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Physics A level at Esher College

Course description

Physics helps us to understand nature from the smallest possible scale deep inside the atom to the largest conceivable distance stretching across the entire universe. You will discover how physicists use observations and measurements to devise theories and laws which are then refined through further testing. You will examine the application of Physics to the development of a wide range of technologies.

You will need to have developed a good range of mathematical skills at GCSE, particularly in algebra, geometry, trigonometry and graph work. You will extend these skills and also learn to reason clearly, communicate ideas, interpret data and solve problems. You will also advance your ability to interpret, explain and evaluate the results of experimental activities.

Course content

The first year builds on topics already familiar to you. Electricity provides opportunities for practical work and the study of important technical applications. Mechanics and Materials develop your understanding of forces and energy and their effects on solids. The properties and applications of waves are examined. You will also venture into the more modern fields of Quantum Phenomena and particles, introducing you to the fundamental properties and nature of matter and radiation. Your investigative and practical skills will be developed through a variety of experimental  activities.

The second year builds on the first year topics. Further work in Mechanics introduces circular and oscillatory motion. You will explore Gravitational, Electric and Magnetic fields and examine applications such as Capacitors. Nuclear Physics looks at the properties of unstable nuclei and how energy is obtained from the nucleus, while Thermal Physics investigates the thermal properties of materials, gases in particular. In addition there is an optional topic, in which you will study some of the applications of these fundamental principles. There is also further development of your investigative and practical skills.

Entry requirements

The minimum entry requirement for study at Esher College is 5 GCSEs at A* - C (or 9 – 4 in Maths and English).  We encourage students to aim significantly higher than this to ensure that study programmes are successfully completed.

A Level Physics is a strongly theory based course that is assessed by exams and builds directly on GCSE work in Physics and Maths. National evidence suggests it is difficult to succeed unless you have an appropriate base of knowledge and a good track-record of success in exam based courses at GCSE. In addition to the College’s general entry criteria, you will need to achieve a minimum of BB in GCSE Science and Additional Science (or B in GCSE Physics with other sciences at C grade or better) together with a grade 6 in GCSE Maths. Applied Science or Additional Applied Science or non-GCSE Science qualifications are not suitable as preparation for A Level study.

If you do not have a grade 4 in either GCSE English Language or Maths and you qualify to follow a study programme at the College, you will be required to retake one or both of these subjects in your first year.  A lack of GCSE English Language at grade 4 will significantly restrict study programme options.


100% written examination consisting of three 2 hour papers completed at the end of the 2 years. They will contain multiple choice and extended written questions which will assess your understanding of the course content including knowledge of specific core practicals.

Through the course you will carry out 12 'core' practicals. There will be questions on these in the exams. 

Future opportunities

When combined with Mathematics, Physics A Level will enable you to progress to Higher Education  and careers in fields such as Physics, Astrophysics, Medical Physics, Geophysics, Space Science, Telecommunications, Engineering and Computer Science. Materials Science and Chemical Engineering are options if you study Chemistry in addition to Physics and Mathematics. Many financial institutions actively seek Physics graduates.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 12 October 2016
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