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A-level subjects

Specialist subject knowledge

A-levels provide great depth of study in a few specialist subjects.

After two years, you will have gained subject knowledge that is often only acquired during the first year at university in many other countries.

Flexible subject choice

You can choose 3-4 subjects to study. You have the flexibility to choose any combination of subjects.

We will help you choose the perfect combination of subjects, ensuring they match your interests and future study plans.

Facilitating subjects

Your Advanced Level studies (whether A-level or Foundation) will develop your knowledge and your transferable skills. While there are common subject combinations, the actual choice is down to you.

However, some degrees may have specific subject requirements.

Some subjects are required more often. Until recently, the Russell Group of leading UK universities referred to these as 'facilitating' subjects.

These are:

  • Mathematics
  • Further Mathematics
  • English Literature
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • History
  • Modern Languages

You do not need all your subjects to be chosen from this selection. Many students will include one or two in their choices.

The best advice is to talk to our team of experts to help you decide which subjects suit you.

Below we introduce the subjects we offer across our colleges with links to more in-depth information.

Art and Design

  • Develops your intellectual, imaginative, creative and reflective skills.
  • Develops your investigative, analytical, experimental, practical, technical, and expressive skills, an aesthetic understanding and critical judgement.
  • Provides an understanding of the inter-relationships between art, craft and design, and an awareness of the contexts in which they operate as well as knowledge and understanding of art, craft and design in contemporary society and in other times and cultures.
Art & Design factsheet


  • The most accessible content of the three sciences, as it can be related naturally to all aspects of life.
  • You will study carefully, and in detail, how life in the world works:
    How our bodies work; how diseases stop them working; how plants grow; how life may be threatened by poisonous substances; how ecosystems work; where energy comes from and how organisms use it; how genes and evolution affect us all.
Biology factsheet

Business Studies

  • Provides an holistic understanding of business in a range of contexts, a critical understanding of organisational behaviour, approaches to opportunities, issues and ethics.
  • You will develop your critical analysis, decision-making and problem-solving skills, all of which are transferable to a wide range of contexts.
Business Studies factsheet


  • You will learn to understand the things that make up the world; food, fuels and fabrics, building materials and manufactured goods, the air you breathe, the tools you use.
  • You will study atoms and reactions, bonding and structure, hydrocarbons, polymers and alcohols, energetics and transition elements.
  • You will use Mathematics to describe and understand chemical ideas. You'll devise and carry out practical experiments to test the principles you are learning.
Chemistry factsheet


  • Develops an understanding of economic concepts and theories through critical consideration of current economic issues, problems and institutions that affect everyday life.
  • You will apply economic concepts and theories in a range of contexts and learn to appreciate their value and limitations in explaining real-world phenomena.
  • You will analyse, explain and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the market economy and the role of government within it.
Economics factsheet

English Literature

  • You will engage critically and creatively with a substantial body of texts.
  • You will develop and effectively apply your knowledge of literary analysis and evaluation.
  • You will undertake independent and sustained studies to deepen your appreciation and understanding of English literature, including its changing traditions.
English Literature factsheet

Fine Art

  • You will use a variety of tools, materials and techniques, as appropriate, for recording your surroundings and source materials.
  • You will also consider the application and implications of new and emerging technologies that can be used in conjunction with traditional and digital fine art materials.
Fine Art factsheet


  • Enables you to acquire and apply knowledge and understanding of physical and human processes, their interactions and outcomes over space and time, through the study of places and environments.
  • You will acquire and apply skills necessary for the pursuit of the discipline, and will develop an understanding of the opportunities, challenges and constraints that face people in different places and environments.
  • You will acquire a deeper understanding of the connections between different aspects of geography.
Geography factsheet

Government and Politics

  • Develops your critical awareness of the nature of politics and the relationship between political ideas, institutions and processes.
  • You will acquire knowledge and understanding of the structures of authority and power within the political system of the UK and of other countries.
  • You will also develop knowledge of the characteristics of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, of the rights and responsibilities of the individual, and of ideologies, theories and traditions.
Government and Politics factsheet

Graphic Communication

  • Also referred to as Graphic Design, this Art and Design A-level subject enables you to explore a range of graphic communication media, processes and techniques, relating to both traditional and new media.
  • By working across disciplines, you will extend your understanding of the scope of graphic communication; by focusing on one discipline, you will gain a deeper understanding of specific processes within graphic communication.
Graphic Communication factsheet


  • Develops your use and understanding of historical terms, concepts and skills.
  • The periods studied enhances your interest in, and understanding of, important developments allowing you to understand the wider perspective of change over time.
  • You will study significant individuals, societies, events and issues, analysing different historical perspectives, for example aesthetic, cultural, economic, ethnic, political, religious, scientific, social and technological.
History factsheet


  • Develops your understanding of mathematics and mathematical processes and your ability to reason logically and to recognize incorrect reasoning.
  • You will construct mathematical proofs and extend your range of mathematical skills and techniques for use in more difficult unstructured problems.
  • You’ll also develop an understanding of coherence and progression in mathematics and of how different areas of mathematics can be connected.
Mathematics factsheet

Mathematics (Further)

  • Broadens and deepens your mathematical knowledge and skills.
  • You can study it either alongside or after taking A-level Mathematics.
  • Taking both subjects together provides a foundation for further studies in any Science or Maths-based course, including Computer Science, Medical Sciences, and Psychology to Statistics, Management and Actuarial Science.
Further Mathematics factsheet


  • Allows you to expand your creative horizons through taking and editing photographs.
  • Teaches you about a whole range of photographic techniques and processes.
  • Helps you to develop an understanding of the creative process.
Photography factsheet


  • Develops your essential knowledge and understanding in physics and the applications of physics in new and changing situations.
  • You will develop an understanding of the link between theory and experiment, and will appreciate how physics is used in present day society.
  • You will recognise the quantitative nature of physics and understand how mathematical expressions relate to physical principles.
Physics factsheet


  • Develops an understanding of approaches in psychology, and of research methods used within it.
  • You will gain an understanding of theories regarding social influence and conformity, of memory, of psychopathology, biopsychology and of theories and research regarding the attachment of infants with their primary caregiver.
  • You will also gain an in-depth understanding of a choice of three topics including relationships, gender schizophrenia, eating behaviour, aggression, and addiction.
Psychology factsheet


  • Gives an awareness of the social, political and economic issues that shape society.
  • Helps develop greater empathy towards communities that differ from yours, opening your mind to a diverse range of ideas and beliefs.
  • Recognised by top universities and employers, with value on the skills and personal attributes sociology develops within the student.
Sociology factsheet
It’s really important for you to choose the right course for you.
University of Exeter
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