Physics A Level

Board: AQA
Syllabus: Physics A Level (7408)

About the subject

Physics is about finding out how the universe works.  Do you know why the sky is blue or why the setting sun appears red?  Do you want to find out more about black holes and quarks?  From Newton’s genius to Einstein’s mysterious world, all will be revealed!  Do you want to use your knowledge to build a better world or to explore new worlds?  Do you want to work in the medical field to improve ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging techniques or be part of the design of the next generation of plane, ship, car or spaceship?

Physics is a challenging and often demanding subject, but it is also fun and intellectually rewarding. Students develop their skills in problem solving, mathematics, communication and ICT, which makes Physics an excellent foundation for a surprising number of non-scientific courses at university level as well as courses in pure and applied Science and Engineering. Qualifications in Physics are highly prized by employers for the analytical training they provide. A Physics degree can lead to well paid jobs in Finance as well as in Engineering and Medicine. The mathematical modelling used in Physics can readily be applied in the financial world and software firms

Learning styles

Lessons will be a mixture of lectures, demonstrations, practical work, problem solving and discussion. We are also making increasing use of blended learning, where students learn basic material at their own pace via video lessons we have produced. This frees up more lesson time for practical’s and working on harder questions with the teacher and classmates present. The videos are stored on a learning platform called CENTURY. Through the questions you answer after every video the built in AI will keep track of your progress and make personalised recommendations for you and your teacher

Subject Combinations and Progression

Due to the very mathematical nature of the course it is strongly recommended that students also take Maths A-level.  Chemistry and Biology go well with Physics as do Computer Science, Electronics and Design Technology.

Our students have gone on to study Physics or Physics combined with just about any subject you can think of from Astronomy to Philosophy. All sorts of Engineering degrees are popular as is Computer Science. Students have gone on to the YINI (Year in Industry) programme between A level and university. Some universities run courses with one year in the USA. A number of European universities now teach Physics in English and charge lower tuition fees.

Subject Modules and Assessment

The content of the course covers measurements and their errors, particles and radiation, waves, mechanics and materials, electricity, further mechanics and thermal physics, fields and their consequences and nuclear physics. There is also an optional topic to be chosen from astrophysics, medical physics, engineering physics, turning points in physics and electronics. However, astrophysics is usually the taught option.

Entry requirements

If you studied triple science a 6 in GCSE physics with a 6 in either GCSE chemistry or Biology AND a 6 in GCSE maths.
If you studied double science a 6,6 and a 6 for GCSE Maths
Students are strongly advised to take Maths A-level where a 6 in GCSE maths is the entry requirement. Most engineering and physics degrees require A level physics AND A level maths as part of their entry requirements

AQA Physics A Level Specification at a glance

Core content


First YearSecond YearOptions*
0.Practical Skills
1.Particle Physics
2.Quantum phenomena
6. Electricity
7. Further Mechanics
8.Thermal physics
9.Gravitational and electric fields
11.Magnetic Fields
12.Nuclear physics

14.Medical physics

15.Engineering physics

16.Turning points in physics



*Students must take one of the optional modules. We only have enough lesson time before the exams to teach one of the optional modules and this tends to be astrophysics by popular request. If a students wants to take a diffent option they will need to complete it through self study and so only students who have demonstrated an ability to study independently would be allowed to study another option by themselves.


All the A-level exams are taken at the end of their two year A-level course.

Paper 1:
Is a written exam of 2 hours based on sections 1 to 7
It is worth 85 marks i.e. 34% of the A-level and consists of 60 marks of short and long answer questions and 25 multiple choice questions on content.

Paper 2:
Is a written exam of 2 hours based on sections 8 to 12 although it will assume knowledge from sections 1 to 7. It is worth 85 marks i.e. 34% of the A-level and consists of 60 marks of short and long answer questions and 25 multiple choice questions on content.

Paper 3:
Is a written exam of 2 hours split into two sections.
– Section A is a compulsory section: 0. Practical skills it is worth 45 marks and consists of short and long answer questions on practical experiments and data analysis
– Section B students will answer questions from one of sections 13, 14, 15, 16 or 17. It is worth 35 marks and consists of short and long answer questions on optional topic.

Practical endorsement:
Over the two year course students will complete a minimum of 12 required practicals. During these your teachers will asses you against the CPACs (Common Practical Assessment Criteria). If a student over the course of 2 years shows that they can routinely meet these then your teacher can give you a ‘practical endorsement’. This appears as a pass or not endorsed on your exam certificate next to the letter grade earned from the written papers. If you are applying for a science based degree most universities will include having a pass as part of the entry requirements.