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Physics (AS/A Level) at New College Swindon

Course description

Physics is not only a course for future Physicists and Engineers, but can also provide a good qualification for many other careers. You will study the OCR Physics specification and can progress to the A2 course in the second year provided you have at least a ‘D’ in AS Level

Course content

The AS Level course has 4 units of study:


  • Module 1: Practical Skills.  You perform a number of practicals.  These skills are assessed throughout the course.
  • Module 2: Foundations of Physics.  You will study quantities and units, vector addition and resolution.
  • Module 3: Forces and Motion.  You will use equations of motion, and graphs of motion to solve numerical problems. The unit also covers force and its effect on velocity, equilibrium and on turning moments. You will also cover basic materials technology (Hooke’s Law and Young Modulus), and work and energy.
  • Module 4: Electrons, Waves and photons.  You will derive the equations for the basic quantities in electricity from their definitions, and use these to solve numerical problems. You will also study waves – starting with the wave equation and basic terminology and then examine wave properties and the uses of waves.  Finally you will be introduced to Quantum Physics – you will look at the Photo-electric effect using Planck’s equation, and using De Broglie’s equation to examine the dual nature of light as both waves and particles.


The A2 programme also consists of two further modules, but practical skills are still assessed as in Module 1.


  • Module 5: ‘The Newtonian World and Astro Physics’ – here you will use Newton’s equations of motion, and equations for circular motion and gravity. You will also study thermal physics, where you will derive and use the ideal gas equation.  You will now be ready to study astrophysics and the laws that govern the universe.
  • Module 6: Particles and Medical Physics.  In the final unit you will study Coulomb’s equation for electric fields, and Faraday and Lenz’s equation for electromagnetic induction. You will also study exponential decay in capacitors and radioactivity, and how energy is released in nuclear fission and fusion reactions. In addition you will also study how images are produced for medical applications. 

Entry requirements

At least Grade B in GCSE Additional Science (or Physics) and Grade B in Maths are required.

If you have Grade Cs, we recommend that you take BTEC National in Applied Science (NC419).

If you intend to study AS Physics you MUST also take AS Maths. You need to feel comfortable using algebra and trigonometry. Please note that Physics at advanced level is very different from GCSE Physics – it is far more demanding mathematically.


At AS there are 2 written examinations covering modules 2,3 & 4.  The first exam covers the breadth and the second exam tests your depth of understanding.  For A2 there are 3 written examinations that test AS and A2 content.

Future opportunities

Physics is widely regarded as the most challenging of all A level subjects. University Admissions Tutors are well aware of this, and by gaining a high grade, you can stand above students taking A levels in other subjects. This is particularly important for degree courses where entry is fiercely competitive.


Physics is essential for entry most engineering degree courses and careers.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact New College Swindon directly.

Last updated date: 28 April 2016

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