Last week, a student came to see me and asked why KYUEM didn't offer Philosophy as an A Level subject as this was something he was considering reading at University next year. I pointed out that we have many aspiring lawyers at the college but we don’t offer Law as an A level subject, either. In nearly all cases, we take our lead from the (mainly British) Universities to which most of our students apply. These institutions are usually quite choosy about subject combinations. The London School of Economics (LSE) for example, is very specific about choices: if you want to study Economics at LSE, you must offer Further Maths and Maths at A Level, as well as Economics itself.
For students wishing to take Law or Philosophy, we recommend that at least one of their A Level subjects should be something which involves extensive writing such as English Literature or History. Since much of the work of a lawyer or philosopher requires good analytical skills, Mathematics is always a good subject option, too. The truth is that Law and Philosophy at A level are not highly regarded by UK Universities. They prefer other disciplines as preparation for more in-depth study of the subject at degree level.
Subjects offered at A Level change over time. Some disappear from the curriculum altogether (or are only offered in specialised schools) while new ones emerge to challenge the more traditional courses. Many years ago, when I was taking my A Levels in the UK, foreign languages were very common and even Latin and Ancient Greek were not unknown. Colleagues in the UK these days tell me that Mandarin is an up-and-coming subject, whereas French and German are seriously in decline. Latin has all but disappeared, which means that the Classics departments of major Universities such as Cambridge have to work hard to recruit sufficient students every year.
At KYUEM next semester, we hope to offer Marine Science for the first time. We are fortunate in having a very keen teacher, Mr. Vroege, who wishes to promote it, while one of our Biology teachers, Dr. Saunders, has a Ph.D. in this very subject. Whether Marine Science will appeal to many students is not yet clear, but the course is ready and so are the teachers if the demand is there. It is likely to appeal to students who want a more general science course than the specialism of Chemistry, Physics or Biology. Indeed, I am reliably informed that Marine Science contains elements of all the so-called “hard” sciences and is therefore, a good, general alternative.
I’d like to close my blog post this week by reminding any potential applicants to KYUEM that the deadline for submissions is May 31, 2014, but that we are happy to receive applications for August at any time from now on.