Course: AS and A2

Why study Physics at A Level?

Are you the sort of person who wants to know how things work? Do you wonder about how the Universe came into being? Were you excited about Britain having its first astronaut in the international space station? Physics helps us understand everything from the tiniest particles that make up atoms to the future of the stars and planets. It is essential for analysing how things move, from cars to rockets.

If you want to build bridges and buildings that can withstand earthquakes you need physics. If you are interested in developing efficient energy systems to counteract climate change you should study physics. Physics is a very rewarding subject because it is very practical at the same time as being theoretically interesting and challenging. The skills you learn will be helpful in any other scientific field, and the knowledge you gain will enable you to make a thoughtful contribution on a wide range of topical issues. There is currently a skill shortage of physicists in Britain, so you won’t find it difficult to get a well-paid and interesting job if you study physics!

What will I gain?

  • You will understand how a physicist works, including some of the social, ethical and moral elements they need to consider.
  • You will develop practical skills and an appreciation of risk and error involved in experimentation.
  • You will develop a deeper understanding of how things like nuclear energy, electricity, magnetism and gravity work.
  • You will be able to discuss the origins and the future of our Universe.
  • You will develop mathematical skills that can be applied to explain the physical world.

What will I study on the course?

Topic 1 – Working as a physicist; you will learn how to communicate your understanding of physics in appropriate ways.

Topic 2 – Mechanics; you will learn how particles move under the influence of different forces.

Topic 3 – Electric Circuits; you will learn the rules that determine how electric current flows.

Topic 4 – Materials; you will learn how different factors affect the strength of a material.

Topic 5 – Waves and Particle Nature of Light; you will learn how light is sometimes analysed using particle theory, and sometimes using wave theory.

Topic 6 – Further Mechanics; you will learn how to do practical experiments to test how things move.

Topic 7 – Electric and Magnetic fields; you will learn how electricity and magnetism are related.

Topic 8 – Nuclear and Particle Physics; you will learn how new fundamental particles are discovered.

Topic 9 – Thermodynamics; you will learn about the relationship between pressure, volume and temperature in gases and what they can tell us about the origins of the Universe.

Topic 10 – Space; you will learn about the life cycle of the stars.

Topic 11 – Nuclear Radiation; you will learn about the energy inside atoms and how that can be used in nuclear power stations or nuclear medicine.

Topic 12 – gravitational Fields; you will learn about the fundamental forces between very small and very large objects.

Topic 13 – Oscillations; you will learn how a pendulum works and how important simple harmonic motion is.

How will I be assessed?

There are 3 written papers.

Paper 1 and Paper 2 are both 1hour and 45 minutes and are each worth 30% of the full A Level marks. Both papers cover Topic 1, working as a Physicist. As well as this Paper 1 covers Topics 2 to 6, and Paper 2 covers topics 7 – 13. Paper 3 is 2hrs and 30 min and makes up 40% of the total marks. It covers questions about the practical work you will do during the course.

As well as this there is a Practical Endorsement certificate which is based on your practical work and internally assessed. This does not affect your final grade but you do need to pass.

If you study A Level Physics you will take all of your exams at the end of Year 13.

If you choose to study AS Level Physics you will study the same topics as A Level students for the first year, and then sit two 90 minute papers each worth 50% of the total mark for AS Level. The papers will include questions about your practical work.