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Physics

Years 7-8 (KS3) are as outlined under "Science".

In Years 9-11 (KS4), we follow the AQA GCSE Physics specification (4403). There are four modules each worth 25%. Module P4 is the Controlled Assessment, which assesses the student’s scientific investigative skills via the ISA. Each ISA consists of two formal examinations and a practical investigation into a specified aspect of physics.

Module P1 is common to the Science A course. The topics covered include:

  • transfer of energy by heating processes
  • heating and insulating buildings
  • energy and efficiency
  • electrical energy transfers and generating electricity
  • waves and wave properties
  • cosmology, galactic red-shifts and the Big Bang theory

Module P2 is common to the Additional Science course. The topics covered include:

  • forces, motion and terminal velocity
  • work, kinetic energy and momentum
  • static electricity
  • electrical circuits, current electricity and mains electricity
  • atomic structure and radioactivity
  • nuclear fission and nuclear fusion
  • fusion synthesis of elements in stars and stellar life cycles

Module P3 is unique to the Physics GCSE course. The topics covered include:

  • medical applications of physics, X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, lasers, endoscopy
  • lenses, the eye and correcting defects of vision
  • centre of mass, stability, moments, hydraulics, circular motion and the pendulum
  • electromagnets, the motor effect, motors, electromagnetic induction, transformers

At Advanced Level, we follow the AQA Physics B Specification ‘Physics in Context’ (1456/2456). There is a logical progression from the AQA GCSE Physics course. There are three modules at both AS and A2. In each year one of these modules addresses practical skills through the “Investigative and Practical Skills in Physics” module.

At AS level topics covered include:

  • modern techniques of communication
  • from fundamental particles to the structure of the Universe
  • how forces and motion underpin everyday activities such as transport and activities such as record breaking in sport
  • electrical circuits and their application in a variety of devices
  • energy demands and the effect this has on the fate of our planet and future generations

At A2 level topics covered include:

  • how physics is used to send probes and astronauts into space
  • energy and momentum conservation in relation to theme park rides
  • investigating the invisible; searching for new mineral resources and buried remains
  • medical applications of physics; endoscopy, X-rays, MRI scans and ultrasound scans
  • macroscopic quantities such as temperature and pressure; a molecular model of matter
  • the structure of matter; high energy particles; electric and magnetic fields
  • the generation of energy; nuclear materials; spontaneous and stimulated nuclear decay; nuclear fusion; radioactivity

Physics aims to explain the workings of the world we live in, from the realm of fundamental particles up to the origin and fate of the whole Universe. Students who are inquisitive and who desire to know “how things work” can start to find some of the answers to the big questions by embarking on the study of advanced level physics.

The whole emphasis and ethos of this specification is upon physics contexts and applications. The approach is to consider a variety of situations in Sports Science, Earth Science, Engineering and Medicine. This is not to relegate the importance of great discoveries like quantum mechanics or relativity but rather to investigate how these revolutionary ideas can be adapted to sustain new technologies. The physics required to master such disciplines is studied and explored.

The dictum of "how science works" is embedded into the specification and promotes the development of higher order thinking skills. The hope is that the choice of topics and the accent upon the scientific method of problem solving will inspire and equip students for the challenges of the 21st century. There is little contention amongst employers or academia that physics provides one of the very best foundations for any student, whether entering the world of work or embarking on higher academic achievements.

To embark on the course students are expected to gain a minimum of grade B in GCSE Physics or B, B in GCSE Double Science in addition to a grade B in GCSE Mathematics. It is not essential to study Mathematics at A level to embark on the Physics course but a confidence and willingness to apply Mathematics is essential for success on the more quantitative parts of the Physics course.

Each year our students have the opportunity to attend a number of Physics or Engineering lectures, presentations and workshops facilitated by such organisations as the Ogden Trust or the Institute of Physics. Our students are encouraged to become student members of the Institute of Physics and are offered the opportunity to receive the Physics Review magazine. The national Physics Olympiad competition provides a challenge for our sixth form students.

A strong grade at advanced level physics provides evidence of a student’s analytical skills and this will strengthen any degree application where these skills are required. A high proportion of our physics students progress to study physics, engineering or science related degrees at university. However, studying physics at advanced level allows students to apply to a wide variety of degree courses, which have included in recent years, Medicine, Forensic Science, Philosophy & Theology and Japanese.

Girls Division Physics lab students

Physics is brought to life through practical demonstrations and experiments

Girls Division Physics student

Year 7 pupils enjoying a practical demonstration