FAQ’s

Q. The science we learn at school doesn’t seem to be all that important to everyday life. Is science really that important?

Yes, science is extremely important in everyday life and it helps us live the way we do. Some things that we take for granted wouldn’t be possible without the crucial role of science. For example:

  • New mobile phone and internet technology
  • Developments in more environmentally friendly transport e.g. biofuels
  • Producing new medicines and vaccines to treat diseases
  • Having enough food due to improvements in crop production
  • Protecting the environment from global warming and climate change

Find out more about the role science plays in our lives.

Q. Are science and maths any harder than other subjects?

Science and maths are sometimes thought to be harder than other subjects, however, they are fascinating subjects that enable us to understand and make sense of the world around us. The rewards of studying science and maths are also very good indeed since qualifications in these subjects will increase your options and will open up the job market for you. Companies regard science subjects very highly, so they are certainly worth any extra work. It is also worth bearing in mind that achieving further qualifications in science or maths subjects may bring greater financial rewards in future employment when compared to other subjects, so you could even view your hard work as an investment.

Q. I’m choosing my GCSEs and I’m a bit unsure about which ones to choose. What are the best subjects to choose if I want to study science after I’m 16?

There are several options at GCSE but if you intend to study science after you’re 16, then you should consider either studying the three separate sciences – chemistry, physics and biology – or the Applied Science Double Award.

You can ask your teachers or careers adviser for more information or go to: GCSE science options.

Q. The new science GCSE options seem confusing. Can’t I take just one science GCSE?

You have several options at GCSE. You can take Core Science along with either Additional General Science or Additional Applied Science. Alternatively you can take three separate sciences – chemistry, physics and biology – or the Applied Science Double Award. If you’d like to continue with science after your GCSEs, then you should look at doing one of the second two options.

You can ask your teachers or careers adviser for more information or go to: GCSE science options.

Q. Do I need a good grade in maths to study science?

Maths is important to understanding and studying most areas of science. Chemistry, physics and engineering subjects all use maths to some extent.

Read more information about how useful and important maths is.

Q. I’m good at maths at school, but I don’t know where it would be useful in a career. Can you help?

Maths can be useful for virtually all careers. It develops very valuable skills and could be used for example in computer games design, working in IT, medical research, weather and climate forecasting, car design and aerodynamics, accountancy or finance.

Read more information on careers using maths.

Q. I like science but I wouldn’t want to spend all my time in a lab. Are there any careers using science subjects where I wouldn’t need to spend all my time in the lab?

There are plenty of careers using science subjects where you wouldn’t need to spend any time in a lab. A science degree can provide you with a whole range of useful skills such as team working, problem solving, communication, numeracy and analytical skills, which are all highly valued by all sorts of employers. For example, as a scientist you could end up working in law, journalism, media and film production, or even in photography.

 

Take a look at just some of the different things you could do with science.

Q. I like to watch sport and I cycle a lot and play football. Are there any careers where I can combine my interests in science and sport?

There certainly are. Scientists are very much involved in helping to improve sporting performance and may be involved in everything from nutrition, to physiotherapy, sports science and training, through to developing new materials or equipment for sports such as cycling, skiing and sailing.

For more information on specific careers, you could search for resources through this page.

Q. I’d like to be an engineer when I get older. Do I need to be good at chemistry, physics and maths?

A good grounding in chemistry, physics and maths is important if you want to study to be an engineer, with the key subject being maths, as this is central to much of engineering. However, it will depend on which area of engineering you want go into. For example, if you want to be a chemical engineer, chemistry is essential, or if you want to be an aerospace engineer physics is very useful. Each of the science subjects will give you valuable skills that you will need as an engineer.

For more information go to the Tomorrow’s Engineers website.

Q. I’m very interested in the environment and looking after the planet. How can I help using a science qualification?

Science is at the forefront of looking after the planet and protecting our environment. Developing alternative environmentally friendly fuels or combating the effects of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions and limiting global warming require a good understanding of science. The skills that scientists gain help to make our planet a better place to live.

For more information you could explore these websites:

Q. If I want to be a nurse, or to work in healthcare, do I need to go to university?

There are actually many ways in which you can qualify or become registered as a nurse. For instance, you could work your way up from being a healthcare assistant (which may not require any qualifications), and progress to apply for a place on a degree course at university or a diploma course, or you can begin your professional study after gaining your A levels. Degree courses take three or four years and are half theory and half practical. Full time diploma courses take three years; the first year is a foundation programme that introduces you to the basic principles of nursing – you then specialise in either adult, children’s, mental health or learning disability nursing.

For more information go to Step into the NHS or NHS Careers.

Q. I love playing on my computer and would like to design computer games when I get older. What sort of qualifications do I need?

A computer games designer devises new computer games and defines the way the game is played and the ‘game experience’, which may include design and specification writing. There are no set requirements for this job, but the majority of computer games designers have a degree. Most degree subjects are acceptable, but the following are particularly relevant:

  • BA (Honours) Computer Arts
  • BSc (Honours) Computer Games Technology
  • BA in Computer Animation

The usual requirements for a degree are at least two A levels/three H grades and five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications, but candidates are advised to check with individual institutions.

For more information go to National Careers Service or Prospects websites.

It is also possible to get in by doing an Apprenticeship. For more information go to: Apprenticeships.