Physics is crucial to understanding the world around us, the world inside us, and the world beyond us. It is the most basic and fundamental science, challenging our imaginations with concepts like relativity and string theory, and it leads to great discoveries like computers and lasers, which change our lives. On the A-Level you’ll study everything from stellar astrophysics right down to particles and radiation.
The AS-Level course consists of a variety of topics: Particles and Radiation, Waves, Mechanics and Materials, and Electricity. Particle Physics is all about the topical area of the fundamental nature of matter and what it is made of, and will give an insight into the type of experiments being carried out at, for example, the Large Hadron Collider. We also look at basic quantum phenomena and radiation, and end with discussing whether we can really distinguish between waves and particles at all. The Mechanics section covers Newton’s Laws of Motion; statics, where we look at the forces acting on an object to keep it still; dynamics where we understand how to use equations for displacement, velocity and acceleration of objects, including projectiles; and energy, which covers kinetic and potential energy, power, efficiency, renewable energy resources and applications. Electricity extends what you will have done at GCSE and covers DC circuits and their applications.
At A-Level in the second year, you will study Mechanics in more detail, including circular motion, vibrations and resonance. We also look at the whole idea of Fields and their consequences, namely gravitation, electric fields, capacitors, magnetic fields, electromagnetism and AC electricity. The rest of the course consists of Thermal Physics, Nuclear Physics (radioactivity and nuclear fission and fusion) and Astrophysics, which covers telescopes, properties of stars, detection of extra-solar planets and cosmology. Skills in practical physics and data analysis are developed throughout the course and are tested in the written papers at the end of the year.
Why study Physics?
Physics is crucial to understanding the world around us, the world inside us, and the world beyond us. It is the most basic and fundamental science. Physics challenges our imaginations with concepts like relativity and string theory, and it leads to great discoveries, like computers and lasers, that change our lives. Physics encompasses the study of the universe from the largest galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles. Moreover, it's the basis of many other sciences, including chemistry, oceanography, seismology, and astronomy. Our results have been well above the national average for the last five years and are among the best in the country. You will be taught by dedicated and enthusiastic teachers, qualified to PhD level, with experience of working in industry and academia.
What else can you do on the course?
In recent years, trips have been organised to the nearby Jodrell Bank and Keele University. Last year, as part of the Honours programme, AS Physics students attended practical sessions and lectures at the University of Lancaster, and benefitted from visiting lecturers from Lancaster and elsewhere giving presentations on topical research.
How is the course examined?
AS: Two examination papers, each 1½ hours. A-Level: Three examination papers, each 2 hours.
To be considered for entry onto our A Level courses you should have:
Three Grade 5s (Bs) plus two Grade 4s (Cs) including Grade 4s in English Language and Maths plus a high average GCSE point score and any individual subject requirements.
Grade 6/B in GCSE Physics or 66/BB in Core and Additional Science and a grade 6/B in maths. To take Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Maths you need an average point score of at least 6.0 if you take any of these subjects.
Studying Physics can be a springboard to a number of careers and our students have progressed to astronomy, dentistry, engineering, forensic science, medicine, sound recording, veterinary science, finance and weather forecasting (on BBC TV), as well as industrial research and development.