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Physics is the study of the laws that govern the physical world. It tries to understand the nature of basic things such as motion, forces, energy, matter, heat, sound and light. These are found throughout the universe, and so physicists study a wide range of topics. You might find a physicist smashing atomic particles together to find out how the universe began, or you might find a physicist orbiting the Earth as an astronaut. Physicists also work in hospitals, designing new instruments or scanning techniques. Some physicists even create smaller and faster electronics for the next generation of computers.

Special Features





The five sections of the content studied are;

  • Measurements and their errors
  • Particles and radiation
  • Waves
  • Mechanics and materials
  • Electricity

All five sections are tested on both of the AS papers

AS and A level year 1

Paper 1 is a written examination of 1hr 30 mins duration worth 50% of the AS.

It assesses all five sections in short and long answer questions, split by topic.


Paper 2 is also a written examination of 1hr 30mins worth 50% of the AS.

It again assesses all five sections, consisting of a section of short and long answer questions on practical skills and data analysis a section of short and long answer questions from across all areas of the AS content, and a section of multiple choice questions (from across all areas of the AS content).


Particle physics introduces students to the fundamental properties and nature of radiation and quantum phenomena. In contrast, the study of electricity in these builds on and develops GCSE studies and provides opportunities for practical work looking into important applications. When studied we develop an understanding of forces and energy. Materials are studied in terms of their bulk properties and tensile strength. We develop knowledge and understanding of wave characteristics and properties and their applications including refraction, diffraction, superposition and interference.  ​​​​​​

The additional sections are;

  • Periodic Motion and Thermal physics
  • Fields and their consequences
  • Nuclear Physics


Paper 1 is a 2-hour written paper assessing sections 1-5 (from yr1 A-level/AS) and Periodic Motion.  It includes short and long answer questions and multiple choice questions and is worth 34% of the A level

Paper 2 is a 2-hour written paper assessing Thermal physics and sections 7 and 8.  It includes short and long answer questions and multiple choice and is worth 34% of the A level.

Paper 3 is a 2-hour written paper with a section assessing practical skills and data analysis and a section on the chosen option 9 or 10.  It includes short and long answer questions and is worth 32% of the A level.  

Nuclear Physics looks at the characteristics of the nucleus, the properties of unstable nuclei and how energy is obtained from the nucleus.

Thermal Physics studies the thermal properties of materials and gases. 

Periodic or cyclic motion deals with the motion of oscillating systems such as a pendulum and masses moving in circles. Fields and their consequences studies Gravitational Fields, Electric Fields, Capacitance, Magnetic Fields and Electromagnetism.
























The AS course and first year of the A level course include the study of Measurements and their errors, Waves, Materials, Mechanics (Forces and Motion), Electricity and the very interesting Particle Physics and Electromagnetic Radiation and Quantum Phenomena.  These lead on from the GCSE science course, build on the student’s knowledge and develop skills needed for university study.

The second year of the A level course naturally includes topics including Periodic Motion, Thermal Physics, Nuclear Physics, Electric, Magnetic and Gravitational Fields and Capacitance as well as the choice of studying Astrophysics.

Practical skills are developed throughout the course through practical activities and assessed in AS and A level written papers. A level students will be awarded a separate pass/fail practical grade.


Students must also be studying A Level Mathematics. Please refer to the John of Gaunt Sixth Form entry requirements.


One year to AS, plus one further year to complete A2 to full A Level.


By following this link, you can see the specification on the exam board website:

Moving on

The applications, like career opportunities, are infinite. Employers today seek out people who can prove their ability to think logically, understand complex ideas and apply them to the real world. Whether you want to pursue a career in Science, the Media, Education, Business or a host of other fields, Physics can give you the edge.