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Physics A-Level at St Leonards Catholic School

Course description

Physics at A Level is designed to give a seamless transition for students from their previous studies of Physics 1 (core science Y10) and Physics 2 (additional science Y11). The specification aims to develop interest and enthusiasm in the subject by introducing students to new and exciting areas of physics and to developing essential knowledge and understanding of key principles.

Course content


The AS course consists of five modules. Each module is testable in two written papers completed by the students at the end of their first year of study. Both papers are 1½ hours and make up 50% of the AS grade. Paper one covers all five modules and is made up of short and long style questions. Paper two is split into three sections: section A, a twenty mark paper testing the students’ knowledge on practical skills and data handling; section B, a twenty mark paper covering modules 1 – 5; and section C, a thirty mark multiple choice paper.

Section 1: Measurements and their errors

This section is a continuing study for a student of physics. A working knowledge of the specified fundamental units of measurement is vital.

Section 2: Particles and Radiation

This section introduces students both to the fundamental properties of matter, and to electromagnetic radiation and quantum phenomena.

Section 3: Waves

Here students will further their GCSE studies of wave phenomena and extend their knowledge of the characteristics, properties, and applications of travelling waves and stationary waves.

Section 4: Mechanics and Materials

Vectors and their treatment are introduced followed by development of the student’s knowledge and understanding of forces, energy and momentum.

Section 5: Electricity

This section builds on and develops earlier study of these phenomena from GCSE. It provides opportunities for the development of practical skills at an early stage in the course and lays the groundwork for later study of the many electrical applications that are important to society.

The A Level Course

The A level course consists of eight standard modules and one option module. All modules are testable in the three written papers completed by the students at the end of their two year study. All three papers are two hours long and make up 100% of the A level grade.

Section 6.1: Periodic Motion

The students earlier study of mechanics is further advanced through a consideration of circular motion and simple harmonic motion (the harmonic oscillator).

Section 6.2: Thermal Physics

This section allows the students to gain a greater understanding of the thermal properties of materials, the properties and nature of ideal gases, and the molecular kinetic theory.

Section 7: Fields and their consequences

The concept of field is one of the great unifying ideas in physics. The ideas of gravitation, electrostatics and magnetic field theory are developed within the topic to emphasise this unification.

Section 8: Nuclear Physics

This section builds on the work of Particles and radiation to link the properties of the nucleus to the production of nuclear power through the characteristics of the nucleus, the properties of unstable nuclei, and the link between energy and mass.

Option Choice: Section B of paper three offers students the opportunity to study one of the following optional topics to gain a deeper understanding and awareness of a selected branch of physics;

  • Astrophysics
  • Medical physics
  • Applied physics
  • Turning points in physics.

Entry requirements

  • each applicant must achieve at least eight GCSE or equivalent Level 2 Qualification passes at grade A*-G
  • each applicant must achieve at least five GCSE passes1 at grade A*-C
  • each applicant must achieve at least four GCSE B grades including at least a grade B2 in each subject to be taken at AS Level (see course entry requirements listed in section 6 of this admissions policy).
  • any applicant wishing to study a science subject (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) at AS Level must achieve at least a grade B in GCSE Additional Science if taking double science rather than separate sciences. If taking separate sciences then the applicant must achieve at least a grade B in the science subject to be taken at AS Level.
  • any applicant wishing to study a subject at AS that they are not currently studying at GCSE must consult the list of entry requirements listed in section 6 of this admissions policy.
  • any applicant currently studying a subject at GCSE that they wish to continue to study at AS must achieve at least a grade B in that subject at GCSE.
  • each applicant must study a minimum of four AS Level courses to completion in Year 12 and a minimum of three A2 Level courses to completion in Year 13.
  • each applicant must study the General Religious Education Course to completion

Future opportunities

Many universities recognise that physics is a difficult A level subject and often lower the entry grade required accordingly. Physics is a requirement for most engineering courses and is highly desirable for many other courses related to science. It can be used as a subject for any university course.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact St Leonards Catholic School directly.

Last updated date: 22 April 2015

Key information

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