UK physics, maths, chemistry and biology A-level entrants 2001–16


What does this data show?

Since 2001, against comparable STEM subjects, physics has had consistently the lowest proportion of entrants (as a proportion of all entries) at A-level among UK students. All maths subjects (both maths and further maths) have consistently been the most popular comparable STEM subject, followed by biology and then chemistry. The proportions of entrants to A-level physics, chemistry and biology in the UK between 2001 and 2016 have followed similar trends, with entrants to all maths subjects following a different trajectory since around 2008.

A-level physics, chemistry and biology entries in 2016 remain at roughly the same proportions as they were in 2001. In 2001, 4.1% of A-level entrants entered physics, compared to 4.2% in 2016. For chemistry the proportions were 5.2% in 2001 and 6.2% in 2015 and for biology 7.0% in 2001 and 7.5% in 2016. All four subjects suffered a dip in their entry rates over a number of years in the mid-2000s (or a dip followed by A-Levelling out) and all of which have subsequently recovered. In all maths subjects however, there has been a sustained rise in the proportion of entrants every year since 2008, rising from 8.4% in 2007 to 12.7% in 2015.

The average proportion of physics entrants between 2001 and 2015 was 3.4%, compared to 5.4% in chemistry, 7.1% in biology and 9.8% in all maths subjects.

Raw data