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Physics - AQA A Level at East Durham College

Course description

Awarding Body - AQA

If you are already interested in the physics topics in your science studies at GCSE then you should consider studying physics. If you would like to know more about fundamental ideas such as quantum mechanics, relativity and cosmology, then physics may be for you. If you are good at maths and if you find mathematical solutions to problems satisfying, then studying AS or A level physics is worth serious consideration. Students can choose to study the standalone AS Level or the full A Level.

The AS level is assessed using two exams in the May/June. Both papers are 1 hour 30 minutes and assess all the content covered in the AS Level (sections 1 to 5). They are worth 50% of the AS each. Paper 1 consists of a mixture of short and long answer questions split by topic. Paper 2 consists of three sections. Section A is a mixture of short and long answer questions on practical skills and data analysis. Section B is a mixture of short and long answer questions covering all areas of the AS content (sections 1 to 5). Section C includes 30 multiple choice questions.

The A level is assessed using three exams in the May/June. All three papers are 2 hours long. Paper 1 is worth 34% of the A level and covers all of the AS content and periodic motion from the A Level content (section 1 to 5 and 6.1). It is a mixture of short and long answer questions and 25 multiple choice questions. Paper 2 is also worth 34% of the A Level and assesses the remainder of the A Level content (sections 6.2, 7 and 8). It consists of short and long answer questions and 25 multiple choice questions. Paper 3 is worth 32% of the A Level. This paper consists of two sections. Section A is a compulsory section which assesses practical skills and data analysis. In section B students answer questions on one of the optional topics (sections 9 to 13). Students will sit the AS exams at the end of year one and A level exams at the end of year two.

Course content


Core content:
1.Measurements and their errors, including use of SI units and their prefixes, limitations of physical measurement, estimation of physical quantities
2.Particles and radiation, including constituents of the atom, particle interactions, collisions of electrons with atoms
3.Waves, including progressive waves, interference, diffraction
4.Mechanics and materials, including projectile motion, Newton’s laws of motion
5.Electricity, including current/voltage characteristics, circuits, electromotive force and internal resistance
6.Further mechanics and thermal physics, including periodic motion, thermal energy transfer, molecular kinetic theory model (A-level only)
7.Fields and their consequences, including Newton’s law of gravitation, orbits of planets and satellites, magnetic flux density (A-level only)
8.Nuclear physics, including evidence for the nucleus, radioactive decay, nuclear instability (A-level only)

Options – Learners study one option topic only
9.Astrophysics, including classification of stars by luminosity, Doppler effect, detection of exoplanets (A-level only)
10.Medical physics, including physics of vision, ECG machines, x-ray imaging (A-level only)
11.Engineering physics, including rotational dynamics, thermodynamics and engines (A-level only)
12.Turning points in physics, including discovery of the electron, Einstein’s theory of special relativity (A-level only)
13.Electronics, including discrete semiconductor devices, data communication systems (A-level only)


Entry requirements

For Physics you will need grade B or above in GCSE Physics (triple award) or B, B from Dual Award Science.

For a 3 A level programme you will need to have a minimum of 5 A* - C grade passes at GCSE which includes English and Mathematics.

For a 4 A level programme you will need to have a minimum of 6 A* - C grade passes at GCSE which includes English and Mathematics; it is expected that the majority of passes will be at A* - A grade.


There will be two written papers at both AS and A2 Level and also internal assessment of
practical skills at both levels too. Internal assessment of practical skills is based on
completing OCR set tasks. Each task is marked by the teacher using specific, OCR mark
schemes. Examination series are available in May/June.

Financial information

*We make every effort to publish correct fees, however all fees are subject to change. Fees are correct as at the current time and are subject to change up to the date of enrolment.

Future opportunities

Physics can help you progress into a wide range of areas, for example in applied physics, astrophysics, geophysics, material technology, forensic science, engineering, meteorology and medical physics. Also into complementary career areas, such as medicine, mathematics, computing, finance, law, accountancy and many more.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact East Durham College directly.

Last updated date: 12 April 2016
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