35 A level subjects
When you choose your A level subjects at d’Overbroeck’s, we want you to be liberated from all constraints except those that matter: finding those subjects that fire you up and fit your needs and abilities. We offer 35 A level subjects, any one of which could be a door to your future. Unlike most schools, we don’t start by presenting you with a set of fixed option blocks. Instead, we work with you to arrive at the optimum combination for you – in the light of your interests, strengths and aspirations. Our timetable structure is designed to offer an exceptional degree of flexibility and can usually accommodate 99.9% of the subject combinations we are asked for each year.
We encourage you to start by thinking broadly, even if you have quite set ideas on what you want to do, and to research thoroughly. Getting your subject choice right is crucial to academic success: we take it very seriously indeed, and encourage you to do the same.
Making an informed choice
The more you know about subjects you may want to take, the easier it is to make a choice and the more informed that choice will be. This is true even for subjects you have taken at GCSE, since they are almost always a very different beast at A level, but it is crucial for subjects that are entirely new to you. However, there are a great many ways in which you can inform yourself, and we recommend you make use of most, if not all, of them:
- Read about the ones you know you want to take, the ones you think you might be interested in and perhaps even those you don’t want to take. This will help you draw up a long-list of subjects from which to work. They will also provide you with some resources to look at if you want to get more of an idea of what the subject involves.
- Come to one of our Open Events, where you can talk to our Heads of Departments in person, ask questions and get a feel for how a subject is taught here at d’Overbroeck’s. You can also talk to students who are taking the subject at the same time.
- Come in and talk to Kate Palmer, our Head of Lower Sixth, or Alasdair MacPherson, Head of Sixth Form, for in-depth, individual advice. We can offer guidance on which subjects are necessary or useful for certain courses or career pathways, suggest subjects that match your skills and interests and introduce you to subjects you may not have thought of. If you would like to find out first hand what a lesson in a subject is like our Registrar will arrange a Taster Day in which you can sit in on lessons before finalising your choices. This also provides a good insight into school life.
The ‘value’ of different A level subjects
Much attention has been paid in recent years to the question of whether some A levels are valued by universities more highly than others. There is a considerable amount of misinformation about this. The Russell Group of Universities, which consist of 24 leading universities in the UK, including Oxford, Cambridge and the LSE, have provided a clear set of guidelines. They advise students who want to keep as many options open as possible to take at least two ‘facilitating subjects’: such as Maths, English, the Sciences, History and Geography; these are simply the subjects that appear most frequently on the list of useful subjects for different degree courses.
Whilst this advice is worth bearing in mind it is important to consider a range of factors such as the specific degree course you might wish to apply for and what subjects are suitable for this. You should also consider which subjects you will enjoy doing and which ones suit your strengths. There is little point choosing a subject which you will not enjoy studying or which leads to a low result even if it is “traditional”. Consequently it may be worth trying a new subject. This can widen your horizons, and often leads in unexpected directions, for instance, in our experience students taking Politics at A level for the first time often end up studying it at university.