For many students Physics is a continuation of a subject they have enjoyed for a number of years and most students already know what the format and style of lessons is like.

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There are however some important differences between GCSE and A-level study, most notably this manifests in the greater mathematical content (making up 60% of the A-level). For this reason the entry requirement for A-level Physics is a grade 7 in both Physics and Mathematics.

We typically have around 50 students studying A-level Physics in each year of the A-level course. The department has a very strong track record of success at A-level as well as continued study into degree courses where we have very large numbers of students going into pure physics degrees, astrophysics as well as a variety of different engineering courses.

Physics is seen as a tough option choice (a facilitating subject) by UK Universities and a strong grade is viewed very highly by all top institutions.

We follow the OCR Physics A Course (code H556) which can be found on the OCR Qualifications webpage. This course has been selected because it offers a wide range of topics, strong practical skill development and provides an excellent foundation for further study at University.

Course Structure: The course is assessed by three components at the end of the two years:

  • Modelling Physics 100 marks, modules 1,2,3, and 5
  • Exploring Physics 100 marks, modules 1,2,4 and 6
  • Unified Physics 70 marks, content from the whole specification which draws together common themes.

Course Materials: We required students to be prepared for their lessons with standard stationary (including 30cm ruler, protractor and compass) as well as a calculator - Casio fx-83GT (or more advanced). Students are also required to have an OCR textbook ISBN: 978-0-19-835218-1.

The modules and a brief overview of their content are as follows:

Module Module title When taught
1 Development of practical skills in physics
A range of experiments completed over the 2 year A-level – this module is separately reported as pass or fail.
2 Foundations of physics
Key elements of physics such as using units and the scientific method
3 Forces and motion
Similar to mechanics, this module deals with the Newtonian method for considering how objects interact with forces
4 Electrons, waves and photons
Everything about electricity and more. How do components and circuits work? How do waves travel and what is the nature of an electron?
5 Newtonian world and astrophysics
How can oscillations and circular motion have such a huge role to play in Physics? Gravitation and astrophysics – from planets and stars to measuring astronomical distances
6 Particles and medical physics
How is Physics used to treat disease and find tumours, what’s a quark and why does the nucleus of an atom stay together? Wrestle with these questions!


Extracurricular Activities in Physics: In the spring of Year 12 candidates are able to sit the AS Physics Challenge. The AS Physics Olympiad provides our most talented students an option to extend their knowledge beyond the specification and try tackling problems in a new way and many enjoy the challenge. We have had considerable past success in achieving Silver and Gold awards and hope for this to continue.

The Physics department also offers further extracurricular opportunities through an annual trip to London to see some of the UK’s most prominent and ground breaking researchers speak about their work. A-level Physicists in 2017 also had the chance to visit NASA in Florida in the first of what will hopefully be a reoccurring trip.

Careers in Physics are as diverse as the range of topics studied, from astrophysics to medical physics (both of these topics are taught in the year 13 at BWS).

Physics Subject Information 2024