The Large Hadron collider, CERN


Key Stage 3 – Year 7-9

In Years 7 and 8, Physics is taught within a Science course. Pupils are taught in form groups and cover a range of topics including: Energy, Electricity and Magnetism in Year 7. In Year 8 pupils study Forces, Waves and Electromagnetism. They have the opportunity to carry out a range of practical work with the aim being to develop confidence in practical techniques that are needed to succeed as a Scientist. Pupils learn how Science and Scientific understanding is relevant to today’s society both in lessons and within extra-curricular activities.
Pupils develop skills necessary for GCSE in Year 9 and experience a range of practical experiences.

Key Stage 4 – GCSE

At GCSE, the Science Department offers either Trilogy Sciences or three Separate Sciences. All Science areas are taught by subject specialists in mixed ability groupings.

Trilogy Science

The course aims to develop pupils’ interest and enthusiasm for science, develop a critical approach to scientific evidence and methods and to acquire a knowledge and understanding of Physics and how science works, also focusing on its essential role in society. There are a variety of teaching methods used to enable pupils to acquire scientific skills and knowledge and the understanding necessary to progress to advanced level, if desired. Pupils are expected to utilise all resources, including those available on the school network, to supplement their studies.
A copy of the Trilogy Science syllabus can be downloaded from the AQA website. There is no controlled assessment / coursework element to this course; practical work is assessed as part of the written examinations at the end of Year 11.

There are seven topics in the GCSE Trilogy course:

  1. Energy
  2. Electricity
  3. Particle model of matter
  4. Atomic structure
  5. Forces
  6. Waves
  7. Magnetism and electromagnetism

The Physics element of the Trilogy course is assessed through two written papers. Paper 1 contains topics 1-4 and Paper 2 contains topics 5-7. Both have equal weighting and last 1 hr 15 – these two marks make up a third of the total Trilogy Science marks.

Separate Physics

There are eight topics in the GCSE Trilogy course:

  1. Energy
  2. Electricity
  3. Particle model of matter
  4. Atomic structure
  5. Forces
  6. Waves
  7. Magnetism and electromagnetism
  8. Space physics

Pupils complete the same seven topics as the Trilogy course but also Space physics, but within each topic they learn in greater depth. They also have more required practicals.

A copy of the Physics syllabus is available from the AQA website. Pupils are assessed in two 1 hour 45 examinations at the end of Year 11. Paper 1 contains topics 1-4 and Paper 2 contains topics 5-8.

Key Stage 5 – first year A-level

We aim to give interesting and varied lessons using a range of resources and teaching methods, and we value the contributions made by students during lessons. Each student is provided with course notes, past paper questions, textbooks, and a practical booklet. Students will need to provide their own hard-backed laboratory book to record practical work.

We follow the AQA AS Physics course, which is designed to encourage candidates to develop:

  • An enthusiasm for Physics
  • Practical skills alongside understanding of concepts and principles
  • An appropriate and relevant foundation of knowledge and skills for the study of Physics in Higher Education.

This specification stimulates the enthusiasm of teachers and students from the start. It emphasises the way in which physicists work and the contributions of Physics to society in a way that underpins the specification but is not intrusive.

Please note that if you have only studied Science and Additional Science then you must complete the AGGS bridging course before you embark upon A level Physics. Details will be provided to pupils from AGGS before they leave; pupils who will be joining AGGS for sixth form should contact Mr Nisar, Head of Physics for information about summer work.

The step from GCSE to A- level can be a challenging one. You will be expected to work in a more independent way than you may have been used to. Your teachers will make sure that you cover all of the material in the GCE AQA specification, but they will assume that you can organise your work so that you complete the coverage in your own individual way. To help you to do this you will have access a range of resources including:

  • An AQA-approved textbook
  • Suitable notes, activities and past examination questions that link with each topic.
    We also hold Physics Drop-in sessions on Thursday lunchtimes where members of the department are available to give you additional help with any areas of difficulty.

What will I study during Year 12?

In Year 12 you will be taught five units:

  1. Measurements and their errors
  2. Particles and radiation
  3. Waves
  4. Mechanics and materials
  5. Electricity

There will also be six compulsory investigations you must complete during Year 12; your understanding of the principles of these will be assessed during your examinations.

The Year 12 course builds on the skills and understanding that you developed in the GCSE course so that you can develop a firm understanding of concepts and ideas. Physics at A-level will require you to describe and explain facts and processes in detail and with accuracy. You will also need to develop skills so that you can apply what you have learned and examination papers will test skills such as interpreting new information, analysing experimental data, using mathematics and evaluating information.

At the end of Year 12 you will take internal examinations to assess your progress. These, along with other teacher assessments throughout the year, will be used to predict your A-level physics grade.

What will I study during Year 13?

All assessment for A-level subjects must occur at the end of the course i.e. at the end of Year 13. In Year 13 you will study a further four units:

  1. Further mechanics and thermal physics
  2. Fields and their consequences
  3. Nuclear physics
  4. Medical physics (chosen option)

There will also be another six compulsory investigations you must complete during Year 13; your understanding of the principles of these will be assessed during your examinations.

The examinations will include material from all eight topics, divided as follows:

Paper 1: Topics 1-5 and 6.1 (periodic motion). 2 hour paper 34% of A-level
Paper 2: Topics 7, 8 and 6.2 (thermal physics). 2 hour paper 34% of A-level
Paper 3: practical / data analysis skills and the optional topic (medical physics). 2 hour paper 32% of A-level.

In addition, the practical work you have undertaken will be assessed by your teachers, and if you are deemed to have completed all practical work during both Year 12 and Year 13 satisfactorily, you will receive a ‘Pass’ endorsement for practical work on your A level certificate.

During the course, pupils need to consider how research is conducted and how scientists’ work affects people in their everyday lives. Current events often directly link to the course and we expect you to have an awareness of events and scientific breakthroughs. We provide a huge range of extracurricular opportunities for our students, including talks and conferences, visits to Manchester University and invitations to the Manchester Lit and Phil Society’s Young People Talks. There are competitions run throughout the year including the British Physics Olympiad. Evidence of learning outside the classroom and pursuing your interest beyond the curriculum is a fantastic way to stand out to universities and future employers.

Reading around!

Pupils are expected to read additional material not only to help you with understanding, but also to help with the “stretch and challenge” aspects of the course. When you join the A-level course, your physics teachers will share a suggested reading list with you.

We also recommend you subscribe to “IOP – the institute of physics” which will give you a great deal of extra information.