Welcome to Physics

Physics is the study of the most fundamental ideas about how the universe functions; all of 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 computer science gains from studying physics at A level.

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, and quite a lot about light. At NatMatSci we study models describing the world through experiment, theory, and via computer modelling.

At the end of the A level course, our students sit the EDUQAS A level Physics examinations, however, we aim to provide them with more than the minimum required for these examinations. Topics which are available as additional extras or extension work in many schools are included as part of our normal teaching. The Physics department works in close collaboration with our colleagues in the Maths department since the skills which students gain through A level Mathematics are invaluable to their work in Physics.

What you will study?

Pre-A Level
Our course is designed to prepare students to excel at A level Physics. Our course is centred around Astronomy; students study a wide range of topics including Celestial Observation, Gravitation and Orbits, Stars and Spectra, Planetary Systems and The Universe. Through these topics, our students encounter a huge amount of Physics which is useful to their A level study.

A level Year 1
We teach the A level course to an Oxbridge Entrance standard for all students.

In Year 1, students will study the following topics: Statics and Dynamics, DC Electricity, Waves, Matter and Heat, and Light, Quanta and LASERs.

A level Year 2
Students build on their knowledge from Year 1 and apply the ideas they have studied so far to new situations. The course sections in Year 2 are: Introducing Fields, Repetitive motions, Magnetic Fields and Electromagnetism, Nuclear and Particle Physics, and Astronomy and Cosmology.

Throughout the A-level course, our students also learn:

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.
Computer skills: how to use a computer to assist in physical calculations and data analysis.
Research skills: how to get the most out of the huge amount of information that is out there.
Communication skills: how to put complex ideas across clearly and simply, to make them useful.

Physics Enrichment at NatMatSci

Pre A level students are entered for the British Physics Olympiad GCSE.

In A level Year 1, our students enter the BPhO AS Challenge and the PhysicsBowl online.

In Year 2, our students enter the British Physics Olympiad competition, and have the chance to enter the BAAO Astrophysics competition.

When preparing for university entry, students are given specific guidance and practice in preparing for Oxford’s Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) and Cambridge’s Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSSA).

We run departmental trips to Physics lectures at both Birmingham and Warwick universities, where students are able to speak with working scientists, and where the topics we study are put into specific research contexts.

Pre-A students are taken to Astronomy in the City evenings at the University of Birmingham,  where they see how the ideas they study are put into practice.

Students met Professor Lewis Dartnell at the 2018 Physics in Action day at Warwick University.

Physics Department Highlights 

9 Medals for our Physicists in British Physics Olympiad 2019

In 2019 one of our students received an offer to read Physics at Oxford, and another to study Natural Science (Physical) at Cambridge University. A number of other students have received offers to study Physics and related degrees at top UK universities (Imperial, UCL, Durham etc).

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