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What A-levels do you need to become a nurse?

Got your sights set on becoming a nurse or a midwife? If you're thinking of studying nursing at university, make sure your A-level line-up will tick all the right boxes.

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As a nurse you can specialise in different areas. These are:
  • adult nursing
  • paediatric nursing (specialising in children)
  • geriatric nursing (specialising in elderly people)
  • mental health nursing (specialising in looking after people with mental health issues)
  • district nursing (travelling around looking after a variety of people)

All of these usually require at least one science subject. As care and people skills are central to nursing, you may also find a social science useful.

Depending on your specialism, other qualifications may be handy. For example , psychology could be useful if you want to be a mental health nurse. Check into the entry requirements for your course so you can get an idea of what they’re after. 

The following requirements also apply to degrees in midwifery.

What A-levels are essential for studying nursing?

Courses usually ask for biology or another science.

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What A-levels are useful for studying nursing?

  • psychology
  • sociology
  • chemistry

What is CACHE?

CACHE offers a range of qualifications for those involved in early years education, childcare, and health and social care. 

Qualifications are awarded by the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education, and can be studied remotely. Although they aren’t a prerequisite for a nursing degree, you might find aspects of them useful. 

You can find out more on the CACHE website.

Other typical A-levels taken by current nursing students

  • general studies
  • health and social care
  • religious studies
Take a look at individual nursing and midwifery courses on The Uni Guide to find out the most popular subjects students studied before taking their degree. 

Do I need to be a nurse before I can train as a midwife?

No, you don’t need to be a nurse before you can train as a midwife. Midwifery and nursing are different qualifications, so you should think carefully about what will suit you before you choose a course.


A lot of nursing courses will also want you to do an interview as part of the admissions

Here’s what BeckyL55 on The Student Room had to say for advice:

My biggest piece of advice would be to keep in mind that the interviewer will expect you to be a little nervous but as long as you smile and always link everything back to the  6C’s of nursing you have as much a shot at it than anyone else

The 6Cs

The 6Cs are the framework of values behind all the care of health and social practice. These stand for:
  • Care
  • Compassion
  • Competence
  • Communication
  • Courage
  • Commitment
To see more about nursing, you can read the thread over on The Student Room. 

Examples of nursing degree requirements 

Below are a range of nursing courses offered by different universities and the A-level entry requirements they ask for for their September 2024 intake (as of 26 April 2024). You should always check entry requirements yourself before you apply for uni, but this will give you a good idea of what to expect. 

Bear in mind that many universities will make contextual offers for students who meet the eligibility criteria. These offers may have grade requirements close to or slightly below the typical offer.

Leeds Trinity University - Adult Nursing BSc (Hons): 112-136 Ucas points
"GCSEs in English Language or English Literature and Maths at grade C or 4 (or higher) will be required. Key Skills, Functional Skills, BTEC level 2 and the Certificate in Adult Numeracy/Literacy are accepted in place of GCSEs. Applicants can meet the required tariff points from a range of qualifications of which at least two must be level three qualifications."

University of Southampton - Nursing (Adult/Child): 'A,B,B. Preferably including a science or social science subject. A pass in the science practical is required where applicable.'

University of Sheffield - Adult Nursing: 'A-levels: B,B,B'

What else can I study that's similar to nursing? 

Similar subjects may have different A-level requirements to nursing, so if you want to keep your degree options open, be sure to check the entry requirements of specific courses before you finalise your choices.

Where could your A-levels take you?

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