Physics - The Nelson Thomlinson School

The Nelson Thomlinson School, Wigton
Sixth Form
AS/A2 Level
The Nelson Thomlinson School, Wigton, Cumbria, CA7 9PX
Tel: 016973 42160 Fax: 016973 49160 Email: [email protected]
AS/A2 Level
Exam Board - AQA
Physics made the world you live in. It’s a bold claim. Think about it. What
would your life be like without electricity? Who did the work that underpins
the motion of cars and aeroplanes? From where will we expect solutions to
the global energy crisis?
These areas emphasise the strong links between Physics and Technology based
subjects. In fact, you will need A2 Physics if you want to study any form of
Engineering at university. However, the other major strand in Physics is the
asking and answering of large abstract questions. Physicists want to know how
the universe began and how it will end. This side of Physics is immensely
popular: witness the media success of Stephen Hawking and the Brian Cox BBC
series on The Wonders of the Universe.
So an A Level Physics course balances these two aspects: some topics investigate how Physics is applied to make the world a better place and some topics
delve into the big universal questions.
Finally, Physics is an experimental subject. Elegant theories are impressive and
interesting, but they have to stand up to experimental proof. We spend at
least an hour a week on experimental work, learning how to write laboratory
reports in the way that a professional Physicist would. Odd though it might
sound, the experimenters who prove a theory usually receive the Nobel Prize
for Physics before the people who came up with the theory in the first place!
What use is Physics in the long run?
Physics is a demanding and fulfilling subject which develops analytical and
problem solving skills, as well as requiring an ability to tackle abstract
You might to choose to study Physics at university. Cumbria is one of the
country’s hot spots for employing Physicists, both at Sellafield and in the
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. However, you might have ambitions to
work at CERN or solve the world’s energy problems by developing nuclear
fusion technologies. Other Physicists work in the Environmental Sciences to
study climate change. Many areas of medicine involve Physics. You might
want to become a radiographer, an optician or even use some of the principles
of Physics as a physiotherapist.
You might choose to study Engineering or Music Technology. You might aspire
to work in the motorsport industry, another Cumbrian speciality.
However, the high level skills you will learn mean that there are many people
with a Physics background who go into Finance and Business. Many musicians
have studied Physics – our subject explains how music works.
Sports science applies many principles of Physics. Several artists have a
background in Physics. Some people have found that the analytical and
questioning skills have led them into politics.
Course Outline
For the one year AS course you will study the wonderful abstract world of
particles, you will learn what Quantum Theory is about, develop your
understanding of electrical circuits, study mechanics (which is the theory
behind all movement and forms of transport), investigate the properties of
materials and develop your understanding of waves.
The two year A-level course includes all the topics mentioned above and also
covers force fields, momentum, oscillatory motion and circular motion, nuclear
physics, heat and astrophysics.
What kind of person would be suited to this course?
Physics is an intellectually demanding course will help you to think critically and
to produce models of highly complex concepts. An open and agile mind is
required, as well as a willingness to learn key factual information.
There will be far more emphasis on calculations than you will have been used
to in GCSE Science and you therefore need to be confident when it comes to
rearranging equations, using algebra, trigonometry and standard index form.
The emphasis on data collection and evaluation of evidence can be helpful to
people studying the social sciences and the aspects of Physics that ask
questions about the nature of reality and the origins of the universe can link
well with essay based subjects such as philosophy.
At least an average of a grade B from AQA Biology 2, Chemistry 2 and
Physics 2 GCSE is required (or the equivalent from different exam
It is not a requirement that you study AS or A-level mathematics in order to be
successful in Physics, although many students do find these subject useful.
However, it is important to understand that in order to study either Physics or
Engineering at university level you will require A-level maths.
Harry Elliot studied Physics here at
Nelson Thomlinson in the 1930s. He
went on to become Professor of
Physics at Imperial College, London.
He was responsible for the first
European scientific satellite missions.
The picture shows his team at Cape
Could you be the next Harry Elliot?