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A level subjects for computer science at oxford n other unis

I'm asking for my brother.
He is picking Religious studies, computer science and maths. He isnt good at physics and thinks chemistry would be a waste of time.
But I dont think that's a great combo considering he might apply for oxbridge
What subjects should he do...his ultimate goal is to get into oxford for computer science
Could he do further maths, computer science n maths or does it have to be 4 a levels
Original post by tecna
I'm asking for my brother.
He is picking Religious studies, computer science and maths. He isnt good at physics and thinks chemistry would be a waste of time.
But I dont think that's a great combo considering he might apply for oxbridge
What subjects should he do...his ultimate goal is to get into oxford for computer science
Could he do further maths, computer science n maths or does it have to be 4 a levels


Oxbridge do not like maths and further maths being 2/3 Alevels I believe. I think RS is a perfectly fine choice, especially as he could consider computer science and philosophy if that sounds interesting. I have copied in Oxford guidance for CS.

We will normally make an offer of A*AA on three A-levels including at least an A in Maths:

For Computer Science, and Computer Science & Philosophy students, the A* must be in Maths, Further Maths, or Computing/Computer Science. Those taking Further Maths A-level or AS-level are required to achieve at least a Grade A.
For Maths & Computer Science students: If Further Mathematics is taken, then including A*A between Mathematics and Further Mathematics; otherwise including A* in Mathematics. Those taking Further Maths AS-level are required to achieve at least a Grade A.
Reply 2
Original post by naomisimpsonn
Oxbridge do not like maths and further maths being 2/3 Alevels I believe. I think RS is a perfectly fine choice, especially as he could consider computer science and philosophy if that sounds interesting. I have copied in Oxford guidance for CS.

This is false.

Look at Oxford's courses for CS. An example entry requirements are: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses-listing/computer-science

Every CS course from Oxford, including CS with Philosophy, recommends:

Essential: A-level mathematics.
Recommended: A-level Further Mathematics.
Original post by tecna
I'm asking for my brother.
He is picking Religious studies, computer science and maths. He isnt good at physics and thinks chemistry would be a waste of time.
But I dont think that's a great combo considering he might apply for oxbridge
What subjects should he do...his ultimate goal is to get into oxford for computer science
Could he do further maths, computer science n maths or does it have to be 4 a levels

A-level Math and Further Math I would say are highly recommended/essential if you're going to study CS at oxbridge - as their website states.

For a third A-level, I want to recommend using Imperial's entry requirements for CS - which I think are very close to oxbridge:
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/ug/courses/computing-department/computing-beng/#entry-requirements

Essential: A-level mathematics.
Recommended: Computer Science, Further Math, or Physics.
Useful subjects: Ancient Language, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Electronics, English Literature, History, Languages, Law, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology.

I would advise your first three A-levels being either essential, or recommended ones. So, Math, Further Math and Phyiscs or CS would be optimal.

I would say having Math + Further Math as the first 2 a-levels are really important, but with your third A-level being physics, CS, or any useful subject, is fine also.
(edited 2 years ago)
Original post by Baleroc
This is false.

Look at Oxford's courses for CS. An example entry requirements are: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses-listing/computer-science

Every CS course from Oxford, including CS with Philosophy, recommends:

Essential: A-level mathematics.
Recommended: A-level Further Mathematics.

A-level Math and Further Math I would say are highly recommended/essential if you're going to study CS at oxbridge - as their website states.

For a third A-level, I want to recommend using Imperial's entry requirements for CS - which I think are very close to oxbridge:
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/ug/courses/computing-department/computing-beng/#entry-requirements

Essential: A-level mathematics.
Recommended: Computer Science, Further Math, or Physics.
Useful subjects: Ancient Language, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Electronics, English Literature, History, Languages, Law, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology.

I would advise your first three A-levels being either essential, or recommended ones. So, Math, Further Math and Phyiscs or CS would be optimal.

I would say having Math + Further Math as the first 2 a-levels are really important, but with your third A-level being physics, CS, or any useful subject, is fine also.

It's important to note that Oxbridge doesn't believe maths + further maths + another subject, is a high enough workload. If you take maths and further maths and want to apply for Oxbridge they strongly recommend taking 4 subjects.

Their website does say: Please note from 2018-20, 97% of A-level students who were offered places for Computer Science courses (including joint courses) took Further Maths to A-level.
Original post by naomisimpsonn
Oxbridge do not like maths and further maths being 2/3 Alevels I believe. I think RS is a perfectly fine choice, especially as he could consider computer science and philosophy if that sounds interesting. I have copied in Oxford guidance for CS.

We will normally make an offer of A*AA on three A-levels including at least an A in Maths:

For Computer Science, and Computer Science & Philosophy students, the A* must be in Maths, Further Maths, or Computing/Computer Science. Those taking Further Maths A-level or AS-level are required to achieve at least a Grade A.
For Maths & Computer Science students: If Further Mathematics is taken, then including A*A between Mathematics and Further Mathematics; otherwise including A* in Mathematics. Those taking Further Maths AS-level are required to achieve at least a Grade A.


Original post by naomisimpsonn
It's important to note that Oxbridge doesn't believe maths + further maths + another subject, is a high enough workload. If you take maths and further maths and want to apply for Oxbridge they strongly recommend taking 4 subjects.

Their website does say: Please note from 2018-20, 97% of A-level students who were offered places for Computer Science courses (including joint courses) took Further Maths to A-level.


This is incorrect and a very outdated perception which hasn't been the case for more at least 5 years if not more than 10. There is nothing in the above to indicate they consider maths and FM a lower workload or that they prefer FM to be a fourth subject. Currently the only courses I know of which have that outlook are a number of medicine courses (which OP is not applying to) and a small number of very humanities or "arts" aligned social sciences at LSE.

For Oxford CS (or maths or physics or engineering) the most common combination of subjects would be A-level Maths + FM plus one other (in the case of physics/engineering the last subject would be physics by necessity). Please don't give incorrect advice because it just perpetuates outdated and incorrect information.

Original post by tecna
I'm asking for my brother.
He is picking Religious studies, computer science and maths. He isnt good at physics and thinks chemistry would be a waste of time.
But I dont think that's a great combo considering he might apply for oxbridge
What subjects should he do...his ultimate goal is to get into oxford for computer science
Could he do further maths, computer science n maths or does it have to be 4 a levels


Double maths plus one other is absolutely fine and would be much better than doing RS instead of FM; if he did 4 A-levels it's quite possible he would be set a three A-level offer anyway since normally Oxford only makes offers on the basis of 3 A-levels, and RS is irrelevant to the course. I would strongly suggest doing double maths plus one other subject, as without FM he will probably be non-competitive, and taking additional subjects past the 3 required does not confer any benefit in admissions and may well be a liability later.
Original post by artful_lounger
This is incorrect and a very outdated perception which hasn't been the case for more at least 5 years if not more than 10. There is nothing in the above to indicate they consider maths and FM a lower workload or that they prefer FM to be a fourth subject. Currently the only courses I know of which have that outlook are a number of medicine courses (which OP is not applying to) and a small number of very humanities or "arts" aligned social sciences at LSE.

For Oxford CS (or maths or physics or engineering) the most common combination of subjects would be A-level Maths + FM plus one other (in the case of physics/engineering the last subject would be physics by necessity). Please don't give incorrect advice because it just perpetuates outdated and incorrect information.



Double maths plus one other is absolutely fine and would be much better than doing RS instead of FM; if he did 4 A-levels it's quite possible he would be set a three A-level offer anyway since normally Oxford only makes offers on the basis of 3 A-levels, and RS is irrelevant to the course. I would strongly suggest doing double maths plus one other subject, as without FM he will probably be non-competitive, and taking additional subjects past the 3 required does not confer any benefit in admissions and may well be a liability later.

R u 100% about the fact that he can take double maths n do one other a level..n that he doesnt have to do 4 a levels if he takes FM.
Original post by tecna
R u 100% about the fact that he can take double maths n do one other a level..n that he doesnt have to do 4 a levels if he takes FM.

Yes, unless he's applying to medicine or more essay based courses at LSE, neither of which is the case.
Reply 7
Original post by tecna
I'm asking for my brother.
He is picking Religious studies, computer science and maths. He isnt good at physics and thinks chemistry would be a waste of time.
But I dont think that's a great combo considering he might apply for oxbridge
What subjects should he do...his ultimate goal is to get into oxford for computer science
Could he do further maths, computer science n maths or does it have to be 4 a levels

That combination is fine but I would suggest doing further maths as well
Original post by tecna
R u 100% about the fact that he can take double maths n do one other a level..n that he doesnt have to do 4 levels if he takes FM.

My college who gets a quite high amount of people into Oxbridge each year doesn't allow us to even do maths and further maths + one other subject as they don't believe the workload is enough. I am not sure about Oxford but for Cambridge, I am pretty certain they strongly recommend doing FM as a 4th.

I couldn't see anything on Oxfords website but this is what Cambridge says about it:
Applicants taking four subjects won't normally be at an advantage compared with those taking three, although competitive applicants for STEM courses often have Further Mathematics as a fourth subject.

I am not saying I am 100% correct, but in my opinion and from the advice I have been given, the application would definitely be stronger with FM as a 4th. I have attended many Oxbridge webinars and have applied for STEM subject, to put my advice into context. Hope this helps!
Original post by naomisimpsonn
My college who gets a quite high amount of people into Oxbridge each year doesn't allow us to even do maths and further maths + one other subject as they don't believe the workload is enough. I am not sure about Oxford but for Cambridge, I am pretty certain they strongly recommend doing FM as a 4th.

I couldn't see anything on Oxfords website but this is what Cambridge says about it:
Applicants taking four subjects won't normally be at an advantage compared with those taking three, although competitive applicants for STEM courses often have Further Mathematics as a fourth subject.

I am not saying I am 100% correct, but in my opinion and from the advice I have been given, the application would definitely be stronger with FM as a 4th. I have attended many Oxbridge webinars and have applied for STEM subject, to put my advice into context. Hope this helps!

Omg my brother is so confused. We have emailed oxford. If anyone knows anything pls share
Original post by naomisimpsonn
My college who gets a quite high amount of people into Oxbridge each year doesn't allow us to even do maths and further maths + one other subject as they don't believe the workload is enough. I am not sure about Oxford but for Cambridge, I am pretty certain they strongly recommend doing FM as a 4th.

I couldn't see anything on Oxfords website but this is what Cambridge says about it:
Applicants taking four subjects won't normally be at an advantage compared with those taking three, although competitive applicants for STEM courses often have Further Mathematics as a fourth subject.

I am not saying I am 100% correct, but in my opinion and from the advice I have been given, the application would definitely be stronger with FM as a 4th. I have attended many Oxbridge webinars and have applied for STEM subject, to put my advice into context. Hope this helps!

Thnxx for the advice
Original post by tecna
Omg my brother is so confused. We have emailed oxford. If anyone knows anything pls share

Ok. So, Oxford Comp Sci are fine with 3 Alevels with FM. The only people who make you take it as a fourth are the sixth form schools who don't value Further Maths as a full A-level. I stress that this is not a view that Oxford Computer Science shares.
A full breakdown of all the Computer Science applicants' A-levels can be seen in the FOI request below.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/admissions_statistics_for_comput_2#incoming-1793522

As you will see. Most of them do FM and a lot take 3 A-levels including FM.

I recommend Maths, Further, Comp Sci and RS.

Quotes from the website:
*If your school offers Further Maths A-Level we expect you to have taken it. However, we understand that not all schools offer Further Maths, and so we do consider applications from people with a single Maths A-level.

Please note from 2018-20, 97% of A-level students who were offered places for Computer Science courses (including joint courses) took Further Maths to A-level.

We consider Maths and Further Maths as two separate A-levels.

Other links:
https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses-listing/computer-science
http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/why_oxford/standard_conditional_offers.html
(edited 2 years ago)
Original post by naomisimpsonn
My college who gets a quite high amount of people into Oxbridge each year doesn't allow us to even do maths and further maths + one other subject as they don't believe the workload is enough. I am not sure about Oxford but for Cambridge, I am pretty certain they strongly recommend doing FM as a 4th.

I couldn't see anything on Oxfords website but this is what Cambridge says about it:
Applicants taking four subjects won't normally be at an advantage compared with those taking three, although competitive applicants for STEM courses often have Further Mathematics as a fourth subject.

I am not saying I am 100% correct, but in my opinion and from the advice I have been given, the application would definitely be stronger with FM as a 4th. I have attended many Oxbridge webinars and have applied for STEM subject, to put my advice into context. Hope this helps!

4 A-levels does not matter. Cambridge admissions, page 9 says so: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/sites/www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/files/publications/ug_admissions_statistics_2020_cycle.pdf

The table represents the admission acceptance for 2020, based on the top three highest grades for A-level. Candidates with 4 A-levels, with A*A*AA had a lower chance of gaining admission, compared to a candidate with 3 A-levels: A*A*A*. Therefore, even if his brother did his very best, the only way he would have a high chance of success, is if he got A*A*A*A or A*A*A*A* in his A-levels, which is harder with 4 A-levels, compared to 3.

If we normalise this data:
A*A*A*:
1226 candidates given an offer.
3093 total candidates applied
Chance of Admission: 39.63%

A*A*A including 4 A-levels with A*A*AA:
151 candidates given an offer
1216 total candidates applied
Chance of Admission: 12.41%

The difference is 27.2% chance of admission between A*A*A* and A*A*A including 4 A-levels A*A*AA.
(edited 2 years ago)
Original post by Baleroc
4 A-levels does not matter. Cambridge admissions, page 9 says so: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/sites/www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/files/publications/ug_admissions_statistics_2020_cycle.pdf

The table represents the admission acceptance for 2020, based on the top three highest grades for A-level. Candidates with 4 A-levels, with A*A*AA had a lower chance of gaining admission, compared to a candidate with 3 A-levels: A*A*A*. Therefore, even if his brother did his very best, the only way he would have a high chance of success, is if he got A*A*A*A or A*A*A*A* in his A-levels, which is harder with 4 A-levels, compared to 3.

If we normalise this data:
A*A*A*:
1226 candidates given an offer.
3093 total candidates applied
Chance of Admission: 39.63%

A*A*A including 4 A-levels with A*A*AA:
151 candidates given an offer
1216 total candidates applied
Chance of Admission: 12.41%

The difference is 27.2% chance of admission between A*A*A* and A*A*A including 4 A-levels A*A*AA.

Using the same idea:

Sure having 4 A* are better than 3 A*, but the point is: having 3 A* is less work than 4. Getting 3 A* is already a very difficult task. If you were to get Math, Further Math and CS at A*, then having a 4th A-level at A* wouldn't make much difference to your chance anyway. Why add the unncessary strain of a 4th subject, when getting 3 A*s in 3 very difficult subjects, is already challenging. Moreover, adding in a 4th A-level may not increase your chance that much, and it will considerably affect revision. If you failed to achieve A*A*A* with having 4 A-levels, you would be reducing your chance anyway. Therefore, it's optimal to have 3 A*s than to have 4 subjects.
In my opinion, if your brother has a strong background in maths. I would say take maths, FM, computer science and RS then would drop a subject if the workload isn't manageable but speak to admissions teams/college advice to decide on which subject.

This might help: http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/admissions_statistics/publicReport2020.pdf
Original post by yesIAmACamel
Ok. So, Oxford Comp Sci are fine with 3 Alevels with FM. The only people who make you take it as a fourth are the sixth form schools who don't value Further Maths as a full A-level. I stress that this is not a view that Oxford Computer Science shares.
A full breakdown of all the Computer Science applicants' A-levels can be seen in the FOI request below.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/admissions_statistics_for_comput_2#incoming-1793522

As you will see. Most of them do FM and a lot take 3 A-levels including FM.

I recommend Maths, Further, Comp Sci and RS.

Quotes from the website:
*If your school offers Further Maths A-Level we expect you to have taken it. However, we understand that not all schools offer Further Maths, and so we do consider applications from people with a single Maths A-level.

Please note from 2018-20, 97% of A-level students who were offered places for Computer Science courses (including joint courses) took Further Maths to A-level.

We consider Maths and Further Maths as two separate A-levels.

Other links:
https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses-listing/computer-science
http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/why_oxford/standard_conditional_offers.html

However, over 50% of those people have taken 4 A levels, so to boost his chances it would probably be beneficial to take it as a 4th, especially as (from what I can see), nearly all the ones who took 3 including further maths had physics as a third, which your brother isn't going to take. In fact, most of them in general have physics, but enough don't that he would have a decent chance of getting in without it

Do you know how his school does further maths? Some teach it as 2 separate lessons but others, such as mine, teach A level maths in the first year and then further maths in the second year. Although we take both exams at the end of year 13, some school take maths at the end of year 12 and then further maths in year 13. I only ask because most unis prefer at least 3 A levels being taken in one exam season, so if their school takes maths at the end of year 12 then this could be an issue and make him a less competitive candidate, especially if a lot of his competition is taking 4 at the same time.
(edited 2 years ago)
"if their school takes maths at the end of year 12 then this could be an issue and make him a less competitive candidate"

Apart from that (which yes, is an issue, universities expect to be making offers on the basis of three A levels taken at the same time), it can be an issue for the school (rather than the student) because if you are only doing two courses you probably don't count as a full time student. They may not have the resources to offer maths + FM both as a single course (for people who want to take 4 A levels) and as two courses (for people who want to take 3 A levels). Different schools will make different decisions about how to handle it.

It does also cut your options down. Just maths x 2 and CS is fine for maths degrees or CS degrees, but at age 15-16, how sure are you about that being what you want to do? 15 year old me was sure she was going to study maths. 17 year old me applied for physics at university. (Adult me is a computer programmer.)

All that said, I think you'd have to be nuts to have identified the two recommended A levels for the course you think you want to do before making your choices, and then deliberately not take one of them. Which probably means that your best option is maths + FM and then you're deciding whether to do either one or two more.
Original post by Baleroc
This is false.

Look at Oxford's courses for CS. An example entry requirements are: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses-listing/computer-science

Every CS course from Oxford, including CS with Philosophy, recommends:

Essential: A-level mathematics.
Recommended: A-level Further Mathematics.

A-level Math and Further Math I would say are highly recommended/essential if you're going to study CS at oxbridge - as their website states.

For a third A-level, I want to recommend using Imperial's entry requirements for CS - which I think are very close to oxbridge:
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/ug/courses/computing-department/computing-beng/#entry-requirements

Essential: A-level mathematics.
Recommended: Computer Science, Further Math, or Physics.
Useful subjects: Ancient Language, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Electronics, English Literature, History, Languages, Law, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology.

I would advise your first three A-levels being either essential, or recommended ones. So, Math, Further Math and Phyiscs or CS would be optimal.

I would say having Math + Further Math as the first 2 a-levels are really important, but with your third A-level being physics, CS, or any useful subject, is fine also.


so could I get into oxford with these a levels? A levels: further maths, maths, computer science and biology (i dont really enjoy physics and I enjoy biology more than chem)

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