Choosing Your Subjects


How Many A Levels or BTECs will you take?

Most students take three full time Advanced Level subjects. You will be asked to choose three main subjects at application. You can add a fourth subject, which you may take as part of your course.  Whether you take 3 or 4 will depend on your results at GCSE.  The subjects you choose can be made up purely of A Levels, Vocational courses or a combination of both.

Choosing your course

You have a great choice of 40 Advanced Level subjects at Holy Cross, but it's important to choose the right ones. We want you to enjoy your time here, and to give you the best chances of getting onto your preferred university course or career. When choosing a subject, try asking yourself these questions:

  1. Have you been good at and enjoyed the subject in the past?
  2. Do you have a strong interest in the subject and, if you haven’t studied it formally before, have you researched it and made sure that it will suit your strengths and interests?
  3. Do you need particular subjects to access a specific university or degree course (you’ll find details on the UCAS website and the university's website, and staff here can also help you)?
  4. Do you have a particular course and university you are interested in? 
  5. If so, have you checked that these subjects would be acceptable?

The last question above may be of particular importance; all our Level 3 qualifications are widely accepted by universities, but because there are some differences between our courses, there may be a small number of universities that will not accept specific qualifications for certain programmes. If you have a particular university or course in mind, we recommend you research the requirements in detail on that university website, to check your subject choices are appropriate.  This is something we encourage students to be particularly proactive about as the number of courses and related conditions are such that the College cannot be certain of all requirements.  Students are advised to take some ownership of this.

Are you considering an application to Oxbridge?

It is always important to have discussions relating to the 'right advanced level subjects to take', particularly if you are thinking of an application to Oxbridge.  Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge have a section on their website where they are quite explicit about the A levels and qualifications they want and don't want.  Although every college at Oxford and Cambridge is slightly different it would be sensible to consider the information they share here: Subject choice guidance | Lucy Cavendish (  For further information on which subjects to choose for Oxford and Cambridge, please access the respective links here: Oxford and Cambridge

'Facilitating' subjects?

The Government has in the past referred to some subjects as ‘facilitating’ subjects. They are: Maths, Further Maths, English Literature, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, History and Languages (Modern and Classical).

Russell Group universities, which are the most competitive, no longer use a list of ‘facilitating’ subjects in their subject recommendations, although it is sensible for students to look at to help select the right subjects for them.

English and Maths GCSE

If you start at Holy Cross without a GCSE pass at grade 4 in Maths or English Language we will require you to re-sit the GCSE or take another appropriate qualification, as it will be important for you in later life and for university entries.  If however, you do not gain a grade 4 in either Maths or English Language, we reserve the right not to enrol you on a Level 3 programme and would discuss the posibility of a 'Progression Year' course with you. 

Useful Links

Russell Group of Universities


Page Downloads Date  
Taking 4 subjects 29th Mar 2023 Download
Entry Requirements Table 2024 19th Sep 2023 Download