Why study Physics?

Physics is the physical science that attempts to describe how nature works using the language of mathematics. It is often considered the most important of all the natural sciences, and its theories attempt to explain phenomena ranging from electricity to stars, quantum theory and radiation, using ideas such as forces and energy.

What will we study in year 1?

The AQA Physics course covers the core physics required for the A level student, and also includes interesting, modern topics that help pupils to understand and contextualise the development of physics theories over time.  

The following topics are studied in year 1:

- Measurements and their errors

- Particles and radiation

- Waves

- Mechanics and energy

- Electricity

What will we study at in Year 2?

The following topics are studied in year 2:

- Further mechanics and thermal physics

- Fields

- Nuclear physics

As the optional module we also study

-  Engineering physics

How is our learning assessed at A2?

The following units are assessed in the following way:

Paper 1: Year 1 content (34%)

Paper 2: Year 2 content (34%)

Paper 3: Practical skills, data analysis and Engineering physics (32%)

Paper 3 focuses on the techniques and methods of collecting, analysing and interpreting data from the 12 required practical investigations across the two year course. Each of these will be assessed using AQA CPAC criteria leading to the overall practical endorsement.

Required Practical Investigations:

1. Stationary waves on a string

2. Young’s double slit experiment

3. Determination of gravity by a free-fall method

4. Investigation of Young’s modulus

5. Resistivity of a wire

6. Investigation of emf and internal resistance of electric cells

7. Simple pendulum and mass-spring systems oscillating in Simple Harmonic Motion

8. Investigation of Boyle’s law and Charle’s law for a gas

9. Charging and discharging of Capacitors.

10. Investigating of magnetic flux

11. Flux linkage and search coils

12. Inverse-square law for gamma rays

Which subjects complement a study of Physics?

Many of the topics contain a great deal of mathematical content, and whilst A Level maths is not required to understand this content, studying this subject also is a huge advantage. A strong background in mathematics at GCSE is a must as the second year of physics covers content such as exponential equations, logarithms and manipulating complex formulae.

Some of the content also overlaps with the chemistry and biology curricula. Studying these subjects alongside chemistry would be advantageous.

Physics is also often studied alongside Economics and Further Maths, but – as an AS or a full A level – it can give an analytical edge to any selection of subjects.

What could I do next with an A level qualification in Physics?

Physics is a very demanding A Level subject to take, and as a consequence is well respected and admired by prospective universities and employees. A Level physics is an essential qualification for a career in engineering, and is also very useful for medicine, veterinary science, and dentistry. It is also a very useful qualification for careers in economics, computing, mathematics, and finance.

Which skills will I be developing through studying Physics?

Studying Physics at A level allows you to develop a wide range of Key Skills that are required in future education and employment. In fact, there are few subjects at A level that cover such a wide range of transferable skills. Some of the skills that will be developed include:

Use of IT in data-logging experiments (downloading data from sensors to Excel documents)

Mathematical skills that are fundamental to the subject

Problem solving skills and the application of logic

Practical skills, and the ability to work with these independently

Literacy skills that are crucial to explaining the wide range of physics phenomena.­­

Are there any extra-curricular opportunities to support my study of Physics?

British Physics Olympiad

Students in Y13 will have the opportunity to take part in the British Physics Olympiad (BPhO), a competition held at the University of Leicester each year.

Particle Physics Cascade

Students will have the opportunity to prepare interactive presentations and/or videos/animations, to introduce some of the concepts of Particle Physics to other students in innovative and entertaining ways.

Smallpiece Trust

Students in Y12 and 13 will be encouraged to apply for engineering residential courses held throughout the year in many leading universities.

Odysseus Contest

The Odysseus contest challenges students to develop a project on space exploration, using their knowledge, creativity and critical thinking. Students will be invited to form a team of 2 to 5 members, with a teacher as a coach and prepare and submit a project in one of the contest’s categories: i) Solar System, ii) Spaceship – global cooperation and iii) Co-evolution of life.

Young Engineers Competitions

Students will be encouraged to take part in a number of competitions available by the Young Engineers organisation. Current competitions include The Renishaw Engineering Experience and the Intel ISEF.

Nuffield Research Placements

Students will have the chance to work alongside professional scientists on a research project for four weeks during the summer holiday. Students will have the opportunity to learn new skills, get hands-on experience of a professional research environment and an insight into the careers available in their chosen field.

Crest Award Support

A group of Y10 and Y11 students will work on their Silver Crest Science Awards, with the help of their science teachers and experienced 6th form students who have more experience in their studies. Organised by the British Science Association, the Award gives pupils the chance to choose, plan and carry out a project of their choice.

Primary Science Assistance

KSA Primary classes will often use the middle and upper school laboratories to get a taste of real science. Y12 and 13 pupils are expected to volunteer to help out with the activities. It’s a valuable, enjoyable experience and is something else to add to your CV.

What are the KSA requirements for entry onto the course?

You must have achieved at least ABB in Triple Science GCSE.

You must have achieved at least AB in Double Science GCSE.