From the fundamental particles such as quarks and leptons which go to make atoms, up to the vastness of galaxies and how the universe has evolved, Physics covers it all. Physics is the study of the natural world covering sizes from thousandths of millionths of metres up to billions of light years. But it is not restricted just to the academic and the esoteric; Physicists have changed the way we live. From the industrial revolution to the telecommunications, information and electronics revolutions, it has been the application of Physics that has paved the way. It is very useful if you are considering engineering, maths or other science subjects and for those studying arts subjects it indicates a diversity of abilities.
The A-level Physics course aims to take students from their understanding of the subject achieved at GCSE and to equip them with the skills and understanding required not only to succeed at A-level, but also to follow a scientific or engineering degree at university. The AS and A2 qualifications each consist of two examined units and an investigative and practical skills assessment. There are up to four teaching groups in each year with numbers typically ranging from 15 to 20 in each set at AS level. The recommended prior achievement is GCSE Chemistry grade B or GCSE Double Award grade BB.
Year 12 Advanced Subsidiary Award - AQA AS Level Physics 1451
Year 13 Advanced Award - AQA A-Level Physics 2451
AS Unit 1 - PHYA1 Particles, Quantum Phenomena and Electricity. This unit involves two contrasting topics: particle physics and electricity. Particle physics introduces students to the fundamental properties and nature of matter, radiation and quantum phenomena whereas the study of electricity in this module builds on and develops previous GCSE ideas.
AS Unit 2 - PHYA2 Mechanics, Materials and Waves. The first section introduces vectors and then develops knowledge and understanding of forces and energy. In the second section, materials are studied in terms of their bulk properties and tensile strength. The final section looks at the characteristics, properties and applications of waves, including refraction, diffraction, superposition and interference.
A2 Unit 4 - PHYA4 Fields and Further Mechanics. The first section advances the study of momentum and introduces circular and oscillatory motion and covers gravitation. Electric and magnetic fields are covered, together with basic electromagnetic induction. Electric fields lead into capacitors, magnetic fields leads into the generation and transmission of alternating current.
A2 Unit 5 - PHA5A 5D Nuclear Physics, Thermal Physics and an Optional Topic. Section A, 'Nuclear and Thermal Physics', looks at the characteristics of the nucleus and the thermal properties of materials and the nature of gases. Section B, Turning Points in Physics, looks at the key historic experiments and developments in theory that lead to our modern understanding of particles, light and space-time.
AS Unit 3 and A2 Unit 6 - Investigative and Practical Skills in Physics – Internal Assessment. These consist of a practical skills assessment plus a written test. Before taking the test, candidates undertake practical work relating to the topic of the test. The written test is taken in a subsequent lesson under examination conditions.
Throughout the course students carry out experimental and investigative activities in order to develop their practical skills as well as their ability to analyse and evaluate their work.
Units 1 and 2 are sat at the end of the first year and Units 4 and 5 at the end of the second year. All units are worth 20% of the full A-level. The Investigative Skills Assessments (Units 3 and 6) are sat towards the end of each year and each is worth 10% of the full A-level.
Students have achieved some very high results over the years. In the recent past a sizable proportion has gone on to study Physics or Engineering at university, including several who have gained places to read Physics at Oxford or Engineering at Cambridge.