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The Subject

Physics is an intellectually rewarding subject, which will appeal to anyone interested in the physical world and the principles behind the remarkable technological developments of our era.

“God does not play dice” Albert Einstein

Physics is nothing less than an attempt to discover and explain the fundamental workings of the entire physical Universe – from the unimaginably small scale of "quantum strings", through to the world we know and live in, and out to the amazing enormity of distant galaxies and the strangeness of black holes.

This may sound dauntingly abstract, but every time you turn on a light bulb, catch a plane, use a computer, have an x-ray, surf the net, cross a bridge, wear glasses or open the fridge, you are benefiting from the practical results of the work of physicists. Our understanding of Physics has transformed the world we live in, and the technological development it drives can only accelerate in the coming years.

The course

For teaching from September 2015 onwards, with AS level exams in Summer 2016 onwards, and A level exams in Summer 2017 onwards.

Students will study sections 1 to 5 of the new AQA Physics AS level (specification 7407) in their first year, and then continue to study sections 6 onwards of the A level (specification 7408) in their second year if they choose.

AS level content                                            

  1. Measurements and Errors                        
  2. Particles and Radiation                          
  3. Waves                                                       
  4. Mechanics and Materials                         
  5. Electricity

A level content

1   Measurements and Errors                                         

2  Particles and Radiation                                        

3  Waves 

4  Mechanics and Materials

5  Electricity

6  Further Mechanics and Thermal Physics

7  Fields and their Consequences

8  Nuclear Physics

 one option of either:

9  Astrophysics or

10 Medical Physics or

11 Engineering Physics or

12 Turning Points in Physics or

13 Electronics.

In the Summer of their first year they will take the two AS level exams, on sections 1 to 5, and be awarded an AS level grade, which they keep, even if they continue to the A level.

If they choose to continue to the A level, in the Summer of their second year they will take the three A level exams, on all sections, and be awarded an A level grade based on these alone (their AS level results do not count towards this).

The exams in both years are a mixture of multiple-choice, short-answer and long-answer questions, but the A level questions are of a harder nature.

Practical work

At AS level, there are six specified experiments they must have done during the year, and the written exams will ask questions about them.

At A level, there are a further six specified experiments to be completed during the second year. In addition, the teacher will assess how the students have conducted and documented the experiments, and if these are to a satisfactory standard, an additional “pass” grade will be awarded.

Clearly, studying the subject at AS/A level opens the door to an immense and interesting range of work and university options. Computer Science, Medical Physics, all Engineering possibilities, Acoustics and Recording, Telecommunications, Archaeology and Astronomy are some of the more straightforward paths – but skills in both logical and inventive thinking that a student will learn from the course make Physics a valuable qualification for many more options – such as Economics, Law, Philosophy and Business.

Physics makes a good companion to all other science subjects and a stimulating complement to Arts, Business and Language courses. The course is open to anyone with GCSE Maths and Physics. We recommend that students also study Maths to at least AS level, although this is not absolutely necessary.

Preferred Board: AQA

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