The Student Room Logo

A level subjects

Hi, I am heading towards civil engineering. I plan on taking maths, physics, most likely further maths (because everyone is telling me to) and a fourth subject. All the colleges, want me to take a fourth subject. I was thinking business as it is seen as 'easier' but apparently the top unis do not regard it. What do you suggest and if not business, what A levels do you think are credited? (I do not want to take econ :smile: )
Original post by dmedz
Hi, I am heading towards civil engineering. I plan on taking maths, physics, most likely further maths (because everyone is telling me to) and a fourth subject. All the colleges, want me to take a fourth subject. I was thinking business as it is seen as 'easier' but apparently the top unis do not regard it. What do you suggest and if not business, what A levels do you think are credited? (I do not want to take econ :smile: )

If you're leaning towards civil engineering, the only subjects that matter are maths and physics.

Further maths is nice if you aim for a top end uni and you're capable of doing the subject.

The fourth subject for a top end uni should be something regarded as 'academic', traditional, and somewhat challenging. This could be anything from:

Chemistry

Biology

History

Geography

English Lit

Music

Politics

Computer Science

Philosophy

Religious Studies

A language (modern or ancient)

Classical civilisation

Economics

Geology

Law


Personal opinion: Computer science would suit nicely with your existing subject, but it's not particularly easy so only pick ift if you really like it. Otherwise, chemistry is a good complement, even though there's a lot of memorisation.
I am not a fan of law (not just because I hate the subject either); people who did law for A Level tend to resent doing the subject. I would check with people who did it in the past for a second opinion.

I would say pick the subject you would enjoy the most.

Was there any particular reason why you are thinking of picking business?
Reply 2
Original post by MindMax2000
If you're leaning towards civil engineering, the only subjects that matter are maths and physics.

Further maths is nice if you aim for a top end uni and you're capable of doing the subject.

The fourth subject for a top end uni should be something regarded as 'academic', traditional, and somewhat challenging. This could be anything from:

Chemistry

Biology

History

Geography

English Lit

Music

Politics

Computer Science

Philosophy

Religious Studies

A language (modern or ancient)

Classical civilisation

Economics

Geology

Law


Personal opinion: Computer science would suit nicely with your existing subject, but it's not particularly easy so only pick ift if you really like it. Otherwise, chemistry is a good complement, even though there's a lot of memorisation.
I am not a fan of law (not just because I hate the subject either); people who did law for A Level tend to resent doing the subject. I would check with people who did it in the past for a second opinion.

I would say pick the subject you would enjoy the most.

Was there any particular reason why you are thinking of picking business?

Hi, thank you so much for the reply. The reason I wanted to take business is because apparently it links well to engineering and doesn't narrow your jobs for the future. Also, at GCSE I find it very easy and enjoy the subject. I did worry if unis care about it as I am aiming for a 'top uni'. I am getting a lot of mixed advices from different people be it teachers, colleges or people online. I am not sure who to listen to. Majority said further maths is a must have in engineering as most people take it. I am very unsure on the 4th subject now though.
Original post by dmedz
Hi, I am heading towards civil engineering. I plan on taking maths, physics, most likely further maths (because everyone is telling me to) and a fourth subject. All the colleges, want me to take a fourth subject. I was thinking business as it is seen as 'easier' but apparently the top unis do not regard it. What do you suggest and if not business, what A levels do you think are credited? (I do not want to take econ :smile: )


Just take whatever as your fourth subject and drop it at the first opportunity.

Maths/FM/physics is more than enough.
Original post by dmedz
Hi, thank you so much for the reply. The reason I wanted to take business is because apparently it links well to engineering and doesn't narrow your jobs for the future. Also, at GCSE I find it very easy and enjoy the subject. I did worry if unis care about it as I am aiming for a 'top uni'. I am getting a lot of mixed advices from different people be it teachers, colleges or people online. I am not sure who to listen to. Majority said further maths is a must have in engineering as most people take it. I am very unsure on the 4th subject now though.

OK. A bit of misiformation. Business studies as far as I know isn't related to engineering. The only bit that I could imagine being relevant is the accounting in business.

Business studies as a subject isn't a required subject. So if you're saying that business studies would widen your options for picking a degree, you're incorrect there unless you can provide evidence to say it's a required subject.
Business studies also isn't a required or a requested subject for any career or role that I could think of. If you plan to go into a business role, you can usually do so with a degree in any subject or without any prior qualifications. Those business related qualifications that do count would be the professional qualifications (e.g. accounting, HR, marketing), and most of them don't require any prior qualifications to get into them or just A Levels in any subject (irrespective of whether you have business studies or not).

The thing I do like about business studies at A Level is that it gives you a good background in business should you wish to start your own business. You also repeat a lot of the same material that you covered at A Level in a business degree (bachelor's, master's, HND, HNC/foundation degree, etc.) - PhDs are different.
Having said that you can go into business or any business role with an engineering degree. In my opinion, you're not really gaining much by doing business studies unless you intend to go into business yourself.

If you want to broaden your options, I would pick an A Level subject that is a required subject should you wish to broaden your choices of degrees to apply for e.g. chemistry, biology, History (sort of), Geography (sort of), English Lit (sort of), psychology (sort of), Music, A language (modern or ancient), Classical civilisation.
Biology + maths would allow you to do a degree in bioengineering. Chemistry + maths would allow you to do a degree in chemical engineering. 2 sciences (or 1 science+1 maths) tend to open you to a number of healthcare and science related degrees.
If you want to maximise the number of careers that you can go into (not always a good idea, but hey), then I usually recommend the 3 sciences + maths. The sort of careers where you're expected to have a degree level education prior to going in that requires specific degrees tend to be those in healthcare, academics, and teaching. For the areas where you can go into with a degree in any subject includes law (solicitor). For areas where you need specific types of degrees but you can go into via apprenticeship includes: medicine, architecture, engineering, economics, actuarial science.

If you want to get the specific entry requirements for specific careers, I recommend looking into:
National Careers Service: https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/explore-careers
Career Pilot: https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/job-sectors/sectors
Prospects: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles
There are about 800 different careers to go through, so you would be kept busy if you went through all of them.

As I have absolutely no clue what else you want to do outside of civil engineering, I would need more information in order to clarify any of the above if you want to be specific.
Original post by MindMax2000
OK. A bit of misiformation. Business studies as far as I know isn't related to engineering. The only bit that I could imagine being relevant is the accounting in business.

Business studies as a subject isn't a required subject. So if you're saying that business studies would widen your options for picking a degree, you're incorrect there unless you can provide evidence to say it's a required subject.
Business studies also isn't a required or a requested subject for any career or role that I could think of. If you plan to go into a business role, you can usually do so with a degree in any subject or without any prior qualifications. Those business related qualifications that do count would be the professional qualifications (e.g. accounting, HR, marketing), and most of them don't require any prior qualifications to get into them or just A Levels in any subject (irrespective of whether you have business studies or not).

The thing I do like about business studies at A Level is that it gives you a good background in business should you wish to start your own business. You also repeat a lot of the same material that you covered at A Level in a business degree (bachelor's, master's, HND, HNC/foundation degree, etc.) - PhDs are different.
Having said that you can go into business or any business role with an engineering degree. In my opinion, you're not really gaining much by doing business studies unless you intend to go into business yourself.

If you want to broaden your options, I would pick an A Level subject that is a required subject should you wish to broaden your choices of degrees to apply for e.g. chemistry, biology, History (sort of), Geography (sort of), English Lit (sort of), psychology (sort of), Music, A language (modern or ancient), Classical civilisation.
Biology + maths would allow you to do a degree in bioengineering. Chemistry + maths would allow you to do a degree in chemical engineering. 2 sciences (or 1 science+1 maths) tend to open you to a number of healthcare and science related degrees.
If you want to maximise the number of careers that you can go into (not always a good idea, but hey), then I usually recommend the 3 sciences + maths. The sort of careers where you're expected to have a degree level education prior to going in that requires specific degrees tend to be those in healthcare, academics, and teaching. For the areas where you can go into with a degree in any subject includes law (solicitor). For areas where you need specific types of degrees but you can go into via apprenticeship includes: medicine, architecture, engineering, economics, actuarial science.

If you want to get the specific entry requirements for specific careers, I recommend looking into:
National Careers Service: https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/explore-careers
Career Pilot: https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/job-sectors/sectors
Prospects: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles
There are about 800 different careers to go through, so you would be kept busy if you went through all of them.

As I have absolutely no clue what else you want to do outside of civil engineering, I would need more information in order to clarify any of the above if you want to be specific.

Hi, thank you a lot. Apparently universities don’t care about any other subjects for civil engineering. Just maths, physics and further maths. So I just wanted to take business for an easy option. Isn’t business more widely applicable to jobs generally than the ones you listed like history or geography that are quite niche? I already know I want to do civil engineering for certain, and maybe start a business.
Original post by JibberJam
Hi, thank you a lot. Apparently universities don’t care about any other subjects for civil engineering. Just maths, physics and further maths. So I just wanted to take business for an easy option. Isn’t business more widely applicable to jobs generally than the ones you listed like history or geography that are quite niche? I already know I want to do civil engineering for certain, and maybe start a business.

Yes, business studies as a subject and in terms of content is more widely applicable to jobs more than say history or geography (I can't remember a time when I had to use history or geography outside of the classroom). However, employers don't really care if you did business studies as a subject and they won't acknowledge what you have learnt from it. Employers care more about your relevant (and sometimes UK based only) work experience, and that would amounts to more than what you have or will ever study unfortunately.

I think the main thing about working in businesses is that you as a worker should follow orders set by your manager. You might know 10 different ways to 10x the business's revenues or cut costs down to 1/5th of what they are at, but some managers will likely throw you out/fire you for even suggesting it. Yes, your knowledge might be valid and does work, but sometimes office politics dictates what happens as opposed to what actually works (if you did that as a freelancer and your client agrees to it, you have less of a problem but the client still have the final say) - the world is kind of funny that way.

I have suggested subjects like history or geography because they can sometimes be required subjects for specific degrees related to those subjects. A Levels in history or geography as far as I know are never requested as standalone qualifications for any job or qualification outside of academia. A Level Maths and possibly the sciences are probably the only ones.
If you don't intend to do a degree in history or geography, then there's not much point in taking them unless you want to consider teaching them at college level, you really like the subject(s), and/or you can get really high grades in them.

I'm a little curious to what sort of business you intend to start if you intend to work as a civil engineer, considering civil engineering can sometimes be a really hands on and intensive line of work that goes beyond the 9-5. Yes some businesses can be done in 4 hours a week, but they tend to be exceptions and not the norm.

The other thing about business A Level is that there's no rule to say that you can't later do it after college or uni. If you're only interested in the content, there's nothing to say you can't do an A Level course in business studies through an online college or pick up a business studies textbook and read up on the content but skip the exams altogether.
The alternatives to Business Studies A Levels I would say would be CIMA's BA certificate and possibly some business courses from business experts who have achieved 7+ figures in multiple businesses. Usually, it's a lot more effective learning from a business mentor than a business textbook in my opinion.
Original post by JibberJam
Hi, thank you a lot. Apparently universities don’t care about any other subjects for civil engineering. Just maths, physics and further maths. So I just wanted to take business for an easy option. Isn’t business more widely applicable to jobs generally than the ones you listed like history or geography that are quite niche? I already know I want to do civil engineering for certain, and maybe start a business.


Unis only require three A levels and you don't get bonus points for doing extra. You should be asking your college why they are making you do four when the extra workload could impact your overall grade profile. AAA will always look better AABB. At the most, take three A levels and an EPQ, or take the fourth but drop it in year 12 as @artful_lounger has said above.
From what I'v read FM is sometimes seen as an 'add on' A-level so only should be done if you're doing 3 others. That definitely doesn't mean it's any easier though! Business studies might be seen as a 'soft' subject by the top unis if those are what you are aiming for. It may put you at a disadvantage compared to someone who has done chemistry for example. Mind you I'd say that CS is probably also seen as a softer subject compared to maths, physics etc.

If it was me and I was aiming to do civil engineering at Oxbridge or another top 5 uni I'd probably go with chemistry and definitely do FM too. But you have to weigh up whether you'd be better off doing a course you'd enjoy, find easier and potentially get a higher grade in or one that may look better to top unis but you might not do so well in (and possibly wouldn't get in on that basis).

What unis do you want to apply to?
Original post by JackSan123
From what I'v read FM is sometimes seen as an 'add on' A-level so only should be done if you're doing 3 others.


What you've read is wrong. FM is accepted as an A level in its own right.
Original post by JackSan123
From what I'v read FM is sometimes seen as an 'add on' A-level so only should be done if you're doing 3 others. That definitely doesn't mean it's any easier though! Business studies might be seen as a 'soft' subject by the top unis if those are what you are aiming for. It may put you at a disadvantage compared to someone who has done chemistry for example. Mind you I'd say that CS is probably also seen as a softer subject compared to maths, physics etc.

If it was me and I was aiming to do civil engineering at Oxbridge or another top 5 uni I'd probably go with chemistry and definitely do FM too. But you have to weigh up whether you'd be better off doing a course you'd enjoy, find easier and potentially get a higher grade in or one that may look better to top unis but you might not do so well in (and possibly wouldn't get in on that basis).

What unis do you want to apply to?


The only courses which do not routinely accept A-level FM as a third subject, or may consider it less competitive, are medicine and a handful of non-quantitative degrees at LSE (e.g. anthropology or history). For any subject where FM is relevant its perfectly acceptable as part of 3.
Hi there,

For civil engineering the main ones are maths and physics. These are the two which are either required or strongly recommended across all civil engineering degrees.

For a fourth subject this can really be any which you believe would develop you personally, something you would enjoy and if you plan to take four that you would be able to keep up with. Personally I took art a-level as my fourth subject which helped with my sketching and creativity so it could be a good choice to consider. However, it does take a LOT of time to keep up with so may not be the best choice if you want to do four and are a generally busy person already. I also want to say to remember that further maths is in fact a whole other a-level. Some people take it as a fourth as they believe it is just an extension of the maths a-level but you need to dedicate the same time and effort as a regular a-level as that is how it is structured. If you enjoy maths, further maths is a good/helpful one to take but it isn't necessary to do the degree.

You say universities do not regard business but I don't believe this is true. In any case universities will most likely only consider your top three (the three you perform best in) A-levels regardless so it's not so much disregarded but may not matter so much if you perform well in the other three. However, if you perform well in business, this will still be taken into account for studying your degree choice so really you can choose anything for another option that you believe will be beneficial.

Good luck with everything,
Sophie (uni of Bath)

Quick Reply

Latest