What Are the A-Level Requirements for an Engineering Degree?

20 Nov, 2023 | Engineering, University Preparation

As you begin to consider the kinds of programmes, courses and extracurriculars to best boost your university applications, it’s important to take the time to research the optimal A-levels for your future degree. 

If you’re interested in pursuing an Engineering degree, consider choosing A-level subjects that foster logical thinking, problem-solving, analytical skills and technological innovation, as these are all valuable traits in aspiring engineers and future leaders.

Building a strong foundation in related subjects will be a significant boost to prospective Engineering undergraduates. However, choosing your A-levels can sometimes feel like a daunting task, especially if you’re in the early stages of college applications.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a breakdown of the most helpful subjects for an Engineering degree!

Are There Any Pre-A-Level Requirements for an Engineering Degree?

It’s useful to note that universities in the UK will generally require applicants to have achieved a minimum grade C or 4 in English Language and Mathematics at GCSE-level or equivalent.

Additionally, prospective students should be able to demonstrate a vested interest in the discipline itself. This could include: 

  • Enrolling in engineering-related extracurricular clubs or activities 
  • Engaging in sophisticated and varied reading around the subject 
  • Gaining relevant work experience in the engineering industry 
  • Participating in engineering competitions

Be sure to tailor these suggestions to your own individual application!

How Should I Choose My A-Levels for Engineering?

Choosing your A-level subjects is always tricky, but if you’re already sure that you want to pursue Engineering at university, then you’re starting in the perfect position!

Most importantly, make sure that the A-level subjects you choose are ones that you’ll enjoy. After all, you’ll be studying them in-depth for two years!

Core A-levels

Entrance on to an Engineering degree programme often requires a core A-level or two. This is typically Mathematics and Physics, which are essential for building a foundation to sustain future Engineering studies.

Additionally, these core A-level subjects are crucial to the development of the analytical, problem-solving and mathematical skills necessary for success in engineering disciplines. 

As an example of core Engineering A-levels, here’s an outline of the A-level subjects required for prospective Engineering Science students at the University of Oxford:

  • Maths and Physics (Essential)
  • Maths Mechanics (Recommended)
  • Further Maths (Useful)

Please note that OxBright has no formal affiliation with the University of Oxford.

Complementary A-levels

In addition to the core A-Levels that are required for admission to an Engineering programme, there are also several A-level subjects that can nicely supplement an Engineering application.

Further Mathematics, for example, provides students with a vast array of advanced mathematical concepts, which can enhance their university applications and, at a later stage, their undergraduate work. 

Similarly, a Computer Science A-level introduces prospective students to the programming languages and algorithms that may be relevant to an Engineering degree. 

For students interested in developing the practical skills needed for design and manufacturing, there can be great benefits to studying a Design and Technology A-level.

These additional A-Levels are useful in both distinguishing applicants from the rest of the (often competitive) pool of applicants, and in  developing a well-rounded foundation for students to pursue an Engineering degree.

A-Levels for Engineering specialisations

Beyond the core and complementary A-level subjects, there are also a variety of A-levels that may be of use for specific engineering subfields. 

Civil Engineering

For students interested in Civil Engineering, Geography can be a strong option for engineering projects that consider land use, topography and environmental impact. 

Similarly, students might enrol in Environmental Science, which frequently informs sustainable and environmentally-friendly engineering projects.

Civil Engineer looking at papers

Chemical Engineering

For Chemical Engineering students, the Chemistry A-level is crucial for understanding chemicals, reactions and scientific processes. 

Biology may also be of use, as it allows for a complementary understanding of biochemical processes and biotechnology.

Chemical Engineer in the laboratory

Mechanical Engineering

Prospective students interested in Mechanical Engineering should consider choosing the Mechanics A-level, which offers an early introduction to the core principles in mechanical engineering research. 

Electronics can also be a strong choice, as it develops an understanding of control systems, sensors and automation.

Mechanical Engineer designing a robot on PC

Electrical Engineering

Electrical Engineering students will also benefit greatly from the Electronics A-level, as it provides a head start in understanding complex electronic circuits, components and systems. 

Further Physics, an A-level that offers an understanding of physics concepts relevant to electrical engineering, is another excellent choice for this specialisation.

Electrical Engineer working on a circuit

Industrial Engineering

For students looking to potentially focus on Industrial Engineering, there’s relevance in Business Studies or Economics, both of which offer information on optimising production processes and supply chains. 

Similarly, the Statistics A-level supports the development of data analysis skills and a capacity for decision making in industrial settings.

Industrial Engineer in workshop, smiling at camera

Key Things to Remember When Choosing Your A-Levels for an Engineering Degree

When choosing your A-levels, it’s important to remember a few key things:

1. Every university will have different requirements for admission to their Engineering degree programme. Make sure to check the requirements of each university you’re interested in.

2. Just as universities have different A-level requirements, they also have differing grade requirements. Try to select A-level subjects where you’re confident you can achieve the required grades.

3. Above all else, choose A-levels you’re going to enjoy, and that you can link to your passion and love for Engineering – this will make drafting a personal statement and performing well at university interviews much easier further down the line.

The right A-levels can provide you with the foundation to thrive in university, so make sure you have a clear understanding of the prerequisites and different options for your chosen Engineering programmes, while balancing the practical with the enjoyable. 

Adam

By Adam Kluge

Adam (he/him) recently completed his MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Oxford. His research exists at the intersection of law, politics, and history – and he welcomes opportunities to further explore these areas through personal and pedagogical practices. He completed his undergraduate degrees at Columbia University and will begin a PhD in Criminology at Oxford this autumn.

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