A Level Physics

Please note: students in Year 12 (September 2015) are now following the new specification as outlined below and Year 13 (September 2015) will be following the legacy course outlined underneath

AQA (AS 7407 A 7408)

Who should study Physics?

Anyone with an interest in how the universe works, students should have a good mathematical ability (A grade at GCSE), an interest in science (B grade at GCSE), as well as good dexterity due to the practical nature of the course.

The Course

We offer the AQA course. AS Physics lasts one year, with exams at the end, while A-level Physics lasts two years, with exams at the end of the second year.

The table below shows the topics covered in each year.

AS and first year of A-level

Second year of A-level

  • Measurements and their errors
  • Particles and radiation
  • Waves 
  • Mechanics and energy
  • Electricity
  • Further mechanics and thermal physics
  • Fields 
  • Nuclear physics 

Students will vote to choose one of the optional units below

  • Astrophysics 
  • Turning points in physics



Physics, like all sciences, is a practical subject. Throughout the course you will carry out practical activities including:

  • investigating interference and diffraction of laser light
  • measuring acceleration due to gravity
  • investigating systems that oscillate
  • investigation of the links between temperature, volume and pressure
  • safe use of ionising radiation
  • investigating magnetic fields

These practicals will give you the skills and confidence needed to investigate the way things behave and work. It will also ensure that if you choose to study a Physics-based subject at university, you’ll have the practical skills needed to carry out successful experiments in your degree


There is no coursework on this course. However, your performance during practicals will be assessed. There are three exams at the end of the two years for A-level, all of which are two hours long. At least 15% of the marks for A-level Physics are based on what you learned in your practicals. The AS has two exams at the end of the year. Both are 1 hour 30 minutes long.

Paper 1

Paper 2

Paper 3

Sections 1 to 5 and 6.1 (Periodic motion)

Sections 6.2 (Thermal Physics), 7 and 8

Assumed knowledge from sections 1 to 6.1

Section A Compulsory section: Practical skills and data analysis

Section B: Optional unit

written exam: 2 hours

85 marks

34% of A-level

written exam: 2 hours

85 marks

34% of A-level

written exam: 2 hours

80 marks

32% of A-level

60 marks of short and long answer questions and 25 multiple choice questions on content.

60 marks of short and long answer questions and 25 multiple choice questions on content.

45 marks of short and long answer questions on practical experiments and data analysis.

35 marks of short and long answer questions on optional topic.


Where it leads?

Physicists explore the fundamental nature of almost everything we know of. They probe the furthest reaches of the earth to study the smallest pieces of matter. Join them to enter a world deep beneath the surface of normal human experience.

Possible degree options

According to bestcourse4me.com, the top seven degree courses taken by students who have an A-level in Physics are:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Civil Engineering
  • Economics
  • Business

Possible career options

Studying A-level Physics offers an infinite number of amazing career opportunities including:

  • Geophysicist/field seismologist
  • Healthcare scientist, medical physics
  • Higher education lecturer
  • Radiation protection practitioner
  • Research scientist (physical sciences)
  • Scientific laboratory technician
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Meteorologist
  • Structural engineer
  • Acoustic engineer
  • Product/process development scientist
  • Systems developer
  • Technical author

You can also move into engineering, astrophysics, chemical physics, nanotechnology, renewable energy and more, the opportunities are endless.

Please note: The following course is for current (September 2015) Year 13 students only  

AQA (specification A)

Who should study Physics?

Students who enjoy Physics at GCSE and who have good skills at mathematics. 

The Course

AS Physics

Unit 1 New ideas in Physics including quantum physics, particle physics and electricity.

Unit 2 Mechanics and waves

Unit 3 Practical skills

A2 Physics

Unit 4 Fields and further mechanics including momentum, circular motion and simple harmonic motion, gravitational fields, electric fields, capacitors, magnetic fields and electromagnetic induction.

Unit 5 Nuclear and Thermal physics PLUS one of the following, Astrophysics, Medical Physics applied Physics or Turning points in Physics. 

Unit 6 Practical Skills


There will be three exams at the end of Year 12 and 13. Two of the exams test the traditional subject content, with the third exam testing practical skills similar in format to the KS4 ISAs you will be familiar with.

Where it leads?

Students who wish to study Physics or engineering at university musty have an A- Level in Physics. Physics as also very useful if you wish study medicine, optometry or radiology. It is also very well regarded if you are interested in a career in the financial services sector. It is also a fascinating subject and well worth studying for your own satisfaction.