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Physics A'Level at Newstead Wood School

Course description

Exam board: OCR A

Course content

Units 1 – 4 are studied for AS Level, units 1 – 6 are studied for A Level.

  1. Development of practical skills in physics
  2. Foundations of physics
  3. Forces and motion
  4. Electrons, waves and photons
  5. Newtonian world and astrophysics (A level only)
  6. Partical and medical physics (A level only)

Methods of Learning

The course emphasises the importance of practical work to support both the understanding of the principles involved and the acquisition of lab skills. Students are also expected to learn new subject knowledge and become proficient in applying their knowledge to answer questions and solve Physics based problems. Students are encouraged to supplement their knowledge with background reading from course textbooks and other sources and to attend relevant lectures and courses.

Subject-specific Skills and Concepts

  • The ability to interpret phenomena in terms of physical principles.
  • The ability to apply understanding of physics in practical problem-solving and to demonstrate awareness of the limitations of theories and models.
  • The ability to design, plan and perform experiments and to evaluate results.
  • The understanding of the relationship of mathematical expressions and physical principles and of the social, philosophical, economical, industrial and environmental impact of physics.

Amount of homework time required per week

A minimum of 3 hours is expected but not more than 5 hours. The course is designed to develop students as independent learners: specific tasks are set but the expectation is that students will consolidate and expand on their learning from the classroom.

Significant Dates

All written examinations are taken at the end of the courses. The required practicals and endorsement process takes place during the courses. There are tracking sheets to verify attendance and completion of these tasks.

Entry requirements

To be accepted onto this course, students need at least a GCSE A in Physics (triple award) or AA in Science (dual award). Students will also require at least grade 7 in Mathematics, however all the skills needed will be dealt with during the course and no questions will be set in which the main interest is mathematical.



2 written examination papers, each 1 hour 30 minutes long. Both include any content from topics 1 – 4 (see Course content), including relevant practical skills.


3 written examination papers, two of the papers are 2 hours 15 minutes and the other paper is 1 hour 30minutes long. Paper 1 includes content from units 1, 2, 3 and 5, Paper 2 includes content from units 1, 2, 4 and 6 and Paper 3 includes content from all modules (see Course content). The first two papers include multiple choice questions and structured questions covering theory and practical skills. The third paper includes structured questions and extended response questions covering theory and practical skills. 


There is a minimum of twelve required practicals for A level and 6 of these are required for AS. In addition to these requirements there are many more practicals included throughout the course to support the specification. There is no coursework, but, there is an endorsement process for the practical element of the course. Note that although AS topics are also part of the A level course, the AS qualification is a stand-alone one. The AS papers include all types of questions that are in the A Level, but at a lower level. Students will be monitored closely in Year 12 and advice will be given regarding the option to sit the AS exam in the summer.

Future opportunities

Post A Level Progression

Physics is a constantly developing, exciting, challenging subject which provides an excellent base from which to consider a wide range of university courses and careers.

As well as being of interest to students intending on studying physical sciences or engineering, it is also seen as being of interest to medics as it contains topics relating to medical physics which give an exciting insight into the underlying principles of medical imaging techniques. Physics is also a significant component of the BMAT (medical entry) papers and studying it beyond GCSE does give students applying for medical schools requiring this for entry an advantage.

Past students have elected to study courses ranging from Radiography to Mechanical Engineering. A number of students have also enjoyed the opportunity to spend a Year in Industry either before University or during their course.

If you are considering taking Physics based Engineering or the Physical Sciences at University, it is strongly recommended that you take A level Mathematics to ensure that you will be able to meet the entry requirements of the courses.

Further information

Highlights and achievements

In 2016, at A level we achieved a 100% pass rate with 57% of students achieving an A* to B.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Newstead Wood School directly.

Last updated date: 15 November 2016
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