If you don’t know what you want to study at university

Some A level subjects (facilitating subjects) are regarded by virtually all universities as being acceptable.

'I have no idea what degree I want to study but my school is wanting me to choose my A levels for next year and I'm worried that some doors will be closed to me later on.' Laura, year 11 student from Leeds

What are the facilitating subjects?
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • English literature
  • Geography
  • History
  • Maths and further maths
  • Modern and classical languages
  • Physics

Generally speaking taking two facilitating subjects will keep a wide range of degree courses open to you. 

  • You’ll be studying these subjects for the next two years, so choosing ones you actually enjoy will keep you motivated and help you achieve the best grades possible.

Think carefully about your combination of subjects. Consider the subjects you do well in.

  • Are you better at fieldwork than writing essays for example.
  • Talking to your teachers should give you an accurate idea of where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and guide you toward the subjects that suit you best.

Take a look at the syllabus for each subject you are considering, especially if they were not available to you at GCSE level.

  • Some students take subjects they think will interest them, but quickly become disappointed when they find it’s not what they were expecting.
  • Reading the course content should give you an idea whether a particular A level is the right option for you.

Another consideration is workload.

  • Reading through the course syllabus will give you an idea of what is involved such as the number of essays and practical exercises for each subject.

Some leading universities in the UK have lists of subjects they feel do not prepare students for a degree.

  • If you are planning to apply to a prestigious university, make sure you are not going to put yourself at a disadvantage by choosing an A level which is not considered rigorous enough. 
  • The Russell Group universities recommend you choose at least 2 traditional subjects (facilitating subjects) to ensure you will be considered by their admissions tutors.


  • If you’re still uncertain, phone or email the university Admissions or Schools Liaison team and ask for their advice before finalising your choices.
  • If you have a question about A level choices and university courses, you can also Ask CUG.