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What is Physics?

Physics is the study of how things work. It can explain the mysteries of gravity, electricity, magnetism and nuclear power. Satellite navigation, broadband communications, aerial drones, electric cars and blu-ray DVDs are just a few recent advances which physics has made possible. It has even enabled us to discover thousands of new planets circling around distant stars.

 

Physics works by developing new ideas, and also by carrying out experiments. Both components are vital. Major experiments include the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, and the drive for nuclear fusion power in France and England. These have arisen from the ideas created by a previous generation of physicists. In the future, these experiments could lead the way to clean energy with no threat of global warming or environmental damage.

How is it studied?

At Oxford Tutorial College we follow the new Edexcel AS/A2 specification. Students follow the AS course in their first year, and if successful they will follow the full A2 course in the second year of their studies.

 

The course consists of a body of theoretical knowledge and a weekly programme of practical experiments. Sixteen of these experiments will be assessed formally for the A2 specification, but all lab work will be vital for developing skills such as error handling, manipulation of apparatus, and the processing of data. The practical programme will give students opportunities for working individually and as part of a team, sharing ideas and planning their own strategy.

We make extensive use of online resources, and students are encouraged to use facilities such as Excel, Word and CAD programs to carry out their work.

How is Physics assessed?

AS

Unit Modules Weighting Format
Paper 1: Core Physics I Working as a physicist;

Electric Circuits;

Mechanics

50% Section A (c. 60 marks); Section B (c. 20 marks)
Paper 2: Core Physics II Working as a physicist;

Materials;

Waves and particle nature of light

50% Sections A and B, proportioned as in Paper I

 

A Level

Unit Modules Weighting Format
Paper 1: Advanced Physics I Working as a physicist;

Electric Circuits;

Mechanic;

Further Mechanics;

Electric and magnetic fields;

Nuclear and particle Physics

30% 1h 45 min paper
Paper 2: Advanced Physics II Working as a physicist;

Materials;

Waves and particle nature of light;

Thermodynamics;

Space;

Nuclear radiation;

Gravitational fields;

Oscillations

30% 1h 45 min paper
Paper 3: Practical Principles Synoptic paper 40% 2h 30 min paper

 

Exam Board:  Edexcel

What do I need to study it?

You will need a good GCSE pass (grade C or above) in either Science or, preferably, Physics as a single subject. You will also need to be competent in Mathematics, preferably coming with a grade C or above at GCSE in this subject. You will need to be a good speaker of English, and be willing to learn a large number of new words and phrases in a short time.

What should I study with Physics?

It will be very useful to study Mathematics at AS Level along with Physics. These two subjects will complement each other and help in many areas such as algebra, data handling and error calculation. Depending on your career aspirations, you may also be well advised to study Biology and/or Chemistry along with Physics. This is because a large number of scientific careers demand a wide base of skills, which cut across the traditional subject areas. It is often not a good idea to specialise too soon – a broad scientific base at this level is often extremely useful. Many disciplines (for example, biotechnology, nanotechnology, materials science, and spectrometry) don’t respect the old subject boundaries! Even Music and Geography draw on the ideas of Physics.

What can I do with A Level Physics?

A Level Physics can open doors into many careers: engineering, archaeology, computer science, biomedical imaging, the nuclear power industry, astronomy, surveying, teaching/lecturing, music, sports science, aeronautics, communications, broadcasting, and web design. Physics is a subject which demands disciplined and logical thought. If you can develop this kind of skill, you will be looked on favourably by universities and employers in the future.

Questions about the course

How much lab work will I do?

Approximately 2 hours per week. However, there will be many more opportunities for teacher-led demonstrations during the week.

Can I take the course in one year?

Yes, this can and has been done – but be prepared to work hard!

Can I use the course to resit AS or A2 Physics?

Yes.