Top A-Level Subjects for University Courses

When deciding on your A-levels, it’s crucial to consider subjects that both interest you and align with your career aspirations. While choosing subjects you enjoy is essential, it’s also important to select ones that will enhance your chances of securing a place on your desired university course and pursuing your desired career path. The reality is that certain A-levels carry more weight than others in academic circles when it comes to university application.

Determining which A-levels hold the highest regard isn’t an exact science, as different universities or courses may highlight certain subjects over others. However, conducting thorough research before embarking on your A-level courses is crucial to refine your chances of achieving your academic and career objectives. With this in mind, here’s an overview of some of the most beneficial A-level subjects for university courses:

Selecting A-levels

Deciding on the appropriate A-levels is a significant decision that warrants careful consideration. Typically, A-level students undertake 3-4 subjects over a two-year period, with qualifications available in a diverse range of subjects spanning science, humanities, business, languages, social sciences, and mathematics.

You can pursue your A-levels in a traditional school or college environment, or opt for online learning from the comfort of your home. However, given the multitude of options available, it can be challenging to determine the most suitable subjects for you. Perhaps you already have an idea of the subjects you wish to study and the university course you aspire to pursue, but are uncertain about which additional subjects would complement your choices best.

If you aspire to pursue computer science or engineering, subjects like mathematics, further mathematics, and physics showcase your logical abilities and strong numeracy skills. For those interested in fields like law, finance, or politics, A-levels in history, economics, and politics form a well-rounded combination.

Alternatively, if your interest lies in essay-based subjects, a common combination for accessing such areas includes English Literature, history, and psychology. This combination also proves beneficial for students aiming to pursue a law degree.

Top A-level Subjects

If you have a clear idea of the subject you wish to pursue at degree level (such as aspiring to become a doctor or having a passion for history), selecting the appropriate A-levels becomes much simpler.

For many university courses, the institution will explicitly outline the essential subjects required at A-level. For instance, English Language or English Literature A-levels are likely to be listed as essential for an English degree, while Chemistry and Biology are necessary for Veterinary Science degrees.

It would be impractical for a single article to encompass all the courses offered by the UK’s 164 universities and higher education institutions, along with their specific requirements.

However, here are some examples of popular university courses in the UK and the corresponding A-levels typically required for admission:


For university studies in medicine, chemistry is deemed essential, and at least one other science A-level is required (typically biology or physics). However, most applicants opt to study three or more science subjects to bolster their application. Additionally, mathematics is regarded as a desirable A-level for a medical degree.


A mathematics A-level is imperative for pursuing a degree in mathematics, with some universities specifying further mathematics as an essential requirement. For the third subject, it’s advisable to opt for a science-related subject to showcase your interest in related areas. Physics and chemistry are excellent choices, while statistics and computing would also be advantageous.

Computer Science

Contrary to common belief, prior coding knowledge is not a prerequisite for studying computer science. However, most universities require a mathematics A-level, with further mathematics being a requirement for many. Additionally, having a science subject would bolster your application, although studying ICT at A-level may deter some universities. If you require another subject, options like computer science, electronics, or geology are all approving choices.

English Literature and English Language 

A-levels in English Literature and English Language are highly esteemed, particularly for those pursuing a BA degree at university. Proficiency in clear and concise written communication is a valuable life skill that enhances employability. Moreover, it demonstrates the requisite skills for success in university-level “essay subjects.”


To pursue music at university, it’s essential to have a music A-level and a proficient level of skill in at least one musical instrument. Additionally, some universities may require a grade 5 proficiency in piano alongside your primary instrument. While an A-level in music technology can be advantageous, most universities are unlikely to accept it as a substitute for a music A-level.


Typically, one would assume that a geography A-level is necessary for pursuing a geography degree. However, in reality, most universities do not have specific entry requirements for studying geography. While having a geography A-level would be advantageous, a combination of other humanities and science subjects can provide a similar comprehensive knowledge base. If geography is available as an option, it is recommended to consider it. Additionally, other subjects worth considering include geology, sociology, economics, mathematics, biology, and chemistry.


While a philosophy A-level would be highly beneficial for studying philosophy at many universities, it is not a common requirement. Instead, universities typically prefer a combination of art and science subjects to demonstrate a well-rounded educational background. Subjects to consider include history, mathematics, English language, English literature, and physics.


For those aspiring to study engineering at university, having an A-level in mathematics and at least one science subject is mandatory. Some universities may stipulate physics as the preferred science subject, while others accept any science A-level. Though not compulsory, further mathematics is often seen as advantageous. Additionally, technology subjects like design and technology or computer science are deemed desirable by many universities.


As this is a degree heavily focused on numbers, most universities will mandate an A-level in mathematics, with some also requesting further mathematics. While economics is beneficial if offered by your school or college, it is not obligatory. Therefore, if economics is not available, there is no cause for concern. The primary emphasis lies on a robust mathematical foundation, with economics considered alongside business studies and statistics in the ‘nice to have’ category.


Typically, there isn’t a prescribed A-level list for studying politics at university. However, a blend of humanities and science subjects is deemed beneficial. Subjects such as history, government and politics, psychology, economics, mathematics, English language or literature, law, or a foreign language are worth considering if you intend to pursue a politics degree.


In this case, specific A-level subjects are not explicitly mandated, but it’s typically expected that you have at least one science A-level subject, with mathematics also being viewed favorably. If your school or college offers psychology as an A-level, it’s advisable to take it. This will provide you with a solid foundation in the subject and aid in determining if it aligns with your interests and aspirations.


For those interested in studying classics, many universities typically mandate A-levels in both Latin and Classical Greek. However, as not all schools or colleges offer A-levels in these subjects, some universities may admit you to the course with other foreign language A-levels (such as French or Italian), provided that you attend summer school to attain a minimum standard in Latin and Greek before commencing the university course. Additionally, other desirable but non-mandatory A-level courses include history and history of art.

In Conclusion:

If you haven’t complete your choice of university course

If you’re unsure about which subject to pursue at university, selecting the appropriate A-levels might seem challenging. However, it’s not uncommon for students to begin their A-levels without a clear career path. One option is to choose subjects that you enjoy and excel in at GCSE level. Focusing on subjects you find enjoyable increases the likelihood of achieving good grades, which in turn expands your options for university.

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