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From September 2017, we will offer the OCR Physics A course. In Year 12 students will study Forces and Motion and Electrons Waves and Photons. In Year 13, they will move onto the Newtonian World and Astrophysics, and then Particle and Medical Physics. Whilst the course builds on many of the GCSE topic areas, the demands are far greater, especially in terms of the maths skills you are expected to use, but also in terms of concise explanations of difficult concepts.

What have students who have taken this course in the past progressed to?

Physics A-Level traditionally leads into the study of Physics, Engineering or Maths at university. However, it is also an extremely useful course for those wishing to pursue a career in Medicine, as it allows a fuller understanding of both the world that living organisms interact with and how many of the diagnostic and treatment devices used in hospitals and clinics work. After university, Physics is also one of the best ways of proving that you have the numeracy skills required for a career in banking and finance - a very high percentage of people working in these fields have Physics or Engineering degrees.

How will I learn?

The course has a significant practical element. There are a certain number of experiments and investigations which you are required to undertake, as well as many more which are used to help you understand concepts or develop important skills. There is an expectation that you will do a great deal of work as homework so that lesson time can be devoted to clearing up any problems you have encountered in your private or small group study. When students prepare properly in advance, much of your lesson time can then be spent discussing science instead of doing written work.

How will I be assessed?

Content is split into six teaching modules:

  • Module 1 – Development of practical skills in physics
  • Module 2 – Foundations of physics
  • Module 3 – Forces and motion
  • Module 4 – Electrons, waves and photons
  • Module 5 – Newtonian world and astrophysics
  • Module 6 – Particles and medical physics

At the end of Year 13, you will have three exams. The first paper assesses content from modules 1, 2, 3 and 5. The second paper assesses content from modules 1, 2, 4 and 6. The final paper assesses content from all modules (1 to 6)

Students gain practical skills throughout the course. These are assessed in the written examinations and in the practical endorsement.

How much time should I be expected to spend on assignments, projects, field trips etc.?

You will be expected to do a great deal of work outside of lesson time. Five hours will not be enough for most people to achieve the grades they want. Realistically, you will need to spend at least 7-8 hours working to complete homework, review key concepts introduced in lessons and prepare for upcoming lessons. This, of course, includes your Directed Study time, where you are advised to work with other members of your Physics group, time after school and time at home.

Which awarding body is the course validation by?

OCR. In 2017, we will offer the OCR Physics A course, not the Physics B course, so be careful if you are researching the course online.

Expected prior knowledge

To be do well on this course, your prior knowledge is less important than your skills. You will need to be able to use a wide range of mathematical skills. The most important is algebra, which you will need to use well from the start of the course, but you will need to quickly develop fluency in standard form, logarithms, graph skills and calculus. You will need to be able to interpret very complicated diagrams, and draw clear diagrams of your own. You will need to be very literate so that you concisely explain concepts using both words and the appropriate symbols and equations.

Most important of all, you will need to be interested in the Physics that you will be taught, or you simply will not be able to motivate yourself enough to study hard enough.