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What A levels will prepare me?

I'm looking to study bsc chemistry at university, are there any chemistry students that can help me out? Which A level would prepare for chemistry the best, biology or further maths? Is there a lot of maths in a chemistry degree? From my understanding, subjects like physics its probably best you learn further maths since its a highly mathematical degree but is that the same with chemistry? Is it chemistry very different in universities like UCL, Imperial, Bath etc....?
Original post by trystar1123
I'm looking to study bsc chemistry at university, are there any chemistry students that can help me out? Which A level would prepare for chemistry the best, biology or further maths? Is there a lot of maths in a chemistry degree? From my understanding, subjects like physics its probably best you learn further maths since its a highly mathematical degree but is that the same with chemistry? Is it chemistry very different in universities like UCL, Imperial, Bath etc....?


I am able to share some of my research if you want, since I am thinking of doing a joint chemistry degree.

There isn't really a lot of maths in chemistry as far as I know (unless you are doing something like chemical physics, chemical engineering, or quantum chemistry/mechanics). Biology would be better suited for chemistry than further maths, since a good chunk of it involves organic chemistry. If you already have maths, then you should be fine unless you want to go into the theoretical aspects.

I can't answer the last question, since I am looking into it myself.
Original post by MindMax2000
I am able to share some of my research if you want, since I am thinking of doing a joint chemistry degree.

There isn't really a lot of maths in chemistry as far as I know (unless you are doing something like chemical physics, chemical engineering, or quantum chemistry/mechanics). Biology would be better suited for chemistry than further maths, since a good chunk of it involves organic chemistry. If you already have maths, then you should be fine unless you want to go into the theoretical aspects.

I can't answer the last question, since I am looking into it myself.

don't you have to learn quantum chemistry in most courses?
Just to add, I think it is important to study the subject you enjoy. When you begin your degree there will be a period where everyone is getting up to the same level so you will be fine. Getting the grades required for your degree is very important and you are more likely to do this doing a subject you enjoy. Hope this helps.
Original post by trystar1123
I'm looking to study bsc chemistry at university, are there any chemistry students that can help me out? Which A level would prepare for chemistry the best, biology or further maths? Is there a lot of maths in a chemistry degree? From my understanding, subjects like physics its probably best you learn further maths since its a highly mathematical degree but is that the same with chemistry? Is it chemistry very different in universities like UCL, Imperial, Bath etc....?


Pick whichever you feel you prefer or can see yourself doing (read the specifications for each subject).

There is maths in chemistry and both maths and FM may be useful prep. Biology is also good, as it involves how chemistry is applied.

Chemistry can differ a lot at different unis. Oxford, for example, has a mandatory year in research. Though in order for a chemistry degree to be accredited by the RSC, there are some agreed things that each uni’s course must have in common.
Original post by trystar1123
don't you have to learn quantum chemistry in most courses?


I think they do, but you don't cover it in as much depth as physic though (I once annoyed my chemistry tutor using matrix calculations to balance chemistry equations). Having said that, I am thinking of going into physical sciences, so I am doing it anyway.

I think it's more appropriate if you look through the syllabi of your selected courses that you want to do. I might be wrong, but organic chemistry might be a bigger component in most chemistry degrees than quantum chemistry.
Original post by hghghghghgvc
Just to add, I think it is important to study the subject you enjoy. When you begin your degree there will be a period where everyone is getting up to the same level so you will be fine. Getting the grades required for your degree is very important and you are more likely to do this doing a subject you enjoy. Hope this helps.


Yeah I completely agree with this. I've actually swapped courses because I prefer chemistry over other subjects
Further Maths, although not necessary, is probably more useful to have exposure to complex numbers and matrices before you start the degree I gather.

@CheeseIsVeg might be able to give some more insight into this :smile:
Original post by trystar1123
I'm looking to study bsc chemistry at university, are there any chemistry students that can help me out? Which A level would prepare for chemistry the best, biology or further maths? Is there a lot of maths in a chemistry degree? From my understanding, subjects like physics its probably best you learn further maths since its a highly mathematical degree but is that the same with chemistry? Is it chemistry very different in universities like UCL, Imperial, Bath etc....?

Hi I graduated from an MChem degree fairly recently so can help :yy:

I would agree with artful_lounger.
In my opinion, physics, chemistry, maths and further maths are the subjects that will be the most useful.
I did chemistry, physics and maths A-level and found my degree fine. I learned a few further maths concepts during the year so that's why I include it - it's useful but not essential!
Physics is definitely a handy a-level to do, so many concepts overlap and it will help you with things such as equations/units and understanding concepts used in chemistry all the time :yes:
In terms of absolutely necessary - chemistry/maths are the ones.

I would definitely remember that you want to do well in A levels so if you really hate any of those subjects, don't take them because you aren't going to be able to do super great in them and get the a levels you might need for some courses (just some advice I wish someone told me :colondollar:)

With Uni courses, they are mostly the same core subjects. Ie: You will learn inorganic/physical and organic chemistry and also practical chemistry in teaching labs. Those are probably broadly the same whichever Uni you go to.

Other modules, ie: more specialised chemistry disciplines or optional modules, they all depend on the Uni. This is good to check out if you are super interested in something. E.g: When I was choosing my Uni I hated organic chemistry so I looked for a Uni with lots of optional module choice :yes:

Hope this helps, any questions just tag/quote me :thumbsup:
Cheese
Original post by artful_lounger
Further Maths, although not necessary, is probably more useful to have exposure to complex numbers and matrices before you start the degree I gather.

@CheeseIsVeg might be able to give some more insight into this :smile:


Thanks for the tag :smile:
Original post by CheeseIsVeg
Thanks for the tag :smile:

PRSOM! :biggrin:
Original post by CheeseIsVeg
Hi I graduated from an MChem degree fairly recently so can help :yy:

I would agree with artful_lounger.
In my opinion, physics, chemistry, maths and further maths are the subjects that will be the most useful.
I did chemistry, physics and maths A-level and found my degree fine. I learned a few further maths concepts during the year so that's why I include it - it's useful but not essential!
Physics is definitely a handy a-level to do, so many concepts overlap and it will help you with things such as equations/units and understanding concepts used in chemistry all the time :yes:
In terms of absolutely necessary - chemistry/maths are the ones.

I would definitely remember that you want to do well in A levels so if you really hate any of those subjects, don't take them because you aren't going to be able to do super great in them and get the a levels you might need for some courses (just some advice I wish someone told me :colondollar:)

With Uni courses, they are mostly the same core subjects. Ie: You will learn inorganic/physical and organic chemistry and also practical chemistry in teaching labs. Those are probably broadly the same whichever Uni you go to.

Other modules, ie: more specialised chemistry disciplines or optional modules, they all depend on the Uni. This is good to check out if you are super interested in something. E.g: When I was choosing my Uni I hated organic chemistry so I looked for a Uni with lots of optional module choice :yes:

Hope this helps, any questions just tag/quote me :thumbsup:
Cheese


Thanks for the tag :smile:

Hi, thanks for the response. Is there a lot of maths in a chemistry degree? Also what topics in physics are good for chemistry? Mechanics? Waves?

Thanks
Original post by trystar1123
Hi, thanks for the response. Is there a lot of maths in a chemistry degree? Also what topics in physics are good for chemistry? Mechanics? Waves?

Thanks


Sure, happy to help :smile:

There is a bit! It's a key part of chemistry but most of the maths you do all the time isn't particularly difficult.
The amount of maths you will do depends on what you enjoy. For me I really like physical chemistry so going forward in my options there was a lot of equations, maths and then after 2nd year you do quantum mechanics so that builds on differentiation/integration and looks at more complex numbers/trigonometry.

Main topics in physics that are super helpful:
- thermodynamics
- nuclear physics
- waves (in my opinion it's the most important)
- general experimental/measurement physics (units stuff and equations stuff, personally i found this the most useful)
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by CheeseIsVeg
Sure, happy to help :smile:

There is a bit! It's a key part of chemistry but most of the maths you do all the time isn't particularly difficult.
The amount of maths you will do depends on what you enjoy. For me I really like physical chemistry so going forward in my options there was a lot of equations, maths and then after 2nd year you do quantum mechanics so that builds on differentiation/integration and looks at more complex numbers/trigonometry.

Main topics in physics that are super helpful:
- thermodynamics
- nuclear physics
- waves (in my opinion it's the most important)
- general experimental/measurement physics (units stuff and equations stuff, personally i found this the most useful)


I see. Would you say the maths in a chemistry degree is there to get an answer rather than proving things? I'm asking this only because my friend who does physics says that his course has just been proving equations and it's been more of a maths degree than a science degree. Is it different from chemistry? I enjoy maths but I don't really want to sit there proving and deriving equations for my whole degree.

Also, I've heard there's a bit of coding in chemistry for lab reports. Is that true? If so, what language do you use?

Thanks for the reply
Original post by trystar1123
I see. Would you say the maths in a chemistry degree is there to get an answer rather than proving things? I'm asking this only because my friend who does physics says that his course has just been proving equations and it's been more of a maths degree than a science degree. Is it different from chemistry? I enjoy maths but I don't really want to sit there proving and deriving equations for my whole degree.

Also, I've heard there's a bit of coding in chemistry for lab reports. Is that true? If so, what language do you use?

Thanks for the reply


Hiya :smile:
Yes, we really don't normally do 'proofs' and such.
I don't think you will have to do that (but obviously depends on how each University teaches its modules)
Unless you pick mathematical optional modules and very advanced physical chemistry (year 4 master's modules), you won't be doing any mathematical proofs.

Literally the reason I chose chemistry was because physics was scary maths (and the practical work in physics is so boring haha) :rofl: I made the right decision :tongue:

So this will 100% depend on your University,
When I was doing my course we had 2 computational labs to do. 1 was on a modelling software called GaussView/Gaussian, the other was kinetic modelling in MATLAB.
Then in second year I took an optional module in analytical chemistry where we used jupyter notebook/anaconda python programming.

It will really depend on your course. I also think that coding has started to become a bit more compulsory so it might be required now in some modules? Always ask at open days etc. and find out because it might be incorporated in the labs/tutorials or it could just be optional modules. Depends on the University.
Original post by CheeseIsVeg
Hiya :smile:
Yes, we really don't normally do 'proofs' and such.
I don't think you will have to do that (but obviously depends on how each University teaches its modules)
Unless you pick mathematical optional modules and very advanced physical chemistry (year 4 master's modules), you won't be doing any mathematical proofs.

Literally the reason I chose chemistry was because physics was scary maths (and the practical work in physics is so boring haha) :rofl: I made the right decision :tongue:

So this will 100% depend on your University,
When I was doing my course we had 2 computational labs to do. 1 was on a modelling software called GaussView/Gaussian, the other was kinetic modelling in MATLAB.
Then in second year I took an optional module in analytical chemistry where we used jupyter notebook/anaconda python programming.

It will really depend on your course. I also think that coding has started to become a bit more compulsory so it might be required now in some modules? Always ask at open days etc. and find out because it might be incorporated in the labs/tutorials or it could just be optional modules. Depends on the University.


Yeah! That's exactly my thought. I feel like physics is just a pure maths degree and watching pendulum swings is not my forte. I'm thinking between UCL and Imperial. I've heard at imperial chemistry you can pick to focus on either the maths and physics side or the medicinal side. Not so sure about UCL. Also what year do most universities do quantum chemistry?
Original post by trystar1123
Yeah! That's exactly my thought. I feel like physics is just a pure maths degree and watching pendulum swings is not my forte. I'm thinking between UCL and Imperial. I've heard at imperial chemistry you can pick to focus on either the maths and physics side or the medicinal side. Not so sure about UCL. Also what year do most universities do quantum chemistry?


2nd year
Go to the open days for both and ask about choice/options and what is mandatory on the course
Original post by CheeseIsVeg
2nd year
Go to the open days for both and ask about choice/options and what is mandatory on the course

Will do. Does the difficulty differ from universities? I've heard Imperial makes work your priority and that its a lot more difficult than other universities like UCL, Bath, Bristol, Warwick etc.
Original post by trystar1123
Will do. Does the difficulty differ from universities? I've heard Imperial makes work your priority and that its a lot more difficult than other universities like UCL, Bath, Bristol, Warwick etc.

I think the difficulty level of the course is usually assessed by what your strengths are and the modules taken.
The pace at which lectures go can vary between University. A good indication of how hard a course is can usually be taken on the entry grades and requirements. E.G: when I applied to imperial they were looking for A*AA and Mathematics A-level was required and the course sounded quite intense.

I can't really delve much more into that as I only went to one University (Southampton) which seemed like a good balance between the two.

Don't be fooled though, Chemistry is a hard degree! You will need to study and put the work in - plus you have practical work to do and work from that which not all disciplines have
Original post by trystar1123
I'm looking to study bsc chemistry at university, are there any chemistry students that can help me out? Which A level would prepare for chemistry the best, biology or further maths? Is there a lot of maths in a chemistry degree? From my understanding, subjects like physics its probably best you learn further maths since its a highly mathematical degree but is that the same with chemistry? Is it chemistry very different in universities like UCL, Imperial, Bath etc....?

Hiya @trystar1123,

I'm currently a second-year Chemistry student at Lancaster University. I did Biology, Chemistry and English Language for my A-levels. There is a fair bit of maths in a chemistry degree but 3 A-levels including two sciences and getting the grades are the only prerequisites for getting into the course here at Lancaster. I would say that doing maths A-level could be helpful but only if you enjoy it enough to do well. Lancaster has provisions to help with maths skills so if I'm ever unsure of something I can go to them.

I don't know how other universities teach, but at Lancs we do roughly 10 chemistry modules a year that covers all topics. These include synthetic, computational, inorganic and physical chemistry. If you'd like to know more about the universities you are interested in, there should be some detail on their websites or in their prospectuses about what their teaching covers.

Hope this helps. If you have any other questions let me know :smile:
-Beth
(Lancaster Student Ambassador)

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