A levels for an Oxbridge english degree

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lemonicedT
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Hi, i am in year 11 and have applied to take biology, chemistry, English lit and art for a levels. However i want to do an English degree at Oxbridge, are my subject choices too irrelevant and will this damage my choices. should i take geography or re instead of art. i was hoping current Oxbridge English students could help? thank you loads it been really stressful!
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aisha.mussa
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You should be fine.
But try to do an extra essay based subject instead of Art so you are more prepared
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Parliament
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I studied English at Cambridge and did English Lit, German, Politics, Geography, Critical Thinking, and EPQ for A-Level. Your choices are definitely unconventional - most students there had done predominantly essay subjects. It's not so much the content (nothing I did outside of English Lit and German was relevant to my degree) but the thinking and essay-writing skills which are useful; there's a big difference between a STEM essay and a humanities essay so while Geography is going to help you more than Bio/Chem, it's not as relevant as RS/History/Philosophy/etc.
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lemonicedT
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(Original post by Parliament)
I studied English at Cambridge and did English Lit, German, Politics, Geography, Critical Thinking, and EPQ for A-Level. Your choices are definitely unconventional - most students there had done predominantly essay subjects. It's not so much the content (nothing I did outside of English Lit and German was relevant to my degree) but the thinking and essay-writing skills which are useful; there's a big difference between a STEM essay and a humanities essay so while Geography is going to help you more than Bio/Chem, it's not as relevant as RS/History/Philosophy/etc.
Hi, thanks that's really helpfull, do you think classic civilisations would work?
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artful_lounger
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The only required subject is A-level English lit, and they won't have any specific preferences otherwise. Taking art along with English lit and one other subject is perfectly fine in terms of admissions for an English lit degree, as would taking English lit and biology/chemistry. As above though more experience in essay writing can be useful once you are on the course however. There are plenty of subjects that may provide some relevant contextual background as well as that essay writing experience, including but not limited to classical civilisation, sociology, philosophy, history, etc. Classical civ includes some literature content which you can practice your literary analysis abilities with more, so might be particularly relevant; also much of classical literature, even if you don't directly study it in the course, influenced and shaped later writers and defined several major genres of literature (in English and otherwise), so may be quite relevant.

Still, if you wanted to take biology and chemistry because you were e.g. also considering a STEM course as an option, or art for creative arts courses, that is fine - you just may need to be prepared to spend a bit more time perfecting your essay writing abilities if you do start an English lit degree. That said, I would not recommend taking four A-levels, especially where you would have two sciences, English lit, and art...art is an enormous workload throughout the course, and English lit and art are both very different from each other and the sciences, so there is less synergy between your subjects so you will probably feel more pressure doing that combination.
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lemonicedT
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
The only required subject is A-level English lit, and they won't have any specific preferences otherwise. Taking art along with English lit and one other subject is perfectly fine in terms of admissions for an English lit degree, as would taking English lit and biology/chemistry. As above though more experience in essay writing can be useful once you are on the course however. There are plenty of subjects that may provide some relevant contextual background as well as that essay writing experience, including but not limited to classical civilisation, sociology, philosophy, history, etc. Classical civ includes some literature content which you can practice your literary analysis abilities with more, so might be particularly relevant; also much of classical literature, even if you don't directly study it in the course, influenced and shaped later writers and defined several major genres of literature (in English and otherwise), so may be quite relevant.

Still, if you wanted to take biology and chemistry because you were e.g. also considering a STEM course as an option, or art for creative arts courses, that is fine - you just may need to be prepared to spend a bit more time perfecting your essay writing abilities if you do start an English lit degree. That said, I would not recommend taking four A-levels, especially where you would have two sciences, English lit, and art...art is an enormous workload throughout the course, and English lit and art are both very different from each other and the sciences, so there is less synergy between your subjects so you will probably feel more pressure doing that combination.
Thank you so much this is amazing advice and really helped me!!! The 6th form i want to go to requires us to take 3 A levels and an AS which would be my art. Thank you again its really helpful to have another opinion as i am conflicted and my family don't have university experience.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by lemonicedT)
Hi, i am in year 11 and have applied to take biology, chemistry, English lit and art for a levels. However i want to do an English degree at Oxbridge, are my subject choices too irrelevant and will this damage my choices. should i take geography or re instead of art. i was hoping current Oxbridge English students could help? thank you loads it been really stressful!
I see in a later post you've said you will take three full A levels and an AS in art (rather than four full A levels, which would be a bad idea) - but are you sure about AS level art? It's really time-consuming and intensive, and you've got three other pretty full-on subjects.
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lemonicedT
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(Original post by Reality Check)
I see in a later post you've said you will take three full A levels and an AS in art (rather than four full A levels, which would be a bad idea) - but are you sure about AS level art? It's really time-consuming and intensive, and you've got three other pretty full-on subjects.
hi, thanks for taking the time to follow up! To be honest im not sure as i have recently been advised by a peer that an AS should be a traditional academic subject. As of the moment my plan was to hopefully get the grades to attend my 6th form of choice and possibly re-evaluate if i know i can get in. In this case i would switch out AS art for geography or classical civilisations. My 6th form of choice is very competitive and requires entrance exams in each subject you want to take, therefore as i passed the ones i currently chose i am reluctant to change too early and damage my chances of receiving a place. i have spoken to current students on the exam day and there is apparently more flexibility after term starts, so i think it would be a good idea to wait and talk with the head of sixth form who has experience dealing with this. do you think this is a good course of action? generally i am able to get good grades and manage a large workload so this hopefully wont be much of an issue, of course i am basing this off GCSEs experience and understand this could be different at A level even at AS.
Thank you again for contacting me, i really appreciate all the advice and critique, i often get very worried about my choices and the future so its really amazing to have unbiased experienced input!
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Reality Check
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(Original post by lemonicedT)
6th form of choice is very competitive and requires entrance exams in each subject you want to take, therefore as i passed the ones i currently chose i am reluctant to change too early and damage my chances of receiving a place. i have spoken to current students on the exam day and there is apparently more flexibility after term starts, so i think it would be a good idea to wait and talk with the head of sixth form who has experience dealing with this. do you think this is a good course of action?
Yes, this seems like a good idea, but I'm not altogether sure of the subject choices generally. If you're certain you want to read English, then I would concentrate on three arts/humanities: English, C.C. and geography/RE (one at AS if this is a requirement of the VI form college) would be a good choice. I don't see the benefit of doing sciences if there's zero chance that you will need them.
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