Education: A-Z of A Levels - Electronics

Article excerpt

What is it? It's the study of analogue and digital electronics - the very stuff of modern society and all the electronic systems that run it or help it to communicate. Computer operating systems, security systems, music technology, mobile phones, cybernetics or the humble laser- guided spirit level in your DIY store, the list goes on and on, and they all need electronics.

Why do it? Because you like up-to-the-minute technology, are fascinated by the application of electronic systems, and get a kick out of developing newer and better ones.

What skills do you need? At least a C in electronics at GCSE. Maths and physics will also help. So will a keen interest in electronic gizmos.

How much practical work is there? Lots. Every piece of theory can be demonstrated by a practical exercise, and the coursework is entirely practical. You might make an electronic combination-lock or an infra-red control device. One boy made a guitar and amplifier mixer, and composed a song to demonstrate it. He got an A grade.

Ratio of coursework to exams: 30:70

Is it hard? It's a very accessible subject, but you do have to be interested. The kinds of people that take it are really committed, and the subject gets high grades from its students. "I don't have to maintain an interest," says Stuart Wisher, chief examiner in electronics for AQA.

"I have to keep them within bounds so that they pick up the basics."

Who takes it? Mostly boys, with a wide range of abilities. …