Physics A-Level



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Exam Board: OCR


The study of advanced Physics allows individuals to examine the laws and principles that govern the behaviour of the physical world works at the very smallest of scales and at the very largest.

Many of these physical principles have important applications in contemporary technologies and the advanced Physics course offers the opportunity to see how these technologies were developed and how they are likely to evolve. This is important as technological developments often shape society and culture, and an appreciation of scientific and developments can help individuals to better adapt to these changes and perhaps even influence them.

What you learn

Units 1 and 2 concern the practical skills of scientific enquiry and the fundamental knowledge and concepts that underpin the ideas that are to follow.

Unit 3 ‘Mechanics’ extends several concepts that are encountered during the study of

Physics at GCSE level. Students learn to derive mathematical descriptions of an object’s motion as well as the forces that influence this motion. In addition to this, students will formalise descriptions of static (stationary) forces and examine the conditions necessary for equilibrium. The final section of this unit examines the effect that forces have on the physical properties of a range of materials and establishes how these properties determine the potential applications of a material.

Unit 4 ‘Electrons, Photons and Waves’ is a unit that is very broad in scope. In the first two

modules of this unit students will learn how to describe the behaviour of electrical circuits. They will then design and construct circuits to perform particular functions and analyse the principal features of the circuit. The third module in this unit involves an exploration of waves and their associated effects. Students will acquire the knowledge and understanding necessary to describe and explain the nature, action and consequences of waves and wave-motion. The final module in this particular unit is entitled ‘Quantum Physics’ and through the study of this module, students will explore the phenomenon of wave/particle duality at scales of the nanometre and below. They will also learn about the history of the development of what many physicists consider to be the most successful and complete physical theory that mankind has devised.

Unit 5 ‘The Newtonian World’ achieves three aims: firstly it extends several of the ideas delivered in the AS ‘Mechanics’ unit; secondly, it introduces the themes of circular motion and simple harmonic motion and establishes a link between two important physical concepts. Lastly, the thermal physics module explains the nature of heat at the molecular and atomic level and provides mathematical descriptions of thermodynamic systems.

Unit 6 ‘Fields, Forces and Frontiers’ is the unit that unifies many of the themes and concepts that have gone before, principally through an examination of gravitational, electric and magnetic fields and the forces that these fields may generate. In addition to this, the specialist areas of Nuclear Physics, Astrophysics and Medical physics are introduced, giving students insight into the most current and cutting-edge work in the realm of the physical sciences.

Skills that will be developed

Students will develop their skills of numeracy through the solving of real-world numerical problems and will further enhance existing skills of experiment design, data-analysis and experiment evaluation.


The United Kingdom accounts for 1% of the world population yet is responsible for 10% of global research & development and manufacturing. It is engineers who undertake this vital and lucrative work. There are many branches of engineering: electrical, structural, civil, environmental, aeronautical, medical, petrochemical to name but a few. Opportunities within these career sectors are open to individuals with the knowledge, understanding and skills that are delivered through a study of advanced and higher physics.


Students are required to purchase the recommended course text in each year of study. There may also be occasional charges associated with assessment packs, departmental trips and university lectures.