Physics is a stimulating subject with a long and fascinating history. Physics uses theory and mathematical models to explain carefully made observations of the physical world.
Physics is a challenging and well respected subject that has links to many other subjects. Physics is useful, if not essential, to anyone considering a career in engineering, meteorology, geology, avionics, medicine, radiology, forensic science, finance and many others.
Year 9 Physics is taught as part of Year 9 science and is managed by the Physics Team.
In the final year of the Key Stage 3 (KS3) Science course, the Year 9 Physics course prepares students for the start of IGCSE in Year 10 by challenging their understanding through frequent practical investigation and the introduction of new facts and theories. As in the rest of the KS3 science course there is a strong emphasis on how science works. Students' understanding of everyday physical processes is broadened and reinforced throughout Year 9.
Students learn through practical activities, class dialogue, internet research and other visual resources. Year 9 students are expected to use ICT in many of their lessons, where the textbook is supported by extensive online notes and interactive activities.
The Year 9 course is assessed through a mixture of both informal and formal topic tests and National Curriculum Level-assessed tasks. Students' priority should be to work hard throughout the year in preparation for their end-of-year exams; the results of these exams determine each student's set for the beginning of their IGCSE Physics course in Year 10.
The exam board for the IGCSE Physics course is Cambridge International Examinations. At the end of Year 11 students sit three exams that cover all of the physics content taught in Year 10 and Year 11. The three papers are:
Paper 2: multiple choice questions
Paper 4: longer written responses
Paper 6: the alternative to the practical exam
All students who study IGCSE physics will purchase a textbook produced by Cambridge International Examinations. The textbook covers all of the course content and includes questions from past exam papers to help prepare students for their tests and exams. The course VLE details all of the resources used in lessons including class presentations that contain all of the definitions and diagrams that students need to know.
IGCSE Physics lessons are engaging and wherever possible include practical activities and demonstrations. Students are expected to use homework to manage their learning so they make continued progress throughout the course. Students can find the correct information to help them complete homework tasks from the notes in their exercise books, the information in their textbooks and from online resources.
The IGCSE course is taught over two years with separate topics arranged as shown below.
Term 1: General physics
Term 2: Force and motion
Term 3: Energy
Term 4: Thermal physics
Term 5: Waves
Term 1: Electricity
Term 2: Magnetism
Term 3: Magnetism
Term 4: Nuclear physics
Term 5: Past paper revision
An AS Level Physics qualification provides a solid platform for studying science subjects at university level and from there onto a wide range of careers – including engineering, aeronautics, electronics, meteorology, space science and careers in scientific research.
The pace of work in AS Level Physics is rapid and suited to students who are dedicated and highly independent; AS students are expected to reinforce their learning with reading and research outside of lesson time. There is a wealth of excellent sources for physics news and/or explanations of concepts in the physical sciences; sources include books, magazines, websites, podcasts and online videos.
AS Level Physics builds upon work covered at IGCSE and extends it into new and stimulating areas. The course has a heavy practical element and promotes skills which support further study in any scientific discipline.
Terms 1 and 2 - Unit 1 - Mechanics and Materials
Equations of motion are investigated using data logging, light gates and air tracks. Projectile motion is introduced, along with calculations involving vector components. Newton's three laws are studied in more depth and gravitational field strength, g, is measured. The study of mechanics, as applied to safety and sports as well as to other practical situations, is included. New topics are introduced, such as the streamline and turbulent flow of fluids, Stokes' law and viscosity as a function of temperature. Students' understanding of Hooke's law is extended to stress-strain graphs and Young modulus, and properties such as elastic and plastic deformation are investigated as well as terms such as brittle, ductile, hard and malleable.
Term 3 and 4 - Units 2 - Waves, the Nature of Light and DC Electricity
This unit covers the nature of transverse and longitudinal waves and includes the study of wavefronts, coherence, standing waves, phase difference, nodes and antinodes. Transmission and reflection of waves at a boundary, pulse-echo techniques for finding position and velocity of objects, together with discussion of applications as well as social and ethical issues of these applications. The unit then investigates the nature of light in terms of waves and photons and how ideas about these have changed over time. Einstein's photoelectric equation and the electron volt unit of energy, as well as line spectra, are explained. The way that science is used by society to make decisions – for example, using solar cells or low energy light bulbs as replacement of other energy sources – is discussed.
In the study of DC electricity, knowledge gained at IGCSE is extended to include internal resistance of cells, resistivity and the physics of conduction in metals and semiconductors. Charge-carrier speed and superconductivity is studied and data logging techniques are compared to traditional data gathering methods.
Unit 3: Written Alternative to Practical
A2 Physics follows on from the AS course and enables completion of the full A Level. It also has a heavy practical element promoting essential skills for further study at degree level.
Unit 4: Further mechanics, including circular motion; electric and magnetic fields; flux linkage; Fleming's law; Faraday's law; Lenz's law; particle physics including thermionic emission, particle accelerators and the quark-lepton model of atoms.
Unit 5: Thermal energy; the ideal gas equation and the concept of internal energy; nuclear decay and half-life calculations; oscillations and simple harmonic motion; astrophysics, including the Hertsprung-Russell diagram, Stefan-Boltzmann law, dark matter and gravity viewed in the wider context of cosmology.
Unit 6: Written Alternative to Practical
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