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What A-Levels are best for PPL at oxford?

Hope you’re having a good day.

I’m interested in doing either one of these two combinations for A-Levels for PPL (but i will pick philosophy and psychology):

English Lit, Psychology, Maths
English Lit, Psychology, Geography

I am (without sounding really arrogant) very good at geography - to put it into perspective, in our November mocks, I got the best in the year by 10 marks.

I am not as good at maths, but I am willing to really put in the effort. I went from a 5 to a 7 from the beginning and end of year 10 and i’m predicted an 8 (although i’m aiming for a 9). I feel like I will be able to get an A* in geography with 5x less effort though, but I fell like maths would be very beneficial?

Does anyone have any advice? Thanks
Reply 1
Have you looked at the entry requirements for this degree?
And not just at Oxford - for other Universities as well.
Reply 2
Original post by McGinger
Have you looked at the entry requirements for this degree?
And not just at Oxford - for other Universities as well.


Yep. There aren’t any required subjects but due to psychology, they say a science (inc psychology) or maths subject is highly recommended.

So i would already be doing psychology which is one of their highly recommended subjects.
To my knowledge what you take in A Level does not influence your chances at all, what matters are your predicted grades. Although, I would recommend taking psych, as I think it will be helpful in your interview (they often ask research methods questions). Maths will also come in handy for stats when you actually get in. For 2023 entry, the most popular subjects were psychology, maths, bio, RE for PPL.
As a psychology and philosophy student, I think Maths and Biology at A levels are probably most helpful for admissions and getting on with the degree (arguably even more so than psychology). While getting good grades in A levels (i.e. more A*s) is important, if you think you can manage to get at least an A in maths I would recommend going for the first combination. You'll need a good maths foundation to do well in the TSA, and you'll need to use maths quite frequently for coding/data analysis and logic (in philosophy). Biology might be slightly better than psychology for PPL cos psychology at oxford is very biology-focused. In case you didn't know, the experimental psychology department is part of the medical sciences division, and we share some classes with biomedical sciences and medicine students. A level psych only mentions around half of the topics taught in first year psychology so it doesn't give you much of an edge anyways
Reply 5
Original post by Anonymous #2
As a psychology and philosophy student, I think Maths and Biology at A levels are probably most helpful for admissions and getting on with the degree (arguably even more so than psychology). While getting good grades in A levels (i.e. more A*s) is important, if you think you can manage to get at least an A in maths I would recommend going for the first combination. You'll need a good maths foundation to do well in the TSA, and you'll need to use maths quite frequently for coding/data analysis and logic (in philosophy). Biology might be slightly better than psychology for PPL cos psychology at oxford is very biology-focused. In case you didn't know, the experimental psychology department is part of the medical sciences division, and we share some classes with biomedical sciences and medicine students. A level psych only mentions around half of the topics taught in first year psychology so it doesn't give you much of an edge anyways


My school also offers Algebra Award Level 3 which I will be sitting in January. It has some A-Level content. Do you think that, assuming I pass it (it’s only pass/fail), it would sufficiently prove my mathematical ability along with the GCSE?

I’m still undecided since i’ve had some teachers tell me to do what i enjoy most when i ask them which is probably geography. However maths is undoubtedly useful. I’m just worried that I might get a B and then not be able to get into some of the top Universities.
Original post by visions89
My school also offers Algebra Award Level 3 which I will be sitting in January. It has some A-Level content. Do you think that, assuming I pass it (it’s only pass/fail), it would sufficiently prove my mathematical ability along with the GCSE?

I’m still undecided since i’ve had some teachers tell me to do what i enjoy most when i ask them which is probably geography. However maths is undoubtedly useful. I’m just worried that I might get a B and then not be able to get into some of the top Universities.

If you genuinely enjoy geography more than psychology/philosophy, I would recommend doing it at university as well. Job prospects for psychology/philosophy aren't necessarily better compared to a geography grad. For mathematical ability, I think the admission tutors would care more about your TSA score rather than whether you take A levels maths. On a related note, I doubt one would enjoy doing a psychology degree if they struggle with maths given how coding-focused/computational the field has become
Reply 7
Original post by Anonymous #2
Original post by visions89
My school also offers Algebra Award Level 3 which I will be sitting in January. It has some A-Level content. Do you think that, assuming I pass it (it’s only pass/fail), it would sufficiently prove my mathematical ability along with the GCSE?

I’m still undecided since i’ve had some teachers tell me to do what i enjoy most when i ask them which is probably geography. However maths is undoubtedly useful. I’m just worried that I might get a B and then not be able to get into some of the top Universities.

If you genuinely enjoy geography more than psychology/philosophy, I would recommend doing it at university as well. Job prospects for psychology/philosophy aren't necessarily better compared to a geography grad. For mathematical ability, I think the admission tutors would care more about your TSA score rather than whether you take A levels maths. On a related note, I doubt one would enjoy doing a psychology degree if they struggle with maths given how coding-focused/computational the field has become


I think you misunderstand me. I don’t enjoy geography more than philosophy/psychology, I just probably prefer it more than maths. I don’t really find any other field attractive other than philosophy/psychology at degree level and beyond. To be honest, I also only think I find Geography as interesting as I do because of my teacher (but same goes for every subject I enjoy).

As for maths, I wouldn’t say I struggle with it, I am in set 1 and i’m hoping to get an 8/9, however I do doubt my abilities in terms of whether I could confidently get an A. Which I admit sounds silly saying that I’m aiming for an 8/9, but it probably stems from the fact my parents, teachers and peers never considered me a ‘mathsy’ person since, although I got decent grades, I still outperform in the humanities for example.

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