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Science

Physics - A level

What will I learn?

Concepts studied at GCSE are built upon further with the study of Physics at A level. Students will develop a greater understanding of atomic structure, leading to an appreciation of the quantum nature of particle physics. Forces and motion are studied in more depth with the study of the SUVAT equations; the applications of this in vehicle safety and performance are encountered.

Content covered includes:

Core content

  • Measurements and their errors
  • Particles and radiation
  • Waves
  • Mechanics and materials
  • Electricity
  • Further mechanics and thermal physics (A level only)
  • Fields and their consequences (A level only)
  • Nuclear physics (A level only)

Options

  • Astrophysics (A level only)
  • Medical physics (A level only)
  • Engineering physics (A level only)
  • Turning points (A level only)
  • Electronics (A level only)

What skills do I need?

The topics covered at AS and A level are at a much greater depth than those covered at GCSE and as a consequence the approach to learning these must include increased independent study. This will include:

  • Reading around the subject both prior to and after the lesson.
  • Researching given topics.
  • Being able to manage your time.

Entry requirements are decided with individual students once final GCSE results are known, but as a general rule:

  • GCSE Grade B (or better) in both Additional and Core Science. A Grade A (or better) in GCSE Additional Science is advisable.
  • For students intending to take the full two year A level course, Grade Bs (or better) in both GCSE courses are advisable.
  • Given the highly mathematical nature of these courses, a Grade B (or better) in GCSE Mathematics is advisable.
  • Students will also need a grade B or above in Mathematics at GCSE.

How is the course graded?

AS level A level
Paper 1 – 1 hour 30 minutes, 75 marks 50% of AS level Assessing any content from first four units assessed plus relevant practical skills. Paper 1 – 2 hours, 91 marks 35% of A level assessing any content from topics 1-4, plus relevant practical skills.
Paper 2 – 1 hour 30 minutes, 75 marks 50% of AS level assessing any content from first four units assessed plus relevant practical skills. Paper 2 – 2 hours, 91 marks 35% of A level assessing any content from topics 5-8, plus relevant practical skills.
  Paper 3 – 2 hours, 78 marks 30% of A level assessing any content from topics 1-8, plus relevant practical skills.

What is next for me after this course?

A physics A level allows you to access traditional science degree courses such as: medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, astronomy, engineering, aviation, civil, electrical and mechanical due to the fact that an A level in physics demonstrates the ability to think logically and to process large amounts of information. It is also welcome in most degree courses and careers, from law and journalism to archaeology and architecture.

A level course information

Qualification & Board

AQA A Level Physics 

Course Content (for A level, how this follows on from GCSE)

Year 12 content includes:

Measurements and their errors, particles and radiation, waves, mechanics and energy, electricity

Year 13 content includes:

Further mechanics and thermal physics, fields, nuclear physics.

Plus one option from the following; astrophysics, medical physics, engineering physics, turning points in physics, electronics.

Potential Career paths

• Geophysicist/field seismologist • Healthcare scientist, medical physics • Higher education lecturer • Radiation protection practitioner • Research scientist (physical sciences) • Scientific laboratory technician • Secondary school teacher • Meteorologist • Structural engineer • Acoustic engineer • Product/process development scientist • Systems developer • Technical author.

Assessments (inc. field work / assessed practicals)

3 exam papers:

Paper 1: Sections 1–5 and 6.1 (Periodic motion)

2 hour written exam, 85 marks; 60 marks of short and long answer questions and 25 multiple choice questions on content.. 34% of A level grade

Paper 2: Sections 6.2 (Thermal Physics), 7 and 8. Assumed knowledge from sections 1 to 6.1.

2 hour written exam, 85 marks; 60 marks of short and long answer questions and 25 multiple choice questions on content. 34% of A level

Paper 3: Any content from topics 1–8, including relevant practical skills

2 hour written exam, 78 marks; 38 marks structured questions including practical techniques; 15 marks critical analysis of given experimental data; 25 marks one essay from a choice of two titles. 30% of A level.

Practical assessments have been divided into those that can be assessed in written exams and those that can only be directly assessed whilst students are carrying out experiments. A-level grades will be based only on marks from written exams.

A separate endorsement of practical skills will be taken alongside the A-level. This will be assessed by teachers and will be based on direct observation of students’ competency in a range of skills that are not assessable in written exams.

Core or Option

  Option

No Option Choices (GCSE only)

 

No. GCSE / A Level equivalent

 One