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A Level Physics

Why study Physics at Blackwater Academy?

Blackwater Academy offers the AQA Physics A course – the most popular A level Physics option in the UK. At AS (first year) we study: the constitution of the atom; quantum phenomena; electric current and circuits; forces in equilibrium; forces and motion; work, energy and power; materials; waves and optics. At A-level (second year) we study: force and momentum; circular motion; simple harmonic motion; gravitational and electric fields; magnetic fields and electromagnetic induction; radioactivity and nuclear energy; thermal physics and gases.

Once students are settled in the course and we have got to know them and their University plans, we choose the optional A-level unit. In the past we offered Turning Points in Physics, in which we investigated topics that produced major shifts in the way that Physics was understood, and Applied Physics, in which we investigated the Physics of Petrol and Diesel engines, and the Physics of rotating objects . A new option is available this year: Electronics.

There are 12 practicals mandated by AQA, and students will learn how to keep a lab book. This will be assessed by the teacher.

All students will sit the AS examination at the end of the first year. This consists of two 1 hour 30 minute examination.

At the end of Year 2 the A-level examination consists of three 2 hour papers, in which the whole two year course will be examined.

How can I succeed in this subject?

Many people think that Physics is a difficult subject, but in fact it requires much less fact-learning than just about any other subject. Physics at AS and A2 is about understanding interlocking concepts rather than facts, and the best way to understand is to ask questions. Extend this to your everyday life. Why does a pan of hot water cool down more quickly without a lid? Why does a car’s engine cooling fan have unequally spaced blades? Why does a car airbag have a hole in the back of it? How does an aeroplane stay in the air? Why doesn’t a cathedral collapse? Physics is not just something you do in lessons – you learn it on your way to college, playing darts, kicking a ball, or just sitting watching TV. Physics keeps your mind active and alive

For what careers is Physics useful?

You might think that an A level Physics qualification is useful only for those who want to do Physics at University. Well, it is useful for that. But are you interested in designing bridges and roads to help the developing world? Or developing the next generation of environment-friendly vehicles? Or perhaps you want to help develop financial models that might help avoid another credit crunch? Or develop the next ‘killer’ computer game? Or be the Medical Physicist responsible for imaging bodies and brains, or treating tumours. How about designing the structure of dresses? (Yes – Physics explains the bias- cut dress).

Medical Schools, top Universities, and future employers see Physics as an important A Level, not necessarily for the knowledge developed, but more for the analytic approach to problem solving it develops. But physics is even more useful: it is FUN, and once you discover that fact you will be drawn in deeper and deeper. Beware: Physics is not for rule followers.

Supportive materials:

We are often asked which book we recommend to help learn Physics. We bring you bad news: there is no single book that could ever help every student; each student is different. We recommend that you buy a selection.

Books and resources

In addition to the AQA Physics AS/A2 books (provided by Blackwater Academy) the following books are useful:

Advanced Physics, Steve Adams and Jonathan Allday, Oxford £37.00A very good book covering all permutations of the AS/A2 course, written in a very accessible style, but without excluding the more advanced student.

A Level Physics, Roger Muncaster, Nelson Thornes, £35.99The best A Level book available, for those who wish to be stretched. It is not as glossy as Adams and Allday, and doesn’t follow the modern ‘spread’ approach, but its strength is in its rigorous approach to the subject. It is more suited to those who are good at Maths.

The New Science of Strong Materials: Or Why You Don’t Fall Through the Floor, J E Gordon, Penguin, £12.99A delightful book, written so that anybody can learn something from it.

QED – The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, Richard Feynman, Penguin, £9.99Richard Feynman was one of the most brilliant scientists of the 20th Century, but unlike most he was also a superb communicator. Everybody should read this. In fact, everybody should read everything ever written by Feyn.

A-level entry requirements

To study A Levels, your current or pending exam results should be equivalent to or higher than GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) in at least 5 subjects and a minimum level of English equivalent to IELTS 5.0. At the start of each academic year of study students following an A-Level course without a pass at grade C in GCSE or IGCSE English Language or with an Academic English score below 6.5 overall must join an Academic English training course for the duration of the academic year which will be timetabled alongside A-Level lessons. If your level of English is not sufficient to meet the entry criteria for the A-Level programme, the Blackwatwater Pre A-Level course is a specially designed programme of up to 3 years duration leading to completion of your A-Level examinations.



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