Physics encompasses the whole of the Universe from the largest galaxies to the smallest of subatomic particles. It is therefore the most basic and fundamental science. It is crucial to understanding the world around us, the world inside us, and the world beyond us. This understanding can then challenge our imaginations which eventually leads to great discoveries and technologies that can change the lives of us all.
A study of physics provides a basis to many of the other sciences, including biology, chemistry, the medical sciences, oceanography, seismology, and astronomy as well as all areas of engineering.
In Years 12 and 13 the students follow the OCR Physics A Specification. This develops many of the ideas and theories studied at GCSE such as Forces, Energy and Motion as well as adding Quantum Physics, Medical Physics, Cosmology and Astrophysics.
The course consists of 6 taught modules and 12 Practical Endorsement Activities.
Practical Skills in Physics
Foundation in Physics
Forces and Motion
Electrons, Waves and Photons
Newtonian World and Astrophysics
Particles and Medical Physics
At CAST we begin Year 12 with a half-term spent considering Module 1 and developing the necessary skills that will enable the students to design, conduct, analyse and evaluate practical situations with accuracy and reliability as well as being able to give detailed error and uncertainty information. They are also given the opportunity to prepare their work on a particular experiment for a poster presentation similar to that which might be seen at a scientific conference.
Throughout Years 12 and 13 the skills learnt in Module 1 are frequently revisited.
The course is taught by 2 teachers so after the first half-term two topics are taught side-by-side.
One teacher begins with Module 3 and Forces and Motion and this builds upon the Forces and Motion taught at GCSE to give the students a more detailed mathematical approach to solving problems involving forces and the motion they create. This includes linear motion and then finally to motion in 2 dimensions and an analysis of projectile motion. When Module 3 is completed the students carry on studying the effect of forces on motion by studying Module 5 Newtonian World and Astrophysics and in particular the topics involving Circular Motion, Gravitation and the orbit of satellites. The students finish Year 12 by studying Electric and Magnetic Fields and their similarities with gravitational fields and how objects experience forces and the motion resulting from these fields. This also includes a consideration of the physics of capacitors which is timed in the year to follow on from the study of electric circuits being taught by the 2nd teacher.
At the same time the 2nd teacher takes the students through Module 2 Foundations in Physics which introduces them to the importance of significant figures, estimations and the use of vectors in solving physics problems. Within Module 3 is a stand-alone section on Materials and this is covered at this point culminating in a short project that requires the students to design, construct and test a spaghetti viaduct that will enable a model train to cross it. The students then move on to Module 4 Electrons, Waves and Photons to study electric circuits, the components that might be used in those circuits and finally to be able to undertake mathematical circuit analysis that can lead to the design of circuits using specialised components to carry out a specific task.
The Waves topic within Module 4 introduces the students to the key ideas of electromagnetic radiation and optical phenomena as well as a demonstration of the same phenomena in sound waves. The waves topic then allows the students to appreciate some of the less obvious features of quantum physics and in particular they have the knowledge and understanding to be able to describe wave-particle duality.
In Year 13 the same 2 teacher structure continues with one beginning Year 13 with a continuation of the final elements of Module 5 Simple Harmonic Motion and Resonance which builds upon both the Waves and Forces and Motion topics from Year 12. The students then move on to study the Medical Imaging topics of Module 6.
The 2nd teacher, begins Year 13 with the study of the Astrophysics and Cosmology topics from Module 5 which introduces the students to the structures of the Universe and how they behave and also how the Universe has evolved from the Big Bang and the evidence physicists have of these events. Year 13 then continues with the Thermal Physics topics of Module 5 and which build upon the ideas of Thermal Physics covered at GCSE to enable the students to conduct more mathematical analysis of relevant situations. The course completes with the final topics of Module 6 - Radioactivity and Particle Physics. The radioactivity topic introduces the students to the processes that lead to both nuclear fission and fusion and enable them to carry out numerical analysis of the processes. This is how and why the naturally occurring elements of the periodic table are as they are.
Two x 2 hour 15min exams (paper 1 Modules 1, 2, 3 & 5, paper 2 Modules 1,2,4 & 6)
One x 1 hour 30min exam (Unifying Concepts – more problem-solving and application of physics questions that comprise elements from multiple modules)
In addition to the exams each student has to complete 12 practical endorsement activities, whilst although not assessed, are a compulsory component of the course.
A Level STEM Programme
Minimum entry requirements for A level courses: 7 GCSEs at grade 9-4 (including English grade 4) with double or triple science (grade 6/6) and Maths (grade 5/6 depending on subject choice).
Please see our website for more information - https://cast.education/curriculum/a-level
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