Factors Affecting A-level and Undergraduate Subject Choice in Physics and Chemistry by Ethnic Group

Anne Wilkin, Jennie Harland, Iain Springate, Pippa Lord

01 May 2008

the summary report

In 2006, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and the Institute of Physics (IOP) found that certain black and ethnic minority (BME) students are disproportionately lost from physics and chemistry to alternative subjects and career paths (Elias et al., 2006). The RSC and the IoP commissioned NFER to investigate the influences on BME students' subject and career choices with regard to chemistry and physics through a qualitative study.

The study revealed a need to: increase BME students' (especially females) enjoyment of studying physics and chemistry at school, and to illustrate the relevance of the subjects to everyday life; provide comprehensive information to BME young people and their families regarding the range of options available to physics and chemistry graduates, the quality of such career options; highlight role models that show ethnic diversity amongst those people employed in physics and chemistry-related careers.

This is the final report and summary from the study.


Elias, P., Jones, P. and McWhinnie, S. (2006). Representation of Ethnic Groups in Chemistry and Physics: a Report Prepared for the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Physics (online). Available: http://www.ioppublishing.co.uk/activity/policy/Publications/file_8863.pdf (10 April, 2007).