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A Level Physics
Method of Assessment:
Students complete two written papers, both lasting 1 hour 30 minutes. Both papers will assess content from all five AS modules, including the practical skills module 1.
A Level Physics
There are three written papers to assess A Level Physics. Paper 1 assesses modules 1 to 5 along with 6.1, whilst paper 2 assesses 6.2, 7 and 8 (Knowledge of the other sections is assumed. Both of these papers are 85 marks and worth 34% and are made up of 60 marks of short and long answer questions along with 25 multiple choice questions. The third paper is worth 90 marks and composed of one section on all modules, in addition to a section where students answer on their option choice module content. The practical skills of students are assessed throughout the course, leading to a separate certificate called ‘Practical Endorsement in Physics’ – this is simply pass/fail depending on skills shown throughout the course.
The new specification A Level Physics course requires students to complete all modules and be assessed on them all at the end of two years of study – i.e. in Year 13. The A Level is no longer formed of ‘AS’ plus ‘A2’. However, students can choose to study Physics for just one year (modules 1-5) and complete the relevant exams to attain an AS Level in Physics.
Year 12 Content
Students choosing to only study Physics to AS Level complete five modules and will need to sit two exams. All five modules will be assessed on both papers, a significant change from previous courses.
Module 1 – Measurements and their errors
The content of this module is embedded throughout all the content of the Physics specification. This module is designed to develop the skills of planning, implementing, analysis and evaluation. Evaluating methods and interpreting results of practical investigations will be assessed through the written examinations at AS and A Level, in addition to the Practical Endorsement which is internally assessed throughout the course at A Level only - where students receive a pass/fail practical certificate alongside their grade at the end of the full Physics A Level.
Module 2 – Particles and radiation
In this module students learn about the fundamental properties of matter, radiation, and energy. Students will also gain awareness of the ongoing development of new ideas in physics and of in-depth knowledge to well-established concepts.
Module 3 – Waves
In this module, students look at wave measurements and general properties of waves. Some of these properties apply to all waves – including refraction, diffraction and interference. Students will also find out how to create standing waves.
Module 4 – Mechanics and materials
In this module, students look at the principles and applications of mechanics and materials. These areas underpin many work-related areas including engineering, transport, and technology. A lot of technologies and devices have been developed in these subject areas, including vehicle safety features and nanotechnology.
Module 5 – Electricity
Students will get to deepen their understanding of GCSE electricity in this module, as well as gain experience of practical work in electricity, which will help them to design and construct low-voltage electric circuits and to analyse circuits that have different components.
Year 13 Content
Students who choose to study Physics to A Level will complete two years of study and will be assessed on their learning across those two years at the end of Year 13. All content, right from the start of Year 12, will be assessed at this time – this is often referred to as a ‘linear’ course (rather than the previous ‘modular’ course). In addition to the five modules described above, students complete three further modules that stretch the content to higher levels, as well as an option module. (It should be stressed here that contrary to previous years, the AS course is not a subset of the A Level course and therefore the AS examination will not contribute at all to the A Level examinations. They are assessed independently.)
Module 6 – Further mechanics and thermal physics
The impact Newtonian mechanics has on Physics is shown in this module. The microscopic motion of atoms can be modelled using Newton’s laws and hence provide us with understanding of macroscopic quantities such as pressure and temperature.
Module 7 – Fields and their consequences
In this module, learners will learn about different types of fields. They will get to look at the differences between gravitational, electric and magnetic fields, as well as look at how all of these fields are incredibly similar.
Module 8 – Nuclear physics
This section builds on the work of Particles and radiation to link the properties of the nucleus to the production of nuclear power through the characteristics of the nucleus, the properties of unstable nuclei, and the link between energy and mass. Students should become aware of the physics that underpins nuclear energy production and also of the impact that it can have on society.
There is also an optional module where there is the option for students to study astrophysics, medical physics, engineering physics, and turning points in physics or electronics.
Students require a minimum of a grade 5 in 7 different subjects at GCSE (or equivalent), including English (Literature or Language) and Mathematics, with at least a grade 6 in Separate Science Chemistry, or a 6-6 in Combined Science, and at least a 6 in GCSE Mathematics.
Physics is a very useful qualification and is recognised as important for a wide variety of careers.
Physicists have gone on to work in Medicine, Computing, Telecommunications, Electronics, Engineering, Research and any disciplines requiring a high degree of numeracy and/or problem solving e.g. Accountancy.
A Level Physics is an excellent preparation for further study in Higher Education and physicists are in demand for many types of careers.
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