A Level Physics

A Level Physics

Be a physicist and explore the workings of the universe, from almost unimaginably small quarks and leptons to the mind-bogglingly huge life-cycle of a star. You will also study more ‘down to Earth’ aspects of this fascinating subject, such as mechanics, electricity and waves, building your analytical and problem-solving skills along the way.

Why St Mary's

With five subject specialist teachers in our Physics Department – you will be supported by educators who are passionate about this fascinating subject, as you explore everything from nuclear physics and radiation, through to thermodynamics, space and the nature of light.

Our enriched learning opportunities can include:

Enabling your transition from GCSE

Our A Level syllabus (Edexcel) builds on many of the themes established at GCSE level and our teaching focuses on building on this foundation of knowledge and skills. You will have access to a set of recommended resources, in the summer prior to commencing your A Level studies.

Throughout your course, daily subject surgeries offer access to extra teaching support, as and when you need it.

Course overview

A Level content

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Science practical endorsement: There is no coursework or Controlled Assessment. You will 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.

AS Level content

  • Paper 1 Core Physics I: This unit involves the study of mechanics (motion, forces, energy, power), electric circuits, errors and measurement.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Assessment

Content of A Level

  • Paper 1 Advanced Physics I: Written examination paper of 1 hour and 45 minutes, which consists of multiple-choice, short open, open-response, calculations and extended writing questions. (30% of total mark)
  • Paper 2 Advanced Physics II: Written examination paper of 1 hour and 45 minutes, which consists of multiple-choice, short open, open-response, calculations and extended writing questions. (30% of total mark)
  • Paper 3 General and practical principles in Physics: Written examination paper of 2 hours and 30 minutes, including questions that assess conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental methods (indirect practical skills) that will draw on students’ experiences of the core practicals. It may include multiple-choice, short open, open-response, calculations and extended writing questions. (40% of total mark)
  • Science practical endorsement: 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.

AS Level assessment

  • Paper 1 Core Physics I: Written examination paper of 1 hour and 30 minutes, which consists of multiple-choice, short open, open-response, calculations and extended writing questions. (50% of total mark)
  • Paper 2 Core Physics II: Written examination paper of 1 hour and 30 minutes, which consists of multiple-choice, short open, open-response, calculations and extended writing questions. (50% of total mark)
  • Practical work: The content of the core practicals will be assessed in the examination papers (15% of the marks). Practical competency will be assessed as pass/fail internally. This is in addition to the A Level qualification.

Visit our Sixth Form

At a glance
You will enjoy this course if you...
  • Have an enquiring mind
  • Like problem-solving
  • Have a good ability in mathematics
  • Are keen on practical experimentation

What our teachers say...

“I chose to teach physics because it has all of the best experiments. You really haven't lived until you've experienced the bin bag capacitor demo!”

“Science is a quest for understanding.” Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Physics holds the key to understanding both our physical world and the entire universe.

This fascinating field seeks answers to some of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. Over the coming decades, physics and engineering will play a critical role in tackling issues such as pollution, sustainable food production, clean energy and water for all.

St Mary's students have gone on to study physics or related degree subjects at the most prestigious universities.

Physics develops a unique range of skills and experience, which will prepare you for a wide range of higher education and career opportunities including engineering, astronomy, medicine, climate change, nanotechnology, renewable energy, space exploration, telecommunications, finance, research and architecture.

Leaver destinations

Our students pursue exciting futures.

Read more

Our results

Achieve the results you need to fulfil your dreams.

Read more