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Physics AS and A Level *Fees Payable* at Benenden School *Fees Payable*

Course description

Why study Physics?

Physics attempts to discover the fundamental laws describing the behaviour of matter and energy and to use these laws to understand phenomena that take place on every scale, ranging from the inside of a proton to the entire universe. Unlike the other sciences, Physics has no limits. It isn’t restricted to living matter or to things made from atoms – it applies to everything, at all times and in all places. As such, it is an extremely interesting subject to study.

Since the laws of physics are mathematical in form the student of physics learns how to apply mathematical knowledge to real-world problems. This makes a knowledge of physics useful or essential for people intending to study a wide range of other subjects such as Mathematics, Engineering of any sort, Architecture, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Climatology, Economics, Medicine, and even Biology.

Physics is in no sense a “soft” A Level: it is intellectually challenging and it impresses admissions tutors even if it is not directly related to the subject being applied for. Although AS Physics won’t get you onto a Physics degree course at university and will not be enough for many engineering courses, the fact is that even AS Physics will give you experience in applying mathematical laws to real-life situations and will therefore still be relevant to many related subjects, including Mathematics, Architecture, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Climatology, Economics, Medicine and Biology.

Course content

The Physics AS Level course involves one year of study, with written examinations taken in the summer of Year 12. There is no external or internal assessment of practical skills. Practical skills do not contribute to the final grade. However, because you will be taught alongside students who go on to study the full A Level course you will do plenty of experiments which will be marked and assessed by your teachers.

In the course you will study measurements, data analysis, scalars and vectors, Newton’s theory of motion, the properties of materials, current electricity, waves, atomic structure and elementary quantum physics. All of this is studied in more depth than in the IGCSE course and the ideas are applied to a wider range of more realistic problems.

The Physics A Level course involves two years of study, with examinations taken at the end of the second year. There is no externally-assessed coursework or controlled assessment. Laboratory skills are assessed by your teachers as part of the A Level qualification and this assessment results in a Pass/Fail mark. Practical skills do not contribute to the final grade.

The first year covers the AS course content detailed above. The second year of the course includes sections on thermal physics, more advanced mechanics, astrophysics, nuclear and particle physics and applications of physics to medicine and engineering.

Entry requirements

A good grasp of IGCSE Physics is essential – a Grade A in Physics if you have followed the triple award course, or at least an AB from the dual award course. 40% of the marks in the written papers will come from mathematics of GCSE standard or higher. Grade A in GCSE or IGCSE Mathematics is recommended.

The AS course does not involve any mathematics above GCSE standard so it is not necessary to study Mathematics at AS or A Level in order to do AS Physics, although it is strongly recommended.

For the full A Level course studying Mathematics at least to AS Level is very strongly recommended indeed. The overlap between Physics and Mathematics will help a lot with both courses. 

Future opportunities

For many careers A Level knowledge of physics is essential. Examples include aeronautical engineer, astronaut(!), astrophysicist, astronomer, civil engineer, climatologist, computer game designer, careers in the energy sector, environmental scientist, geophysicist, mechanical engineer, medical physicist, meteorologist, nuclear engineer, racing car designer, renewable energy specialist, sound engineer …

Plenty of careers would benefit from and welcome a Physics AS Level, such as: medicine, veterinary science, programming, architecture, pathology, clinical scientist, financial analyst, law, journalism, any mathematics-related career, patent law, philosophy …

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Benenden School *Fees Payable* directly.

Last updated date: 06 December 2016
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