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Level: Advanced (Level 3)Awarding Body: AQA

Why study Physics?

Anyone who is interested in the way the world is explained at the most fundamental level is going to enjoy Physics. The word Physics comes from the Greek word Physika which refers to the very nature of things. You will learn about the tiniest particles that make up the atom, the forces that govern them and the interaction between light and matter. Students build circuits, carry out experiments and make careful measurements.

A Level Physics is a foundation for all careers that require problem-solvers with a strong grasp of maths. Physics is at the heart of technology development, space research, materials science and engineering.

What can it lead to?

Physics is highly regarded by universities and is an important subject for a range of careers. Some of our students go on to study Physics at university. This might lead to a career in research and development, either at a university or in industry.

Other students who do Physics here go on to apply their knowledge in other areas at university. A-Level Physics can lead to Applied Physics, Astrophysics, Geophysics, Materials Technology, Forensic Science, Engineering, Meteorology and Medical Physics.

Physics also goes well with careers in medicine, mathematics, computing, finance, accountancy and other numerate vocations.

How is the course organised?

At St Charles students follow the AQA A-Level/AS Level Physics specification.

These qualifications are linear. Linear means that it is possible for a student to sit the AS exams at the end of their first year but all the A-level exams are at the end of the 2nd year. It is important to understand that the AS result will not count towards the full A Level - it will give an AS qualification only. The final A Level grade will be entirely based on the 3 exams sat at the end of the two-year course.

Course content:

  • Measurements and experimental work, Particles and radiation, Waves, Mechanics and materials, Electricity,
  • Further mechanics and thermal physics, Fields and their consequences, Nuclear physics and Turning points in physics.

How is the course assessed?

Students in Physics will be regularly assessed. Homework is set and marked every week, and end-of-topic tests will be taken every 2 weeks. Marks are recorded on the electronic markbook for students, parents/carers and staff to see.

When work is returned there will be written comments about how to improve. Students will also be given time to do corrections and reflect on their own areas for improvement.

Students aiming for the top grade will be expected to read extra articles and books and to report back on what they have read. There are also visits to universities to hear lectures on topics like superconductors, cosmology and engineering.

Rest assured – if you are aiming high you will be challenged and expected to achieve at the highest level.

What do I need to qualify for this course?

For A Level Physics you will need an average GCSE score of 5.6 or more. Also:

  • Grades 6 (BB) in Double Science or at least two 6s (Bs) in Triple Science (one 6 must be in Physics)
  • Grade 6 (B) in Maths 
  • Grade 5 (C) in English 

Other factors to consider:

  • You should not choose Physics if you don’t like maths – every lesson will involve calculations!
  • Do not think you are getting away from writing – all exams require coherent written answers and extended prose
  • You should choose Physics if you enjoyed the Physics topics at school and you are prepared to work hard at a challenging subject.

Who are the teachers?

Message from the Head of Physics:

If you are serious about choosing Physics I can guarantee you will be doing lots of practical work as well as theory in outstanding new laboratory facilities.

I am a Physics graduate and I chose to do the subject at university because I had so many questions about the world – why does light shine through glass but not through other materials; what actually is light; what are protons and neutrons made of; can time pass at different rates for different observers? At A-Level we will introduce you to ideas like this, and if you want to go deeper we will give you further reading. Any questions my email address is dta@stcharles.co.uk

David Tattersall

What do students say about the course?

I really enjoyed Physics at St Charles because it was able to explain all the things that happen around us very well. Also with teachers’ help I was able to fully understand the theory and laws. I also found the Thursday workshops very useful as we did plenty of experiments to broaden our knowledge

Bemnet, Year 13

Physics is a challenging course but the teachers were always willing and available to help us with anything we had difficulties with

JC, Year 13