Physics is a practical subject that explores the rules describing how the universe works. Students are taught by a specialist teacher, typically in a specialised laboratory with dedicated technician support, to give them the best possible support in the subject.
Students in Forms 1 and 2 study the subject as part of a combined Science course alongside Biology and Chemistry.
In Form 3, all pupils study a course to prepare them for the GCSE (following the AQA board) and this one term course predominantly looks at the skills that everyone needs in Science – mathematical and practical – through the study of forces, fields, measurement and pressure. At the start of the Lent term, Form 3 pupils start to study their GCSE topics and choose whether to study all three Sciences at GCSE, study two of the three or take a Core Science course which works towards one GCSE.
Those pupils taking GCSE Physics conclude their studies and complete practical assignments in Forms 4 and 5, with topics covered including the formation of the universe, nuclear physics, medical physics and all the fundamentals that underpin the subject such as energy and motion. Wherever possible, practical work is undertaken to bring the topics to life.
Physics can be taken to either AS or A2 level (following the AQA board) and students are split into two sets in both the Lower and Upper Sixth, with a very even mix between both boys and girls.
The A Level builds upon the GCSE, and the course covers forces and fields, electricity, motion, radiations, thermal physics, optics, as well as recent areas of discovery such as particle physics and astrophysics.
Pupils opting for the Physics A Level need a good level of mathematical understanding; taking AS or A2 Mathematics alongside is a benefit though not a prerequisite.
Outside of the laboratory, the Department runs a number of visits to lectures and tours of the local scientific facilities, being handily based just a few miles from the Rutherford Appleton Library (RAL), the home of European satellite and neutron research, which brings the subject to life.