The Student Room Group

english lit a level for maths degree?

Hi

So I'm in y11 and the deadline to pick my a level options is in February - I know i still have some time but as it's an important decision, I am considering it now:

I love Maths and want to do this at university, so of course I want to do Maths and Further Maths a levels.

At my school, you do 4 A-Levels in y12 and then drop one and do 3 for the real exams in y13 (some people choose to do an AS in the subject they're dropping in y12 but I'm not really bothered about doing that)

Long story short, these are the subjects I'm trying to choose 2 from to put down as my choices: Physics, Econ, Music, RS, English lit

I don't really like Physics so probably not going to do that - at GCSE, I feel like it's quite hard and even when I do learn and understand things, it's not even satisfying so I don't think this would be a good decision (although many people do the classic Maths, FM, Physics/CS A-level combo for maths at uni so I worry that doing anything else would seem weird and unconventional to prospective universities.. I'm thinking of applying to Oxford, so do they care about that stuff?)

I initially thought I'd like Economics but my y12 friend showed me her notes and assessments and I realised I'd probably be bored to death in that class (but similarly w/ Physics, I know that Economics is seen as a subject that goes well with Maths..)

For Music, although I do really like it, the only reason for me to pick it over RS or English Lit would be bc my crush is doing it so maybe not lol (+ I don't even have a Grade 5 in theory so I worry I don't have enough theory knowledge for the subject, although I'm good at composing, Grade 7 in violin & sing in my school chamber choir)

Now for RS: I do enjoy the essay writing I do in RS atm and although I understand that RS a level is different to gcse, I am quite a logical person, enjoy getting into philosophical discussions and exploring other viewpoints/arguments to develop my own perspective. I also like arguing my opinion in writing so I feel that this is a subject I'd enjoy. Only drawback is I feel it doesn't "look right" for a Maths application.

English lit: I feel similarly as I do with RS, I like it a lot. My only worry is that even though I get 9s in eng lit right now, I don't know if I'm good enough to do it at a level - just looking at the syllabus (my school does AQA) and descriptions on the kind of work done (especially the NEA!!) I'm worried that because I'm not committed to the subject in that I don't want to do anything like it at uni, I won't be good enough. I don't have extreme problems with the subject or writing in general, so I'm not worried that I won't be able to do the work.. I just feel like I'll be the bottom of the class because there will probably be a lot of people in that classroom who actually spend free time doing wider research because they want to do english lit/a humanities subject at uni (of course I'll do some wider reading for the benefit of my english lit a-level revision, but not so much that it would interfere with the time I spend on supercurriculars related to Maths).

TL;DR: I want to do Maths, FM, English lit, and RS but:
1) worry that I won't be good enough for eng lit a-level
2) worry this is an unconventional and weird combo as I want to do Maths at uni, especially for a uni like Oxford
Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Economics for Cambridge, LSE, Imperial, UCL, Bristol, Durham, Edinburgh and others. πŸ™‚
Original post by breadbob
Hi

So I'm in y11 and the deadline to pick my a level options is in February - I know i still have some time but as it's an important decision, I am considering it now:

I love Maths and want to do this at university, so of course I want to do Maths and Further Maths a levels.

At my school, you do 4 A-Levels in y12 and then drop one and do 3 for the real exams in y13 (some people choose to do an AS in the subject they're dropping in y12 but I'm not really bothered about doing that)

Long story short, these are the subjects I'm trying to choose 2 from to put down as my choices: Physics, Econ, Music, RS, English lit

I don't really like Physics so probably not going to do that - at GCSE, I feel like it's quite hard and even when I do learn and understand things, it's not even satisfying so I don't think this would be a good decision (although many people do the classic Maths, FM, Physics/CS A-level combo for maths at uni so I worry that doing anything else would seem weird and unconventional to prospective universities.. I'm thinking of applying to Oxford, so do they care about that stuff?)

I initially thought I'd like Economics but my y12 friend showed me her notes and assessments and I realised I'd probably be bored to death in that class (but similarly w/ Physics, I know that Economics is seen as a subject that goes well with Maths..)

For Music, although I do really like it, the only reason for me to pick it over RS or English Lit would be bc my crush is doing it so maybe not lol (+ I don't even have a Grade 5 in theory so I worry I don't have enough theory knowledge for the subject, although I'm good at composing, Grade 7 in violin & sing in my school chamber choir)

Now for RS: I do enjoy the essay writing I do in RS atm and although I understand that RS a level is different to gcse, I am quite a logical person, enjoy getting into philosophical discussions and exploring other viewpoints/arguments to develop my own perspective. I also like arguing my opinion in writing so I feel that this is a subject I'd enjoy. Only drawback is I feel it doesn't "look right" for a Maths application.

English lit: I feel similarly as I do with RS, I like it a lot. My only worry is that even though I get 9s in eng lit right now, I don't know if I'm good enough to do it at a level - just looking at the syllabus (my school does AQA) and descriptions on the kind of work done (especially the NEA!!) I'm worried that because I'm not committed to the subject in that I don't want to do anything like it at uni, I won't be good enough. I don't have extreme problems with the subject or writing in general, so I'm not worried that I won't be able to do the work.. I just feel like I'll be the bottom of the class because there will probably be a lot of people in that classroom who actually spend free time doing wider research because they want to do english lit/a humanities subject at uni (of course I'll do some wider reading for the benefit of my english lit a-level revision, but not so much that it would interfere with the time I spend on supercurriculars related to Maths).

TL;DR: I want to do Maths, FM, English lit, and RS but:
1) worry that I won't be good enough for eng lit a-level
2) worry this is an unconventional and weird combo as I want to do Maths at uni, especially for a uni like Oxford


It's fine for unis up to and including Oxford and Cambridge. They don't expect or require you take any specific subjects other than maths and FM. So don't concern yourself overmuch with that angle.

However I'd only suggest doing A-level English lit if you genuinely enjoy doing literary analysis and literary criticism. I think a lot of people who generally like reading outside of school and did well in GCSE English continue to A-level English lit (or equivalent) and can find it a bit of a rude awakening when they really do need to do the in depth close reading and can't get away with the more surface level character and theme analysis that is sufficient to get good outcomes in the GCSE. If you don't really love breaking down individual quoted sentences to their basic syntax, carefully exploring different interpretations of the various senses of words used, and then using this to build up towards those bigger picture character and thematic analyses, it can be a tough slog.

Equally though you don't get "bonus points" for doing a fourth A-level so you could just as well do maths, FM, and RS :smile:
Reply 3
Anyone who puts in a good amount of time and effort into an A-level is able to get a good grade in it so to your question 1), you should really be asking yourself if you like the subject or not and how much time you are willing to put into it.

English lit is a bit of an "unconventional and weird combo". As somebody who knows a lot of maths folks, I don't meet many people who like essay subjects and a lot of them tend to prefer physics or economics. That being said, it's not completely outlandish as English is still a legitimate and resepected A-level so I am sure you will still be considered. There are probably a lot of people who have gotten into Oxford maths who took English lit. What's more important is your MAT score and how you perform in the interview.

Also think, would Oxford prefer a guy who takes Physics but has a crap MAT score and can't answer anything during an interview or a guy who takes English with an excellent MAT score and equally good interview?
(edited 3 months ago)
Original post by Greg8881
As somebody who knows a lot of maths folks, I don't meet many people who like essay subjects and a lot of them tend to prefer physics or economics.

I think this is more of a case that often people who are good at and enjoy maths tend to be good at and enjoy physics and more likely to take it. But equally some don't. I don't think there's a causal link between what your non-maths subjects are when applying to maths degrees, just a correlation due to that. And I think the only uni I recall even mentioning a potential preference was Cambridge and I don't think they use that language anymore on their entry criteria anyway.
Original post by breadbob
Hi

So I'm in y11 and the deadline to pick my a level options is in February - I know i still have some time but as it's an important decision, I am considering it now:

I love Maths and want to do this at university, so of course I want to do Maths and Further Maths a levels.

At my school, you do 4 A-Levels in y12 and then drop one and do 3 for the real exams in y13 (some people choose to do an AS in the subject they're dropping in y12 but I'm not really bothered about doing that)

Long story short, these are the subjects I'm trying to choose 2 from to put down as my choices: Physics, Econ, Music, RS, English lit

I don't really like Physics so probably not going to do that - at GCSE, I feel like it's quite hard and even when I do learn and understand things, it's not even satisfying so I don't think this would be a good decision (although many people do the classic Maths, FM, Physics/CS A-level combo for maths at uni so I worry that doing anything else would seem weird and unconventional to prospective universities.. I'm thinking of applying to Oxford, so do they care about that stuff?)

I initially thought I'd like Economics but my y12 friend showed me her notes and assessments and I realised I'd probably be bored to death in that class (but similarly w/ Physics, I know that Economics is seen as a subject that goes well with Maths..)

For Music, although I do really like it, the only reason for me to pick it over RS or English Lit would be bc my crush is doing it so maybe not lol (+ I don't even have a Grade 5 in theory so I worry I don't have enough theory knowledge for the subject, although I'm good at composing, Grade 7 in violin & sing in my school chamber choir)

Now for RS: I do enjoy the essay writing I do in RS atm and although I understand that RS a level is different to gcse, I am quite a logical person, enjoy getting into philosophical discussions and exploring other viewpoints/arguments to develop my own perspective. I also like arguing my opinion in writing so I feel that this is a subject I'd enjoy. Only drawback is I feel it doesn't "look right" for a Maths application.

English lit: I feel similarly as I do with RS, I like it a lot. My only worry is that even though I get 9s in eng lit right now, I don't know if I'm good enough to do it at a level - just looking at the syllabus (my school does AQA) and descriptions on the kind of work done (especially the NEA!!) I'm worried that because I'm not committed to the subject in that I don't want to do anything like it at uni, I won't be good enough. I don't have extreme problems with the subject or writing in general, so I'm not worried that I won't be able to do the work.. I just feel like I'll be the bottom of the class because there will probably be a lot of people in that classroom who actually spend free time doing wider research because they want to do english lit/a humanities subject at uni (of course I'll do some wider reading for the benefit of my english lit a-level revision, but not so much that it would interfere with the time I spend on supercurriculars related to Maths).

TL;DR: I want to do Maths, FM, English lit, and RS but:
1) worry that I won't be good enough for eng lit a-level
2) worry this is an unconventional and weird combo as I want to do Maths at uni, especially for a uni like Oxford

Why not consider Maths, Further Maths, Religious Studies and Psychology? Psychology has so many easy marks from Research Methods, which is basic Maths. πŸ˜‰ lol English Literature is not what it seems, as you have to read so many books and go in-depth with essays too. Surely you won't allocate enough time to English Literature alongside the other subjects? 😧
Reply 6
Original post by artful_lounger
It's fine for unis up to and including Oxford and Cambridge. They don't expect or require you take any specific subjects other than maths and FM. So don't concern yourself overmuch with that angle.

However I'd only suggest doing A-level English lit if you genuinely enjoy doing literary analysis and literary criticism. I think a lot of people who generally like reading outside of school and did well in GCSE English continue to A-level English lit (or equivalent) and can find it a bit of a rude awakening when they really do need to do the in depth close reading and can't get away with the more surface level character and theme analysis that is sufficient to get good outcomes in the GCSE. If you don't really love breaking down individual quoted sentences to their basic syntax, carefully exploring different interpretations of the various senses of words used, and then using this to build up towards those bigger picture character and thematic analyses, it can be a tough slog.

Equally though you don't get "bonus points" for doing a fourth A-level so you could just as well do maths, FM, and RS :smile:

Ok, I feel better knowing as long as I do Maths and FM I have more freedom with what I do for the other 2 options, so I'll probably just pick the ones I enjoy most.

Based on what you've said about eng lit, I think I'll enjoy A level. I was a massive bookworm in primary school but then secondary school + new commitments meant that I had less time to read in free time.. which is why I love eng lit lessons because not only am I reading, but also understanding the deeper meaning/intentions behind what has been written. I also love close analysis and the other things you said about eng lit.. so hopefully eng lit a level is right for me!

I'm having 2nd thoughts about RS because I did some further research and realised how different it is at A level compared with GCSE and I'm not sure if I'll like it.. but I'm feeling quite confident about eng lit a level now. Thank you sm for your helpful advice! :smile:
Reply 7
Original post by Greg8881
Anyone who puts in a good amount of time and effort into an A-level is able to get a good grade in it so to your question 1), you should really be asking yourself if you like the subject or not and how much time you are willing to put into it.

English lit is a bit of an "unconventional and weird combo". As somebody who knows a lot of maths folks, I don't meet many people who like essay subjects and a lot of them tend to prefer physics or economics. That being said, it's not completely outlandish as English is still a legitimate and resepected A-level so I am sure you will still be considered. There are probably a lot of people who have gotten into Oxford maths who took English lit. What's more important is your MAT score and how you perform in the interview.

Also think, would Oxford prefer a guy who takes Physics but has a crap MAT score and can't answer anything during an interview or a guy who takes English with an excellent MAT score and equally good interview?

Thank you, these are very good points. I've realised that regardless of what A level I do, it's going to require hard work, lots of effort, resilience etc., so I may as well just pick what I enjoy the most. And I like your last point a lot - as long as I'm good at maths & all the other stuff Oxford expects, hopefully eng lit a level shouldn't be a let-down as such. Thank you for the adviceπŸ˜ƒ
Reply 8
Original post by thegeek888
Why not consider Maths, Further Maths, Religious Studies and Psychology? Psychology has so many easy marks from Research Methods, which is basic Maths. πŸ˜‰ lol English Literature is not what it seems, as you have to read so many books and go in-depth with essays too. Surely you won't allocate enough time to English Literature alongside the other subjects? 😧

Yeah.. I think even if Psychology proves 'easier' I don't think I'm interested in it enough to do it as a whole A-level. Plus, I like eng lit enough that I'm definitely willing to put in the effort that it'll require for a level. Might just do Maths, FM, Eng lit & Music (and then drop music at the end of y12) so workload won't be as crazy during y12. I think I'll miss eng lit too much if I don't do it at A-level.
My sister did Psych a level and I had to test her on it all the time.. don't think it's for me haha. But thank you for the suggestion 😊
Reply 9
Original post by breadbob
Hi

So I'm in y11 and the deadline to pick my a level options is in February - I know i still have some time but as it's an important decision, I am considering it now:

I love Maths and want to do this at university, so of course I want to do Maths and Further Maths a levels.

At my school, you do 4 A-Levels in y12 and then drop one and do 3 for the real exams in y13 (some people choose to do an AS in the subject they're dropping in y12 but I'm not really bothered about doing that)

Long story short, these are the subjects I'm trying to choose 2 from to put down as my choices: Physics, Econ, Music, RS, English lit

I don't really like Physics so probably not going to do that - at GCSE, I feel like it's quite hard and even when I do learn and understand things, it's not even satisfying so I don't think this would be a good decision (although many people do the classic Maths, FM, Physics/CS A-level combo for maths at uni so I worry that doing anything else would seem weird and unconventional to prospective universities.. I'm thinking of applying to Oxford, so do they care about that stuff?)

I initially thought I'd like Economics but my y12 friend showed me her notes and assessments and I realised I'd probably be bored to death in that class (but similarly w/ Physics, I know that Economics is seen as a subject that goes well with Maths..)

For Music, although I do really like it, the only reason for me to pick it over RS or English Lit would be bc my crush is doing it so maybe not lol (+ I don't even have a Grade 5 in theory so I worry I don't have enough theory knowledge for the subject, although I'm good at composing, Grade 7 in violin & sing in my school chamber choir)

Now for RS: I do enjoy the essay writing I do in RS atm and although I understand that RS a level is different to gcse, I am quite a logical person, enjoy getting into philosophical discussions and exploring other viewpoints/arguments to develop my own perspective. I also like arguing my opinion in writing so I feel that this is a subject I'd enjoy. Only drawback is I feel it doesn't "look right" for a Maths application.

English lit: I feel similarly as I do with RS, I like it a lot. My only worry is that even though I get 9s in eng lit right now, I don't know if I'm good enough to do it at a level - just looking at the syllabus (my school does AQA) and descriptions on the kind of work done (especially the NEA!!) I'm worried that because I'm not committed to the subject in that I don't want to do anything like it at uni, I won't be good enough. I don't have extreme problems with the subject or writing in general, so I'm not worried that I won't be able to do the work.. I just feel like I'll be the bottom of the class because there will probably be a lot of people in that classroom who actually spend free time doing wider research because they want to do english lit/a humanities subject at uni (of course I'll do some wider reading for the benefit of my english lit a-level revision, but not so much that it would interfere with the time I spend on supercurriculars related to Maths).

TL;DR: I want to do Maths, FM, English lit, and RS but:
1) worry that I won't be good enough for eng lit a-level
2) worry this is an unconventional and weird combo as I want to do Maths at uni, especially for a uni like Oxford

hey i dont think this will be the most helpful reply as im only in year 11 myself but just a little insight - RS could actually be really good. according to my chem teacher, the further you get in any science/maths subject, the more philosophical it becomes. theoretical maths for example, at a uni level can be quite philosophical apparently. she said universities like to see it as an 'extra option' as not only does it show breadth and varied skills but also shows a genuine interest for the philosophical stuff, which I can see that you have. hope this was helpful in any way!
Original post by breadbob
Hi

So I'm in y11 and the deadline to pick my a level options is in February - I know i still have some time but as it's an important decision, I am considering it now:

I love Maths and want to do this at university, so of course I want to do Maths and Further Maths a levels.

At my school, you do 4 A-Levels in y12 and then drop one and do 3 for the real exams in y13 (some people choose to do an AS in the subject they're dropping in y12 but I'm not really bothered about doing that)

Long story short, these are the subjects I'm trying to choose 2 from to put down as my choices: Physics, Econ, Music, RS, English lit

I don't really like Physics so probably not going to do that - at GCSE, I feel like it's quite hard and even when I do learn and understand things, it's not even satisfying so I don't think this would be a good decision (although many people do the classic Maths, FM, Physics/CS A-level combo for maths at uni so I worry that doing anything else would seem weird and unconventional to prospective universities.. I'm thinking of applying to Oxford, so do they care about that stuff?)

I initially thought I'd like Economics but my y12 friend showed me her notes and assessments and I realised I'd probably be bored to death in that class (but similarly w/ Physics, I know that Economics is seen as a subject that goes well with Maths..)

For Music, although I do really like it, the only reason for me to pick it over RS or English Lit would be bc my crush is doing it so maybe not lol (+ I don't even have a Grade 5 in theory so I worry I don't have enough theory knowledge for the subject, although I'm good at composing, Grade 7 in violin & sing in my school chamber choir)

Now for RS: I do enjoy the essay writing I do in RS atm and although I understand that RS a level is different to gcse, I am quite a logical person, enjoy getting into philosophical discussions and exploring other viewpoints/arguments to develop my own perspective. I also like arguing my opinion in writing so I feel that this is a subject I'd enjoy. Only drawback is I feel it doesn't "look right" for a Maths application.

English lit: I feel similarly as I do with RS, I like it a lot. My only worry is that even though I get 9s in eng lit right now, I don't know if I'm good enough to do it at a level - just looking at the syllabus (my school does AQA) and descriptions on the kind of work done (especially the NEA!!) I'm worried that because I'm not committed to the subject in that I don't want to do anything like it at uni, I won't be good enough. I don't have extreme problems with the subject or writing in general, so I'm not worried that I won't be able to do the work.. I just feel like I'll be the bottom of the class because there will probably be a lot of people in that classroom who actually spend free time doing wider research because they want to do english lit/a humanities subject at uni (of course I'll do some wider reading for the benefit of my english lit a-level revision, but not so much that it would interfere with the time I spend on supercurriculars related to Maths).

TL;DR: I want to do Maths, FM, English lit, and RS but:
1) worry that I won't be good enough for eng lit a-level
2) worry this is an unconventional and weird combo as I want to do Maths at uni, especially for a uni like Oxford


Hey I did a level english lit and honestly it's not as bad as the spec makes it out to be even with NEA it is really interesting. If you have any qs feel free to pm me :smile:
Original post by Hatekittens12345


Hey I did a level english lit and honestly it's not as bad as the spec makes it out to be even with NEA it is really interesting. If you have any qs feel free to pm me :smile:


With reading there actually isn't a lot as you can get away with looking at sparknotes etc and for aqa apart from the Shakespeare text you can bring an unannotated copy with you into the final exam so you don't necessarily have yo memorise quotes for those just memrorise a couple of main ones that you can apply for most themes as you'll have the back up with the texts
Reply 12
Yes I think your suggested subject combination would probably look a bit weird to Oxford.

But it is up to you.

If you're aiming for maths at a top uni, surely GCSE physics shouldn't be too difficult?
Reply 13
Original post by emilyfordx
hey i dont think this will be the most helpful reply as im only in year 11 myself but just a little insight - RS could actually be really good. according to my chem teacher, the further you get in any science/maths subject, the more philosophical it becomes. theoretical maths for example, at a uni level can be quite philosophical apparently. she said universities like to see it as an 'extra option' as not only does it show breadth and varied skills but also shows a genuine interest for the philosophical stuff, which I can see that you have. hope this was helpful in any way!

Sorry I'm only seeing this now but thank you that sounds good!
Reply 14
Original post by Hatekittens12345
Hey I did a level english lit and honestly it's not as bad as the spec makes it out to be even with NEA it is really interesting. If you have any qs feel free to pm me :smile:

Thank you πŸ™‚ I talked to a y13 friend recently and she was telling me eng lit a level is too much effort - she said she'd only recommend I do it if I definitely plan on doing it as one of my final 3 in y13, but putting in effort for y12 just to not even do it is not worth it.. but I love english!! Can I ask which texts you do?
Reply 15
Original post by AF2Dr
Yes I think your suggested subject combination would probably look a bit weird to Oxford.

But it is up to you.

If you're aiming for maths at a top uni, surely GCSE physics shouldn't be too difficult?

Hey sorry what do you mean by the last sentence? I already do GCSE physics.. are you saying you think I should pick A-level physics?
Original post by breadbob

Thank you πŸ™‚ I talked to a y13 friend recently and she was telling me eng lit a level is too much effort - she said she'd only recommend I do it if I definitely plan on doing it as one of my final 3 in y13, but putting in effort for y12 just to not even do it is not worth it.. but I love english!! Can I ask which texts you do?


Yeahh so it does depend on the college or sixth form - my sf did the unpopular texts for some. So othello, Rebecca by daphne du maurier, poetry love through the ages which is an anthology, the color purple, translations and feminine gospels as well as unseen prose poetry
@RichE may be best placed to advise on the relative suitability of third and/or fourth subjects for maths at Oxford specifically.

Although I'd note physics is not listed as either recommended nor "helpful" on the admissions page: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses/course-listing/mathematics

And the department webpage makes no reference to subjects other than maths and FM: https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/study-here/undergraduate-study/our-offer

As I stated before I suspect that any correlation between physics at A-level and applicants to maths is purely a matter of self selection by those applicants into that subject on the basis that many who do well in and enjoy maths also do well in and enjoy physics...but invariably that won't be true of all students.

I can hardly imagine Oxford would discriminate against the latter category and miss recruiting promising mathematicians on the basis of some subject seeming "more appropriate" somehow, when not formally required.
(edited 3 months ago)
Reply 18
Original post by breadbob
Hey sorry what do you mean by the last sentence? I already do GCSE physics.. are you saying you think I should pick A-level physics?

What I meant by the last sentence was just that you seemed put off by doing A Level Physics partly because you find GCSE Physics "hard". I'd have thought a lot of people aiming to study maths at a top university wouldn't find GCSE Physics too difficult.

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