What will I study?
Physics is a rewarding, challenging and varied subject. It can appeal both to those with a gift for practical work and to those who enjoy thinking about the nature and future of the universe. It provides an opportunity to develop numeracy, logical thought and practical skills. It is a very popular choice at A-level, often combined with mathematics or other sciences, and complements a wide range of other A-levels.
The specification followed will be OCR Physics A, which started in 2008. In each of years 12 and 13 three units will be studied, one of which will be concerned with practical skills. These are developed by practical experiments throughout the course and are assessed externally in a practical exam. The units are outlined below.
Year 12 (AS physics)
Unit 1 - Mechanics
Unit 2 - Electrons, Waves and Photons
Unit 3 - Practical Skills in Physics 1
Year 13 (A2 Physics)
Unit 4 - The Newtonian World
Unit 5 - Fields, Particles and the Frontiers of Physics
Unit 6 - Practical Skills in Physics 2
How will I be assessed?
Unit 1 Written exam of 11/4 hour 15% of A2 mark
Unit 2 Written exam of 11/4 hour 25% of A2 mark
Unit 3 Practical skills 10% of A2 mark
Unit 4 Written exam of 13/4 hour 15% of A2 mark
Unit 5 Written exam of 13/4 hour 25% of A2 mark
Unit 6 Practical skills 10% of A2 mark
Students with a genuine interest in physics and sufficient aptitude to complete an A-level course successfully are likely to have achieved an A*, A or B grade in GCSE Physics or the equivalent in Science and Additional Science. As physics is a numerate subject, competence and confidence in mathematics is required. It is not, however, necessary to study mathematics beyond GCSE to be successful in AS physics. The mathematics required for A2 physics is taught within the course.
Where will it lead?
Students from Bolton School have gone on to study pure physics, astrophysics, physics with philosophy and related subjects such as materials science and have then followed careers in teaching, research, telecommunications, earth sciences, archaeology, finance and patent law. Others have used their physics as a platform for degrees and subsequent careers in engineering, electronics and geology. Physics is also useful for those entering the fields of medicine, veterinary science and dentistry.