Engineering A-Level Requirements: What Top Unis Want (2024)

Engineering A-Level Requirements: What Top Unis Want (2024)

April 25, 2024 | 2months | General

Wondering what A-Levels you should take for Engineering?

Choosing the right A-Levels for a career in engineering is a pivotal decision that could shape your future. Engineering courses at top universities are competitive, and the right A-Levels can make a significant difference in your application.

This is a profession that demands a strong foundation in mathematics and the sciences, leading to rewarding careers across various sectors. With an average of 59.6% of students getting full-time employment right after graduation (reaching up to 75.6% in civil engineering), engineering careers prove to be some of the top professions regarding percentage of employment and possibilities of growth. This makes it a great career choice if you are looking to enter the STEM pathway.

Here, we'll explore the essential A-Levels you need to embark on this exciting path and answer some common questions about preparing for an engineering degree in the UK. Keep on reading to find out how to choose your A-levels for Engineering.

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Best A-Level subjects for Engineering

Most universities offering Engineering courses require students to have at least two A-levels in specific subjects and a third subject that the student can choose. Students must pass these subjects with very good marks, often aiming at A*A*A qualifications.

1. Mathematics

Maths is not just recommended but essential for engineering. It underpins every aspect of the field, from the basic principles of algebra and calculus used in civil engineering to the complex algorithms behind software engineering.

Can I do Engineering without Maths A-Level?

It is highly unusual for engineering courses at top universities to accept students without A-level mathematics. The subject is considered foundational for the analytical skills required in engineering.

2. Physics

Physics offers a practical understanding of the principles that engineering builds upon. It's crucial for understanding mechanics, thermodynamics, and electrical circuits, which are integral to many engineering fields.

Can I do Engineering without Physics A-Level?

While some universities might accept students without A-level Physics for certain engineering courses, having it significantly boosts your application, especially for disciplines like Mechanical, Aerospace, and Electrical Engineering.

3. Chemistry

Chemistry is particularly relevant for Chemical and Materials Engineering. It provides a foundation in the molecular and compositional makeup of materials, crucial for creating new substances and improving existing ones.

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Complementary A-Level subjects for aspiring engineers

Further Mathematics

For those looking to excel in mathematics-intensive fields like Electrical or Aerospace Engineering, Further Mathematics offers an advanced understanding of mathematical concepts.

Design and Technology

This subject is useful for understanding the design process, from conception to execution, essential for Mechanical and Civil Engineers who need to materialise their ideas into tangible products or structures.

Computer Science

As the world becomes increasingly digitised, computing skills are essential across all engineering disciplines. This subject covers fundamental software development skills and computational thinking. It sets the foundation for using more complex software directly related to the profession.

Business Studies

Studying A-Level Business is always a good option, given that it will grant you knowledge of commerce and how to manage your own business, important in any profession.

Engineering students

Choosing your perfect combination of A-Levels: Main considerations

Your A-level choice for engineering must include Maths and Physics, as these two offer essential knowledge for the profession and are required by most (if not all) universities. It is advisable to choose the third subject based on the specialisation you seek to pursue and consider the entry requirements of your preferred universities. Let's delve deeper into these points.

University entry requirements

University A-Level Requirements Grades Requirements Others
Cambridge University Maths and Physics A*A*A
  • 62% of students took Chemistry as their third subject.
  • + ESAT (Engineering and Science Admission Test)
Oxford University Maths (or Further Maths) and Physics A*A*A
  • +PAT (Physics Aptitude Test)
  • Several 9 grades at science GCSEs are expected.
Imperial College London Maths and Physics A*A*AorA*AAA
  • Chemistry or Business can be taken as a third subject
  • First attempt pass is preferred, but retakes are accepted. Find out how to resit A-levels.
University of Manchester Maths and Physics A*A*A
  • Students with Further Maths could be considered without Physics
  • English GCSE with a minimum grade of C.
University College London Minimum of 100 UCAS points, combining any of the following certificates:
  • A-Levels (equivalent to A*A grades, or a minimum BCC)
  • International Baccalaureate
  • Access to Higher Education
  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma
  • others

Thinking of other career choices? Take a look at what A-levels you need to study Medicine.

Your preferred Engineering Specialisation

We know that the different engineering specialisations are quite different from one another and that you may want to know what A-levels are best for each of them, but the truth is that, at entry level, the requirements are similar for most of them. This means that Maths and Physics are the best choices for any engineering specialisation, and the third subject is up to you.

In the case of Software and Chemical Engineering, Computer Science and Chemistry A-levels can be a good third subject, respectively, as these are strongly related to these specialisations.

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Can I study Engineering without A-Levels?

The only way to enter Engineering school without A-levels is by having an equivalent certificate. Some universities accept students with an International Baccalaureate, BTEC or an Access to Higher Education Diploma. Having these certificates shows that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to face your upcoming studies.

Is Engineering an A-Level?

There is no specific Engineering A-level per se. Students looking to enter this profession start their journey with Maths and Physics A-levels, which set the foundation for the knowledge and skills they will later develop in university, and which are included among most entry requirements.

What GCSE and A-Levels do you need to be an IT Engineer?

The main two A-levels you need to be any kind of engineer are Maths and Physics. It is always advisable to have these subjects at GCSE level too. Specifically for IT Engineering, we suggest taking a Computer Science A-level, as it will provide you with more specific knowledge in the area.

Which subject is best for Engineering?

The main two subjects for Engineering are Maths and Physics, as they are strictly necessary for your career in the area. These are often combined with Chemistry, as it offers knowledge in material composition, also important for this profession.

What A-Levels for Mechanical Engineering?

Aside from being institutional requirements in most universities, Physics and Maths are of great use when looking for a degree in mechanical engineering. These two subjects will provide you with lots of necessary knowledge for this course. To take it to the next level, you can opt for Further Maths, which has a more intensive curriculum, but its content will be even more useful later.

What A-Levels do you need for Chemical Engineering?

Maths, Physics and Chemistry are the perfect combination for Chemical Engineering. These will teach you the necessary knowledge about chemical reactions in combination with their physical properties, and Maths will give you the necessary framework to perform all the necessary calculations involved.

What A-Levels for Civil Engineering?

Similarly to architecture, civil engineering involves the commercial construction of buildings and other landmark structures, which involves having a sense of business. That's why, it is a good idea to add Business Studies to the equation, in addition to Physics and Maths.

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