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Course Guide


(AQA 7408)


A problem well-stated is half-solved.
Charles Kettering
What will you study?

In year 1 you will study Particle Physics, Quantum Physics, Waves, Mechanics and Electricity. In year 2 you will study Electric and Gravitational Fields, Magnetic fields, Further mechanics, Thermal Physics, Nuclear Physics and finally Astrophysics.

You will also learn to apply practical skills throughout the course during a range of practical activities which take place during normal lessons.

How is it assessed?

The conceptual content is assessed in three, two hour exams at the end of the two year course. The papers contain a mixture of short and long answer questions, with about 20% of marks given over to multiple choice. The first two papers cover roughly the first and second year of the course respectively. The third paper assesses Astrophysics and practical skills.

A separate practical endorsement is awarded at the end of the course if, during the practical lessons throughout the year, the student has successfully demonstrated each skill within the Core Practical Assessment Criteria (CPAC) specified by the joint exam boards.

Enrichment opportunities?

There are two student-led societies which tend to involve Physics students more than any other – the Engineering Society and the Physics Society. Both societies organise regular events such as competitions, trips as well as lunch time lectures from visiting academics and ex-Tiffinians.

The Physics department runs a two week ‘extended project’ at the end of the Summer term in Year 12. This is a chance for students to team up and design a machine, piece of software or experiment that has recently captured their imagination. The projects are accredited by the British Science Association’s CREST scheme. Every year around 30 students achieve Silver although occasionally some teams put a bit of extra effort over the Summer to get to the Gold standard. As well as this, a small number of Physics students are selected for the Engineering Education Scheme which is hosted by BP and Air Products.

Last year, the department took 20 boys to the Joint European Torus, a fusion reactor in Oxfordshire. Around the same number of students also visited Saipem, a multinational oil and gas service company who have their headquarters in Kingston town centre. Teacher led societies include Astronomy club, Rocket club and Camford Club. All Year 12 students attend a lecture every two weeks as part of their timetabled lessons. The majority of these lectures are given by Physicists and Engineers who have been generous enough to come to Tiffin and talk about their careers. Past visitors have included an F1 Engineer, a radiologist, Physicists from NPL, Pipeline Engineers and Pharmaceutical analysts.

Where might it lead you?

Every year roughly ten students go on to study Physics at university, and around twenty go on to study Engineering. Two years of A-level Physics will develop your problem solving skills, numerical and spatial ability and perhaps most importantly will give you some insight into how engineers and scientists solve (sometimes only partially) real world problems. A combination of imagination, reasoning and determination.

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