Physics

From the Ancient Greek “knowledge of nature”, physics unlocks the secrets of the universe: matter, energy, space & time, strange particles and invisible forces.

Course Overview
Year 1

Particles and Radiation: Fundamental properties of matter, electromagnetic radiation and quantum phenomena.

Waves: Development and extension of knowledge of the characteristics, properties, and applications of travelling waves and stationary waves, including refraction, diffraction, superposition and interference.

Mechanics and Materials: Introduction to vectors and their treatment followed by development of knowledge and understanding of forces, energy and momentum. This is followed by a study of materials in terms of their bulk properties and tensile strength.

Electricity: Builds on and develops earlier study of these phenomena from GCSE: current electricity, circuits, current–voltage characteristics, resistivity, potential divider, emf and internal resistance.

Year 2

Further Mechanics and Thermal Physics: Circular motion and simple harmonic motion followed by thermal properties of materials, the properties and nature of ideal gases, and an in depth study of molecular kinetic theory.

Fields and their Consequences: Field theory is one of the great unifying ideas in physics. The ideas of gravitation, electrostatics and magnetic field theory are developed within the topic to emphasise this unification. Practical applications considered include: planetary and satellite orbits, capacitance and capacitors and electromagnetic induction.

Nuclear Physics: This builds on the work of particles and radiation to link the properties of the nucleus to the production of nuclear power through the characteristics of the nucleus, the properties of unstable nuclei, and the link between energy and mass.

Astrophysics: Fundamental physical principles are applied to the study and interpretation of the Universe: telescopes, stars & galaxies, stellar spectral classes, supernovae, neutron stars & black holes, Hubble's law, quasars and exoplanets.

Progression

BSc physics or engineering. Engineering apprenticeships.

Careers

Astrophysicist; architect; satellite engineer; clinical scientist; coastal scientist; computer games designer; DJ; gravity researcher; ice scientist; laser fusion scientist; lecturer; material scientist; mechanical engineer; medical researcher; particle physicist; poker player; radar project manager; renewable energy manager; science communicator; solicitor; solar energy physicist; sound engineer; structural engineer; surgeon; teacher; tunnel engineer; TV producer; TV science adviser. (Source: Institute of Physics)

I think that physicists can do pretty much anything. Our training can be applied to almost any activity, and it allows us to see things in ways that might not be obvious to others.

Simon Singh, science writer and broadcaster

Key Facts

Qualification type:

A Level

Additional entry requirements:

B grade or higher in GCSE sciences, English and maths.

Assessment:

External examinations plus practical skills competences.

Opportunities for work-related activities:

The new A level physics course for 2015 incorporates a practical skills course that enables students to develop their laboratory skills.

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