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. Modern experimentation relies on the use of electronic systems, the world we live in is more and more based on technology powered by electronic systems, so the study of Electronics is useful in its own right and as a complement to Physics.
At the college we have an experienced team of Physics and Electronics staff. There are three well equipped Physics labs as well as a dedicated Electronics room with individual workstations containing all the equipment necessary to build, test, and analyse electronic circuits. In your time at college you will have opportunities to use a wide range of equipment including electronic sensors and data logging, video tracking, computer simulations and more.
The department aims to offer opportunities for all students to reach their potential and move onto the next step. Whether it is attending a talk given by a university or STEM ambassador or coming to an engineering experience day, visiting CERN or applying for a Nuffield research placement; the department aims to help you decide on your way forward. A significant number go on to study Physics or Engineering at university and we have an excellent record of helping students get into Oxbridge. A growing number are also applying for apprenticeships.
The department is rightly proud of its students’ successes in the AS Physics challenge and the Physics Olympiad. But we also recognise the need to support all students and have a thriving peer mentoring system to offer help and encouragement. First and foremost we want you to enjoy your time with us and we all feel that learning should be enjoyable and challenging. We pride ourselves on the support that we offer and that every student that asks for assistance will be given it.
Courses Offered by the Department
Our A Level Physics takes a context-led approach to the course. You will be introduced to a wide variety of topics showing physics in action early in the course to encourage curiosity in the subject. You will learn about fundamental physical concepts and how to apply these in everyday and technological settings. The course demonstrates the usefulness of physics and illustrates the impact that discoveries in physics have had on the way people live. Across the two years you will use physics to answer a range of questions from the very large – how did the big bang lead to the growth of the universe? to the very small – how is new matter created in the Large Hadron Collider? From the everyday – how fast can you send data over the internet? to the unimaginable – can a particle really be in two places at once?
Practical tasks are a key part of a physicist’s work; the course will teach you how to collect and interpret data using both manual and electronic equipment. This work leads to you designing and carrying out your own research experiment in the second year.
By the end of the course you will be able to talk the language of physics using mathematics and technical vocabulary to describe and explain how the world works. The course is ideal for anyone wishing to study physics or astrophysics at degree level but also engineering, computing, mathematics or any other technical subject.
You can choose to do Physics as part of the IB programme.
Despite the exciting and extraordinary development of ideas throughout the history of physics, observations remain essential to the very core of the subject. Models are developed to try to understand observations, and these themselves can become theories that attempt to explain the observations.
Through studying a science subject you will become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. While the scientific method may take on a wide variety of forms, the emphasis is on a practical approach.
You will have opportunities to design investigations, collect data, develop manipulative skills, analyse results, collaborate with peers and evaluate and communicate your findings.
In a modern technological world, electronic systems are becoming more and more commonplace. From mobile phones to toasters, robots to washing machines, these all present their own electronic design challenges. The A Level Electronics course equips students with the electronic and mathematical knowledge as well as electronic engineering skills to solve these problems. Students learn to appreciate how many problems in society can be tackled by the application of Electronics using engineering processes.
The course mixes theoretical work with practical examples allowing the students to put their theoretical knowledge into action and gain greater understanding of building and testing electronic systems including the use of microprocessors. In the second year of the course students complete a design task. This involves the analysis of a specific problem and designing a suitable system which is then built and tested. This work is done in a dedicated electronics laboratory with a fully equipped workstation for each student.
The course is ideal for students wishing to progress to a degree or training course in electronics, engineering, physics or other technical areas.
Please see our Courses page for full details of all the courses offered by the college.