Physics explores all the way from the inside of atoms out to the whole Universe (or should that be Multiverse?). And in between, it covers such things as sound, music, light, telecommunications, engineering, electricity, energy sources. If you are interested in the fundamental forces of nature and you have a good grasp of Maths, Physics is for you. Physics is also fundamental to a multitude of good career opportunities; it shows that you can think and solve problems, which is a highly valued skill for many employers.
All students studying A Levels must have at least five GCSEs at grade A* - C (grade 9 - 5) in academic subjects, including English Language at grade C (grade 5). Two of these must be B grades (grade 6). Specifically for Physics, you will need GCSE Double Science at grade BB (grade 6) or above OR GCSE Physics at grade B (grade 6) or above, AND GCSE Maths at grade B (grade 6) or above AND a total GCSE point score of 30 in your best five subjects. While it is not strictly necessary to select Mathematics as one of your A Levels, it is strongly recommended that you do, especially if you wish to study Physics or a related subject at university.
The course has been structured to give an understanding of many of the specialisms in the world of Physics.
The AS qualification covers the areas of forces and motion, materials, waves, electricity, quantum phenomena and particle physics. The experimental and mathematical skills required to become a successful physicist are also covered.
The second year expands on the first year and also covers rotational mechanics, oscillations, electric, gravitational and magnetic fields, thermal physics, kinetic theory, radioactivity and nuclear physics. In addition, you can study either astrophysics, 'modern physics' (including relativity), engineering physics, medical physics or electronics options.
Both AS and A Level Physics are formally assessed entirely through examinations. 'Accreditation' of the qualification also requires that a student completes a programme of practical study that includes twelve formal experiments over the two years. To progress to the second year of the course students are required to achieve at least a D grade in their AS exam.
There are many areas of Physics in which you can specialise at degree level (see course content above) but Physics at A Level is also required for a range of other subjects at University level such as Architecture, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Engineering, Geography, Geology, or for careers such as in the RAF or the Construction industry. It is also studied alongside the other sciences for those who are thinking of going on to study Chemistry or Maths at University.
Success Rates on courses for 16-18 year-olds nearly 7% better than national average*