at school, and I have been doing well in it so far, so it seems logical to take it further into A-levels. I agree that maths is a necessity for many CS courses, and I suppose my original statement isn't completely true; I don't really enjoy maths on it's own, but I am fine applying it to a subject that I enjoy. The only thing holding me back is my fear of failing. However, you are right, I don't know much about CS degrees, and it's something I certainly need to research further.

Of course, I'm not squeamish about ribosomes. That would be absurd . I was thinking more of the twelve or so dissections which come along with the subject.

Anyway, thank you for your answer. I will think upon what you have said.
Apologies for the delayed reply, I didn't see you had responded to me - if you click the "reply" button beneath someone's post or tag them with the @ symbol it will show up in their notifications so they know you have responded to them

I think the first step in thinking about what to take to A-level (and potentially then to degree level) is to reflect on what it is about the subjects you're currently taking that you like. So, for example, you say you enjoy CS at school currently; think about what the CS you're studying covers, what it is about that you specifically enjoy, and then you can start to think about what other subjects might have similar aspects (albeit not necessarily identical). This might be e.g. coursework elements, using computers (as opposed to specifically learning about them), or specifically the programming element you enjoy.

If you enjoy and are doing well in CS now it's perfectly reasonably to continue with it, even without maths. Just be aware that without maths you may have a more limited range of courses to choose to apply to when you get to apply to a degree (if you so choose). However, if it's mainly the programming elements you enjoy, you might want to look at courses that focus more on that, such as software engineering, games programming, IT (or ITMB), applied computing etc. You might also want to look at degree apprenticeships in the computing sector, of which there are a fair range (the most common being the BSc Digital & Technology Solutions degree apprenticeships). You will probably focus more on the practical, industry relevant aspects of CS rather than some of the more theoretical and/or mathematical aspects in such a course (although it's probably inevitable you'll cover a little of the latter).

Although I didn't do it as an A-level, 12 dissections seems a lot! I would imagine this is more dependent on your school than the syllabus? I'd consider you quite lucky if your school can arrange 12 dissections in the two year course! In IB biology I think we did maybe 3 or 4 for SL, and HL did a couple more. In my science foundation year we only did 2 (and a lot of those students were directly continuing to degrees in e.g. biomedical sciences as well)! While it's not something that bothered me, I'd say there isn't too much to be squeamish about; it's not really much different to e.g. preparing some chicken breast you bought to cook for dinner - it's just meat, and it probably came from a butchers that also sells other more typical forms of meat

That said I did find the kidney dissection we did somewhat gross because of the smell...and I wouldn't want to do an eye dissection (certainly not after our English lit teacher had us watch le Chien Andalou with no prior warning...). In any case, most biology labs I had were still fairly non-dissection oriented; stuff like testing osmosis with potato sections, enzyme activity experiments using pineapple juice as I recall, fruit fly breeding for genetics, stuff like that.
0
reply
phillip_a9000
Badges: 9
Rep:
?
#5
Report Thread starter 1 year ago
#5
(Original post by artful_lounger)
Apologies for the delayed reply, I didn't see you had responded to me - if you click the "reply" button beneath someone's post or tag them with the @ symbol it will show up in their notifications so they know you have responded to them

I think the first step in thinking about what to take to A-level (and potentially then to degree level) is to reflect on what it is about the subjects you're currently taking that you like. So, for example, you say you enjoy CS at school currently; think about what the CS you're studying covers, what it is about that you specifically enjoy, and then you can start to think about what other subjects might have similar aspects (albeit not necessarily identical). This might be e.g. coursework elements, using computers (as opposed to specifically learning about them), or specifically the programming element you enjoy.

If you enjoy and are doing well in CS now it's perfectly reasonably to continue with it, even without maths. Just be aware that without maths you may have a more limited range of courses to choose to apply to when you get to apply to a degree (if you so choose). However, if it's mainly the programming elements you enjoy, you might want to look at courses that focus more on that, such as software engineering, games programming, IT (or ITMB), applied computing etc. You might also want to look at degree apprenticeships in the computing sector, of which there are a fair range (the most common being the BSc Digital & Technology Solutions degree apprenticeships). You will probably focus more on the practical, industry relevant aspects of CS rather than some of the more theoretical and/or mathematical aspects in such a course (although it's probably inevitable you'll cover a little of the latter).

Although I didn't do it as an A-level, 12 dissections seems a lot! I would imagine this is more dependent on your school than the syllabus? I'd consider you quite lucky if your school can arrange 12 dissections in the two year course! In IB biology I think we did maybe 3 or 4 for SL, and HL did a couple more. In my science foundation year we only did 2 (and a lot of those students were directly continuing to degrees in e.g. biomedical sciences as well)! While it's not something that bothered me, I'd say there isn't too much to be squeamish about; it's not really much different to e.g. preparing some chicken breast you bought to cook for dinner - it's just meat, and it probably came from a butchers that also sells other more typical forms of meat

That said I did find the kidney dissection we did somewhat gross because of the smell...and I wouldn't want to do an eye dissection (certainly not after our English lit teacher had us watch le Chien Andalou with no prior warning...). In any case, most biology labs I had were still fairly non-dissection oriented; stuff like testing osmosis with potato sections, enzyme activity experiments using pineapple juice as I recall, fruit fly breeding for genetics, stuff like that.
It seems that I completely misunderstood the biology syllabus. I misinterpreted practical to meaning dissection :zomg: . I guess it is just meat. I have been thinking, I will probably choose biology since I enjoy most of the content anyway.

As it stands, I have come to the conclusion of taking CS, maths, and biology. Every uni seems to want maths, so it's logical taking it. Even though I fear at failing it, I have asked my teacher who says I am around the middle of the class, so it is possible to do well. Regardless, I'm willing to put in extra effort into that. Thanks for taking the time to answer, it has been helpful hearing someone else's opinion
1
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

Feeling behind at school/college? What is the best thing your teachers could to help you catch up?

Extra compulsory independent learning activities (eg, homework tasks) (23)
8.55%
Run extra compulsory lessons or workshops (38)
14.13%
Focus on making the normal lesson time with them as high quality as possible (46)
17.1%
Focus on making the normal learning resources as high quality/accessible as possible (38)
14.13%
Provide extra optional activities, lessons and/or workshops (77)
28.62%
Assess students, decide who needs extra support and focus on these students (47)
17.47%

Watched Threads

View All