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GCSE Physics

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Why study Physics?

Exam board and specification code: Edexcel 4PH1 – International (9-1) iGCSE

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 display screen uses liquid crystals and optics.

Physics can be applied in very many fields, and apart from its intrinsic intellectual merit, the training in clear thinking is regarded as an asset to any University course. It can lead to a professional research and development career, and is the gateway to all Engineering subjects at University.

What is covered by the course?

The course in split into the following sections:

  • Forces and Motion
  • Electricity
  • Waves
  • Energy Resources and Energy Transfer
  • Solids, Liquids and Gases
  • Magnetism and Electromagnetism
  • Radioactivity and Particles
  • Astrophysics

The teaching of the course also involves a number of Core Practical experiments, to develop practical skills and illustrate the concepts introduced in the lessons and textbook.

How is it examined?

Two papers are taken at the end of the second year of the course.  In the new GCSE (9-1) system, the Foundation papers target grades 1-5 and the Higher papers target grades 4-9.

Paper 1 2 hours 61.1%

Paper 2 1 hour and 15 minutes 38.9%

Both papers have questions from any subject area, but paper 2 questions have more depth.

Suggested reading:

Reading about current developments, and following sites and links on the Internet will spur your interest in the subject.

‘The Elegant Universe’ Brian Greene

‘A Short history of nearly everything’ Bill Bryson

‘Stuff Matters’ Mark Miodownik