Physics
A level

Physics is ambitious in its remit, it attempts to understand the nature of energy and matter – in other words it covers almost everything.  From the unimaginably small components of matter to the mind-blowing vastness of the universe we will give you an introduction to some of the ideas that underlie physics and the advances we have made in understanding them.

The course covers fundamental ideas in physics. You will study:

1. Measurements and their errors
2. Particles and radiation
3. Waves
4. Mechanics and materials
5. Electricity
6. Further mechanics and thermal physics
7. Fields and their consequences
8. Nuclear physics

There is also an additional topic comprising one of the following:

9. Astrophysics
10. Medical physics
11. Engineering physics
12. Turning points in physics
13. Electronics

We very much believe in hands-on physics and giving you the chance to see things happen.  We always include as many different types of activity as possible:

  • practical work to develop your skills and enhance your understanding of the theory
  • 12 required practical activities to assess your practical skills
  • demonstrations of physical principles
  • questions requiring calculations or written answers
  • quizzes
  • using the course textbooks and online resources
  • discussing concepts and their implications
  • thinking

This is a two year linear A level course.  In the second year of the course, you will take external exams that assess content covered in the first and second year.  These exams will determine your A level grade.

There are three papers at the end of the second year:

  • Paper 1 - sections 1 to 5 and 6.1 (periodic motion) – 34%
  • Paper 2 - sections 6.2 (thermal physics), 7 and 8 – 34%
  • Paper 3 - Section A: practical skills and data analysis. Section B: additional topic (one of sections 9 to 13) - 32%

A separate endorsement of practical skills will be taken alongside the A level.  This will be assessed by your teacher and will be based on direct observation of your competency in a range of skills not assessable in written exams.

For any degree course, or most apprenticeships directly related to physics, you will need to study mathematics as well.  This includes any type of engineering or economics course.  For a third subject, there are many options, including further maths, computing, economics, geography, law, another science or any foreign language.  Students have also chosen to study it successfully with subjects such as English, history and art.

A pass in physics is essential for many careers including those in science, engineering and the medical field, but don’t forget that physics is a highly regarded A level whatever your future choice of career.  Physics graduates are highly valued for their problem-solving and numeracy.  Some examples of other careers open to you include: architecture, engineering, economics, research and development, merchant banking, oceanography, photography, cartography, science broadcasting or journalism, computer-aided design, quantity surveying, graphic art and technical jobs in media.

Please see below for careers and labour market information for physics - use the refresh buttons to find out about different courses and careers, and use the left and right arrows to view more detailed information.

You can find the prep work for this course at prepwork.farnborough.ac.uk.

Q:  What grades are required?
A:  You should have a grade 7 in maths, and must study maths at A level.  You should have a grade 6-6 in GCSE double science, or grade 6s in physics and another science.  You should have a grade 5 in English language.

Q:  Will it matter if I've done double science rather than triple?
A:  Not at all, we have evaluated students' final A level results and found there is no statistical difference between those who studied double compared to triple science.

Q:  Do I need to study maths as well?
A:  Yes.  There are two reasons for this:
- A level physics has a high maths content and without the support of maths, some students struggle with their physics.
- Many HE courses and apprenticeships you might be considering when choosing to study A level physics also require you to have A level maths too, e.g. areas such as physics, engineering, architecture and economics. 
-  Further mathematics should be taken if you are a potential applicant to the most competitive universities for a physics-related course.


Q:  What subjects go well with it?
A: Apart from maths there are many options, including further maths, computing, economics, geography, law, another science or any foreign language.  Students have also chosen to study physics successfully with subjects such as English, history, business and art.  

Q:  How big are classes?
A:  Because we work in labs and try to do as much practical work as we can, which of course involves a lot of equipment, our classes are limited to 20 students.

Q:  What do you do in lessons?
A:  We very much believe in hands-on physics and giving you the chance to see things happen.  We always include as many different types of activity as possible:
- practical work to develop your skills and enhance your understanding of the theory
- 12 required practical activities to assess your practical skills
- demonstrations of physical principles
- questions requiring calculations or written answers
- quizzes
- using the course textbooks and online resources
- discussing concepts and their implications
- thinking.

 

Exam Board

AQA Learn More

Entry Requirements

  • You should have at least a grade 7 in GCSE maths, and must study maths at A level.
  • You should have at least a grade 6-6 in GCSE double science, or grade 6s in physics and another science.
  • You should have at least a grade 5 in GCSE English language.
  • If you are considering applying to the most competitive universities (for example: Oxbridge, Imperial, Brunel) for a Physics-related course then you should also take A-level Further Mathematics. These universities will expect this qualification from serious applicants
  • A combination of physics, biology and chemistry may be appropriate for some students who have ambitions to become doctors, dentists or vets. In this instance we are willing to consider students who wish to study A level physics without A level maths.

Employability Skills

  • Develop logical analysis
  • Problem solving
  • Competency with mathematical methods
  • Literacy skills/step-by-step logical explanations

Course Resources

A level Physics for AQA - ISBN: 9781789080483, CGP