Physics A Level at St Angela's Ursuline School
At St Angela’s we follow the OCR A-Level Physics course with a strong emphasis on concepts and ideas within the subject. The topics are built up and developed throughout the two years and allow students to grow in their ideas and subject knowledge. Although the course is not a context-based one, we do ensure that students have every opportunity to see how their physics can be used in the real world and the kinds of jobs, careers and university courses would develop from taking this exciting and challenging route.
The course covers all the areas of physics that universities would expect to see at the end of the qualification. Starting in year 12 with ideas of motion and Newtonian mechanics, we build up towards material science, electricity (direct current) as well as wave dynamics and basic quantum mechanics through a study of Einstein’s interpretation of the Photoelectric effect. In year 13 we are then able to take these ideas and open up areas of physics that is rapidly changing even today. These include astrophysics and cosmology (looking at the origins of the universe) as well as the tiny world of particle physics and the questions now being answered at world famous institutions such as CERN, where the Higgs Boson was recently observed.
The most important requirement is a desire to learn and study a subject that can sometimes be hard to grasp. Together with the ability to visualise concepts and quantify relationships this will give you the tools to succeed.
In terms of GCSEs, students do need to have at least two B grades from Core/Additional Science or from Triple Science.
Maths taken to AS level is very useful, but a sound mathematical ability and good problem solving skills are far more what is being looked for.
At the end of year 12 students take two exams based on all the material they will have studied over the past year. The first paper is designed around short answers and multiple choice, while the second paper looks for extended answers. 40% of each paper will be mathematical.
In year 13, to obtain the full A-Level, the students take two papers looking at certain topics and then a third paper covering the whole of the course (a synoptic paper). There is a practical requirement to the course, meaning that students will have to show competence in area of practical lab work through a minimum of twelve experiments.
Over the past few years, the vast majority of the physics students finishing the course have gone on to take engineering at university. This has included civil, mechanical, aeronautical and biomedical. The department has links with the Engineering Development Trust and can fix for students to go on work experience placements at the end of year 12 as well as taking summer schools at universities in London, including Imperial College. Other students have taken courses such as maths or combinations of maths and physics. Last year, one of our students obtained a place on a sought-after apprenticeship with British Aerospace
How to apply
If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact St Angela's Ursuline School directly.