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Physics A Level at The Downs School

Course description

Students at The Downs follow the OCR Physics B course. The course is also known as 'Advancing Physics' and was developed in association with the Institute of Physics to give a thorough grounding in contemporary Physics. At its heart, Physics is about trying to answer some of the „big‟ questions in life. What will happen to the Universe in the future? Where did we come from? What are we made of? How and why do things interact in the way that they do?

The Advancing Physics course offers a glimpse of the beauty and order from which the world around us made. The course is up to date and varied and is presented in a way to convey the excitement of the subject. It presents Physics in a wide range of real life situations, linking well to research that is currently being carried out within the Physics community.

Physics is a challenging subject that will definitely make you think. It requires a step up from GCSE in terms of the level of working as well as the mathematical skills that are used; in Physics we use numbers and mathematics to help interpret the world around us. However, if you are a determined character with a curious nature, positive attitude and a hard worker then you will be well suited to the course.

Course content

Module 1 – Development of practical skills in Physics This module lays the foundations for students to be able to do good quality practical work in Physics by helping them to learn how to plan, implement, analyse and then evaluate practical work. They learn about the correct use of a range of different apparatus and techniques. This module is embedded throughout the content of the specification and is developed as we move through the full A-level course.

Module 2 – Fundamental data analysis This module teaches the students how to process and analyse the data that they may obtain from practical sessions. Students are taught a range of skills that will enable them to process data correctly, such as how to write numbers in standard form as well as how prefixes are used within Physics. Added to this, students consider how uncertainties arise within data and also how they can be minimised. Added to this, students consider how a range of factors such as accuracy, precision, resolution, sensitivity, response time, systematic error and zero error might affect the quality of data obtained. This module is embedded throughout the content of the specification and is developed as we move through the full A-level course.

Module 3 - Physics in Action The module is broadly split into two sections, focussing on „Communications‟ and the „Mechanical properties of materials‟. Communications is about electrical circuits and sensors, waves as signals and imaging. The mechanical properties of materials introduces students to material properties and how these depend on the structure of the material. Students also consider how they help determine the choice of material for a given purpose.

Module 4 - Understanding Processes The unit is split into two halves, with one half focussing on „Mechanics‟ and the other considering „Waves and Quantum Behaviour‟. The Mechanics aspect focuses on vectors and calculations involving space and time. Waves and Quantum Behaviour focuses mainly on the understanding of superposition phenomena of waves with a brief account of quantum behaviour of photons and electrons.

Module 5 - Rise and Fall of the Clockwork Universe This develops the grand conception of the world as a mathematical machine. „Models and Rules‟ covers the core Physics of random decay and the charge on a capacitor, energy and momentum, the harmonist oscillator and circular orbits. „Matter in Extremes‟ shows how theories of matter and atoms explain behaviour.

Module 6 - Field and Particle Physics This introduces the modern picture of fields and particle interactions as fundamental mechanisms of nature. „Fields‟ covers ideas about electromagnetism, electric field and potential. „Fundamental particles‟ describes atomic, nuclear and sub-nuclear structure.

Entry requirements

GRADE B in GCSE Physics or Additional Science GRADE B in GCSE Mathematics.


5 Exams.

Future opportunities

Physics is one of the most highly regarded A-level courses by employers and universities and, as such, the course supports students in a diverse range of destinations post sixth form.

At University level, Physics opens the door towards Science, Maths and Engineering courses as well as supporting students who may wish to progress to a Humanities based subject.

Employers also recognise the importance of A-level Physics and actively seek to recruit students who have completed Physics as a result of the way that students are trained and encouraged to think in a logical manner.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The Downs School directly.

Last updated date: 26 June 2015

Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 1 - 2 Years