Physics A level

Physics is the science that explains how the universe works from the sub-atomic scale up to the size of the universe. We investigate everything from the fundamental particles that are the basic building blocks of all matter up to the fields that determine the behaviour and evolution of our universe.

At A level we can develop many of the basic foundations covered at GCSE developing and deepening your knowledge and understanding of forces and fields in particular.

Physics has no limits – everything in your life, on this planet, other planets, to the far reaches of the universe and beyond is within physics. All the gadgets that we take for granted like laptops and mobile phones wouldn’t be here; nor would the electricity supply that charges them and powers so many other things we use every day. A physicist invented the World Wide Web and it’s hard to imagine a world without it – but when you were born not many people had heard of it. Physicists are constantly finding new things – this makes it a very interesting and challenging subject.

Physics is a great choice of subject for people who want a career in technology, engineering, architecture, materials science, medicine, and veterinary science. It is also good preparation for a wide range of careers such as research and development, business and law, finance & accountancy, education, and environmental science. It is usually required or recommended for degrees in most engineering disciplines and as such you are strongly advised to take A level mathematics to facilitate access to these courses.


A level Physics

Awarding body


Entry requirements

Ideally grade 7 or above in Physics (as a separate science) or 7-7 (Dual Award/Combined Science) at GCSE – candidates with grade 6 or 6-6 will be considered; ideally grade 6 or above in both Maths and English GCSE

Course outline

Measurements & their errors – the basic practical skills for all experimental investigation.

Particles & radiation – the fundamental properties of matter, electromagnetic radiation, and quantum phenomena.

Waves – knowledge of the characteristics, properties and applications of waves including refraction, diffraction, superposition & interference.

Mechanics & materials – development of an understanding of forces, energy, and momentum. Study of the bulk properties and tensile strength of materials.

Electricity – development of the understanding of charge and practical circuits.

Further mechanics & thermal physics – circular motion and simple harmonic motion. Thermal properties of materials, ideal gases, and molecular kinetic theory.

Fields and their consequences – a key unifying idea in physics. Field theories of gravitation, electrostatics and magnetism are developed in the context of the impact on modern society.

Nuclear physics – characteristics of the nucleus, unstable nuclei and the link between energy and mass. Nuclear energy production and impact on society.

Optional topic – Turning points – enables key developments in physics to be studied in depth so that students can appreciate, from a historical viewpoint, the significance of major conceptual shifts in the subject, both in terms of the understanding of the subject and in terms of its experimental basis


Three written examinations at the end of Year 13. At least 15% of the written papers will assess knowledge and understanding of practical skills. 40% of the papers will assess mathematical skills.

Practical endorsement – students will complete a minimum of 12 practical activities to demonstrate practical competence.


A level physics is a challenging but rewarding subject covering lots of interesting and weird things like the photoelectric effect
Year 13 student