Physics

Aims

To give our pupils a thirst for knowledge in the subjects that are responsible not only for so many aspects of their everyday lives, but also for their very being. Thus our Schemes of Work should give our students the opportunity to:

  • Acquire a systematic body of scientific knowledge and develop an understanding of science including both its power and limitations.
  • Develop an understanding of the nature of scientific ideas and activity
  • Develop an understanding of the role of science in the environment and its economic, ethical and social implications.

Objectives

To achieve the above aims by presenting our pupils with enjoyable, interesting and stimulating Programmes of Study that will generate a quality of learning that will equip them for their futures in a world of ever increasing scientific and technological advancement. Thus our students should be able to:

  • Carry out experimental and investigative work in a logical, safe and systematic way making measurements and observations and being able to analyse and evaluate evidence linking it to scientific understanding.
  • Recall, understand, use and apply scientific knowledge
  • Communicate ideas using technical vocabulary and be able to process data mathematically when applicable
  • Use ICT in order to help them achieve the above objectives where appropriate means to do so are available
  • Learn from the educational trips that are organised for the various year groups.

Staff

  • P T Reeves, University of Manchester (BSc) Head of Science and Head of Physics
  • A Higginson
  • Miss E.S. Allcoat, University of Bristol (BSc)
  • D.D. Boyce, MPhys (Lancaster), PhD (Leicester) Cphys, MinstP

Lower School

Year 7

Physics is part of the core curriculum throughout the lower school, with all students covering topics in Year 7 via lessons in Science.

Year 8

At Year 8, the individual scientific disciplines are introduced with all pupils studying Physics for two lessons per week. Topics include density, temperature, evaporation, energy transfer, moments, pressure and waves in the Year 8 scheme of work.

Year 9

There are three lessons per week in Year 9 in order to cover topics in more detail to prepare for the challenge of IGCSE Physics. Subjects include electricity, optics, light, materials and cosmology.

GCSE

The two year course culminates in two written papers which candidates sit in Year 11 - one 2 hour paper and one 1 hour and 15 minute paper, with weightings of 61.1% and 38.9% respectively.  These papers are untiered and hence both must be sat by all candidates.

Physics Paper 1

This paper will assess Physics across all assessment objectives.  All the content in the specification which is not in bold will be assessed in this paper. 

The maximum mark for this paper is 110.

Physics Paper 2

This paper will assess Physics across all the assessment objectives.  All the content in this specification, whether bold or not, will be assessed in this paper. 

The maximum mark for this paper is 70.

There will be a range of compulsory, short-answer structured questions in both papers which are ramped to ensure accessibility for less able students, as well as to stretch more able students.  Students may be required to perform calculations, draw graphs and describe, explain and interpret physical phenomena.  Some of the question content will be unfamiliar to students; these questions are designed to assess data-handling skills and the ability to apply physical principles to unfamiliar information. 

Questions targeted at grades 9 to 6 will include questions designed to test knowledge, understanding and skills at a higher level; including some questions requiring longer prose answers.

Year 10

Forces and motion, magnetism and electromagnetism, energy resources and transfer.

Year 11

Radioactivity and particles, electricity, waves, solids, liquids and gases and astrophysics.

The level of mathematical ability required is not extreme, despite any stigma concerning IGCSE Physics.  Working at the equivalent of a Grade 5 in Mathematics throughout the course would ensure that the pupil is adequately prepared.

A Level

Subject content includes mechanics, electricity, quantum physics and waves in the Lower Sixth year. The Upper Sixth topics include Newton’s laws, circular motion and oscillations, thermal physics and electric and magnetic fields, with the OCR specification being the only specification to still include content taken from all three of the legacy option papers, namely cosmology, nuclear physics and medical physics.

As this is a linear course, all examinations are taken in the summer of the Upper Sixth. There are three examinations, namely Modelling Physics (135 minutes), Exploring Physics (135 minutes) and the synoptic Unified Physics (90 minutes). Students must also achieve a Practical Endorsement from the centre which has no weighting towards the qualification, but is a pass/fail component.

The specification links closely with the topics covered by the current IGCSE (the study of which, or of an equivalent qualification, is a prerequisite for starting the A-level course) but as well as a large amount of new material, the vast majority of modules are more challenging conceptually.  A-Level Mathematics is not a necessity if a strong grade had been obtained in both subjects at GCSE level. However, it should be highlighted that some Universities offering courses in Physics and Engineering may require Maths to be included in the A-level programme of study.

A-Level Physics supports a wide variety of applications to higher education, e.g. degrees in Physics (all courses), Engineering, Medicine, Dentistry, Material Science, Industrial Design, Management and Law.

For any further information on both courses, please see the OCR website.

Extra Curricular

Various opportunities are available for students to take their interest further throughout their various Physics programmes of study. A sample of these include the British Physics Olympiad in the UVI form, the Engineering Education Scheme in the LVI form and the Physics Challenge in Year 11. A Physics clinic is run in lunchtimes where necessary with staff and VI form students helping IGCSE pupils with homework issues and their general understanding of the subject. “Space club” is run during a lunchtime each week with the majority of members being part of the Lower School. Activities have previously culminated in a model rocket and space balloon being launched on the site.

Trips

In 2015 and 2017 successful trips were run to Geneva to visit the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The EES scheme involves a residential at Loughborough University where a large amount of the project is undertaken. In 2017 a group of students from Year 7 to 11 visited Florida on a Space trip including time spent at Kennedy Space Centre and Disney's Animal Kingdom. In Year 10 students are given the opportunity to attend the residential Extreme Physics trip held at Rugby School and run by the Institute of Physics. VI form students have also attended revision courses on relevant modules at appropriate times of year.