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Physics

Introduction

A-level Physics explores the theories and principles explaining the Universe in all its intricate beauty. You will learn about a wide range of topics, including particles and radiation, waves and optics, mechanics and materials, electricity, and course will give you a solid grounding in analytical thinking, writing reports and clear communication – all of which are useful life skills. You will undertake core practicals which underpin the theoretical study; they also hone your teamwork and practical skills.

Physics is always seen as a challenging, academic and rigorous A-level that will impress a lot of universities and employers, therefore a qualification in the physical sciences opens doors to a wide range of career opportunities.

The course is designed for students looking at higher education, in particular degree courses which involve a scientific base, and combines particularly well with A-levels in chemistry, mathematics, biology, geography and psychology.

According to government statistics, obtaining a degree in physical sciences gives you a much greater chance of going into employment or further university study than the average. 89.2% of physical science graduates go into employment or further study, compared to an average of around 76% for all graduates.

Course Description

e follow the AQA A-level Physics Course (https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/as-and-a-level/physics-7407-7408).

This is a 2-year course which encompasses both physics theory and practical skills, and provides the great depth of understanding necessary to continue to higher education, including spectroscopy, using lasers and investigating collisions.

The course has been designed to develop the following skills:

  • Using apparatus accurately and safely
  • Producing and recording valid and reliable measurements and observations
  • Presenting and analysing data
  • Research skills
  • Identifying and evaluating resources
  • Clarity of oral and written expression using scientific language
  • Discussion and presentation skills
  • Note taking
  • Problem solving

The AQA Biology course covers the following topics:

  • Topic 1 – Measurements and their errors
  • Topic 2 – Particles and radiation
  • Topic 3 – Waves
  • Topic 4 – Mechanics and materials
  • Topic 5 – Electricity
  • Topic 6 – Further mechanics and thermal properties
  • Topic 7 – Fields and their consequences
  • Topic 8 – Nuclear physics
  • Topic 9 – Astrophysics

How will I be assessed?

The course is assessed through two AS-level exams at the end of Y12 and three A-level exams at the end of Y13:

AS-Level (Y12)

Paper 1 – 70 marks, 90 mins (50%) Paper 2 – 70 marks, 90 mins (50%)
·         Written exam, covering contents from topics 1-5 including relevant practical skills.

·         70 marks: long and short answer questions

 

·         Written exam, covering contents from topics 1-5 including relevant practical skills.

·         20 marks: long and short answer questions on practical skills

·         20 marks: long and short answer questions across the topics

·         30 marks: multiple choice questions

A-Level (Y13)

Paper 1 – 85 marks, 120 mins (34%) Paper 2 – 85 marks, 120 mins (34%) Paper 3 – 80 marks, 120 mins (32%)
·         Written exam, covering contents from topics 1-5 and 6.1.

·         60 marks: a mixture of short and long answer questions.

·         25 marks: multiple choice questions.

·         Written exam, covering contents from topics 6.2 - 8.

·         60 marks: a mixture of short and long answer questions.

·         25 marks: comprehension question.

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·         45 marks: short and long answer questions on practical techniques and data analysis.

·         35 marks: short and long answer questions on the optional topic.

 

 Core practical tasks:

Core Practicals
1. Investigation into the variation of the frequency of stationary waves on a string with length, tension and mass per unit length of the string.
2. Investigation of interference effects to include the Young’s slit experiment and interference by a diffraction grating.
3. Determination of gravity by a free-fall method.
4. Determination of the Young modulus by a simple method.
5. Determination of resistivity of a wire using a micrometer, ammeter and voltmeter.
6. Investigation of the emf and internal resistance of electric cells and batteries by measuring the variation of the terminal pd of the cell with current in it.
7. Investigation into simple harmonic motion using a mass-spring system and a simple pendulum.
8. Investigation of Boyle’s (constant temperature) law and Charles’s (constant pressure) law for a gas.
9. Investigation of the charge and discharge of capacitors. Analysis techniques should include log-linear plotting leading to a determination of the time constant RC.
10. Investigate how the force on a wire varies with flux density, current and length of wire using a top pan balance.
11. Investigate, using a search coil and oscilloscope, the effect on magnetic flux linkage of varying the angle between a search coil and magnetic field direction.
12. Investigation of the inverse-square law for gamma radiation.

 

Methods of Delivery

Students will have 5 hours per week in a specialised laboratory, where the key concepts of the course will be taught. During these lessons, students will also complete core practical tasks which will be internally assessed and endorsed by the Academy.

In addition to lessons, students will be required to complete at least three hours a week of independent study during their non-contact periods in their timetable. This is in addition to the weekly two hours of homework set by teachers.

Future Careers

Physics students have access to a wide range of career paths, not limited to scientific endeavours. The teamwork and analytical skills necessary to succeed in science education can open doors to accountancy, engineering, IT, economics and many other careers.

Studying physics demonstrates that you can learn difficult concepts and succeed – qualities that all employers look for in their applicants.

Useful links and books

Key Textbooks

AQA Physics A Level A-Level Physics: AQA Year 1 & 2 Complete
ISBN: 9780198351870 ISBN: 9781789080322
The textbooks and revision guides are loaned to the students by the science department. All books are to be returned to the department in good condition at the end of the course.

Useful Links

Further Reading 

  • The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - Richard Feynman
  • QED the strange theory of light and matter - Richard Feynman
  • Big Bang - Simon Singh
  • Brief answers to the Big Questions - Stephen Hawking
  • The Universe in a nutshell - Stephen Hawking
  • The God Particle - Leon Lederman
  • Forces of Nature - Brian Cox
  • cosmos - Carl Sagan
  • How to teach quantum physics to your dog - Chad Orzel
  • The physics of star trek - Lawrence Krauss
  • Chaos: Making a new science - James Gleik