Physics: the science of measurement, the exploration of forces and energy (or mass…). Since the dawn of civilization our understanding of how the Universe functions has never stood still. It has informed our technology, our work, our leisure, our beliefs and our relationship with the cosmos. It is continually changing, but is built on elementary understanding that can be accessed by all. It affords opportunity for application and for study, it the basis of countless careers from carpenter to particle physicist.
Year 7 and 8
The impressive body knowledge that our new Y7 students bring with them from their previous schools is built upon with access to simple and more advanced equipment that enable the subject to be given a practical dimension. The main topics covered are Forces, Waves, Energy, Electricity and Magnetism. There is also opportunity to start exploration of Space. Assessments are made every term and detailed feedback is given so that further progress can be made.
At this point all students continue to study Physics as they embark on their journey through GCSE. Each of the topics encountered in previous years are developed to become more focussed on the detailed reasons for the phenomena observed. There is also the inclusion of how our understanding of particles explains of the behaviour of substances. There is the introduction of Required Practicals that are tested in the written papers. Assessment and feedback are again termly features of the course and the sights are set on the student’s grade at the end of the course.
There is a continuation of the work started in Y9 with the addition of the topics of Electricity, Magnetism and Electromagnetism. Previous years’ work is developed and the focus is again on deepening the appreciation of how things happen in terms of forces and energy. There are more Required Practicals. Assessment will incorporate testing of the material covered in Y10 and Y9.
For many this will be the culmination of their Physics studies from the preceding eleven years. There is the addition of two more subjects that couldn’t be more divergent in terms of scale; Atomic Physics and Space. Nevertheless, how these two seemingly disparate subjects are united in their essence. Students will be mastering the subject at this stage and the Required Practicals will still feature to bring the students to a higher level of appreciation of the subject. The Assessment in June is the exam! It will draw upon work covered throughout KS4 and result in a GCSE grade.
Physics is a perennially popular subject at A level and always attracts students who enjoy the rigour and challenge of the subject. The first Y12 component of the course is entitled Mechanics and incorporates Motion, Forces and Energy and Work and Energy as its subdivisions. The other section is Electrons, Waves and Photons is divided into electric current, resistance, DC circuits, waves and quantum physics. Practical assessments are on three separate qualitative, quantitative and evaluation exercises contributing towards the final grade.
Those who continue to study Physics into Y13 find that many doors are open to them. As a qualification it is valued very highly by all university departments regardless of their discipline. The second year of A level is split between two major topics the Newtonian World ( encompassing Newton’s laws and momentum, Circular motion and oscillations, and Thermal Physics) and Fields, Particles and Frontiers of Physics ( covering Electric and magnetic fields, Capacitors and exponential decay, Nuclear physics, Medical imaging and Modelling the universe). Assessment of practical work follows the same pattern established in Y12.
Meet the staff
- Dr Knight – Physics Teacher, Senior Assistant Principal
When I was at school my favourite subjects were Languages (French and German), Maths and Science. I had to choose subjects for A-Level and I went for Maths and Science. I loved both Chemistry and Physics and so I studied a combination of these subjects at University in Birmingham, in a Materials Science degree. After this I went to the University of Oxford and gained a D.Phil qualification which was based around work on the experimental nuclear fusion reactor JET. I guess this is why my favourite bit of science to teach is now Nuclear Physics.