Physics is the study of the most fundamental ideas about how the Universe functions; all science rests on this bedrock and Physics is what underpins the technology that drives our modern world. Any further study or career in science, medicine, technology, engineering or IT gains from studying physics. Studying physics is about attempting to explain the Universe in terms of simple models. A good model explains more than one phenomenon; for example, a wave model can help us to understand sea water, traffic jams, earthquakes, Radio 1 and quite a lot about light. But models are not the same as facts; light is not a wave despite what students are taught around the age of 14-16.

Physics students start the course with many ideas and models familiar from their previous schooling. Some of these will be extended to cover more phenomena, others will be rejected as too simple, too limiting or simply wrong. By looking at the world in more detail – perhaps through ideas from engineering, chemistry, biology, astronomy or geology – students can come up with better models. Studying Physics will teach students about the wider Universe and the amazing range of different ways that Nature’s building blocks can be put together and interact with each other. It will also teach students to look critically at the world and at human ideas about it; recognising how these ideas have developed through the ages is as important a part of human history as knowing who killed who when. The course represents how physics is studied and used in the 21st Century.

You will develop:

  • Practical experimental skills: how to use apparatus precisely and accurately
  • Investigative skills: how to plan to test an idea
  • Analytical skills: how to turn raw data into a conclusion
  • Numerical skills: what numbers mean in a physical context, how to make sensible estimates and how to calculate meaningful answers to problems using your models
  • ICT skills: how to get your computer to do the maths for you and make your work look good
  • Research skills: how to get the most out of the ridiculous amount of sometimes ridiculous information that is out there
  • Communication skills: how to put complex ideas across


Paper 1 – Newtonian Physics 2h 15m 31.25%
Paper 2 – Electricity and the Universe 2h 31.25%
Paper 3 – Light, Nuclear and Options 2h 15m 37.5%
Practical Endorsement – continual assessment throughout the course