Physics

What Will I Study?

Physics B (Advancing Physics) takes a context-led approach. Learners study Physics in a range of different contexts, conveying the excitement of contemporary Physics. The course provides a distinctive structure within which candidates learn about fundamental physical concepts and about Physics in everyday and technological settings. Practical skills are embedded within the specification and learners are expected to carry out practical work in preparation for a written examination that will specifically test these skills.

Year 1:

Module 1 - Development of Practical Skills in Physics:

Physics is a practical subject and the development of practical skills is fundamental to understanding the nature of Physics. This course gives learners many opportunities to develop the fundamental skills needed to collect and analyse empirical data. Skills in planning, implementing, analysing and evaluating will be assessed in the written papers.

Module 2 - Fundamental Data Analysis:

This module gives learners many opportunities to analyse data collected in practical sessions or provided for them. Students will be exposed and trained in the techniques of analysis and the handling of experimental uncertainties throughout the course.

Module 3 - Physics in Action:

This module is split into two sections:

Communication:

This section is about waves, images, simple optics and electric circuits. The physics of the imaging and signalling section is approached through how information is gathered, processed, transmitted and presented. The sensing section covers the ideas involved in understanding electrical circuits, especially charge, current, potential difference, resistance, conductance and potential dividers.

Mechanical properties of materials:

This section is about materials and how their mechanical properties (and hence their applications) are related to their structures. The physics may be put into context through a study of materials in medicine and engineering. Human and cultural issues arise in considering the impact of materials on technology and society. There are many opportunities for gaining experimental experience and skills in these sections of the course.

Module 4 - Understanding Processes:

This module is split into two sections:

Waves and Quantum Behaviour:

This module provides progression from the application-oriented work in Physics in Action. Understanding Processes is organised around different ways of describing and understanding processes of change: motion in space and time, wave motion, quantum behaviour. It provides a sound foundation in the classical physics of mechanics and waves and takes the story further, touching on the quantum probabilistic view.

Space, Time and Motion:

In addition, this module develops classical mechanics, including vectors. The conservation of momentum, the kinematics of uniformly accelerated motion and the dynamics of motion in two dimensions under a constant force are covered.

Year 2:

Module 5 - Rise and Fall of the Clockwork Universe:

This module is split into two sections:

Models and Rules:

This module builds upon the work covered earlier in the course. The first section uses simple techniques to model radioactive decay, capacitor charging and discharging and simple harmonic motion. In this framework, the formalism of the differential equation is developed along with the concept of field. There are many opportunities for practical work and empirical data can be compared and contrasted to the predictions made by the simple mathematical models. The field model is developed through consideration of gravitational fields. The second section develops ideas about gravitational field strength and potential. Space flight and astronomical data can provide a context and there are further opportunities to consider the development of the modern view of the universe. The third section covers a descriptive and mainly qualitative outline of the main features of the observable universe consistent with the hot big bang model of its origin. The ideas of the universality of the speed of light and the relativistic consequence of time dilation are introduced.

Matter:

This part of the module considers how kinetic theory explains the behaviour of matter in probabilistic and mechanical terms. The beginnings of the basis of thermodynamic thinking appear in the study of the Boltzmann Factor. The first section explains ideal gas behaviour in terms of the kinetic theory. The second section introduces the Boltzmann Factor as the link between energy and temperature. The important idea that differences drive change is introduced here.

Module 6 - Field and Particle Physics:

This module is split into two sections:

Fields:

This section develops the idea of field that has been met in the earlier module. The first section treats the electromagnetic field in a practical context. The electric field, as the interaction between charges at rest, links back to the mathematically analogous model of the gravitational field. There are opportunities for discussing the social impact of the widespread distribution and use of electrical power and its influence on industrial societies. The second section covers interactions between charged particles and ideas about electric field and potential.

Fundamental Particles:

The work here concerns the structure and binding of atoms and nuclei and the nature of fundamental particles. The practical implications of radioactivity are considered, introducing the idea of risk. The first section considers scattering experiments as a source of evidence about the structure of atoms and nucleons. Ideas from earlier in the module are used to consider particle paths in magnetic and electric fields in the context of particle accelerators. Evidence for discrete energy levels leads on to a crude model of the atom as a particle in a box. This section gives more opportunities to discuss the development of models in physics and the international cooperation needed to fund large experiments. The second section sees changes in nuclear binding energy per nucleon as driving different types of decay. This leads to a consideration of nuclear power generation. The biological effects of ionising radiation are also considered, giving more opportunity to consider issues of ethics, decisionmaking and the risks and benefits of technology.


How Will I Be Assessed?

There are 3 Physics papers:

  • Fundamental of Physics - 110 marks - a 2 hour 15 minute written paper, worth 41% of the total A Level
  • Scientific Literacy in Physics - 100 marks - a 2 hour 15 minute written paper, worth 37% of the total A Level
  • Practical Skills in Physics - 60 marks - a 1 hour 30 minute written paper, worth 22% of the total A Level

The Practical Endorsement in Physics - a non-examined assessment which is reported separately


What Will I Need?

In addition to a solid GCSE knowledge from either Physics or Additional Science, a good understanding of Maths is also necessary.


What Can This Course Lead To/Prepare Me For?

Physics A Level is aimed at students who really enjoy Physics and those who possibly need it for Science-based university courses. It is also aimed at students who are likely to need to use Physics in their career.


Entry Requirements

To be accepted onto this A Level Physics course you will need at least 1 A grade in GCSE Science or Additional Science or an A grade in GCSE Physics. A grade 6 in GCSE Mathematics is also required.

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