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Physics A Level at The Archbishop's School

Course description

Y12 consists of a variety of contrasting topics: particle physics, electricity, mechanics, materials and waves. You will start to see how these ideas work together, and begin to grasp the universal principles that apply to everything from the smallest atom to the largest galaxy.

Work on particle physics introduces students to the fundamental properties and the very nature of matter itself. This includes the exciting world of radiation and quantum phenomena. In contrast, the study of electricity builds on and develops previous GCSE studies, looking at practical applications and providing many opportunities for practical work.

Mechanics introduces students to vectors and then develops knowledge and understanding of forces, energy and momentum from GCSE Additional Science. Materials are studied in terms of their bulk properties and tensile strength. The final section extends GCSE studies on waves by developing in-depth knowledge of the characteristics, properties and applications of waves. This includes theories of refraction, diffraction, superposition and interference.

Practical work is at the heart of Physics. A rich diet of practical work is essential to develop students manipulative skills and understanding of the processes of scientific investigation. In Y12 students will carry out a variety of experiments, 6 of which are prescribed by the exam board and which may form the basis of examination questions. In Y13 students continue to develop their practical skills. A further 6 questions are prescribed by the exam board which, again, may form the basis of questions in the final examination.

In addition the assessment of practical skills through the examinations students will complete an endorsement of their practical skills which is assessed by their teacher. Successful completion of the assessment will be recorded separately on the student’s certificate.

The Y13 course builds on the techniques, knowledge and skills gained from the Y12 work.  Further Mechanics involves the study of circular and oscillatory motion, including simple harmonic motion and forced vibrations and resonance. Gravitational, electric and magnetic fields are also studied. Electric fields lead onto work on capacitors and how quickly they charge and discharge through a resistor. Work on magnetic fields leads onto the important concept of electromagnetic induction and how it is used in the generation and transmission of alternating current. The thermal properties of materials and the properties and nature of gases are also studied in depth. Nuclear Physics looks at the characteristics of the atomic nucleus, the properties of unstable nuclei and how energy is obtained from the nucleus. 

Entry requirements

5 A* - C at GCSE including English and Mathematics Grade B or higher in GCSE Additional Science

(Grade B in higher level Mathematics is advised)


Lessons will be taught using a variety of approaches and resources.  Interactive online resources are used in conjunction with the AQA approved textbooks to supplement traditional means of learning. Department laptops may also be used for more research-based exercises. Students will learn to use practical observations and mathematical relationships to solve practical problems. The practical lessons themselves are also an essential part of the course that enable students to practice the theoretical skills that they have learned. 

Future opportunities

The logical problem solving skills that you will learn by studying Physics are transferable skills, which are ever more sought after in today’s ever growing and changing job market. For that reason Physics is an extremely well regarded A-level and leads to a host of career opportunities or options for further education. Studying Physics at A-level can lead to careers in Astrophysics, Satellite engineering, Renewable resource management, Weather forecasting, Architecture, Medicine, Mechanical engineering and Civil engineering amongst many other less obvious fields of employment.

How to apply

You can apply for this course through UCAS Progress. Add this course to your favourites so you can start making an application.

Last updated date: 30 January 2017
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