From the birth and death of stars to the fleeting interactions of tiny particles, Physics studies how our world works. To do this it uses ideas ranging from Force and Energy, easily understood and everyday concepts, to Strangeness and Charm, rather more abstract and fanciful! It is a fascinating subject, driven by the desire to find out how and why matter behaves the way it does.
Physics is not only interesting, it is also highly marketable. With an A level in Physics you have proved that you possess a wide range of Key Skills, exactly what employers and universities are looking for today. Indeed there can be few subjects at A level that cover such a wide range of transferable skills.
What does the AS course consist of?
Unit 1: Particles, Quantum Phenomena and Electricity
Unit 2: Mechanics, Materials and Waves
Unit 3: Investigative and Practical Skills in AS Physics
The AS/A2 syllabus has improved the course by making the transition from GCSE much smoother; Maths skills are built up during the AS year, with harder Maths only in the A2.
What does the A2 consist of?
The units are as follows:
Unit 4: Fields and Further Mechanics
Unit 5: Nuclear and Thermal Physics is the compulsory element. The Option topic is yet to be decided.
Unit 6: Investigative and Practical Skills in A2 Physics
Whom does the subject suit?
Physics suits someone who is fascinated by how things work, by fundamental questions about the way the world is and by the exactness of science which alone can try to uncover truths about the world. Studying the subject you will feel that what you learn builds upon what you did at GCSE but in a more mathematical way. You must practice the use of maths in the subject so that it becomes natural to you so you can begin to concentrate on the ideas themselves as they become more complex.
We will answer questions such as ‘Do you want a car to crumple or remain rigid in a crash?’, ‘How are harmonics created on a guitar string?’ and ‘Why does it get colder when you climb up a mountain?’ (If you can answer these questions now please move on to university!)
Physics is most often studied alongside Maths, Economics, Biology, Computing or Chemistry, but – as an AS or a full A level – it can give an analytical edge to any portfolio of subjects. It suits someone who enjoys problem-solving, is interested in explaining how the material world works and would like a practical subject.
We find that a grade A or above in Maths at GCSE is a good starting point to do well in Physics but it is not necessary to continue Maths at A level. To get an idea of the increased level of Maths in the A level compared to GCSE, look through one of the standard A Lev el Physics texts such as that written by Tom Duncan or Roger Muncaster and say to yourself ‘I shall soon understand all of this!’
If you pursue the subject at university you will find that Physics graduates are in great demand, as pilots, engineers, accountants, management/computer analysts, in the City – anywhere where profound analytical skills are required; and starting salaries can be more than £2,000 higher than across all subjects.
What might the subject lead onto?
Physics is a subject very well regarded by universities and is important if you want to study Engineering. It is also useful for Economics, Dentistry, Veterinary Science and Computing to name just a few degree subjects.