A Level Physics

HEAD OF DEPARTMENT: Ms M Towns BSc (UWE)
Email: mtowns@stedmundscollege.org
Mr D Webster B.Eng, PGCE Science (Director of Key Stage 5)
Email: dwebster@stedmundscollege.org

This information can be also found in the download to the right of this page.

CURRICULUM OVERVIEW

Year 1 Physics
Over the course of Year 1 the following content will be covered:

Module 1, Module 2, Module 3 and Module 4

There will be two assessment points in the year—November and June. Assessments will be 1 hour 30 minutes and consists of 70 marks. The papers may include multiple choice, short responses, calculations and extended writing questions.

The papers will also include questions that target the conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental work.

Following the internal assessment in June, students will begin work on Year 2 material, as well as completing an independent Research project.

Year 2 Physics A (H556)
Paper 1 H556/01 Modelling in Physics (37% of the total qualification)
This paper will examine the following modules:

Module 1, Module 2, Module 3, Module 4, Module 5 and Module 6

Assessment is 2 hours 15 minutes and consists of 100 marks

The paper may include multiple choice, short responses, calculations and extended writing questions

The paper will include questions that target the conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental work.

Paper 2 H556/02 Exploring Physics (37% of the total qualification)
This paper will examine the following modules:

Module 1, Module 2, Module 3, Module 4, Module 5 and Module 6

Assessment is 2 hours 15 minutes and consists of 100 marks

The paper may include multiple choice, short responses, calculations and extended writing questions

The paper will include questions that target the conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental work.

Paper 3 H556/03 Unified Physics (26% of the total qualification)
This paper will examine the following modules:

Module 1, Module 2, Module 3, Module 4, Module 5 and Module 6

Assessment is 1 hour and 30 minutes and consists of 70 marks

The paper may include multiple choice, short responses, calculations and extended writing questions

The paper will include questions that target the conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental work

 

COURSE BREAKDOWN

Module 1—Development of practical skills in physics. Content Summary
A range of practical experiences is a vital part of a student’s development as part of this course. Students should develop and practise a wide range of practical skills throughout the course as preparation for the Practical Endorsement, as well as for the written examinations. The experiments and skills required for the Practical Endorsement will allow students to develop and practise their practical skills. Selection of suitable apparatus and techniques. Recording data with appropriate units for measurements and significant figures. Plotting and interpreting suitable graphs from experimental results. Analysis of quantitative data to evaluate results and draw conclusions. Identification of anomalies in experimental measurements. Evaluating the limitations in experimental procedures, precision and accuracy of measurements and data, including margins of error, percentage errors and uncertainties in apparatus.
Module 2 – Foundations of Physics Content Summary
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. Physical quantities and S.I. units including looking at the prefixes of units.

Making measurements and analysing data including uncertainties and percentage difference.

Scalars and vectors, resolving forces in to two components.

Module 3 – Forces and motion Content Summary
In this module, students 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. Motion of an object is analysed using the equations of motion.

Forces

Energy, power and work the link between them.

Physical properties of springs and materials, looking at Hooke’s Law and the Young’s modulus of a material.

Newton’s laws –used to predict the motion of all colliding or interacting objects in applications such as sport and used to understand some of the safety features in cars, such as air bags.

Module 4 – Electrons, waves and Photons Content Summary
The aim of this module is to ultimately introduce key ideas of quantum physics. Electromagnetic waves 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. Charge and current. Understanding electric current is essential when dealing with electrical circuits. The continuity equation (I = Anev) is developed using these key ideas.

Electrical symbols, electromotive force, potential difference, resistivity and power.

Internal resistance and potential dividers. LDRs and thermistors are used to show how changes in light intensity and temperature respectively can be monitored using potential dividers.

Wave properties, electromagnetic waves, superposition and stationary waves.

Photons, the photoelectric effect, de Broglie waves and wave–particle duality. In the photoelectric effect experiment, electromagnetic waves are used to eject surface electrons from metals. The electrons are ejected instantaneously and their energy is independent of the intensity of the radiation.

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. Temperature, matter, specific heat capacity and specific latent heat with contexts involving heat transfer and change of phase.

Circular motion and important concepts such as centripetal force and acceleration.

Simple harmonic motion, forced oscillations and resonance.

Newton’s law of gravitation, planetary motion and gravitational potential and energy, used to predict the motion of orbiting satellites, planets and even why some objects in our Solar system have very little atmosphere.

Astrophysics and Cosmology. Stars, Wien’s displacement law, Stefan’s law, Hubble’s law and the Big Bang.

Module 6—Particles & Medical Physics Summary Content
This section introduces the basic properties of capacitors and how they are used in electrical circuits. The use of capacitors as a source of electrical energy is then developed. It introduces the mathematics of exponential decay, which is also required for the decay of radioactive nuclei.  Experimental work provides an excellent way to understand the behaviour of capacitors in electrical circuits and the management of safety and risks when using power supplies. Coulomb’s law, uniform electric fields, electric potential and energy.

Magnetic fields, motion of charged particles in magnetic fields, Lenz’s law and Faraday’s law. The application of Faraday’s law to demonstrate how science has benefited society with important devices such as generators and transformers.

Nuclear and particle physics looks at the atom, nucleus, fundamental particles, radioactivity, fission and fusion.

Medical physics including X-rays, CAT scans, PET scans and ultrasound scans. It shows how the developments in medical imaging have led to a number of valuable non-invasive techniques used in hospitals.

CERN TRIP

Every 2 years St Edmund’s takes a group of students to CERN as part of their enrichment. At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. They use the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter – the fundamental particles. The particles are made to collide together at close to the speed of light. The process gives the physicists clues about how the particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature. As part of the trip, we get a guided tour of the facility, and depending on when we go, we may be able to go underground to see where everything takes place. We also get to visit the Universe of Particles museum as part of the trip.

READING LIST

A Level Standard texts

  • A-level Physics – Roger and Muncaster
  • Advanced Physics – Oxford University Press.
  • Advanced Physics Adams Steve, Allday Jonathan
  • AS and A Level Physics Through Diagrams: Oxford Revision Guides by Stephen Pople
  • Collins Advanced Science – Physics by Ken Dobson, David Grace, and David Lovett
  • Advanced Physics (Advanced Science) by Steve Adams and Jonathan Allday
  • Calculations for A Level Physics Fourth Edition by T L Lowe and J F Rounce
  • AS Level Physics OCR A Revision Guide by Richard Parsons
  • Head Start to AS Level Physics by Richard Parsons
  • Physics: A Textbook for Advanced Level Students by Tom Duncan
  • Advanced Level Physics by Michael Nelkon and Philip Parker
  • Advanced Physics for You by Keith Johnson, Simmone Hewett, Sue Holt, and John Miller -RECCOMENDED
  • Calculations for A-level Physics by T.L. Lowe and John Rounce

Astrophysics and cosmology

  • A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
  • Universe in a Nutshell – Stephen Hawking
  • The Elegant Universe – Brian Greene
  • Three Roads to Quantum Gravity – Lee Smolin
  • Blackholes and Timewarps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy – Kip Thorne
  • The First Three Minutes – Steven Weinberg
  • Just Six Numbers – Martin Rees
  • In Search of the Big Bang – John Gribbin
  • The Fabric Of Reality – David Deutsch
  • The Fifth Essence – Lawrence Krauss
  • Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines Jim Al-Khalili

Quantum Physics

  • In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat – John Gribbin
  • Schrodinger’s Kittens – John Gribbin
  • QED – The Strange Theory of Light and Matter – Richard Feynman

Relativity

  • Special Relativity – A. P. French.
  • Relativity – Albert Einstein
  • Spacetime Physics – Edwin F. Taylor and John Archibald Wheeler
  • Why does E=mc2 ? – Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw

Magazines/Journals

  • New Scientist (available in library)
  • Physics Review (A Level magazine)

Websites

https://phet.colorado.edu/

http://hyperphyiscs.phr-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/hframe.html

Home

http://www.s-cool.co.uk/a-level/physics

http://public.web.cern.ch/public/

http://physics.org

http://physicsclassroom.com

http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics

http://www.vega.org.uk/video/series/5

Things to watch

  • Atom – BBC series
  • Horizon – lots of Physics episodes
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Contact (film based on Carl Sagan book, old but excellent)
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8uc9VMxN4M&list=PLZt9bXMy6CcBIHHbdcwv uJmh9-sFzLB97
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuXGY8jyIQI&list=PLZt9bXMy6CcBIHHbdcwvuJ mh9-sFzLB97&index=4

 

 

 

 

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