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STEM subjects: what are they and why study them?

STEM subjects: what are they and why study them?

Students in a lab


STEM has been a bit of a buzzword in education over the decade or so. It's an educational approach, and stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. These are all subject areas that form the basis of a huge range of careers, as well as important skills that the world needs more of.

There are so many benefits to studying STEM subjects at school and university. They can lead to so many amazing careers and opportunities in the future (some may surprise you!). In this blog, we'll be talking all things STEM; from subjects, skills, and higher education to career prospects and opportunities.

STEM subjects

STEM isn't limited to Science, Technology etc; think of these more as categories. At school, there are various different subjects that fall in to STEM. These include the obvious: Maths and Science. But also:

  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Geography
  • Design & Technology
  • ICT
  • Computer Science
  • Economics

STEM skills

Studying STEM subjects equips you with important skills. These skills not only set you up for future opportunities, but can help you in your other subjects as well as in your day-to-day life. STEM students and professionals are trained to be:

  • Critical thinkers
  • Problem solvers
  • Creative workers who think 'outside the box'

The last skill is particularly important, and one that you might not initially associate with STEM. But creativity is a huge part of pretty much any STEM subject; it takes a creative thinker to be able to solve problems, whether it's a maths equation or a scientific hypothesis. Think about careers like architecture, which depends on both the analytical and technical skills of maths as well as the creativity and ingenuity of art.


The creative aspect is so important, that there is even a campaign at the moment to change the acronym from 'STEM' to 'STEAM'. This aims to formally incorporate the arts in to the STEM model, including visual and performance arts like dance, writing, drama, photography, design, etc.

Supporters of STEAM argue that it makes STEM more accessible to different kinds of learners. Others believe that it can encourage more girls to take up STEM subjects, as women are underrepresented in the majority of STEM careers. Above all, though, it attempts to bring creativity and the arts to the forefront of education along with STEM, and demonstrate how they are equally valuable to today's children and our future workforce.

Learn more about the benefits of art education for young people

STEM careers

As mentioned above, there's a huge variety of careers out there that require STEM skills. And, because of the skills shortage, there are plenty of jobs on offer in a lot of these sectors. Here are just a few STEM careers to choose from:

  • Dentistry
  • Medicine
  • Accountancy
  • Civil Engineering
  • Web Development
  • Architecture
  • Marine Biology
  • Climate Science
  • Automotive Engineering

Some of these careers, like dentistry, medicine and marine biology, require university degrees. If you're interested in any of these careers, you're best doing a bit of research and find out exactly what to study and what grades you need to get there.

You don't need to go to university for all STEM careers, though. Nowadays, lots of companies are offering higher and degree apprenticeships. You'll need to apply with your A-Levels, but you'll train in the workplace instead of studying for a university degree. You'll also be working towards academic and vocational qualifications at the same time.

Why study STEM (or STEAM)?

There's currently a skills shortage in STEM here in the UK, which is why there's a big push for young people to go in to STEM education. And for good reason too! These skills are crucial for the country's economy, and if the shortage continues we might struggle to meet important public and private needs, healthcare being one of the most important ones.

The world is changing rapidly, and as we rely more and more on science and technology, STEM is becoming increasingly important. Pursuing STEM is a brilliant way to go if you want to make a meaningful difference in the world. The world needs climate scientists to help tackle climate change, chemical engineers to develop new medicines and treatments, and biologists to protect our Earth's wildlife, to name just a few. Find out what other STEM careers are out there.

Another major incentive is that STEM pays well! UK Business Insider found that the top 10 degrees that lead to the highest paying jobs were all STEM subjects. Civil engineering graduates can expect to earn an average of £45,000 per year, for example.

Online STEM courses with My Online Schooling

If you're interested in studying STEM subjects from home, My Online Schooling offers a range of options that follow the English National Curriculum:

KS2 & KS3:

  • Computing
  • Geography
  • Maths
  • Science

International GCSE:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Double Award Science
  • Computer Science
  • ICT
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Mathematics

International A-Level:

  • Maths
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Geography

Find out more

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