Sixth Form: Physics

Sixth Form: Physics

Subject Overview

A Level Physics builds upon the knowledge and understanding developed at GCSE level, and is designed to foster a systematic approach to problem solving as well as answering some of the most important fundamental questions about the universe around us. Physics is a very broad subject involving experiment and observation as well as theory and mathematics – students are encouraged to question their learning and discuss with their peers.

Studying Physics helps develop key transferable skills: the ability to reason clearly, communicate complex ideas and practical approaches to problem solving. Students taking Physics A Level have a solid foundation for further study in a number of areas including: Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Medicine and allied professions, Mathematics, Geology and Finance to name a few.

Entry Requirements

Grade B in Physics, or BB in Science and Additional Science, and grade 5 in Mathematics.

These are the minimum requirements.  Higher grades at GCSE will make the course more accessible. The mathematics used in A level physics will be at a higher level than GCSE, so the additional maths needed will be taught as part of the course. It would be advantageous however, if students also choose to study A level maths.

Syllabuses (Course Outline and Structure)

We follow the OCR Physics A Specification (H556), which is made up of six teaching units – all of which are exam based. There is a practical skills endorsement assessed internally.

Examinations and Assessment

All students will take the A level exams at the end of their final year.  They will sit three exams for the full A-level Physics qualification.  These could include material from either teaching year.

Content Overview

Assesment

Content is split into six teaching modules:

Year 1:

Module 1 – Development of practical skills in physics

Module 2 – Foundations of physics

Module 3 – Forces and motion

Module 4 – Electrons, waves and photons

 

Year2:

Module 5 – Newtonian world and astrophysics

Module 6 – Particles and medical physics

 

Component 01 assesses content

from modules 1, 2, 3 and 5.

 

Component 02 assesses content

from modules 1, 2, 4 and 6.

 

Component 03 assesses content

from all modules (1 to 6).

Modelling physics (01) 100 marks

2 hours 15 minutes written paper

37% of total

A level

Exploring physics (02) 100 marks

2 hours 15 minutes written paper

37% of total

A level

Unified physics (03) 70 marks 1 hour 30 minutes written paper

26% of total

A level

Practical endorsement in physics (04)

(non exam assessment)

Reported

separately

The full course specification can be found at:

Activities and trips

Practical activities are carried out on a regular basis and key skills are taught throughout the course. We follow a structured program where skills are reviewed and refined to ensure all pupils have the necessary knowledge and skills. Students will be expected to keep an up to date lab book for submission for the A level practical skills endorsement. This is a pass or fail internal assessment reported separately on your certificate. A ‘pass’ for this endorsement is required by Universities for entry onto many of their degree courses.

There are no required trips for the physics course. However, where possible, some may be arranged to enrich or consolidate the course content.  Trips over the past few years have included visits to CERN in Geneva, and to Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire.

Expected Costs

Aside from the cost of stationery, a lab book and the course textbook, there will be little in the way of further costs. Teachers will discuss the ordering of textbooks and lab books in the first stages of the physics course.

Complementary Subject Combinations and Enrichment Activities

It is suggested that students take A level Mathematics with Mechanics alongside the Physics course. The two subjects complement each other very well, a sound mathematical knowledge makes dealing with equations much easier.

Physics students tend to be in demand (and enjoy) the GreenPower project run within the sixth form.

Subject Resources

Past Papers

Questions from past papers are used extensively during the delivery of the course and are adapted to augment homework tasks. In addition to this, pupils will complete whole past papers towards the end of the teaching for each unit, in order to prepare pupils for the overall structure of each paper, and the time restrictions associated with them. We fully encourage all pupils to work independently, and the following URL can be followed to locate all of the past papers for the previous version of the course except the most recent paper, and their mark schemes. Past papers for the new course are obviously in shorter supply, but specimens can be accessed using the second link.

Useful Links (internal and external)

Other information

For further information contact Mr M Browne, Development Leader (Physics).