Physics

The Physics Department aims to stimulate pupils’ curiosity and their interest in, and knowledge of, phenomena and events of the world around them. Through their work in Physics, pupils are helped to understand major scientific ideas, to appreciate how these develop and contribute to technological change, and to recognise the cultural significance of science and its worldwide development.

SPECIFIC AIMS OF THE DEPARTMENT

The Physics Department aims to:

  • develop pupils’ interest in and enthusiasm for Physics, including developing an interest in further study of and careers in the subject;
  • help pupils appreciate how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society;
  • help pupils to develop and demonstrate a deep appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of how science works; and
  • provide opportunities for pupils to plan and carry out a range of investigations, considering and evaluating critically their own data and that obtained from other sources, using ICT where appropriate.

OVERVIEW OF KEY STAGE 3 CURRICULUM

At Key Stage 3, Physics is taught as part of a general Science programme. Please refer to the Science Subject Area section of this website for Key Stage 3 information.

OVERVIEW OF KEY STAGE 4 CURRICULUM

At Key Stage 4, the Physics Department offers Double Award Physics at GCSE Level. Pupils follow the CCEA specification. Physics is delivered over four lessons per fortnight.

Unit 1: Force and Motion, Energy, Moments, and Radioactivity (11%)

In this unit, pupils investigate and carry out calculations on Newton’s Laws of Motion. Pupils study mass density and weight, kinetic theory, circular motion and momentum. Pupils examine the Principle of Conservation of Energy and efficiency and study the environmental impact of the use of various energy resources. Pupils also study the concepts of work, kinetic and potential energy. Pupils meet the concept of centre of gravity and examine the Principle of Moments and study the particle structure of both the atom and the nucleus. Pupils examine radioactivity and learn about fusion and fission as sources of energy.

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Pupils will have 1 hour to complete the assessment for this unit. Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 11. Pupils’ work in this unit will be externally assessed.

Unit 2: Waves, Sound and Light, Electricity, and the Earth and Universe (14%)

In this unit, pupils examine the various properties of waves and the applications of sound. They explore the electromagnetic spectrum and study the reflection and refraction of light. Pupils discover how electrostatics is applied in practical situations and investigate electrical circuits. Pupils also study electricity in the home. Pupils are introduced to our Solar System and the theories of its formation. The layered structure of the Earth and the cause of earthquakes and volcanoes are also covered.

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Pupils will have 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete the assessment for this unit. Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 12. Pupils’ work in this unit will be externally assessed.

Unit 3: Practical Skills Unit (25%)

The scheme for controlled assessment is based on the Programme of Study for experimental and investigative Science at KS4.

In this unit, pupils are required to complete two controlled assessment tasks from two different Science subject areas.

Each controlled assessment task is made up of three parts:

  • Part A – Planning and Risk Assessment (Medium Control)
  • Part B – Data Collection (Limited Control)
  • Part C – Processing, Analysis and Evaluation (High Control – 1 hour exam paper)

One controlled assessment task will be carried out in Year 11 and the second task will be completed in Year 12.

Pupils’ work in this unit will be internally assessed and externally moderated.

OVERVIEW OF KEY STAGE 5 CURRICULUM

At Key Stage 5, the Physics Department offers Physics at AS and A2 Level. Students follow the CCEA specification. At AS Level, Physics is delivered over eleven periods per fortnight. At A2 Level, Physic is delivered over twelve periods per fortnight.

At AS Level, students must successfully complete three modules. A further three modules must be successfully completed at A2 Level.

AS PHYSICS

Unit 1: Forces, Energy and Electricity (37% of AS Level, 18.5% of A-Level)

This unit teaches students to deal with physical quantities and scalars and vectors which are required in all branches of the subject. Students will build on their knowledge and understanding of Newtonian mechanics and electricity to explain many economic and social applications of physics.

In this unit, students are required to answer a number of compulsory short answer questions, some of which will afford the opportunity for extended writing.

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Students will have 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the assessment for this unit.

Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 13. Students’ work in this unit will be externally assessed.

Unit 2: Waves, Photons and Medical Physics (37% of AS Level, 18.5% of A-Level)

The ideas about waves in this topic provide vital links to the study of light and sound. The section on photons introduces the quantum theory and the concept of wave-particle duality, two of the most revolutionary advances in physics. Work on medical physics introduces an application with opportunities for discussion on ethical, moral and environmental issues.

In this unit, students are required to answer a number of compulsory short answer questions, some of which will afford the opportunity for extended writing.

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Students will have 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the assessment for this unit.

Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 13. Students’ work in this unit will externally assessed.

Unit 3: Practical Techniques (26% of AS Level, 13% of A-Level)

In this unit, students will acquire essential practical techniques, including planning, implementing, analysis, evaluation and communication.

In this unit, students are required to carry out a test of practical skills, consisting of four short experimental tests and one question requiring the analysis of experimental results.

This unit is assessed in the form of a written practical examination. Students will have 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the assessment for this unit. Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 13.

Students’ work in this unit will be internally assessed and externally moderated.

A2 PHYSICS

Unit 4: Momentum, Thermal Physics, Circular Motion, Oscillations and Atomic and Nuclear Physics (37% of AS Level, 18.5% of A-Level)

The work on momentum, circular motion and oscillations extends the mechanics foundation included in Unit AS 1. Thermal physics introduces an example of a simple model that can be extended to explain the properties of gases. The section on atomic and nuclear physics has important social and economic applications and leads to an introduction to particle physics.

In this unit, students are required to answer a number of compulsory short answer questions, some of which will afford the opportunity for extended writing. Elements of synoptic assessment will be embedded within the questions, and in a data analysis question.

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Students will have 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the assessment for this unit.

Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 14. Students’ work in this unit will be externally assessed.

Unit 5: Fields and their Applications (37% of AS Level, 18.5% of A-Level)

This is a fundamental area of physics which has numerous applications in everyday life. Students will study action-at-a-distance forces that arise between bodies that are separated from one another.

In this unit, students are required to answer a number of compulsory short answer questions, some of which will afford the opportunity for extended writing. Elements of synoptic assessment will be embedded within the questions, and in a longer question drawing together different strands of the specification.

This unit is assessed in the form of a written examination. Students will have 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the assessment for this unit.

Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 14. Students’ work in this unit will be externally assessed.

Unit 6: Practical Techniques (26% of AS Level, 13% of A-Level)

In this unit, students will build on the essential practical techniques that they acquired in Unit AS 3. These include planning, implementing, analysis, evaluation and communication.

In this unit, students will be required to carry out a test of practical skills, consisting of two experimental tests and one question on planning and design. Synoptic assessment will be assessed through the planning and design question.

This unit is assessed in the form of a written practical examination. Students will have 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the assessment for this unit.

Assessment of this unit will take place at the end of Year 14. Students’ work in this unit will be internally assessed and externally moderated.

EXTRA- CURRICULAR PROVISION

The Physics Department contributes extensively to the school’s extra-curricular provision. Extra-curricular activities include:

  • Horizons in Physics Exhibition at QUB
  • UK Physics Challenge Competition
  • British Physics Olympiad Competitions
  • Educational Visit to the Radiology Department of Antrim Area Hospital
  • Engineering Workshops e.g. FG Wilson
  • Visiting Speakers e.g. FG Wilson

British Physics Olympiad Past Papers

GCSE

AS Level