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Physics A-Level at The North Durham Academy

Course description

Why study Physics?

Physicists play a vital role in many technology-based industries, such as optoelectronics, nanotechnology, computing and renewable energy. Others work in investigating the universe; searching for extra-solar planets or looking for the remnants of the big bang. Some might apply their knowledge in healthcare (medical physics), studying the processes of the Earth (geophysics) or the climate (meteorology).

The knowledge and skills that studying Physics develops are important in other areas as well. Predicting future market behaviour is vital in finance, and so a physicist’s ability to model complex systems is particularly valued in this sector, whilst logical thinking and an analytical approach is useful in Law.

Physics provides a broad training in skills that are valued by all employers; - an ability to grasp concepts quickly, a determination to find coherent answers, along with problem-solving, analytical, mathematical and ICT skills.

Exam Board

At North Durham Academy we use the OCR (A) specification. This consists of 6 units:

Course outline:

AS (Year 12)

G481 Mechanics

This unit builds on work you will have covered at GCSE. It includes topics such as Forces, Energy and Kinematics. Some of this work is taught in the context of ‘vehicle safety’.

G481 is taught in the Autumn term and examined in June of your first year (1 hour exam – 30% of AS course).

G482 Electrons, Waves and Photons

As well as covering basic electricity and electrical circuits, this unit looks at the behaviour of all types of waves (e.g. sound, light). As your ideas about waves develop, you will begin to delve into the strange world of Quantum Physics.

G482 is taught in the Spring term and examined in the June of your first year (1 hour 45 min exam – 50% of AS course)

G483 Assessment of Practical Skills

G483 is assessed by practical examination (like an ISA at GCSE), in the lab, during the Autumn and Spring terms (20% of AS course).

A2 (Year 13)

G484 Newtonian World

This unit looks at Classical Physics, including Momentum, Circular Motion, Simple Harmonic Motion and Thermal Physics.

G484 is taught in the Autumn term and examined in June of your second year (1 hour 15 min exam – 30% of A2 course).

G485 Fields, Particles and Frontiers of Physics

Electric, Gravitational and Magnetic Fields are studied, along with their similarities and differences. There is also some Cosmology, Nuclear and Atomic Physics, and Medical Physics.

G485 is taught in the Spring term and examined in the June of your second year (2 hour exam – 50% of A2 course)

G486 Assessment of Practical Skills

G486 is assessed by practical examination (like an ISA at GCSE), in the lab, at the end of the Summer term of your first year and in the Autumn term of your second year (20% of A2 course).

The complete specification, together with past exam papers, can be seen on the OCR website


How to apply:

To apply for a place at NDA16+ students should complete the application form available on our website.

Applications should be submitted as soon as possible. All applicants will be invited to discuss the course/courses applied for with a senior member of staff to ensure students are selecting the right course/courses. To help with the process we will also look at recent student reports and the attainment information provided by subject staff. Any offer of a place at North Durham Academy may well be dependant on students achieving specified GCSE grades.

Entry requirements

General Entry Criteria

The general criteria for entry to Year 12 of North Durham Academy’s 16+ courses are as follows:

  1. Most A Level and BTEC Level 3 courses: 5 separate GCSE subject passes at grades A* to C, including Maths and English.
  2. Meet the additional subject-specific requirements which are needed for some courses.
  3. For Maths, Science and Psychology courses, students will be required to complete a ‘Maths for Sixth Form’ course.
  4. Level 1/2 VRQ Courses: 4 GCSE grades at D or above preferably including Maths or English.
  5. Attend the Induction course in July and complete the Summer Bridging study packs relevant to the courses you want to study prior to enrolment.
  6. Agree to the conditions of the Sixth form Learning Agreement.

Any personal issues regarding entry criteria and extenuating circumstances can be raised and discussed at interview.


Entry Criteria:

Grade B in Maths and Physics Triple Science GCSE or Grade BB in Core and Additional Science GCSE.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The North Durham Academy directly.

Last updated date: 16 March 2015

Key information

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