Physics A Level
A Level Exam Board: OCR
Physics is the subject that, more than any other, explains the universe around us at its most fundamental level. Understanding Physics is key to some of the biggest questions that humanity has ever asked, and is at the heart of our greatest technological achievements. There is no greater excitement than the thrill of seeking Physics’ cutting edge.
For a pupil wishing to study Physics it is essential that at least a grade 7 has been achieved at GCSE Physics (or a grade 7 in the Physics paper of Double Award Science). A Level Mathematics is strongly recommended as the two subjects are extremely complementary. Although it is possible to achieve highly without studying Mathematics in the Sixth Form, students should be aware of the extra work that will be necessary to develop their mathematical fluency in algebra and trigonometry in particular.
A good grade in A Level Physics is a gateway to an enormous range of University courses, all of which prize the high levels of numeracy and abstract logical thinking that Physics requires. It is universally seen as a highly academic subject. Almost all jobs requiring a level of technological ability will inherently rely upon a basic knowledge of Physics. For example, modern medicine makes extensive use of Physics in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. University courses in all types of Engineering (Electrical/Electronic, Civil, Mechanical and Aeronautical) require Physics and Mathematics at A Level. Physics and Engineering graduates are some of the most sought after in high earning or fast-tracked career paths in Banking, Finance, Marketing, Accountancy and Law. Some use their technical skills directly in Research and Development, Design or Manufacturing, others are involved in Marketing or General Management in technological industries, with Physics-related career opportunities growing to service our increasingly technologically advanced societies.
Structure of course:
Students are expected to take a curious attitude towards the world around them and seek a clear, concise understanding of the underlying causes and reasons for workings of the universe, from the sub-atomic to the cosmological scales. Students typically enjoy the simplicity of underlying Physical laws or love to understand the way things work and make their own creations, or appreciate the fundamental nature of the subject. In spanning almost 14 billion years of history, the course aims to develop a full understanding of concepts rather than just the ability to learn facts. Successful students learn to think abstractly, logically and creatively to apply their understanding to a diverse range of situations. Building upon GCSE, the course goes into far greater depth, and gives far more rigorous justification, both experimental and theoretical of familiar and unfamiliar material. Furthermore, students are expected to be able to apply their understanding within practical experiments to affirm or deny proposed theories.
The Lower Sixth course covers work on motion, energy, waves, electricity, the nature of light and quantum Physics. The Upper Sixth course covers orbital, circular and harmonic motion, field theories, both electromagnetic and gravitational, particle and nuclear physics, medical imaging, introductory thermodynamics, and astrophysics. Practical work plays a key role throughout both years of the course.
The A Level is awarded based on the results of a 2¼ hour Mechanics paper, another 2¼ hour paper covering Waves, Electromagnetism, Quantum, Medical and Particle Physics, and a third 1½ hour paper covering the whole syllabus. The A Level may also earn a practical endorsement which is awarded by OCR based on a sufficient standard of practical work over the two years. All students who successfully complete the two year course are expected to achieve the practical endorsement.