The department is one of the smaller departments within the College. This means that you should be confident enough to ask anyone in the department for assistance. Physics have about 80 students in the second year and 170 in the first year of A level plus 10 IB Diploma students in each year group. We provide a high level of support for our students and this is offered formally and informally.

Physics and Electronics Overview

The Physics department is staffed by three full time Physics teachers. In addition we have 2 further qualified Physicists who make significant contributions to the teaching of the subject. Our physics technician is an ex-student and a graduate in natural sciences from Cambridge. He offers tremendous support to both staff and students. We pride ourselves on our enthusiasm for our subjects and we hope this is reflected in the classroom. We have nearly 200 AS/IB students. The majority carry on to the 2nd year and obtain excellent results at the end of their course. A significant number go on to study Physics or Engineering at university and we have an excellent record of helping students get into Oxbridge. 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 one to one support that we offer and every student that asks for assistance will be given it. It is a feature of the department that you will often find students and staff involved in debate at break, lunchtimes and after college! We have access to 3 well equipped laboratories and we offer lots of support materials on our intranet page.

In Electronics we have about 60 AS students and 30 A2 students. It is staffed by a full time head of department and a part time teacher. Electronics is a marriage of theory and practice and is a highly sought after engineering discipline. As such, Electronics is concerned with how to solve problems using modern day components and techniques. The laboratory is an open access, professional environment with individual testing equipment and computer support. Each workstation contains all the equipment necessary to build, test, and analyse electronics circuits. The laboratory is always available and students can use it at lunchtimes to work on individual projects.

So what are we like?

In physics you will find that we are all experts on life, the universe and (nearly) everything. We include two more than competent guitarists, one of whom runs the ‘Rock Workshop’ additional studies course.

Generally we all enjoy leaping about and endlessly philosophising on the nature of everything. We are dead passionate about our physics and electronics, which you will find out if you engage us in conversation about the subject (hours later you may get away!). Lots of us are keen cyclists although one has defected to the dark side and is now owns a motorbike. It’s all part of his mid-life crisis. One of us always wears a hat and is your first point of call if you need a complex spreadsheet devising. When not playing with Excel he can be found at the back of the prep lab devising crazy new ways to teach stuff.

We have Oxford and a Cambridge physics graduates in the department but we generally keep them a safe distance from each other! None of us has a corduroy jacket with elbow patches or a beard!

Courses Offered

OCR syllabus B ‘Advancing Physics’

This course was jointly developed by OCR and The Institute of Physics and was a natural successor to the Nuffield Physics course. It aims to give students a good grounding in traditional physics but also introduces some challenging ideas from modern physics including Feynman’s many paths theorem, quantum physics and relativity. It has dedicated texts and a cd rom database which is available on the college network. Both the AS and A2 course include a coursework element which makes up 20% of the course. These include practical and research tasks; indeed in the second year students undertake a 2 week practical investigation of their own choosing. Suggestions are available from teachers and on our intranet web page.

The AS course builds upon the foundations provided by GCSE and includes classical mechanics, property of materials, imaging and communication, wave theory and introduction to the world of quantum physics.

The A2 course is a little more theoretical and mathematically involved and deals with classical field theory (gravitational, electrical and magnetic), Newton’s laws of motion, circular motion, thermal physics, mathematical models (SHM, radioactivity and capacitance), atomic and nuclear physics, a little cosmology and relativity.

The emphasis throughout the course is on relating the physics we study to the real world around us. We aim to foster an enquiring mind and a questioning attitude. We want to boggle your minds a bit so that you come to understand the beauty, simplicity and sometime complexity of the world around you.

IB Physics (Higher)

Physics is one of the group 4 subjects within the International Baccalaureate Diploma. In many ways it is a quite challenging, traditional course that follows on from GCSE. It includes topics such as classical mechanics, wave theory and oscillations, current electricity, field theory (gravitational, electrical and magnetic), particle physics, thermal physics, communication and environmental physics. It has a practical component where several skills are assessed and contribute towards your overall grade. The final written paper includes a multiple choice element along with two longer answer papers, one of which is based upon two options that we choose to study (communication and modern particle physics at present).

Electronics AS/A2

We currently offer OCR Electronics which gives an excellent grounding in Electronics. Students who continue to degree level Electronics comment that their first year was made much easier due to the work done at AS/A level. The course is taught on a 50% theory, 50% practical basis. The examination at both AS and A level comprises 2 written examinations done in the summer term along with a piece of coursework. Results at both AS and A level are excellent and we hope to provide an environment in which students are able to progress and reach their full potential.

Please see the Course Details box on this page for links to downloadable subject information sheets.