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can i become a psychiatrist without an alevel in biology?

i am very interested in the field of psychology, and maybe want to pursue a career in it.
i have a gcse in biology grade 8 from triple science and chemistry 7.
at a level i plan to study english, re and psychology, aiming to study philosophy psychology and linguistics at oxford. my grades from re and english are very strong, however i wonder if i'll need an a level in biology to achieve this?

your thoughts would be appreciated
Psychiatry is not the same as psychology. This is important to understand. Psychiatry is a medical specialty and to become a psychiatrist you need to do a medical degree. They are not the same as clinical psychologists (to become which you need first a BPS accredited undergraduate degree, then to do a DClinPsy - which is extremely competitive to get onto with most applicants I gather having several years of clinical work experience +/- masters/PhD).

In either event you can become either a doctor (of any variety) or a psychologist without A-level Biology. Only about 1/3 of medical schools require A-level Biology, and most psychology degrees just require one or two sciences (of any subject). You will need realistically chemistry and a second science/maths subject (i.e. physics or maths if not doing biology) for the medicine route though. A few psychology degrees don't require any sciences or may accept psychology as a single science.

To go back to your initial point, I suspect that your subject combination would not be competitive for PPL at Oxford as psychology at Oxford is very scientific and I believe the majority of applicants intending to do psychology as part of that course (or EP) will have at least one "core" STEM subject at A-level (e.g. biology/chemistry/physics/maths). Also the only medical school you could apply to with that subject combination is Newcastle.

You may want to plan to do different subjects at A-level if either of those is your goal.
(edited 2 months ago)
Reply 2
would you recommend i swap english out for biology to have a more competitive subject combination? RE, Psychology and Biology. Do you have any knowledge of what biology is like at a level, is it disimilar to gcse?
Reply 3
Original post by s1enn5
would you recommend i swap english out for biology to have a more competitive subject combination? RE, Psychology and Biology. Do you have any knowledge of what biology is like at a level, is it disimilar to gcse?

You need at least chemistry and biology if you wanted to go to med school and then specialise in psychiatry. To answer your other question, biology at A-level is much more in depth than at GCSE, and you have to get to know the content and exam style very well, as the exam boards look for mostly different things. Of course, you'd get used to it though, assuming you'd be willing to put in the effort. Medicine is also quite competitive, so would require lots of super-curriculars and possibly work experience, so make sure you research a lot beforehand.
Reply 4
Original post by ivvs28
You need at least chemistry and biology if you wanted to go to med school and then specialise in psychiatry. To answer your other question, biology at A-level is much more in depth than at GCSE, and you have to get to know the content and exam style very well, as the exam boards look for mostly different things. Of course, you'd get used to it though, assuming you'd be willing to put in the effort. Medicine is also quite competitive, so would require lots of super-curriculars and possibly work experience, so make sure you research a lot beforehand.

to specialise in clinical psychology or forensic psychology would chemistry and bio be required at a level? im willing to put the work in for biology but i have little interest in chemistry and doubt id be capable of doing it. do those jobs require me to go to med school? and would bio, psychology and re make my subject choices more competitive?
Reply 5
Original post by s1enn5
to specialise in clinical psychology or forensic psychology would chemistry and bio be required at a level? im willing to put the work in for biology but i have little interest in chemistry and doubt id be capable of doing it. do those jobs require me to go to med school? and would bio, psychology and re make my subject choices more competitive?

If it's psychology not psychiatry that you're planning on studying, then I'm pretty sure you'd be fine with just a psychology degree (so no med school), and then you'd specialise into either the clinical or forensic side. You may need another science such as biology, but that mostly just depends on the university you'd like to get into, so I'm not 100% sure on this. Research their entry requirements for clincal/forensic psychology, or just psychology in general, and hopefully it should clear things up (e.g. what subjects would be ideal and the grades required). I'm not too sure about RE, but overall they're definitely more unique choices so I doubt you'd have trouble finding spaces for them in college.
Reply 6
Original post by ivvs28
If it's psychology not psychiatry that you're planning on studying, then I'm pretty sure you'd be fine with just a psychology degree (so no med school), and then you'd specialise into either the clinical or forensic side. You may need another science such as biology, but that mostly just depends on the university you'd like to get into, so I'm not 100% sure on this. Research their entry requirements for clincal/forensic psychology, or just psychology in general, and hopefully it should clear things up (e.g. what subjects would be ideal and the grades required). I'm not too sure about RE, but overall they're definitely more unique choices so I doubt you'd have trouble finding spaces for them in college.

thank you for your guidance, this has helped a lot<3
Reply 7
Hi! A lot has already been said so I will just comment on subject requirements for Psychology. Different universities will ask for different subject requirements and some do not even specify any. So the best way forward for yourself, is to browse the course website pages of a few universities that you are interested to apply to in future, and check what they are asking for before you commit on your subject choices. The reverse would also work, whereby you stick to your subject choices, and shortlist the universities that will have no issue accepting your application for their Psychology course. An example of where your subject combination is an issue is with UCL. UCL wants 2 subjects from this list: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology. It is a BSc and not a BA.
Reply 8
Original post by BubblesBB
Hi! A lot has already been said so I will just comment on subject requirements for Psychology. Different universities will ask for different subject requirements and some do not even specify any. So the best way forward for yourself, is to browse the course website pages of a few universities that you are interested to apply to in future, and check what they are asking for before you commit on your subject choices. The reverse would also work, whereby you stick to your subject choices, and shortlist the universities that will have no issue accepting your application for their Psychology course. An example of where your subject combination is an issue is with UCL. UCL wants 2 subjects from this list: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology. It is a BSc and not a BA.

at oxford i want to study ppl as i mentioned, however it doesnt have any required subjects, just helpful and recommended in which id have english and pyschology, im wondering if thats enough or is competitive enough
Original post by s1enn5
would you recommend i swap english out for biology to have a more competitive subject combination? RE, Psychology and Biology. Do you have any knowledge of what biology is like at a level, is it disimilar to gcse?


For medicine it's less about being "competitive" and more about meeting the requirements. You need 2 science subjects, including usually at least one of biology or chemistry. For most medical schools, psychology is not acceptable as a second science.

For psychology then any "core" science may be required. This varies depending on course - for Oxford you probably would realistically need one. Some like UCL or KCL stipulate a science subject (or two in fact for UCL).

Note that usually a requirement or strong preference for one or two science subjects for a psychology degree reflects the nature of that course. Oxford (and the courses at e.g. UCL and KCL) are very science heavy and focused on psychology as an experimental science and research field. There is much less (if any) emphasis on clinical elements beyond BPS requirements.

Conversely there are psychology courses out there where the scientific elements are just those minimally required for BPS accreditation and often these don't require a science or accept psychology at A-level in lieu of a science. These also often emphasize more different areas of psychology e.g. educational, clinical, forensic etc.

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