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What will I study in A Level Physics?

The OCR Physics A specification is followed, providing a smooth transition from GCSE. There are six teaching modules and each module is further divided into key topics. Practical activities are embedded throughout the course and contribute to the achievement of the Practical Endorsement as well as enhancing learners’ understanding of physics theory and practical skills.

Module 1

Physics is a practical subject. The development and acquisition of practical skills is fundamental. The Physics A course provides learners with the opportunity to develop experimental methods and techniques for analysing empirical data. Skills in planning, implementing, analysing and evaluating will be assessed in the written examinations and also through the Practical Endorsement.

Module 2

The aim of this module is to introduce important conventions and ideas that permeate the fabric of physics. Understanding of physical quantities, S.I. units, scalars and vectors helps physicists to effectively communicate their ideas within the scientific community.

Module 3

The term force is generally used to indicate a push or a pull. It is difficult to give a proper definition for a force, but in physics we can easily describe what a force can do. A resultant force acting on an object can accelerate the object in a specific direction. The subsequent motion of the object can be analysed using equations of motion. Several forces acting on an object can prevent the object from either moving or rotating. Forces can also change the shape of an object. There are many other things that forces can do. In this module, learners will learn how to model the motion of objects using mathematics, understand the effect forces have on objects, learn about the important connection between force and energy, appreciate how forces cause deformation and understand the importance of Newton’s laws of motion.

Module 4

The aim of this module is to ultimately introduce key ideas of quantum physics. Electromagnetic waves (e.g. light) have a dual nature. They exhibit both wave and particle-like behaviour. The wave–particle dual nature is also found to be characteristic of all particles (e.g. electrons). Before any sophisticated work can be done on quantum physics, learners need to appreciate what electrons are and how they behave in electrical circuits. A basic understanding of wave properties is also required. In this module, learners will learn about electrons, electric current, electrical circuits, wave properties, electromagnetic waves and, of course, quantum physics. Learners have the opportunity to appreciate how scientific ideas of quantum physics developed over time and their validity rested on the foundations of experimental work.

Module 5

The aim of this module is to show the impact Newtonian mechanics has on physics. The microscopic motion of atoms can be modelled using Newton’s laws and hence provide us with an understanding of macroscopic quantities such as pressure and temperature. Newton’s law of gravitation can be used to predict the motion of planets and distant galaxies. In the final section we explore the intricacies of stars and the expansion of the Universe by analysing the electromagnetic radiation from space. As such, it lends itself to the consideration of how the development of the scientific model is improved based on the advances in the means of observation. In this module, learners will learn about thermal physics, circular motion, oscillations, gravitational field, astrophysics and cosmology.

Module 6

In this module, learners will learn about capacitors, electric field, electromagnetism, nuclear physics, particle physics and medical imaging.

Where does A Level Physics lead?

A-level physics is an essential course for engineering courses at university as well as being excellent preparation for further science study.