Physics (A Level)


Why should I study A Level Physics?

The dictionary definition of physics is “the study of matter, energy, and the interaction between them”, but what that really means is that physics is about asking fundamental questions and trying to answer them by observing and experimenting. 

Some of these are really big questions that include: 

• How did the universe begin? 

• What are the building blocks of matter? 

Others are more practical such as: 

• How does a transformer work? 

• Can it be made more efficient? 

If you think these questions are fascinating and you like solving problems, then you will love physics! 

Physicists try to uncover relationships through observing, creating mathematical models, and testing them by doing experiments. In the lessons you will learn theories, do practical work, use computer simulations and more. We have three well equipped labs with access to computers and a wide range of equipment. 

Do I need to also study A Level Mathematics alongside A Level Physics?

Yes. The Mathematical equations used in Physics often look far more complicated than they really are. Nevertheless, if you are going to study Physics, you will need to also take A Level Mathematics. The A Level Mathematics course includes the study of algebra, trigonometry and mechanics - all important to Physics.

And extra activities? 

Physics students have enjoyed a trip to the Large Hadron Collider in recent years as well as visits to the Physics at Work day in Cambridge and an Engineering experience day in London. The department supports students with the Physics Olympiad, PAT, AS Physics Challenge and Nuffield Research placements which lead to Gold Crest Awards. Students can also do Physics or Engineering based EPQs in their second year. 


Course Content

The first year of the course consists of four units: 

1. Development of Practical Skills in Physics - Over the year you will develop a portfolio of practical write-ups as you learn to accurately measure and record data and build your practical skills.

2. Fundamental Data Analysis - This module explores using experimental data, interpreting graphs and drawing valid conclusions from data. 

3. Physics in Action - This module will answer questions such as: How does 3D cinema work? How can we get pictures from Mars? What are semiconductors and how can we use them? 

4. Understanding Processes  - In this module you will explore how to survive a car crash, how and why things move, what is light and how can an electron be in two places at once? 

Progression onto Year 2 

Progression to the second year of this A Level course will be dependent on having made satisfactory progress in the first year of the course, including achieving at least an E grade in a formal late spring assessment, as well as the maintenance of a good level of attendance and commitment throughout the year.

The second year of the course follows logically from the first year, but there is an increase in the mathematical demands. 

5. Rise and Fall of the Clockwork Universe:

This module starts to answer the big questions

  • What is gravity? 
  • What is the evidence for the Big Bang? 
  • Is it true that time can speed up and slow down? 
  • How can we predict random events? 

6. Field and Particle Physics: 

This module continues to look at forces and explores electricity and magnetism. You will also delve into the fundamental nature of things and discover the world of sub atomic particles, quarks and gluons and why does E=mc2? 

Final Assessment at end of Year 2

At the end of the 2nd Year students will do three exams covering all the theory and practical skills from all modules 1-6. 

In addition they will achieve a practical endorsement if their portfolio of work shows the necessary development.


Minimum Entry Criteria

Standard College entry requirements (as detailed on page 12 of the Prospectus) and a minimum of:

 Grade 7

 GCSE Mathematics

AND

 

 Grade 6

Both 1st and 2nd grade GCSE Combined Science                                                     

OR

If triple science is taken

 Grade 6


GCSE Physics (also with 6 in either GCSE Biology or Chemistry)                                                       

 

 

Please note that GCSE Applied Science or Level 2 BTEC Science qualifications are not acceptable as alternative GCSE science qualifications for A Level Physics. All students need to study A Level Mathematics alongside A Level Physics.

Students who achieve a grade 6 at GCSE Mathematics will be considered if they pass an algebra test taken at enrolment. The algebra test is to check that students have mastery of the algebra work at GCSE. 


What can I do after studying A Level Physics?

Physics students go onto study a range of degrees at university including physics, astrophysics and geophysics as well as engineering, aeronautics, computer science and mathematics. 

Physicists are highly sought after in the job market and career opportunities include working in the space industry designing satellites, treating cancers using radiotherapy, forecasting the weather as a meteorologist, doing research in a laboratory or working in the banking sector predicting financial highs and lows.