St Peter's School

Physics

PhysicsThe Course

Physics is the fundamental science and the physicists’ claim that “Physics is at the heart of
everything” is largely true. We use basic ideas such as matter, force, energy to explain almost every aspect of our world from the innermost workings of an atom to the edge of the visible universe. Physics is concerned with observing natural phenomena in the world around us and trying to predict what might happen in new and unknown situations. Part of its appeal is that there are relatively few principles and that these apply throughout science, not just in physics.

Physics is an intellectually challenging, but rewarding subject in which students will be expected to develop logical thought and show high-level problem-solving skills. They will also develop the ability to explain complex ideas clearly and precisely. It brings benefits that last a lifetime; transferable skills such as an ability to grasp concepts quickly, analyse and evaluate data, a practical approach to problem-solving, the ability to reason clearly and communicate complex ideas and expertise in mathematical formulation and solution. Study in the Sixth Form will not only prepare you for moving on to physical sciences and engineering courses at university, but also a whole host of other subjects as diverse as molecular biology, economics, finance, medicine and the law.

The course is based on interlocking and inter-dependent topics, taught in six modules. These modules are:

  1. Development of practical skills in physics
  2. Foundations of physics
  3. Forces and motion
  4. Electrons, waves and photons
  5. Newtonian world and astrophysics
  6. Particles and Medical Physics

We will study modules three to six in order with modules 1 and 2 (which are skills-based) being taught throughout the course. Practical skills are also assessed throughout the course as a natural part of your study and you will be given a pass/fail grade together with your A level grade on the final examination certificate.

Beyond the classroom there is a wide range of opportunities: eminent physics speakers visit the school and we attend conferences in the region. We also enter a team in the Liverpool University Physics Olympics; prepare students for National Physics competitions as well as running our own Olympics Competition. There are also opportunities for Nuffield research placements at York University and other courses offered throughout the country.

Assessment

  • Paper 1 - 2hr 15m written paper
    Modelling Physics 37%
  • Paper 2 - 2hr 15 written paper
    Foundations of Physics 37%
  • Paper 3 - 1hr 30 written paper
    Unified Physics 26%

Examination Board: OCR

Additional Notes

It is important, that a pupil’s performance in Physics, either as part of Double Award Science, or in Physics GCSE is strong and the concepts have been understood at a fundamental level. Very strong mathematical skills are also required, particularly in the areas of algebra and trigonometry. Mathematics A level should be seriously considered by all physics pupils. We would advise anyone considering taking A level Physics, but not A level Mathematics to discuss this with the Head of Physics before final choices are made.