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Science A-Level - Physics

Our students follow a content-led approach.  This is a flexible approach where the specification is divided into topics, each covering different key concepts of physics. As our learners progress through the course they will build on their knowledge of the laws of Physics, applying their understanding to solve problems on topics ranging from sub-atomic particles to the entire universe as well as cover the Practical Endorsement which develops practical skills.

Our learners are taught

  • To develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of the subject and how they relate to each other

  • To develop and demonstrate a deep appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of scientific methods

  • To develop competence and confidence in a variety of practical, mathematical and problem solving skills

  • To develop their interest in and enthusiasm for the subject, including developing an interest in further study and careers associated with the subject

  • To understand how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society.

The course enables our students to demonstrate and apply the knowledge, understanding and skills for each of the topics, which cover fundamental areas of physics, such as mechanics, materials, electrical circuits, quantum physics and waves

Science A-Level - Physics


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What Will I Study?

We study the OCR Physics A specification of study.  It is a linear qualification, which is assessed with 3 examinations at the end of year 13. In addition, they will be expected to analyse, interpret and evaluate a range of scientific information, ideas and evidence using their knowledge, understanding and skills.

In Year 12:

Module 1: Development of practical skills (this forms part of every teaching module throughout the course.)

Module 2: Fundamentals of physics.

  • Quantities and Units

  • Derived units

  • Scalar and Vector quantities

  • Adding and resolving vectors

Module 3: Forces and Motion

  • Motion – speed, velocity, acceleration, free fall, projectiles, car stopping distances.

  • Forces in action – mass, weight, centre of mass, drag and terminal velocity, moments, couples and torques, density, pressure, Archimedes principle.

  • Work, energy and power – Work done, conservation of energy, kinetic and gravitational potential energy, power and efficiency.

  • Materials – springs and Hooke’s law, elastic potential energy, deforming materials, stress-strain and Young’s modulus.

Module 4: Electrons, Waves and Photons

  • Charge and current – charge, current, Kirchoff’s first Law, mean drift velocity.

  • Energy, power and resistance – potential difference and EMF, resistance, I-V characteristics, diodes, resistance and resistivity, the thermistor, the LDR, Electrical Energy and power, paying for electricity.

  • Electrical circuits – Kirchoff’s laws and circuits, combining resistors, internal resistance, Potential divider and sensor circuits.

  • Waves – wave properties, reflection, refraction and refractive index, total internal reflection, diffraction, polarisation, Intensity, superposition and interference, stationary waves and harmonics.

  • Quantum Physics – the photon model, photoelectric effect, wave particle duality

In Year 13:

Module 5: Newtonian world and Astrophysics

  • Thermal Physics – temperature, solids, liquids and gases, internal energy, specific heat capacity and specific latent heat.

  • Ideal Gases – kinetic theory of gases, gas laws, root mean squared speed and the Boltzmann constant.

  • Circular motion – angular velocity and acceleration, centripetal forces

  • Oscillations – oscillations, SHM, damping and driving, and resonance.

  • Gravitational Fields – Newton’s law of gravitation, gravitational field strength, Kepler’s Laws, satellites, gravitational potential and gravitational potential energy.

  • Stars – Objects in the universe, lifecycle of stars, Hertzsprung-Russell diagrams, spectra and analysing starlight, stellar luminosity.

  • Cosmology – Astronomical distance, the Doppler effect, Hubble’s law, The big bang theory and evolution of a universe.

Module 6: Particles and Medical Physics

  • Capacitance – capacitors, energy stored by capacitors, charging and discharging capacitors, uses of capacitors.

  • Electric fields – electric fields, Coulomb’s law, charged particles in uniform fields, electric potential and energy.

  • Magnetic fields – Magnetic fields, charged particles in magnetic fields, electromagnetic induction, Faraday’s and Lenz’s laws, Transformers.

  • Particle Physics – The nucleus and alpha particle scattering, Antiparticles, hadrons and leptons, quarks, beta decay.

  • Radioactivity – nuclear decay equations, half-life and activity, radioactive decay, modelling radioactive decay, radioactive dating.

  • Nuclear physics – Einstein’s equation, binding energy, nuclear fission and fusion.

  • Medical Imaging – X-rays and their interaction with matter, Cat scans, The gamma camera, PET scans, ultrasound and acoustic impedance, Doppler imaging, MRI.

How Will I Be Assessed?

Low stakes testing at the start of each lesson allows staff to monitor the ability of students to recall key facts and definitions. Summary questions are set regularly for home learning in order to continually monitor student understanding.

At the end of each topic, students will have an assessment consisting of past exam questions in order to assess their progress.

Internal Exams are completed in June/July of Y12 and again in January of Y13.

All content is examined in three external exam papers in May/June of Y13.

Other Science Experiences

Year 12 students have the opportunity to get involved in the Engineering Excellence scheme, which involves working with local engineering companies in order to design and build something to solve a particular problem. Students then present their ideas and are judged by a judging panel and other teams.

STEM ambassadors come in from the local hospital in order to show students some of their imaging equipment and technology.

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