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Undergraduate Study


Are you 14 years old, or older, and starting to think about university? We‘re here to help you choose the subjects you should study at school to prepare for studying at Cambridge.

A level and International Baccalaureate (IB) subject combinations you choose to study at high school, sixth form or college could have an impact on what you can study at university.

How many A levels or IB subjects should you take

You should take at least 3 A levels or 6 IB subjects. These are standard entry requirements for most undergraduate courses in the UK.

If you aren’t taking A levels or IB, find out more about the other qualifications that we accept.

If you know which course you'd like to study

Find the course you’re interested in. Take a look at the entry requirements section to see which high school subjects are recommended and which you need to have. You should also check to see what grades we expect you to achieve.

If you aren’t taking A levels or IB, the subject requirements for your course will still apply. For example, if Mathematics is a required subject for your course, we would expect you to be taking an appropriate Mathematics qualification.

If you're not sure which course you want to study

If you want to keep your options open, we recommend that you take A levels and IB Higher level subjects that go well together. Choose subjects that you’re passionate about, and which interest you the most.

It’s good to have some idea of the subject or area you’d like to study at university. This is because arts and humanities courses have different entry requirements to maths and science ones.

Best A level subjects and combinations if you’re interested in arts, social science or humanities courses at Cambridge

Arts, social science and humanities courses at Cambridge include Archaeology, Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, History, Modern and Medieval Languages, Economics, Education, Music, Human, Social, and Political Sciences, and Law. You can find a full list of courses on our courses page.

We recommend that you choose 2 of these A levels:

  • English Literature
  • a language, such as French, German, Spanish or Latin 
  • History
  • Mathematics, which is useful for many courses at Cambridge, including Law

Below are some examples of other relevant A level subjects you could take. Some of these are very important for particular courses at Cambridge.

  • An extra language
  • Ancient History
  • Classical Civilisation       
  • Economics 
  • Further Mathematics (if you are interested in Economics)
  • Geography
  • Politics
  • History of Art
  • Law
  • Music
  • Government and Politics
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies

Best A level subjects and combinations if you’re interested in Maths or Science courses at Cambridge

Maths and science courses at Cambridge include Mathematics, Natural Sciences (Physics, Biology, Chemistry), Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, EngineeringMedicine and Veterinary Medicine. You can find a full list of courses on our courses page.

We strongly recommend that you choose 3 of these A levels:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry, which is useful if you want to study Chemical Engineering, Biological Sciences or Medical Sciences
  • Physics
  • Mathematics
  • Further Mathematics, which is essential if you want to study Mathematics or Computer Science and very useful if you want to study Engineering, Economics, Chemical Engineering, or Natural Sciences (if you want to specialise in Physics). If your school doesn’t offer Further Mathematics and you live in England, you can join the Further Mathematics Support Programme.

Less helpful A levels and IB subjects

Undergraduate courses at Cambridge are more academic than vocational. Vocational courses are more practical and hands on, while academic courses are more traditional and focus on theory.

If you want to study at Cambridge it’s less useful to choose:

  • Vocational A levels and IB subjects related to a specific profession or career, such as Business, Health, Photography, Performing Arts, Travel and Tourism, and Media Studies.
  • A level Critical Thinking and Key Skills. We don’t count these subjects as an A level, but you could take it as your fourth subject.

If you're not taking A levels or IB

Find out more about the different qualifications that we accept, combining qualifications, and any requirements that you may need to meet.

Check our entry requirements.

Other things to consider

We don’t just look at which A levels or subjects you’ve studied. We look at other things you’ve been doing too, such as extra reading about the subject you’re interested in or taking part in activities related to it.

Find out how to make a great application to Cambridge.