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Physics AS/A2 Level at Alton College

Course description

The A Level Physics course has been designed by the Institute of Physics and provides a distinctive structure to allow students to learn about the fundamental physical concepts and about physics in everyday and technological settings. A key focus is on how Physics is applied today, using up to date information and techniques to develop ideas which are at the heart of Physics.

The course is supported by CD ROM, which is networked throughout the College. It contains experiments, activities, questions, images, displays and texts to read. The Colleges outstanding IT resources allow viewing of video clips, interaction with animations, performing virtual experiments and attempting interactive quizzes; all designed to help you grasp the fundamental physics concepts. To make full use of these facilities you will need a computer at home with a fast internet connection. There is also a textbook which accompanies and supports the course. A typical week may include a class experiment, working on material stored on the CD, discussion and development of ideas and research into application of the principles.

Course content

The one-year AS Level covers 4 specific areas of physics:

  • Practical Skills in physics (laboratory-assessed)
  • Foundations of Physics (quantities & units, measurement & analysis)
  • Forces and Motion (motion & projectiles, forces & work, energy & power, momentum & collisions)
  • Electrons, Waves and Photons (charge & current, energy & power, resistance & circuits; wave behaviour, interference & stationary waves, photons, electrons & quantum physics)

As well as continuing to develop Practical Skills (Centre Assessed component), two more modules complete the two year A-level course:

  • The Newtonian World and Astrophysics (thermal physics & ideal gases, oscillations & circular motion, gravitation & planetary motion, stars, stellar distance & cosmology)
  • Particle and Medical Physics (capacitors and electric fields, magnetic fields & electromagnetism, behaviour of charged particles in fields, nuclear atom, radioactivity, fission & fusion, fundamental particles; medical imaging & diagnosis using X-rays , PET scans, ultrasound and more)

For A-level students, exams will be taken at the end of the two year course, with an option to take AS at the end of year 12. However, an AS no longer counts as part of a full A-level.

Entry requirements

It is essential that you have gained at least grade B in Higher Tier Maths and a B in Physics or Double Science GCSE. Most students will take Maths AS/A Level alongside Physics. Students studying for Physics A-level should normally have achieved an average GCSE point score of 5.5 or above and at least a grade C in English.

In common with all subjects, at A Level there is a significant leap in the intellectual demands made on you and in the expectations of the staff teaching you. This is particularly true in Physics where the use of mathematics increases. You will succeed if you are motivated to work consistently and give your studies the time and energy they require.


Assessment will be by means of written exams at the end of each course. Students will also gain a Practical Endorsement based on skills developed and demonstrated during the A-level course. The table below details the percentage weighting of each assessment in the overall A level.

Assessment AS (Year 1) A Level (Year 2) Paper 1 90 mins (50%) 135 mins (37%) Paper 2 90 mins (50%) 135 mins (37%) Paper 3   90 mins (26%)

Practical Endorsement is Centre Assessed

To achieve a Practical Endorsement you will undertake a range of experiments to display your competency in:

  • Following procedures
  • Applying an investigative approach when using instruments and equipment
  • Working safely
  • Making and recording observations
  • Researching, referencing and reporting

Financial information

Essential: approximately £40 anticipated for new textbook and CDROM. All students will be expected to provide their own textbook and revision guide, stationery and calculators.

Optional: we organise visits to a number of venues, this year including Diamond Light near Oxford and CERN in Switzerland. Cost may range from £10 for a day trip to £300 for a CERN residential course.

If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of the financial support scheme on our website.

Future opportunities

Physics is an excellent qualification, well thought of by employers. It is an essential subject for a wide range of degree courses in Science and Engineering. The career possibilities are extensive ranging from industrial and scientific research through management, business and finance, to medicine and education.

Some of our past students:
Gina –studying Engineering at Cambridge University
James – studying Mathematics at Oxford University
Grace – studying Biomedical Engineering at King’s College London
Ben – studying Mathematics at Leeds University
Mary – studying Structural Engineering and Architecture at Sheffield University
Alex – studying Electronics at York University
Amelia – studying Physics at Southampton University

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 08 August 2016

Key information