U of St. Andrews strength/size of majors?

I know that IR is a “popular” major, especially for kids from the US, and I’ve also heard that English is very well-regarded at StA. I’m curious about others - what are the top 5 majors? I’m most interested in UK rankings - which majors are the most highly ranked/selective? Also, where could I find information about how many kids are enrolled in each major? I’m just trying to get a feel for the relative selectivity, rigor & size of various majors at St Andrews.

Physics is very near the top. For size of program you might need to email. In chemistry there are about 80 first years.

So what are your goals?

My goals @PurpleTitan? I’m a parent and am curious about the questions that I asked above.

I would just go to the UK ranking sites and plug in the majors you are interested in.

as @VickiSoCal said, you can get amazingly detailed info online. For example, they put how many places there are in each course on the course pages.

Top 5 subjects…by # of students enrolled? by ranking compared to other UK unis? by selectivity?

A quick benchmark for ‘selectivity’ is to look at the ‘minimum’ and ‘typical’ offer. A course that requires A*AA at A level is ‘more selective’ than on that requires ABB, for example.

Rigor is harder to assess from a distance (not sure how you do that anywhere, really), and is somewhat in the eye of the beholder as well. For example, is English at Oxford rigorous? Not if you ask students in other subjects at Oxford, who compare what they see of the workloads. Yes, if you ask the English students at Oxford, who will point out that they are expected to read and analyze 100+ books each year.

OK great, that’s very helpful @collegemom3717. I’m not all that familiar with A-level scores so I didn’t really look at those. I have searched the league tables - is that where you find the # of students enrolled as well? I’m sorry if these are all obvious questions…

Very quick and dirty rule of thumb, think of an A at A level as a 5 on an AP in that subject and a B-> 4 (varies somewhat across universities). Most British people that I know are very emphatic that an A level is much harder than an AP. I will just say, however, that the students that I know who turn up with APs seem to hold their own with with students who have A levels…)(except further maths, but that’s a whole other story). @VickiSoCal can report on her daughter’s transition to Chem at StAs.

The St A’s website is more opaque than most of the UK ones (& I forget that every.single.time. Sigh). I’m not finding the usually admissions data tables for them- I’ll keep looking & post back when (if) I do. You might also find the university.which.co.uk site interesting.

Thanks again @collegemom3717. DD was accepted for Art History & French and is trying to figure out how many kids are in those majors and just the relative ranking of them. She was told that languages at StA are very difficult, so she may consider something else as she’s already fluent in French. (I’m not exactly sure why she chose it but that’s a story for another day I suppose ;-))

She can take Art History, French and one other module first year, no need to decide for sure what to focus on. Note that she will need to do well in her first year modules if she wants to change programs.

The top 5 most selective majors (in terms of 2017 offer rates for Home students) are:

  1. International Relations - 8.0%
  2. Management - 10.9%
  3. Economics and Finance - 11.5%
  4. Computer Science - 12.5%
  5. Modern Languages - 17.2.%

The top 5 most selective/popular majors by 2015 average entry tariff scores are:

  1. Mathematics - 583 UCAS points
  2. Management - 569 UCAS points
  3. Medicine - 553 UCAS points
  4. Physics and Astronomy - 552 UCAS points
  5. Economics and Finance - 551 UCAS points

And then see here for the Times and Sunday Times 2017 ranking on subjects and how St Andrews performs: https://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/earthsci/files/2016/09/Times-Sunday-Times-League-Table-Summary-2017.pdf (the doc says it’s for 2016 but it’s been mislabelled and is actually the 2017 guide)

Not too sure on the number enrolled in each major but IR/Econ/Management are the largest 1st year classes.

Also note that IR are the only classes that are restricted to student in the major. That is a first year English student could take English, History, Econ, but cannot take IR.

@VickiSoCal Nah, it’s possible for Arts students from other majors to take IR as a module (as long as they fulfil the pre-requisites e.g. have at least AAA at A Level).

Students who do not intend to take IR as their major, but want to take it as a module, have their applications read again and go through a ballot system.

It’s also not just IR which prohibit the number of students taking it as a module, but Film Studies as well.

She said her roommate was not allowed to take it because it was full? Maybe she lost in the lottery.

My kid has only and it looks will only, ever take chemistry and math. But most of her friends on her hall are IR, English, History, etc.

Interesting. Thank you @Capricancer1 & @VickiSoCal. Now that DD has entered the decision phase of her college process (PHEW - so happy to have made it this far with my sanity largely intact), she is comparing her options based on areas of study and her “intended” major. Her interests & strengths are pretty broad, but humanities-focused. Lots to consider! Thank you!

Not sure why you’d think being fluent in French was reason NOT to study it at university? If anything, it’s more a prerequisite. You certainly can’t just start up studying a new language at a UK university. Her fellow linguists will have an A Level in the language they are planning to study.

It varies - you can certainly study some languages from scratch, although French is one of the less usual ones to allow this. Similarly you can go in as a native speaker, and it won’t necessarily be as much as an advantage as you might think. (A friend teaches another language at a UK university and her students are a mix of A level candidates, ab initio (who do an extra year on their degree), and native speakers (who often struggle with translation work bc their English isn’t native).

French at a UK university isn’t just about the actual language skills - you’ll also be studying the literature and culture.

My daughter has some friends doing French with Chemistry which means you take some Chemistry in French your second year. As you might imagine this is French at a completely different level than one would learn in high school.

I assume comment #15 is directed toward me @Tigerle? I wasn’t saying that because she’s fluent in French, she doesn’t have more to learn - we all know that’s not the case with any language :wink: But we spent quite a few years living in France and my daughter attended a French school (not an international school - French-system). So her hesitation about majoring in French maybe has more to do with exploring a new subject. Art History + French seems like a logical combination of course, but she may combine AH with something else. She was there last week for a visit, and had a great conversation with the Art History faculty. They had some good ideas for alternatives to French, if she decides to go that route & swap it for something else.

One thing that I think cannot be emphasized enough, at least on the social science/humanities type majors, is how much outside reading is necessary in order to get good grades. I don’t think US high school, even a rigorous IB program (which my son did), prepares you for it. And the outside reading, at least for a History major (like my son), is expected to be 10 to 15 hours a week, per class. Obviously, that can vary and can decrease as a student learns to selectively heavy skim, etc., but the point is that the student has to take the lead on it. The History professors do provide suggested reading lists (the shortest I saw was 10 pages, the longest was 20something pages). Yes it helps only having 3 classes per semester, but it’s a lot of work to put yourself in position to get the good grades.