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Post 16 Options


Below is a general overview of the post 16 pathways.

A levels

A level students usually study 3 subjects over two years. A levels are much more challenging than GCSE’s so you must be prepared for a big jump in the level of difficulty. You will be examined at the end of two years.

Remember certain higher education courses will be looking for specific A levels

Taking certain A levels will open up more university course options. These are known as facilitating subjects and include: - biology, chemistry, English, geography, history, maths, modern and classical languages and physics.

Entrance Requirements do vary slightly but in general you will need 6 GCSE’s at grade A to C (including English and Maths). BTEC qualifications will not be considered. However, some colleges such as Loreto and Xaverian ask for 2 B’s and 4 C’s. William Hulme expect you to have 4 B’s and 2 C’s  and if you want to study Science or Maths they would expect you to have an A in that subject. You need to check the college websites carefully.

Where should you look for further advice and guidance?

The UCAS website has a useful section “Explore your Options” which explains how higher education courses are organised plus details on different entry requirements.


A very useful guide has been published about which A level combinations keep the most options open.


A summary can be found here

Vocational Courses (BTECs)

Vocational courses can be studied at different levels. A vocational course at level 3 equates to 3 A levels, so from most level 3 courses it is possible to progress onto University courses. Usually you choose just one subject to focus on, however, some colleges do offer programmes which include a mix of A levels and vocational subjects. Vocational courses are more practical, and related to work and are assessed using more coursework than exams. It is possible to come in at any level, depending upon your GCSEs and to work your way up through the levels. Remember BTECs are available in a range of subjects for example Applied Science to Public and Uniformed Services.

Entry Requirements

As entry requirements may vary slightly you are strongly advised to consult the college websites.

Level 3 -   5 GCSE’s at A to C including Maths and English (plus Science or ICT if applying for a related course).

Level 2  -  A mix of GCSE’s usually a mix of C and D grades including Maths and English (plus Science or ICT if applying for a related course)

Level 1 -  A mix of GCSE’s E and above including Maths and English


An apprenticeship is a full time job combined with training for a qualification. Apprenticeships start at level 2 and it is possible to work your way up to a high level apprenticeship. It is therefore possible to choose the apprenticeship route as an alternative to University.

As an apprentice you are paid a wage (from October 2015 £3.30 per hour). You would usually work for 30 hours a week. You would spend most of your time working, learning on the job. To complete your qualification you would spend some time at a college or training provider. This might be one day a week or less, depending on the provider.

Apprenticeships are extremely competitive and so it is important that your application form and CV stands out. Work experience, a part time job or volunteering could really help.

Entrance Requirements

These vary, however most apprenticeships ask for 5 GCSE’s including Maths and English. However, depending upon the apprenticeship other qualifications can be asked for e.g. engineering may ask for Design Technology. Some higher level apprenticeships such as Law ask for level 3 qualifications.

Further Information


The tables below show which 'A' levels Russell Group Universities prefer for particular subjects:



USEFUL Advanced Level Qualifications

Accountancy ( also Banking/Finance /Insurance

Usually none, although one or two universities require Maths

Maths, Business Studies and Economics

Actuarial Science/ Studies


Further Maths, Economics, Business Studies

Aeronautical Engineering

Maths and Physics

Further Maths, Design Technology

American Studies

Courses vary but English and /or History are often asked for.




Small number of courses like a science AS e.g. Biology. Some like Sociology



Archaeology, History, Chemistry


A small number of courses want Maths and /or Physics and Art (some say Arts / Science mix).

Portfolio of drawings and ideas are essential.


Art and Design

Art or Design, including Applied Art and Design. Most entrants to an Art and Design Degree will do an Art Foundation Course (1year) after A levels



Chemistry and some degrees require Biology or one from Maths/Physics/ Biology. Taking Biology, Chemistry and Maths or Physics will keep all options open.



Biology, a lot of courses require Chemistry

Maths or Physics

Biomedical Sciences ( including Medical Science)

Normally two from Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics. Chemistry is sometimes essential.

Maths, Further Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics

Business Studies


Maths, Business Studies and Economics

Chemical Engineering

Chemistry and Maths, sometimes Physics as well

Physics, Biology, Further Maths


Chemistry and sometimes Maths and one other science subject

Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Biology

Childhood Studies


Sociology, Psychology, Health and Social care

Classical Studies

Latin or Classical Greek for Classics courses. Will consider most subjects for Classical Studies and Classical Civilisations

Modern Foreign Language, English literature, History

Computer Science

For some courses Maths

Maths, Further Maths, Computing, Physics, Philosophy, ICT


Chemistry and Biology for most courses, but some require Maths and Physics as well.

Maths, Physics, Further Maths


Chemistry and Biology



Some courses require English Literature and for a few courses English and /or Theatre studies. Check if you want a course with NCDT – accredited professional training

English Literature, English Language, Theatre Studies


Usually Maths


Electrical/ Electronic Engineering

Maths , Physics

Further Maths, ICT, Design Technology


Maths , Physics

Further Maths, Design Technology, ICT


English Literature or English Literature and Language

History, Religious Studies, Modern Foreign Language

Environmental Science/ Studies

Many ask for two from Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics and Geography


European Studies

A Modern Foreign Language



Most degrees want Geography

Some BSc degrees prefer one from Biology, Chemistry, Maths or Physics

Geology/Earth Sciences

Usually two from Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology

Geography, Geology



Another Modern Foreign Language, English Literature, History


Most degrees want History

Economics, English Literature, Philosophy, Politics, Sociology, Religious Studies/ Theology

History of Art


Art, English Literature, History ,Religious Studies/Theology/Modern foreign Language


Italian or another language such as French, German or Spanish



Usually none, although a few universities require English.

English, History

Management Studies

Sometimes Maths

Maths , Economics, Business Studies


Maths and sometimes Further MATHS

Further Maths, Physics

Mechanical engineering

Maths, Physics

Further  Maths, Design technology

Media Studies ( including Communication Studies)

Some courses ask for English or Media Studies

English, Media Studies ,Sociology, Psychology


Chemistry, majority of courses require Biology and one from Maths or Physics



Music and grade 7/8 for most traditional courses


Nursing and Midwifery

Usually Biology or another Science


Occupational therapy

Some courses ask for Biology

Psychology, Physical Education, Sociology or another science

Optometry (Ophthalmic Optics)

Two from Biology, Chemistry, Maths or Physics(some courses prefer Biology as one of the choices)



Chemistry and two from Biology, Maths and Physics for the vast majority of courses. Some prefer Chemistry, Biology and Maths. Doing Chemistry and Biology keeps most courses open.

Maths , Physics



Maths, Classical Civilisations, philosophy and Religious Studies/ Theology


Maths, Physics

Further Maths, Chemistry


Biology, some courses may ask for a second science from Chemistry, Maths or physics




Politics, Sociology, Economics ,History, Law, Philosophy


A few courses ask for one from Biology, Chemistry, Maths or Physics

Biology, Maths, Psychology, Sociology

Religious Studies/Theology


Philosophy, Religious Studies/The ology/English Literature, History



Sociology, Psychology, Geography ,Media Studies


Spanish(although some degrees will also consider French, German or Italian)


Speech therapy

Some want a science such as Biology, Chemistry or Physics .Some specify Biology but some other degrees candidates with none of these.

A Modern Foreign Language, English Language ( and Literature),Psychology

Sports Science/Physical Education

Quite a few courses prefer one from Biology, Chemistry, Maths or Physics

Business Studies, Psychology, Physical Education



For some types of surveying such as building surveying Maths and Physics could be helpful.

Veterinary Science

Chemistry, Biology and one from Maths or Physics


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