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Physics

Why study Physics?

Physics is best studied by those who enjoy both experimenting (investigating, understanding and predicting events in the material world) and theorising (precise logical reasoning and problem-solving of an abstract kind, similar to that met in mathematics). The subject demands a high level of mathematical and written communication skills. If you wish to better understand the world around you Physics is the subject for you. At the end of the course you will be able to explain what the fundamental constituents of all matter that form everything on Earth are and why the Earth has an atmosphere and many other bodies do not.

Entry Requirements

7 in GCSE Physics or 7-7 in Combined Sciences. If taking Combined Science we would expect your mark in the Physics component to be of at least 7 standard. Although our A-level Physicists are not strictly required to take A-level Mathematics we would strongly advise pupils considering A-level Physics to include A-level Mathematics in their combination.

Course Outline

A-level Physics gives you the opportunity to study a core of key concepts in greater detail, some of which have been met at GCSE level. Over the course, a minimum of 12 core practicals will be carried out to develop and test practical competency for which you will keep a lab book.

The specific topics studied are:

Core

  • Measurements and their errors
  • Particles and radiation
  • Waves
  • Mechanics and materials
  • Electricity
  • Further mechanics and thermal physics
  • Fields and their consequences
  • Nuclear physics

Options

  • Astrophysics
  • Medical physics
  • Engineering physics
  • Turning points in physics
  • Electronics

The assessment involves six hours of terminal written papers which will be roughly divided into the following units:

  • Paper 1 – Measurements, Particles, Waves, Mechanics and Electricity (~35%)
  • Paper 2 – Thermal Physics, Fields and Nuclear Physics (~35%)
  • Paper 3 – Practical Skills and Data Analysis and Turning Points in Physics (~30%)

All papers will consist of a mixture of multiple choice, short open-response, extended open-response, calculations, data analysis, practical techniques and synoptic style questions.

A separate assessment of ‘practical competency’ assesses the ability of pupils in practical skills at A-level over a series of 12 core practicals. The Practical Grade will be reported as ‘Pass’ or ‘Not Reported’ but does not affect the overall A-level grade awarded.

Course Delivery

The Physics Department follows a strategy of flipped learning and this means that there is an expectation to pupils to complete a large degree of prior study (or preparation) before each lesson and a timetable is supplied for pupils to assist them in this. This allows lessons to be geared towards the higher end content and skills that are found in the course.

You will find that your lessons will be split largely between ones where you are practising, and improving, your problem-solving skills within the context of your current topic and others where you are completing practical work (including data analysis). We do not spend valuable lesson time making notes that can be found in your textbooks.

Higher Education and Career Opportunities

The Physics A-level is considered very valuable by all institutions and it can lead on to a wide number of degree choices. However, the most directly linked are courses in Physics, Engineering, Mathematics and Architecture. You will find Physicists occupying jobs in every conceivable field. This is because a Physics education develops both problem solving and analytical skills of a pupil. The majority of Physicists tend to go onto careers in Finance, Banking, Defence, Consultancy, IT and further research.

Contact for further information

Mrs L E Bailey, Head of Physics