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A-Level Physics

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Why study Physics?

A-level, Edexcel 9PH0

Physics is a set of principles and a body of knowledge, developed over centuries, which describes the way everything works from the smallest nuclear particle to the expansion of the universe.

Physics underlies most of the technological developments that we see around us. For example, when we use a computer, we are applying the results of understanding quantum mechanics in the silicon chip microprocessor at its heart, we are using lasers and advanced magnetic materials to store enormous quantities of information, and the computer communicates with us through a screen using liquid crystals and optics.

It is also a continuously developing subject. Two of the most recent discoveries are the Higgs boson and graphenes. The Higgs boson required enormous resources and equipment, and many physicists using their theoretical and practical skills. By contrast graphene materials (Nobel Prize 2010), which are carbon sheet materials one atom thick, were ingeniously made using graphite and adhesive tape, but have potential applications in many areas. All the physicists involved once studied at A level.

Physics at A level requires consistent hard work, and good ability in Mathematics is an essential prerequisite. You will develop skills involving practical investigation, problem solving, and applying your wide knowledge in examinations.

What is covered by the course?

Year 1:

  • Mechanics
  • Materials
  • Electric circuits
  • Waves
  • Particle nature of light

Year 2:

  • Further mechanics
  • Gravitation, electric and magnetic fields
  • Nuclear and particle physics
  • Nuclear radiation
  • Thermodynamics
  • Space
  • Oscillations

Throughout the course, there are a number of specific Core Practical experiments, which have to be done and properly recorded, which are internally assessed and externally moderated. This leads to the Science Practical Endorsement.

How is it examined?

At the end of two years, there are three examination papers:

Paper 1 Advanced Physics I:

Mechanics, Electric Circuits, Further Mechanics, Electric and Magnetic Fields, Nuclear and particle physics: 1 hr 45 min, 90 marks

Paper 2 Advanced physics II:

Materials, Waves and the particle nature of light, Thermodynamics, Space, Nuclear
Radiation, Gravitational fields, Oscillations: 1 hr 45 min, 90 marks

Paper 3 General and Practical Principles in Physics:
Synoptic questions and questions to test understanding of experimental methods, drawing on the Core Practicals: 2 hr 30 min, 120 marks

The Science Practical Endorsement is teacher assessed against the Common Practical
Assessment Criteria. This is a pass/fail statement, and does not affect the overall grade.