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A-Level Physics

Physics at AS/A-Level is essentially an extension of Physics at GCSE, taking the same topics and extending them. This is achieved through a combination of adding some new ideas and using Mathematics to solve problems. Therefore, if you are enjoying Physics at GCSE and you enjoy Mathematics and you want to deepen your understanding of how the universe works, from the astronomical down to the sub-nuclear, then consider taking Physics in the Sixth Form.

Physics A-Level continues to be a highly respected qualification for those seeking to enter a wide range of professions. Its intellectual challenge is both its curse and its joy: Physics is not for the faint-hearted, but it is immensely rewarding for those who wish to apply their brain-power to abstract concepts. 

We currently have approximately 190 students taking Physics at this level. It combines well with the other sciences, but its closest relation is Mathematics. Indeed, we strongly recommend that you consider taking Mathematics to at least the same level if taking Physics in the Sixth Form, 40% of the A-Level course is based on mathematical skills. Students wishing to study this subject need to have attained at least a grade A in this subject at GCSE. Students confirm whether they will be sitting the AS examinations or continuing to the full A-Level in the first half of Year 12.

We follow the OCR GCE Physics A specification.

AS & A-Level

The AS course is examined via two written examinations, and the A-Level course via three examination modules. Students will confirm whether they will be sitting AS or continuing to A-Level in the first half of Year 12. Prescribed practical tasks have to be carried out during the course, and the students’ practical skills are examined in the written modules.  The course content is as follows:

  • Mechanics: both linear and circular motion, projectiles, Newton’s laws, energy and power, momentum, properties of materials including the Young modulus.
  • Electricity: more difficult direct current circuits and the introduction of alternating current, the magnetic effect of current and electromagnetic induction.
  • Quantum phenomena: photoelectric effect, energy levels and photon emission, wave particle duality.
  • Waves: including longitudinal and transverse waves, progressive and stationary waves, refraction, diffraction and interference.
  • Fields: the mathematics of electrostatic and gravitational fields, capacitors and magnetic fields.
  • Gases: the Gas Laws and how the kinetic theory of gases can explain how tiny molecules account for things like atmospheric pressure.
  • Nuclear Physics: how the structure of the atom has been uncovered, nuclear instability and nuclear energy.
  • Particle Physics: a study of the fundamental particles and the forces that bind them together.
  • Astrophysics: Lenses and telescopes, non-optical telescopes, classification of stars and cosmology.
  • Medical physics: physics of the eye and the ear, biological measurements, non-ionizing imaging and X-ray imaging.

Much of the above should be familiar from GCSE, the main differences tending to be the mathematical content and the difficulty of the problems and contexts. It’s challenging, but fun!

Enrichment

  • Trip to CERN.
  • Physics Olympiad (AS and A-Level)
  • PAT (Physics Aptitude Test) Preparation
  • Preparation for University Interviews
  • Physics and Engineering Society
  • Astronomy Society

Associated Careers

  • Armed forces
  • Astronomy
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Meteorology and Climate Change
  • Medicine
  • Nanotechnology
  • Oil and Gas
  • Renewable energy
  • Space exploration industries
  • Telecommunications