jrrj
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I have been thinking about what courses I want to go into for a while now, but I am still unsure. My choices so far are : Biochemistry, Architecture and Applied Maths & Physics.

My questions are : what degree would give me the more job opportunities? Which one has the highest possibility of letting my career grow?
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her0ndales
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they’re quite different choices! you should probably worry about how much you enjoy each subject before taking into account things like careers, because even if you pick the course with the best career prospects you might hate it!! (:
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jrrj
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(Original post by her0ndales)
they’re quite different choices! you should probably worry about how much you enjoy each subject before taking into account things like careers, because even if you pick the course with the best career prospects you might hate it!! (:
Haha, exactly what my parents said - they are far from what I had in mind in last years career interview! I chose those courses because those are the subjects I enjoy the most : Chem, Bio, Phys, Maths and Art.
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her0ndales
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(Original post by jrrj)
Haha, exactly what my parents said - they are far from what I had in mind in last years career interview! I chose those courses because those are the subjects I enjoy the most : Chem, Bio, Phys, Maths and Art.
if you had to choose which subject would be your absolute favourite? (:
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ajj2000
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What grades? Applied maths and physics is notably more employable than the other options. Not sure that should be a deciding factor though.
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jrrj
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(Original post by her0ndales)
if you had to choose which subject would be your absolute favourite? (:
Well they all have their ups and downs, but I would narrow it down to maths and chemistry.
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jrrj
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(Original post by ajj2000)
What grades? Applied maths and physics is notably more employable than the other options. Not sure that should be a deciding factor though.
I still have to finish my GCSE courses, but I have to consider my a-level choices bc we are all required to fill in this form thing about it. Currently, I am sitting on As in all of them apart from Maths, Chem and Art where I got A*.
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her0ndales
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(Original post by jrrj)
Well they all have their ups and downs, but I would narrow it down to maths and chemistry.
okay well then I would recommend taking maths and chem plus a third and then the content of the a level courses will give you a better idea what field you want to go into! you’ll find that there are lots of course options within different a level courses so just choose the 3 you enjoy the most and go from there! (:
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artful_lounger
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You really need to identify what it is about those subjects you have said you enjoy, that makes you enjoy them, in order to best decide which to pursue in future. For example, do you like doing the labwork in chemistry/biology/physics? Solving mathematical problems as in physics/maths? Doing creative studio work as in art? What specifically is it about those A-level courses you are taking that you like?

I would also note that biochemistry degrees in the UK tend to have relatively limited chemistry content, as they are functionally degrees in what could otherwise be described as molecular/cell biology. Indeed, Oxford's biochemistry course (which does include a moderate amount of chemistry content) styles itself as "Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular)". Biochemistry is distinct from biological chemistry/chemical biology; it's merely the application of some aspects of chemistry to biological phenomena, which are the main focus of the course. If you wanted to learn chemistry in any detail you would need to look at a chemistry degree (which will include content in biological chemistry, and may allow you to take options in biosciences as well), or a joint honours course.

Architecture is a studio based course which is primarily then going to be most similar to your A-level Art experiences, although it is very different in many respects still. There is relatively little maths/physics in any architecture course, even the more "technical" courses like at Bath. Many skew much more to the "artistic" side, such as notably UCLs course, where the emphasis is on conceptual design approaches. You will learn some aspects of what might generally be called "structures" but you aren't going to learn much in depth structural mechanics like a civil engineer - probably just the general principles needed to make sure you don't design something that is completely unphysical.

Something you should be aware of is that degree level mathematics (that is, the maths in a maths degree - or applied maths degree) is vastly different to the style and content of A-level Maths. Even what is nominally referred to as "applied mathematics" in the context of a mathematics degree will normally be at least partly abstract, using formal proof of relevant theorems in the area as the core teaching. You then may apply these to the types of analytical problems you are familiar with from A-level, but even then they will be somewhat different, as the problems will be much less routine and not just a "plug and chug" like in A-level Maths. Maths at A-level is essentially a course in mathematical methods, which you will do some of but at least some, and for many universities the bulk of such courses, will be the above more abstract styled maths. You will also do some pure maths in pretty much any maths degree, which as above is not like the mathematical methods of A-level "pure" maths, but will be purely abstract work in e.g. analysis, (modern) algebra, etc. Even for applied maths you will need this (particularly analysis). You may want to look at something like Spivak's Calculus, or any introductory analysis textbook, to get an idea of what uni level maths might be like.

Physics at uni will be more similar to your A-level experiences than the other courses might be, although it's worth noting A-level Physics is only algebra based, whereas basically all of university physics will be calculus based, so you need to be happy spending every day doing integration! A lot of it might seem more like the A-level Maths mechanics and calculus topics you've done, than the A-level Physics (although you will probably be able to see the link to A-level Physics content, and often a lot of first year will be basically reintroducing much of the A-level Physics curriculum in a more mathematically sophisticated way).

In terms of career possibilities, maths, physics, biochemistry, or indeed chemistry or the biosciences otherwise, will all be broadly the same. None will be specifically preparing you for a particular industry, and while each might have some roles that are more directly relevant to the subject area (e.g. biological/chemical lab technical roles, various mathematical/computational modelling type jobs which are often in the engineering sector), many if not most graduates from those (and indeed, any) degrees will go on to jobs completely unrelated to the subject content of that course. You don't become a, say, physicist after doing an undergraduate physics course - there is really no such thing outside of academia. Within academia being a scientist entails doing original research in your field, and you will normally need to do a PhD then get a position as a postdoc to begin your academic career in earnest. There may however be roles in scientific departments at universities where you do e.g. labwork to support the researchers, which will use some more of your subject specific knowledge than generalist roles.

Architecture is different, since it is specifically a degree training you for a specific vocation. I'm not too sure how prospects are in areas relevant to architecture (e.g. as an architect, architectural technologist, various roles in development, planning, and surveying etc) are currently, as I kind of stopped investigating that area quite a few years ago. It is worth noting that training as an architect involves more than just the undergraduate course - a "typical" (although probably actually not very common) route as I understand would be: 3 year undergrad (Part 1 RIBA), year working in a relevant role, a 2 year grad course (Part 2 RIBA), minimum two years working in a relevant role, exam and professional porfolio submission (Part 3 RIBA). However the number of relevant roles for the periods of professional experience (which are required) are somewhat limited so you may end up needing to work for a few years in other roles (either in the built environment sector or otherwise) while getting one of those positions before you can continue training and ultimately be fully qualified.

PQ might be able to advise more on the architecture side of things (and quite possibly correct any inaccurate information above!) as I'm not really so familiar with it these days
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jrrj
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
You really need to identify what it is about those subjects you have said you enjoy, that makes you enjoy them, in order to best decide which to pursue in future. For example, do you like doing the labwork in chemistry/biology/physics? Solving mathematical problems as in physics/maths? Doing creative studio work as in art? What specifically is it about those A-level courses you are taking that you like?

I would also note that biochemistry degrees in the UK tend to have relatively limited chemistry content, as they are functionally degrees in what could otherwise be described as molecular/cell biology. Indeed, Oxford's biochemistry course (which does include a moderate amount of chemistry content) styles itself as "Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular)". Biochemistry is distinct from biological chemistry/chemical biology; it's merely the application of some aspects of chemistry to biological phenomena, which are the main focus of the course. If you wanted to learn chemistry in any detail you would need to look at a chemistry degree (which will include content in biological chemistry, and may allow you to take options in biosciences as well), or a joint honours course.

Architecture is a studio based course which is primarily then going to be most similar to your A-level Art experiences, although it is very different in many respects still. There is relatively little maths/physics in any architecture course, even the more "technical" courses like at Bath. Many skew much more to the "artistic" side, such as notably UCLs course, where the emphasis is on conceptual design approaches. You will learn some aspects of what might generally be called "structures" but you aren't going to learn much in depth structural mechanics like a civil engineer - probably just the general principles needed to make sure you don't design something that is completely unphysical.

Something you should be aware of is that degree level mathematics (that is, the maths in a maths degree - or applied maths degree) is vastly different to the style and content of A-level Maths. Even what is nominally referred to as "applied mathematics" in the context of a mathematics degree will normally be at least partly abstract, using formal proof of relevant theorems in the area as the core teaching. You then may apply these to the types of analytical problems you are familiar with from A-level, but even then they will be somewhat different, as the problems will be much less routine and not just a "plug and chug" like in A-level Maths. Maths at A-level is essentially a course in mathematical methods, which you will do some of but at least some, and for many universities the bulk of such courses, will be the above more abstract styled maths. You will also do some pure maths in pretty much any maths degree, which as above is not like the mathematical methods of A-level "pure" maths, but will be purely abstract work in e.g. analysis, (modern) algebra, etc. Even for applied maths you will need this (particularly analysis). You may want to look at something like Spivak's Calculus, or any introductory analysis textbook, to get an idea of what uni level maths might be like.

Physics at uni will be more similar to your A-level experiences than the other courses might be, although it's worth noting A-level Physics is only algebra based, whereas basically all of university physics will be calculus based, so you need to be happy spending every day doing integration! A lot of it might seem more like the A-level Maths mechanics and calculus topics you've done, than the A-level Physics (although you will probably be able to see the link to A-level Physics content, and often a lot of first year will be basically reintroducing much of the A-level Physics curriculum in a more mathematically sophisticated way).

In terms of career possibilities, maths, physics, biochemistry, or indeed chemistry or the biosciences otherwise, will all be broadly the same. None will be specifically preparing you for a particular industry, and while each might have some roles that are more directly relevant to the subject area (e.g. biological/chemical lab technical roles, various mathematical/computational modelling type jobs which are often in the engineering sector), many if not most graduates from those (and indeed, any) degrees will go on to jobs completely unrelated to the subject content of that course. You don't become a, say, physicist after doing an undergraduate physics course - there is really no such thing outside of academia. Within academia being a scientist entails doing original research in your field, and you will normally need to do a PhD then get a position as a postdoc to begin your academic career in earnest. There may however be roles in scientific departments at universities where you do e.g. labwork to support the researchers, which will use some more of your subject specific knowledge than generalist roles.

Architecture is different, since it is specifically a degree training you for a specific vocation. I'm not too sure how prospects are in areas relevant to architecture (e.g. as an architect, architectural technologist, various roles in development, planning, and surveying etc) are currently, as I kind of stopped investigating that area quite a few years ago. It is worth noting that training as an architect involves more than just the undergraduate course - a "typical" (although probably actually not very common) route as I understand would be: 3 year undergrad (Part 1 RIBA), year working in a relevant role, a 2 year grad course (Part 2 RIBA), minimum two years working in a relevant role, exam and professional porfolio submission (Part 3 RIBA). However the number of relevant roles for the periods of professional experience (which are required) are somewhat limited so you may end up needing to work for a few years in other roles (either in the built environment sector or otherwise) while getting one of those positions before you can continue training and ultimately be fully qualified.

PQ might be able to advise more on the architecture side of things (and quite possibly correct any inaccurate information above!) as I'm not really so familiar with it these days
Wow, thank you so much for this! The details in this has surely made me rethink about my options.
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PQ
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(Original post by jrrj)
Well they all have their ups and downs, but I would narrow it down to maths and chemistry.
Have you looked into chemical engineering?
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jrrj
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Have you looked into chemical engineering?
I have read only a bit about it although it also sounds interesting.
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