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.  Students are encouraged to think for themselves and to contribute to the lessons. Physics is all about the application of knowledge. The virtual learning environment is increasingly being used with computer software and information from the Internet. Revision videos have also been produced of every lesson for students to use.The Physics Department is well-equipped with enough apparatus to enable students to work individually or in pairs on most of the experiments.

Subject Combinations and Progression

Due the rigours of a two year physics course students are strongly advised to study Maths at A-level. Chemistry and Biology go well with Physics as do Electronics and Design Technology. Geology, Geography, Art, History are also popular combinations with Physics.
Our students have gone on to study Physics or Physics with just about any subject you can think of from Astronomy to Philosophy.  All sorts of Engineering degrees are popular as is Computer Science. Past students have taken advantage of the Erasmus scheme where one year of their university course is spent in another European country with all teaching in the language of that country.  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

AQA Physics A Level Specification at a glance

Core content

First YearSecond YearOptions
Measurements and their errors
Particles and radiation
Waves
Mechanics and materials
Electricity
Further mechanics and thermal physics
Fields and their consequences
Nuclear physics
Astrophysics
Medical physics
Engineering physics
Turning points in physics
Electronics

 

Normally we would only teach one of the options. This tends to be astrophysics by popular request. Only students who have demonstrated an ability to study independently would be allowed to study another option by themselves.

Assessment

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 5 and 6.1 (Periodic motion)

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 6.2 (Thermal Physics), 7 and 8

It will assume knowledge from sections 1 to 6.1. 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: Practical skills and data analysis

In section B students will answer questions from one of sections 9, 10, 11, 12 or 13.

It is worth 80 marks i.e 32% of the A level.

Section A is worth 45 marks and consists of short and long answer questions on practical experiments and data analysis.

Section B is worth 35 marks and consists of short and long answer questions on optional topic.