Physics A Level

Data loggingA Level Physics is a highly sought after qualification in the scientific and engineering communities. It is also classed as one of the top facilitating A Levels by the Russell Group; it is a very good supporting A level for many different degree courses at university.

Students learn about the workings of the universe around us, learning about physical phenomena, theoretical models and the practical application of these models. Whilst some concepts are an extension of those studied at GCSE, many unanswered questions are resolved and interesting links are made between different areas of the subject, leading to a more cohesive and satisfying understanding. This is facilitated with by the use of higher level maths.

There are opportunities for individual research, discussion, experimentation and learning practical skills. Lessons are varied and make good use of several types of media, software, simulations and data logging equipment.

Physics is taught and examined in units. At AS level this covers Particle Physics, Quantum Phenomena, Electricity, Mechanics, Materials and Waves. At A2 the course covers Gravitational, Electric and Magnetic Fields as well as Forces, Circular Motion, Momentum, Simple Harmonic Motion, Radioactivity, Nuclear Energy and Thermal Physics. There is also an option topic to be chosen from Astronomy and Cosmology, Medical Physics, Applied Physics and Turning Points in Physics. Practical work is assessed by means of an externally assessed practical exam.



Unit Level Type Name AS A2
PHYA1 AS Written Paper Particles, quantum phenomena and electricity 40% 20%
PHYA2 AS Written Paper Mechanics, materials and waves 40% 20%
PHA3T AS Practical Exam Investigative and Practical Skills 20% 10%
PHYA4 A2 Written Paper Fields and further mechanics - 20%
PHYA5 A2 Written Paper Nuclear and Thermal Physics plus Option - 20%
PHA6T A2 Practical Exam Investigative and Practical Skills - 10%

A-level Physics can lead to a vast range of careers in Science and Engineering. The problem solving skills acquired also open avenues in other areas, such as the financial sectors. It is required for Physics and Engineering courses but it is also a preferred subject in courses such as Dentistry, Mathematics, Medicine, Music Technology, Physiology and Veterinary Science.

Recommended Reading List


Book Author
Fundamental Physics for Probing and Imaging Wade Alison
Concepts in Thermal Physics Stephen & Katherine Blundell
Magnetism in Condensed Matter Stephen & Katherine Blundell
The New Cosmic Union Frank Close
The Ideas of Particle Physics Coughlan, Dodd and Gripaios
Bang! May, Moore and Lintott
Energy Science John Andrews
In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat John Gribbin
The Case of the Missing Neutrinos John Gribbin
Timewarps John Gribbin
The Elegant Universe Brian Greene
The Fabric of the Cosmos Brian Greene
The Emperor’s New Mind Sir Roger Penrose
The Road to Reality Sir Roger Penrose
The First Three Minutes Steven Weinberg
Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction Frank Close
A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking
Universe in a Nutshell Stephen Hawking
Space-time Physics Taylor and Wheeler
The Science of Interstellar * Kip Thorne

* We recommend watching the movie Interstellar before reading this book!


Book Author
50 Physics Ideas that you need to know Joanne Baker
The beginners guide to engineering Natasha McCarthy
Why we don't fall through the floor/Why things don't fall down J E Gordon
The Science of Formula One Design David Tremayne
The Physics of Superheroes Prof. Kakalios
The Gecko's Foot Peter Forbes
Exploring engineering Kosky, Wise, Balmer & Keat 
Mathematical Methods for Scientists and Engineers Peter Kahn
1001 Solved Engineering Fundamentals Problems Michael R Lindenberg
Automotive Engineering Fundamentals Richard Stone and Jeffrey Ball
Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air David J.C. MacKay
Digital Systems – Principles and Applications, 11th Ed Tocci, Widmer, Moss, Pearson
Digital Fundamentals with PLD Programming, 10th Ed Floyd, Prentice Hall

Computer Science

Book Author
The Cuckoo’s Egg Clifford Stoll
The Music of the Primes Marcus du Sautoy
Understanding Computer Science for Advanced Level Ray Bradley
Computer Systems Architecture Robert Newman
The New Turing Omnibus A Kee Dewdney
The pleasures of counting Tom Korner
The Code Book Simon Singh