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Physics

Introduction

People often say that “physics is in everything,” and there is much truth in that. We can use its basic ideas – matter, force, energy and so on – to explain every aspect of our world, from the smallest particles to superclusters of galaxies.

We are all born with an urge to understand the world around us. Maybe those who haven’t outgrown this urge are on the road to becoming physicists and should consider taking A Level physics.

Summary of course content

Aside from its importance and flexibility, physics can be fascinating and fun. At its heart, it is about finding out and understand what lies behind everyday phenomena. The A Level course reflects this and combines practical work and theory.

Topics covered

Across the two year advanced course, the following topics will be covered:
• Measurements and their errors
• Particles and radiation
• Waves
• Mechanics and materials
• Electricity
• Further mechanics and thermal physics
• Fields and their consequences
• Nuclear physics

Optional topics in Year 13 are:
• Astrophysics
• Medical physics
• Engineering physics
• Turning points in physics
• Electronics

Assessment

There will be three exams which will last two hours each. There is no coursework component.

How the course differs from GCSE

Lesson structure is similar but a much higher degree of independent learning is expected. A Level physics has a much greater mathematical content than either GCSE science or GCSE physics. Individual tuition or mentoring sessions are offered at lunchtimes to support students in their learning.

Skills acquired

Students following the course develop excellent problem-solving, analytical, mathematical and IT skills through written and practical work. Physics skills are highly prized by employers in almost every field imaginable.

As Simon Singh, science writer and broadcaster says, “I reckon that physicists can do pretty much anything. Our training can be applied to almost any activity, and it allows us to see things in ways that might be not obvious to others.”

When people ask “why?” or “how?,” it is usually physicists who can give the answers

Where the course leads

Employment prospects are excellent for those with a physics qualification. Astronomy, radiology, medicine, sports physics, meteorology, financial analysis, science journalism, etc all use physics. Engineering (civil, electrical, aero, space, chemical) are major shortage subjects which require physics. Physics teachers are very scarce too!

Special entry requirements

Students must have at least grade 6 in GCSE science/additional science or grade 6 in GCSE physics, in addition to a grade 5 in GCSE mathematics.

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