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Which 5th A-level Subject?
Poll ended at Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:53 am
Theology 60%  60%  [ 15 ]
Physics 40%  40%  [ 10 ]
Total votes : 25
Author Message
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:53 am 
DS is starting Lower 6 come September and hopes to read Medicine at a world class university after A-levels. Competition for places is extremely fierce.

The standard entry requirements for Medicine in most Russell Group universities are:
A A A [A* A A – Cambridge] in 3 science subjects. Mathematics is regarded as a science subject. Chemistry is compulsory, at least at the university that my DS is looking at.

On top of this, a ‘Full House’ GCSE grades i.e. 9 or 10 subjects at A* or A is expected.

DS should not have much problems getting all the above grades. He is currently awaiting his IGCSE/GCSE results.

His intended A-level subjects for the next two years are:
1) Chemistry
2) Biology
3) Mathematics
4) Further Mathematics
5) Theology

Nothing drastically wrong with the above lineup but I’m having sleepless nights over his last subject, Theology. Although this subject is ‘excess to requirement’ I am seeing it as a straight swap of a Physics (A*) for a Theology (A*).

Amongst other things, DS is a top physicist in his cohort of more than 260 pupils, never dropping off the first half dozen – last report 3rd place. School’s average A-level Physics in public exams is >80% ‘A’ Grade.

My dilemma: Talk DS out of Theology for Physics instead, or let him carry on his own way? DS has a particular fondness for Theology and has won prestigious school prize which to me carries more weight than an A* A-level. I don’t think he needs to prove to the admissions tutors any further about his prowess in Theology. Perhaps Physics might be a better 5th subject to thwart the competition?

What do you folks think? Please vote giving reason(s).

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 6:57 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 12088
It's got to be Physics ... if a wider 'base' is wanted look at a language not RS which may not even be recognised.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:51 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2006 5:12 pm
Posts: 1305
Location: Birmingham
I would opt for Theology.

We were in exactly the same situation last year with my daughter who also wants to study medicine at a top University. The debate was whether to study RS, Music or English as her 5th AS subject. She has opted for RS and has not regretted it. She didn't even do RS at GCSE but that hasn't proved to be a problem.

We did some research and many of the Medical admissions tutors actually prefer a subject like RS or Theology, not sure of the Theology sylabus but RS includes many ethics related topics which goes down well. Great discussion subject at interview. The key driver for us was the fact that a subject like RS or theology is essay based which gives them a good grounding for University Medical exam formats.

Obviously your son could drop theology at the end of AS.

For info my daughter is studying Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry, Biology and RS and will probably drop Further Maths after January 2010.

As an aside, you will need to do a lot of research on the University Medical schools, the course type and entry requirements. My daughter has decided against applying to Problem Based Learning Medical Schools. Also some Universities (B/Ham as an example) set a strict minimum number of A*s before they will look or interview a candidate. I think this year it's 8 A*s at GCSE(was 7 A*s last year).

At the moment she is thinking of Cambridge, Bristol or Cardiff, Nottingham and Southampton. We would have liked to include a London Medical School but the living costs would be too great. A friends son is at Imperial College Medical School and living costs are very expensive.


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:16 am 

Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:32 pm
Posts: 6986
Location: East Kent
I'd second that about the London living expenses Ken, Miss Yoyo is at UCL :shock: .

I think I would go for the Theology, if it is a subject he really likes and excels at.

If there is an element of ethics there, even better. I'm sure someone worth their salt could argue the relevance of ethics in a medical career.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:43 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 8:51 am
Posts: 8134
Theology definitely. Much more useful in medicine than physics.
never ever used physics but theology (at least the philosophy ethics analytical side) would be very useful.

He has plenty of science to be getting on with there with physics ..

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:54 am 

Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 5:00 pm
Posts: 558
Location: Wales
I voted theology as it contributes to understanding people & cultures. The lack of such understanding has been criticised in recent years in the medical profession. Because of this universities are preferring to see something other than straight sciences as long as chemistry, biology are there - psychology is also seen as beneficial.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:27 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:42 pm
Posts: 3820
Location: Chelmsford and pleased
Theology - it shows breadth, rather than narrowness. From experience all sciences with maths is rather dry. The analytical skills required in arguing a theological point will surely help with communication skills.
Edit: could you swap further maths for physics, the mechanics side of maths is physics anyway.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:37 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:47 am
Posts: 3310
Location: Warwickshire.
Theology, for the reasons that others have given above!

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:50 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 4:20 pm
Posts: 771
Let him study Theology, Flamenco.

As well as what's been said above, isn't he the child who knew that one of Simon of Cyrene's sons was called Rufus? That sort of depth of knowledge at GCSE can't be allowed to go to waste!

Theology will make him much more interesting to the selectors than all those scientists...they'll remember him!

...and even G55 can't disagree that Theology is a subject in which your son's school excels, even by its own standards of excellence.

Finally (if it hasn't already been said) looking back now I wish I'd studied more subjects that interested me instead of ones I thought might be useful.


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:18 pm 
Guest55 wrote:
It's got to be Physics ... if a wider 'base' is wanted look at a language not RS which may not even be recognised.

Oh, it is recognized alright, G55. One can even do a Theology degree in Oxford or Cambridge.

The course is quite substantially slanted on ethical issues besides the divine. To quote the Theology curriculum from my son’s school:

There are a number of possible papers, but the two that we are offering cover most of the important philosophical issues in the areas of ethics and theology . . .

Areas of study include e.g. ethics on the issue of abortion and the right to a child, war and peace, euthanasia and genetic engineering; of environmental and business ethics (and the problem of defining globalization) and s-exual* ethics, amongst others.

DS is quite adamant he wants to do Theology and I‘m quite surprised he has the huge majority of posters (so far) supporting him. Do they know something that both of us don’t?

* modified spelling to fool software.

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