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What do universities think about A-level general studies?

General studies. Waste of time or useful addition to your A-level line-up? We asked universities for their views on general studies and critical thinking courses…

Important update (Oct 2015): The government will be scrapping the General Studies A-level as it has been deemed undevelopable within the new A-level reforms coming into place in the next few years. It will no longer be available to take from 2017 with 2018 being the final A-level exams to take place.


Do universities accept general studies?

Exeter and Nottingham - no

We do not accept general studies A-level General studies and critical thinking for any of our undergraduate programmes. University Of Exeter

Conditional offers do not normally include general studies for undergraduate study. University Of Nottingham

Portsmouth - maybe…

The University welcomes a wide range of entry qualifications including A-level general studies for any of its courses. Some courses require specific A-level subjects (or their equivalent). University Of Portsmouth

Generally speaking…

It all depends on the specific course and university you’re interested in. Let’s take a specific degree example – law.

Nottingham Trent - no

Applicants need a minimum of 300 Ucas tariff points minimum achieved from three A-levels or equivalent qualifications. This excludes general studies. Nottingham Trent University

Aston – it can be useful

General studies normally contributes towards the UCAS grades / points requirement as a 4th subject, unless stated in the prospectus. For example, if a student has achieved a good grade in general studies (e.g. grade A or B) it may be taken into account if one of the other three subjects is not as strong as was hoped.

Our advice would be to take it if offered at your school or college, and to try and achieve a good grade. It may actually mean securing a place at a competitive university such as Aston. Aston University

Glamorgan - not immediately obvious

300 Ucas tariff points, eg BBB at A-level University Of Glamorgan

In this case, no mention is made about general studies - but it may still prefer other subjects. If you’re unsure, contact the university directly.

General studies – good, or good-for-nothing?

There are always exceptions, but many universities will not count it as one of your accepted qualifications to get into university. After all, it was originally designed to be an ‘extra’ on top of your core four AS-level / three A-level subjects.

So should you bother with it all? The choice is yours, but it does have its merits. The course content is usually a broad mixture of politics and current affairs, culture, technology and science. This can help to keep skills such as essay writing, problem-solving and analytical thinking fresh – especially if your other subjects are closely related.


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