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A-level choices

I'm not sure what A level I should choose I want to be a bioinformatics scientist or something with biology and computing in the future as I really like programming and science however, I'm quite stuck on which A levels I should choose I was thinking on doing maths cs biology economics but idk if that's a good combination and what to drop if I have too.
Original post by AmyDarcy001
I'm not sure what A level I should choose I want to be a bioinformatics scientist or something with biology and computing in the future as I really like programming and science however, I'm quite stuck on which A levels I should choose I was thinking on doing maths cs biology economics but idk if that's a good combination and what to drop if I have too.

Heya!
Have you tried searching up the course and see what unis offer it and what they want with entry requirements? For example, check on Unicompare, the unis listed there say they need bio a-level. The other two can be anything (unless they specify the a-levels!).

4 a-levels are a bit too much and no uni requires all 4. Perhaps focus on maths cs and biology? Economics is a very heavy essay-based subject and it might cause you extra stress as you do your a-levels. For finance degrees you just need maths usually, you don't need economics (unless you want to do it just to learn new stuff in business).

I hope this helps!
Milena G.
UCL PFE
Study Mind
Original post by AmyDarcy001
I'm not sure what A level I should choose I want to be a bioinformatics scientist or something with biology and computing in the future as I really like programming and science however, I'm quite stuck on which A levels I should choose I was thinking on doing maths cs biology economics but idk if that's a good combination and what to drop if I have too.


I have not done anything related to the field, but I have read up on the subject so take note of this when reading through my response.

If you look at bioinformatics degrees, most would be at postgrad level because bioinformatics is a very niche subject and only a handful of universities offer the degree at bachelor's level. I would recommend taking the subject at postgrad in case you get boxed into a subject you don't want to be in.

If you're adament in doing the subject at bachelor's level, I could only find degrees by West London and York St John's, both of which are joint degrees:
https://www.uwl.ac.uk/course/undergraduate/bioinformatics-genomics?start=646&option=33
https://www.yorksj.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/biosciences/applied-biosciences-bioinformatics-bsc-hons/
Both degrees are asking for at least 2 science subjects, so Maths and Biology are more than adequate. Computer Science and Economics are unncessary, but it's up to you whether you want to keep them.

If you look through the entry requirements of the master's degrees, you will notice a number of them asking for a 2:1 degree in either biological sciences, physical sciences, IT, or maths. All would accept biology related sciences as an undergrad, but not all (I've found only 2-3 out of 30-40 degree courses) would accept physical sciences, computer science, or maths related degrees as undergrads.
Should you wish to do biology related sciences as an undergrad, you're ideally looking at biology and chemistry A Levels as required subjects for most of the degrees. Should you wish to go for computing or maths, Maths A Level is the required subject. If it's physical sciences, you're looking at chemistry, physics, and maths (or at least maths and one of the sciences) as required subjects.

The alternative to bioinformatics is biomedical engineering (biology + engineering), but you're better off doing a mechanical engineering degree instead according to certain sources (again because it's a niche subject and it's easier to employ a generalist mchecnical engineer). Like bioinformatics, you need at least 2 sciences for biomedical engineering, which can include computer science for some courses. If you're doing mechanical engineering, physics and maths are the required subjects.

Computational biology would also come close. However, entry requirements would focus more on computer science degrees as entry requirements for master's degrees. i.e. maths A Level is your only required subject.

Mathematical biology or Biological mathematics also covers very much the biological, mathematics, and computer science components in one degree. Although, I would check the syllabus of each degree to check that it's to your liking, for example you might approve of Dundee's degree syllabus more than most other degree syllabi (https://www.dundee.ac.uk/undergraduate/mathematical-biology-bsc/teaching-and-assessment#id_5). Most of these degrees would focus on the maths in a biology context, so it's essentially a maths degree.

In short, if you want to keep a broad range of degree options as your undergrad, you would want to at least have Biology and Maths as the essential A Levels, but be open to Chemistry and Physics. Computer Science and Economics are not required in any context.
If you want your undergrad to be in biology related sciences, I would recommend Chemistry and Biology as the required subjects, but also do Maths to keep your options open.
If you want your undergrad to focus more on the technology and maths side of things, I recommend Maths and Physics as the required subjects.
If you want to keep your options as wide as possible, I would do all 3 sciences + Maths

In any case, if you're serious about being a bioinformatics scientist or bioinformatician, then I would consider doing a PhD after your master's.
Original post by MindMax2000
I have not done anything related to the field, but I have read up on the subject so take note of this when reading through my response.

If you look at bioinformatics degrees, most would be at postgrad level because bioinformatics is a very niche subject and only a handful of universities offer the degree at bachelor's level. I would recommend taking the subject at postgrad in case you get boxed into a subject you don't want to be in.

If you're adament in doing the subject at bachelor's level, I could only find degrees by West London and York St John's, both of which are joint degrees:
https://www.uwl.ac.uk/course/undergraduate/bioinformatics-genomics?start=646&option=33
https://www.yorksj.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/biosciences/applied-biosciences-bioinformatics-bsc-hons/
Both degrees are asking for at least 2 science subjects, so Maths and Biology are more than adequate. Computer Science and Economics are unncessary, but it's up to you whether you want to keep them.

If you look through the entry requirements of the master's degrees, you will notice a number of them asking for a 2:1 degree in either biological sciences, physical sciences, IT, or maths. All would accept biology related sciences as an undergrad, but not all (I've found only 2-3 out of 30-40 degree courses) would accept physical sciences, computer science, or maths related degrees as undergrads.
Should you wish to do biology related sciences as an undergrad, you're ideally looking at biology and chemistry A Levels as required subjects for most of the degrees. Should you wish to go for computing or maths, Maths A Level is the required subject. If it's physical sciences, you're looking at chemistry, physics, and maths (or at least maths and one of the sciences) as required subjects.

The alternative to bioinformatics is biomedical engineering (biology + engineering), but you're better off doing a mechanical engineering degree instead according to certain sources (again because it's a niche subject and it's easier to employ a generalist mchecnical engineer). Like bioinformatics, you need at least 2 sciences for biomedical engineering, which can include computer science for some courses. If you're doing mechanical engineering, physics and maths are the required subjects.

Computational biology would also come close. However, entry requirements would focus more on computer science degrees as entry requirements for master's degrees. i.e. maths A Level is your only required subject.

Mathematical biology or Biological mathematics also covers very much the biological, mathematics, and computer science components in one degree. Although, I would check the syllabus of each degree to check that it's to your liking, for example you might approve of Dundee's degree syllabus more than most other degree syllabi (https://www.dundee.ac.uk/undergraduate/mathematical-biology-bsc/teaching-and-assessment#id_5). Most of these degrees would focus on the maths in a biology context, so it's essentially a maths degree.

In short, if you want to keep a broad range of degree options as your undergrad, you would want to at least have Biology and Maths as the essential A Levels, but be open to Chemistry and Physics. Computer Science and Economics are not required in any context.
If you want your undergrad to be in biology related sciences, I would recommend Chemistry and Biology as the required subjects, but also do Maths to keep your options open.
If you want your undergrad to focus more on the technology and maths side of things, I recommend Maths and Physics as the required subjects.
If you want to keep your options as wide as possible, I would do all 3 sciences + Maths

In any case, if you're serious about being a bioinformatics scientist or bioinformatician, then I would consider doing a PhD after your master's.


thank you so much for your reply it's been really helpful I think I'll probably do 3 sciences and maths as I'm still deciding what I would want to do in the future and like you said it will be keeping my option wide which is something I would like since I'm not 100% set on being a bioinformatic scientist I wouldn't want to regret my alevel choices in the future which is something I was quite scared about before i guess the issue I have is that I'm not really the best at maths and i heard that physics alevel is really hard but I know my heart has always been set to cs and having a career on it and I guess I'll just work extra hard for them
Original post by AmyDarcy001
thank you so much for your reply it's been really helpful I think I'll probably do 3 sciences and maths as I'm still deciding what I would want to do in the future and like you said it will be keeping my option wide which is something I would like since I'm not 100% set on being a bioinformatic scientist I wouldn't want to regret my alevel choices in the future which is something I was quite scared about before i guess the issue I have is that I'm not really the best at maths and i heard that physics alevel is really hard but I know my heart has always been set to cs and having a career on it and I guess I'll just work extra hard for them

By the way, if you're set on going into CS are you interested in a career in academia or in industry.

If you're going into industry, you technically do not need a degree in it. You will need skills and experience in the specific role that you would need, but not necessary qualifications. If you want to get a qualification in it, I recommend professional IT certifications specific to the role that you want to apply for.

If you're going into academia, there's good news if you haven't done an undergrad in it. With some universities, you can do a master's in computer science with an undergrad in any subject so long you have a high enough grade (usually a 2:1 or higher). The sort of courses that you won't be able to do without a computer science related undergrad would be Advanced Computer Science.

If you're not interested in a career in STEM, consider the following A Levels as they can be required subjects:

History - for history degrees, but not for archeology interestingly

English Literature

Geography - for some geography degrees

Latin/Greek - for classics

Langauuges for language degrees

Note:

Further Maths for top end university degrees in maths, economics, phsyics, and computer science; if you don't have it it's not the end of the world, but it can deter your application on competitive courses if your college does offer it but you chose not to pursue it



All in all, if you do 3 sciences + Maths, you should be well equipped to be eligible for most of the degrees out there.

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