Physics

Course specification: EDEXCEL: AS Level 8PH0, A Level 9PH0

Content of AS Level

Paper 1 Core Physics I

This unit involves the study of mechanics (motion, forces, energy, power), electric circuits, errors and measurement. It is assessed by means of a written examination paper of 1 hour and 30 minutes, which consists of multiple-choice, short open, open-response, calculations and extended writing questions.

Paper 2 Core Physics II

This unit involves the study of materials (flow of liquids, viscosity, Stokes’ Law, Young’s modulus, strain energy), waves, the particle nature of light, errors and measurement. It is assessed by means of a written examination paper of 1 hour and 30 minutes, which consists of multiple-choice, short open, open-response, calculations and extended writing questions.

Practical work

There is no coursework or Controlled Assessment. However, students will complete a set of core practicals during their lessons which are relevant to the topic they are studying at the time. The content of the core practicals will be assessed in the examination papers (15% of the marks).

Content of A Level

Paper 1 Advanced Physics I

This unit involves the study of mechanics, electric circuits, further mechanics (momentum and circular motion), electric and magnetic fields, and nuclear and particle physics. It is assessed by means of a written examination paper of 1 hour and 45 minutes, which consists of multiple-choice, short open, open-response, calculations and extended writing questions.

Paper 2 Advanced Physics II

This unit involves the study of materials, waves and particle nature of light, thermodynamics, space, nuclear radiation, gravitational fields and oscillations. It is assessed by means of a written examination paper of 1 hour and 45 minutes, which consists of multiplechoice, short open, open-response, calculations and extended writing questions.

Paper 3 General and practical principles in Physics

Questions in this paper may draw on any of the topics in the specification, and they may be of a synoptic nature (i.e. drawn from two or more topics). The paper will include questions that assess conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental methods (indirect practical skills) that will draw on students’ experiences of the core practicals.

The paper will be 2 hours and 30 minutes long, and may include multiple-choice, short open, open-response, calculations and extended writing questions.

Science practical endorsement

There is no coursework or Controlled Assessment. Students learn to use relevant apparatus and develop practical techniques by completing a set of core practical activities in lesson time. Practical competency will be assessed as pass/fail internally.

The content of the core practicals will be assessed in the examination papers (15% of the marks). Practical work records will be used as evidence for internal assessment against a set of exam board standards. This is in addition to the A Level qualification.

Key skills

  • An enquiring and curious mind
  • An enjoyment of carrying out practical work
  • A good ability in Mathematics

Enrichment opportunities

  • British Physics Olympiad: AS challenge competition
  • Lectures and events run by Physics education groups

Higher Education and career prospects

Physics provides a broad training in skills that are valued in many degree courses: an ability to grasp concepts quickly, a determination to find coherent answers, problem solving, analytical, mathematical and IT skills. It is particularly recommended for courses and subsequent degrees in all types of Engineering, Medicine and branches of Physics, such as Medical Physics, Astrophysics and Geophysics.

It is also useful for courses outside science that require high levels of numeracy, such as Economics, actuarial work, Accountancy and Business Studies.

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