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Figuring out what A-Levels to take to study Philosophy at University is challenging.  

It’s hard enough narrowing down your options when picking your A-Levels, but trying to figure out which subjects will prepare you for a degree in Philosophy can seem daunting.

That’s why we ensure our Philosophy summer school students have access to 1:1 personalised tutorials with world-class tutors from prestigious universities such as Cambridge and Oxford. 

Our enthusiastic tutors are dedicated to helping our students decide their next steps in education for their future career goals.  

We’ve also done the research for you. We have put together a list of the best A-Levels to take if you want to study Philosophy at university.

What A-Levels Are Needed For Philosophy?

What better way to know what A-Levels are needed for Philosophy than by checking out what the best universities for Philosophy in the UK require? 

Let’s start with the University of Oxford:

University of Oxford

The University of Oxford offers joint Philosophy courses for undergraduate students. Check out what A-Level requirements are necessary to apply for each. 

Classics

Oxford’s Classics is an interdisciplinary degree concerned with the study of

  • Philosophy
  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Literature
  • Languages of the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations. 

To be eligible for Classics, Oxford requires AAA with an A in Latin and/or Greek.

Computer Science and Philosophy

The philosophical aspect of this joint course is mainly concerned with the philosophical issues of computer systems (i.e. ethical and social issues.) Computers, particularly Artificial Intelligence, are increasingly becoming a part of human’s modern daily life.

Specific philosophical issues include:

  • Data privacy
  • Legal Regulation
  • Employment
  • Public Discourse

What A-Level requirements are needed to apply for Computer Science and Philosophy? A*AA, with at least an A in Mathematics. And you must have at least one A* in any of the following subjects:

  • Mathematics (essential)
  • Further Mathematics (highly recommended)
  • Computing/Computer Science (recommended)

Mathematics and Philosophy

Oxford believes that when you study Mathematics and Philosophy together, you’re better able to understand each. Why? Because both are mainly concerned with logic. 

The A-Level requirement for Mathematics and Philosophy is A*A*A, including an A* in Mathematics. Oxford strongly recommends that you take Further Mathematics as well. If you did, the required grade is A*. 

What if you didn’t take Further Maths? Then you have two options:

  • A*AAa with A* in Maths and a in AS-Level Further Maths
  • A*AA with A* in Mathematics

Philosophy and Modern Languages

The Philosophy part of this joint course is focused on understanding

  • Language
  • Literature
  • Idea

Especially because literature is often influenced by the philosophical ideas of their time. 

Some of the Modern Languages you can study in this course include:

  • Czech
  • German 
  • French
  • Italian
  • Modern Greek
  • Spanish 
  • Russian
  • Portuguese

What A-Level requirements are necessary for Philosophy and Modern Languages? AAA, with an A in the language of your choice. 

So if you want to take Philosophy and French, you’ll need to have at least an A in A-Level French. 

Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics together can transform your intellectual life. Especially when understanding the workings of human society and the world at large. 

The A-Level requirement for Oxford’s Philosophy, Politics, and Economics is AAA. A-Level Maths is recommended. The following subjects are considered helpful: 

  • Politics
  • Philosophy
  • Economics
  • History 

Philosophy and Theology

Do you want to understand the Philosophical underpinnings of Theology? If so, then you may be interested in Oxford’s Philosophy and Theology course. 

By the time you complete it, you’re better able to assess the intellectual claims of religion. 

What are the A-Level requirements for Philosophy and Theology? AAA. Oxford doesn’t require a specific A-Level subject. However, taking an essay writing A-Level subject is helpful. 

Physics and Philosophy

Are you perhaps more interested in the Philosophy of Physics? 

Oxford’s Physics and Philosophy course effectively combines two of the most fundamental subjects of art and science. Helping you develop sought-after skills, such as clear thinking and questioning conventional wisdom.

The A-Level requirement for Physics and Philosophy is A*AA, with an A* in Physics, Maths, or Further Maths. What are the required subjects? Physics and Maths.

Further Maths is not required but is considered a helpful subject. 

Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics

Did you know that Psychology, Philosophy, and Linguistics are closely interrelated? Studying these three subjects together will help you understand each one more deeply. 

To study Psychology, Philosophy, and Linguistics at Oxford, you’ll need A*AA. Recommended subjects include:

  • One or more science subjects, such as Psychology
  • Mathematics

Helpful subjects include:

  • English (or any other language) 

University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge offers both single and joint Philosophy courses for undergraduates: 

Philosophy

Philosophy at Cambridge emphasises three values: independent thought, clarity, and rigour, which make up the “analytical school of philosophy.”

The A-Level offer for Philosophy at Cambridge is A*AA. Cambridge colleges don’t require a specific A-Level subject for application. However, a mixture of these three serves as useful preparation:

  • Mathematics
  • Arts/Science 
  • Essay-based subject
What A-Level Subjects Did Philosophy Students Take?

Do you know that from 2017-2019, 66% of Cambridge Philosophy entrants achieved at least A*A*A? Successful applicants took the following A-Level subjects:

  • 63% took Maths
  • 44% took Religious Studies
  • 31% took Philosophy

Other common A-Level subjects include English, History, and a language. 

Classics

Similar to Oxford, Classics at Cambridge is also concerned with the 

  • Culture
  • History
  • Art
  • Archaeology
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics of the Greek and Roman societies. 

The difference is Cambridge has an option for students who didn’t take A-Level Latin or Greek. So what’s the A-Level grade requirement for Cambridge Classics? A*AA.

There are two Classics courses available at Cambridge: a 3-year course and a 4-year course. 

A-Level Subject Requirement for Classics 3-Year Course

For the Classics 3-year course, all Cambridge Colleges require A-Level Latin. Some Colleges accept Classical Greek as a substitute. 

A-Level Subject Requirement for Classics 4-Year Course
  • All Colleges require: No specific subjects required by any College
  • Useful preparation: Classical Civilisation, English (Language or Literature), History, a language (ancient or modern)

Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion

The Cambridge Theology, Religion, and Philosophy course at Cambridge study the world’s major religions, such as:

  • Buddhism
  • Christianity
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Judaism

Here you’ll have a greater understanding of the significance of religion and its diverse cultural contexts. 

What are the A-Level requirements for the Cambridge Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion course? A*AA with no specific A-Level subjects. 

London School of Economics and Politics (LSE)

The London School of Economics and Politics offers the following Philosophy courses:

Philosophy and Economics

Suppose you want to tackle thought-provoking philosophical questions as you study your core modules in economics. In that case, you may want to consider taking the LSE course in Philosophy and Economics.

The standard A-Level offer is AAA, including an A in Mathematics. However, LSE allows for a contextual offer of AAB with an A in Mathematics.

Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

LSE provides equal training and study in all three subjects for the 4-year Philosophy, Politics, and Economics degree. Here you’ll hone your skills in essay writing and formal logic. 

What are the A-Level requirements necessary to apply for PPE? The standard A-Level offer is A*AA, including an A* in Mathematics. The contextual offer? A*AB. Still with an A* in Mathematics. 

Philosophy, Logic, and Scientific Method and Politics and Philosophy

The Philosophy, Logic, and Scientific method course at LSE was founded in 1946 by Professor Sir Karl Popper. Sir Popper is renowned as one of the greatest philosophers of science in the 20th century. 

If you’re looking for a socially and scientifically relevant philosophy, this course is for you.

What about Politics and Philosophy? These are two complementary fields of study. Studying both enhances your knowledge of each. 

The standard A-Level offer for both courses is AAA. With the contextual offer being AAB. No specific subjects are required. 

Best A-Level Combination for Philosophy (For LSE) 

In general, LSE recommends a mix of traditional subjects. Common A-Level subjects LSE students studied include:

  • Philosophy
  • Government and Politics
  • English 
  • History 
  • Economics, 
  • Sociology 
  • Languages 
  • and Mathematics

Taking overlapping A-Level subjects is discouraged. For instance,

  • Maths and Further Maths
  • Business Studies and Economics
  • English and Media Studies 

University College London (UCL)

Here are the following undergraduate Philosophy courses UCL offers:

Philosophy

If you want to understand the history of Philosophy and central philosophical debates, you’d love this course!

To apply, you’d need AAA to pass the A-Level requirement. No specific subjects are required, but at least two should be taken from UCL’s long list of preferred A-Level subjects, including:

  • Ancient History
  • Biology
  • Classical Greek
  • Economics
  • English Language
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Religious Studies

UCL’s contextual offer for Philosophy is ABB. 

Philosophy and Economics

Do you want to understand central philosophical debates and experience comprehensive education in economics? Then you’ll find UCL’s Philosophy course enjoyable! 

To apply, you’ll need A*AA with an A* in Mathematics to satisfy the A-Level requirement.

The contextual offer is A*BB, with an A* in Mathematics. 

Philosophy and History of Art

What if you want to understand central philosophical debates while tackling the issues about art and visual culture? You’d be delighted to check out Philosophy and History of Art. 

The A-Level requirement for UCL’s Philosophy and History of Art is AAA. No specific subjects are required. However, at least 2 subjects must come from UCL’s long list of preferred subjects, such as:

  • Art and Design: Fine Art
  • Classical Civilisation
  • Drama and Theatre Studies
  • English Language and Literature
  • History of Art
  • Mathematics

What’s the contextual offer? ABB

Philosophy, Politics and Economics

UCL’s Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) course combines the study and research of Philosophy and Social Sciences. Here you’ll understand the social and political phenomena happening in the world.

What is the standard A-Level requirement to make you eligible for application? A*AA, with an A* in Mathematics. The contextual offer is A*BB, still A* in Maths.

Philosophy and a Modern Language: Dutch, French, German, Italian, Scandinavian Studies, or Spanish

For Philosophy and a Modern Language, you’ll have the opportunity to experience an intercultural and comparative approach to the humanities, including:

  • Philosophy
  • History
  • Sociology
  • Literature
  • Linguistic Traditions
  • Art
  • Film

In the various Modern language options available. Here are the A-Level requirements for each:

  • Dutch – standard AAB, preferred subject Modern Foreign Language. Contextual: BBB, preferred: Foreign language. 
  • French – standard AAA, with an A in French. Contextual: ABB, with French.
  • German – standard AAB, preferred: Foreign language. Contextual: BBB, preferred: Foreign language.
  • Italian – standard AAB, preferred: Foreign language. Contextual: BBB, preferred: Foreign language.
  • Scandinavian Studies – standard AAB, choose from UCL’s list of preferred subjects. Contextual: BBB, any subject from among UCL’s list of preferred subjects. 
  • Spanish – standard AAA, with Spanish at A. Contextual: ABB, with Spanish. 

University of St Andrews

The University of St Andrews offers both single and joint courses for Philosophy. 

Philosophy MA (Honours)

Through the Philosophy course at St Andrews, you’ll be familiar with the historical and contemporary work often discussed in the philosophical tradition. Helping you develop your analysis and criticism skills. 

The A-Level grade requirement is from ABB (minimum) – AAB (standard.) No specific subjects are required. 

Joint Honours degrees

The joint Philosophy degree options are massive at St Andrews. You can choose to study another subject of your choice and combine it with Philosophy MA. 

King’s College London

Philosophy at King’s gives you a wide range of Philosophical study, from pre-Socrates to the modern day. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn Mediaeval or Indian Philosophy, which only a few UK universities offer. 

To be eligible for Philosophy at King’s, you’ll need AAA for your A-Level grades. The contextual offer is at ABB. There are no specific subjects required. 

However, the following subjects are not accepted as one of your A-Levels: 

  • Critical Thinking
  • General Studies
  • Thinking Skills
  • Global Perspectives 

What A-level Subjects Are Needed Or Essential For Philosophy?

Did you notice that the Top Philosophy Universities in the UK typically don’t require specific subjects for their standalone Philosophy courses? Such universities include:

  • University of Cambridge
  • University of St Andrews
  • And King’s College London

When are specific subjects often required? In Philosophy joint courses. 

For instance, Philosophy and Economics often require Mathematics. In addition, philosophy combined with a Modern Language often requires an A-Level Modern Language.

The key? Determine ahead of time what type of Philosophy course aligns with your future goals most. So you can make an educated decision ahead of time. 

Philosophy Course Entry Requirements

What are the necessary Entry Requirements for Philosophy?

  • A-Level/IB or alternative qualifications
  • Personal statement to demonstrate why you should be accepted.
  • Admissions Test for some universities (e.g. CAT for Oxford)

Each university has its unique Philosophy course entry requirements. But these are the most common ones. 

We highly recommend that you check out your Top 3 university choices. What Philosophy course entry requirements do they ask for? 

Graduate Destinations For Philosophy Graduates

Where do Philosophy Graduates go? Let’s take a look at The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) 2021/22 “What do graduates do?” survey. It states the following:

  • 44.4% of Philosophy graduates work full-time within 15 months after graduation.
  • 13.7% are engaged full-time in further study
  • Of those employed, 19% work as business and finance professionals

What are the top professional jobs of recent Philosophy graduates?

  • Secondary education teachers
  • Marketing associates
  • Finance and Investment analysts/advisers
  • Business sales executives
  • Industrial relations and Human resources officers

That’s the general UK scenario. What if we take a closer look at the graduate outcomes of Philosophy graduates from specific universities?

University of Cambridge Philosophy Graduate Destinations

What professions do Cambridge Philosophy graduates have after completing their Philosophy courses? Some of them have careers in the following fields:

  • Business
  • Journalism
  • Computing
  • Information Technology
  • Administration 
  • Law
  • Banking
  • Investment
  • Teaching
  • Publishing
  • Recreation
  • Arts
  • Public Services

University of St Andrews Philosophy Graduate Destinations

Recent Philosophy graduates at St Andrews have careers in:

  • Banking
  • Retail area management
  • Local Government and Government organisations (NHS)
  • Non-Profit organisations (e.g. Charityworks and Oxfam)
  • Television production
  • Teaching
  • Publishing

For those who proceeded to further study, it’s common for Philosophy graduates to take postgraduate courses in:

  • Philosophy 
  • Law Conversion
  • Teaching

London School of Economics and Politics (LSE) Philosophy Graduate Destinations

What’s the median salary for LSE Philosophy graduates six months after graduating? It’s  £37,500.

The Top 5 industries they work in are:

  • Information, Digital Technology, and Data
  • Consultancy
  • Financial and Professional Services
  • Accounting and Auditing
  • Government, Public Sector, and Policy

What GCSEs Do You Need For A-Level Philosophy?

You’ll be hard-pressed to find any GCSE subject similar to Philosophy. Regardless of your A-Level subject choices, remember you have mandatory GCSEs to take:

  • Maths
  • English 
  • Science

Practising your essay-writing skills in your GCSE English as much as possible is essential. Why? Because Philosophy at A-Level and Higher Education requires tons of essay writing!

Can You Take Philosophy at A-Level?

Yes, you can take Philosophy at A-Level. The major topics you’ll often encounter are:

  • Epistemology – examines the Theory of Knowledge
  • Moral philosophy – considers what is right and wrong
  • Metaphysics – contemplates the foundational nature of reality 

By taking Philosophy at A-Level, you’ll learn how to:

  • Think critically
  • Follow logical argumentation
  • Understand philosophical terminology
  • Reason persuasively

Ultimately, it is up to you to choose your A-Levels subjects wisely. Major universities may not require specific A-Level subjects for standalone Philosophy degrees. But they will certainly be looking at your grades and how well you performed.

So make sure you pick a variety of subjects that interest and challenge you. We at Immerse Education wish you the best of luck!

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