Informed Choices

Russell Group admissions teams often find that students have limited their chances of applying to our universities because they’ve not chosen their A-level or equivalent subjects well. That’s why the Russell Group has published a guide to help students make those choices.


Informed Choices, which brings together expert advice from careers advisors and admissions professionals at Russell Group universities, takes students and their advisors through their options by showing how A-level subject choices have an impact on which degrees will be open to students. The guide identifies which A-level subjects leave the most options open for students – the ‘facilitating subjects’. The facilitating subjects are maths and further maths, physics, biology, chemistry, history, geography, modern and classical languages, and English literature.

A range of other subjects are also identified as being essential or useful for particular undergraduate courses. For example, for general engineering degrees, mathematics and physics are typically essential A-level qualifications, but other useful A-level qualifications include further maths, design technology and computing/ computer science.

“It is so disheartening when young people with huge potential want to apply to a Russell Group university but discover too far down the line that they haven’t studied the A-level subjects the university requires for the course,” said Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group.

“Our consistent advice is that taking two facilitating subjects will keep a wide range of degree courses and career options open. This is because these are the subjects most commonly required by our universities and hundreds of courses require one or more facilitating subjects.”

Universities work extensively to provide their own detailed information and advice about subject choices and specific entry requirements, but the strength of the Informed Choices guide is that it brings this information together into one accessible format. As a result, the guide is used widely in schools as a resource in their options evenings and it is also used by Russell Group university outreach teams during their visits to schools. This is one of several examples where collaboration across institutions, in this case facilitated by the Russell Group, can really add value for students and teachers.

If you're looking for our full guidance the 2016/17 edition of Informed choices is now available at the For Students section of our website.

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