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A2 Physics Subject Handbook 2013/14


Introduction Welcome to A2 Level Physics 2013-2014 Congratulations on getting your AS Physics and for continuing to study Physics into the A2 year! Either you would have already studied at Barnet & Southgate College or you will be joining us from another college for the first time to complete your A2 studies. We hope you will find A2 Physics at Barnet & Southgate College a stimulating and rewarding experience. Your AS qualification is at a level between GCSE and A Level. In the A2 year you will

generally find the material a little bit harder than last year, we’ll be working through the topics a bit faster also. It is absolutely crucial that you maintain an up-to-date file containing your class notes and handouts. Success at A2 will depend on you being able to assess your performance at AS and deciding where improvements or changes need to be made throughout your A2 year. This booklet will give you an outline of the A level course structure and of what you can expect from the Physics department over the next year to help you through this journey as well as what we will expect from you. We hope it will give you answers to some of the questions you may have, but please do ask if you wish to clarify anything or have questions about issues not addressed in the handbook. Additional information about specific aspects of the course will be provided throughout the year, but we hope this will give you an understanding of the course and enable you to acquire the key study skills necessary for success.

What do I need to know or be able to do before taking this course? The qualification builds on the knowledge, understanding and processing skills that you will have developed in AS Physics (Edexcel). Students are expected to have achieved at least a Grade D in AS Physics. We strongly recommend that you are studying A2 Mathematics alongside your A2 in Physics. Just as in AS Physics you are required to communicate effectively, be able to research and critically think about problems. You will learn theory and develop relevant practical skills throughout the A2 course.


Aims & Objectives A2 level physics aims for students to: sustain and develop their enjoyment of, and interest in, physics. develop essential knowledge and understanding in physics. develop the skills needed for the use of this knowledge and understanding in new and changing situations. develop an understanding of the link between theory and experimentation. appreciate how Physics has developed and is used in present day society. show how Physics links with social, philosophical, economic, industrial and environmental matters. recognize the quantitative nature of Physics. understand how mathematical expressions relate to physical principles. bring together knowledge of ways in which different areas of Physics relate to each other and study how scientific models develop. In brief our aim is that, as well as preparing you for higher education courses or for a career involving a knowledge of Physics, the course will stimulate an interest in the social and economic implications of the applications of Physics in society. Applications of Physics are emphasised throughout the course. Practical work is carried out throughout the year and is assessed as coursework, this is essentially an experimental investigation based on an application of Physics. The course will help you to foster the development of investigational, manipulative and observational skills and to allow for the application of principles and concepts for the design of experiments and the interpretation of results. We hope to fulfil these aims and to enable you to achieve your maximum potential in the subject.


A2 in Brief A2 Physics is suitable for students who:      

pass the AS exam in year one; have an interest in, and enjoy Physics; want to find out about how things in the physical world work; enjoy applying their mind to solving problems; enjoy carrying out investigations by the application of imaginative, logical thinking; want to use Physics to support other qualifications or progress onto further studies or employment.

The Syllabus The syllabus used at Barnet & Southgate College is that produced by Edexcel. Edexcel Advanced GCE in Physics (9PH01).The AS syllabus for which you still may retake units is, Edexcel Advanced Subsidiary GCE in Physics (8PH01)

A Reminder of AS Year Three units, 1,2 & 3 must be taken to achieve the AS Level, they are:

Unit 1 – Physics on the go (6PH01) This unit involves the study of mechanics (rectilinear motion, forces, energy and power) and materials (flow of liquids, viscosity, Stokes’ Law, properties of materials, Young’s’ modulus and elastic strain energy). Part of this topic may be taught using applications that relate to, for example, sports. The other part of this topic may be taught using, for example, a case study of the production of sweets and biscuits. It may also be taught using the physics associated with spare part surgery for joint replacements and lens implants. Assessment: This unit is assessed by means of a written examination paper of 1 hour 20 minutes duration, which will consist of objective questions, short questions and long questions.


Unit 2 – Physics at Work (6PH02) This unit involves the study of waves (including refraction, polarisation, diffraction and standing (stationary) waves), electricity (current and resistance, Ohm’s law and non-ohmic materials, potential dividers, emf and internal resistance of cells, and negative temperature coefficient thermistors) and the wave/particle nature of light. Several different contexts may be used to teach parts of this unit including music, Medical Physics, technology in space, solar cells and an historical study of the nature of light. Assessment: This unit is assessed by means of a written examination paper of 1 hour 20 minutes duration, which will

consist of objective questions, short questions and long questions.

Unit 3 – Exploring Physics (6PH03) This unit involves an experiment that is based on a physics-based visit or a case study of an application of physics. Assessment: This unit is assessed by means of an experiment that is founded on either a physics based visit or a case study of an application of physics. Students write a report that is either internally marked and externally moderated or externally marked by Edexcel.


Breakdown of the A2 Year The full A Level qualification is made up of the AS units plus three more units which are studied at a higher level in the A2 year. You don’t necessarily have to take the full A Level qualification; you can still get a certificate just for the AS, and your subject tutor will advise you on what is best. If you do decide to take the second half of the course it will cover the three units described below.

Unit 4 – Physics on the Move


This unit involves the study of further mechanics (momentum and circular motion), electric and magnetic fields, and particle physics. Several different contexts may be used to teach parts of this unit including a modern rail transport system, communications and display techniques. Particle physics is the subject of current research, involving the acceleration and detection of highenergy particles. This area of the specification may be taught by exploring a range of contemporary experiments. Assessment: This unit is assessed by means of a written examination paper of 1 hour 35 minutes duration, which will consist of objective questions, short questions and long questions.

Unit 5 – Physics from Creation to Collapse (6PH05) This unit involves the study of thermal energy, nuclear decay, oscillations, astrophysics and cosmology. Several different contexts may be used to teach parts of this unit including space technology, medical physics and the construction of buildings in earthquake zones. The astrophysics and cosmology section of this specification may be taught using the physical interpretation of astronomical observations, the formation and evolution of stars, and the history and future of the universe. Assessment: This unit is assessed by means of a written examination paper of 1 hour 35 minutes duration, which will consist of objective questions, short questions and long questions.

Unit 6 – Experimental Physics (6PH06) This unit involves planning an experiment, carrying out an experiment and analysing experimental results. Assessment: Students must plan an experiment and then carry out a plan of an experiment which may be their own plan, a plan provided by Edexcel or a plan devised by the centre. Students write a report that is either marked by the teacher and externally moderated or externally marked by Edexcel.


Overview of AS and A2 Units



Scheme of Assessment The scheme of assessment is in two parts. Three units make up the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) assessment, and a further three (A2) units make up the six units required for Advanced (A) GCE assessment. The three AS units have a total weighting of 50% of the full A Level. Practical tests are held on different days to unit and topics tests.







Unit 2 Physics at Work



Unit 3 Exploring Physics


6PH04 Unit 4 Physics on the move



6PH05 Unit 5 From creation to collapse


6PH06 Unit 6: Synthesis Synoptic Test PHY6 (Terminal Unit)

Unit Title and Method of Assessment Unit 1 Physics on the go

Level AS + A AS + A AS + A





1 h 30 40 min %


1 h 30 40 min %


Approx Three Physics Lab sessions

20 %


1h min

35 40 %



1h min

35 40 %



Approx 20 Three % Physics Lab Sessions


Content Structured questions, long and short Structured questions, long and short Experimental write up based on a visit or a case study involving an application of physics (measurement s, errors etc) Structured questions, long and short. Long and short structured questions Passage Analysis 45 min Three long structured questions 25 min each

AS/A2 Syllabus Content Concepts studied in AS and A2 Physics


How can I develop my full range of skills by doing this qualification? As well as studying A level Physics, this course will enable you to develop some Key Skills. These Key Skills will be essential to you whatever you go on to do afterwards. You can develop all the Key Skills when you study Physics. By keeping a well ordered set of class notes, practical reports and homework problems, you will be able to use them as evidence for accreditation for an AS in Key Skills. The Key Skills are in two groups: 1. Three that form the Key Skills qualification which is worth the same as an AS 2. Three more that are called wider Key Skills – these are very important to show skills that are valued by higher education and by employers.

Examples of Key Skills Development in Physics Communication Taking part in discussions about investigations or issues Preparing written documents for your practical work Researching from books, CD-ROMs and the Internet

Application of number Planning to collect results from your experiments and investigations and analysing and presenting them in a suitable way Carrying out calculations on the data collected in experiments and investigations Interpreting the results from experiments and seeing how this relates to your plan

Information technology Researching from CD-ROMs and the Internet Using word processing software to present written reports and prepare presentations about an investigation or an issue you have researched Plan and design a spreadsheet to support your experiments, be able to select a suitable graphical format to show trends and patterns in your data


Working with others Discussing in a group to plan a task such as a plan for an investigation or a presentation to the group Deciding who does what in the group and successfully completing the task by working co-operatively Reviewing the task and agreeing ways that you could have co-operated even better in your group

Improving own learning and performance Setting targets with a timetable to improve your learning or skills Seek support and use different ways of learning Monitoring the marks awarded for your work and taking action to improve them

Problem solving Planning an investigations into some aspect of Physics to answer a question Working out at least two different ways to solve a problem Carrying out one of your plans and consider how well it is going so far Deciding how to evaluate your plan and doing so

Lesson structure and Homework The Physics teaching staff are Gary Stuart and George Georgiou. Both lecturers are involved in teaching parts of the A2 and AS Physics courses. A minimum of five hours per week per subject should be devoted to each subject studied at A2/AS Level. This should be time spent going over the main lectures and finishing set homework as well as generally getting to grips with the subject. Usually you will have one set of problems and one practical write up each week. Usually you have one week to complete the set homework and it is returned to you within two weeks. If you have particular difficulty and cannot complete set work in time you must see your subject tutor and negotiate a new course of action. Remember your tutor is more likely to be sympathetic to your cause if you consult them before the deadline. Continued absences and/or failure to produce work or work that is completed constantly below standard will result in you being placed onto the colleges’ student disciplinary procedure, this could eventually result in you being asked to leave the course. 11

The delivery of Physics at Barnet & Southgate College employs a variety of teaching and learning strategies. These include small and large group discussions, group presentations, teacher-led sessions, research, videos and computer exercises using laptops. A wide range is used in order to help you develop the skills necessary for success in A2 Physics. If at any time you are unclear about anything then do ask. This is a new subject for you, it is a difficult subject and it uses complex abstract concepts and terminology at times. We are very aware that students can sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed, particularly in the first few weeks. If you let us know when you are concerned then we will be able to reassure you. Lessons range from those which deliver the core material in the syllabus, the group is divided into smaller classes for practical (laboratory) sessions. Some lessons will be problem solving sessions designed to back up the core material and others will focus on exam techniques and tests. As the course progresses, you will be asked for your continuous feedback on your experience of learning. This will help us to reflect on the teaching/learning methods and course design. You will also be asked to evaluate the course more formally via a questionnaire, at the end of the first term and year.


Books Our recommended textbooks are prepared by Edexcel. They follow the arrangement of the Edexcel AS/A2 Physics syllabus, and provide basic coverage of each of the units. It will be possible to purchase the books through the local branch of Waterstones, who have been asked to reserve a small amount of them. Much of the teaching will further develop the contents of the books. Classwork and homework will on occasions be based around them. It is therefore important that you obtain the book, “Edexcel AS Physics Students’ Book”. These Edexcel resources are distributed by Pearson Education. The AS textbook comes with a unique interactive CD-ROM, allowing you to use the book on screen and link directly to useful resources such as key definitions and target sheets.



Mike Benn Graham George

Edexcel Physics for A2

ISBN 978-0340-88807-0

Publisher Hodder Education

There are a number of good A2/AS Physics textbooks available that can also help support your learning. Among other books which you may find helpful or preferable are:

Akrill T B and Bennet G A G and Millar C J



Hodder and Stoughton

Azzopardi F Stewart B

Accessible Physics for A Level A Guided Course book



Miles Hudson

Edexcel A2 Physics Students’ Book

Breithaupt J




Duncan T

Advanced Physics


John Murray


Edexcel (Pearson)

You should have a personal copy of the recommended textbook and be prepared to refer to other books if you need extra help with particular aspects of the course. 13

An excellent magazine aimed at A Level Physics students is Physics Review, it contains excellent coverage of the material in the syllabus with tips for answering exam questions. This is highly recommended and can be obtained through the Physics department.

Physics Review

ISSN 0959-8472

Philip Allan Publishers

A comprehensive list of supplementary reading is provided in the handbook of articles from Physics Review that will complement the core syllabus. Copies of Physics Review are also obtainable from the Independent Learning Centre.

Past Papers and Exam Pro You are also expected to obtain past examination papers to gain practice in answering exam questions. A full range of specimen papers, past papers and mark schemes is available from Edexcel Publications. The test papers from the previous syllabus are still generally helpful for the new specification. The college network also provides you with the opportunity of accessing past papers using Exam Pro online, follow the links under Computer Aided Learning. Edexcel publications are available from: Edexcel Publications Adamsway Mansfield Notts NG18 4LN

Tel: 0800 579 579 Fax: 01623 450 481


A Quick Guide to Using Exam-Pro & Exam-Wizard Exam-Pro provides a database of real examination material from which questions, their mark schemes, chief examiners' reports and the current syllabus can be viewed and then printed. To ensure that you can get optimum use from the data, the questions have been analysed against the latest syllabus and can be accessed against specific criteria which you can define. This is an important resource from which you can access and practice past paper AS and A2 physics problems You can access past papers in Physics, Chemistry and Biology in Exam-Pro by following the links; START / ALL PROGRAMS / ACADEMIC APPLICATIONS / COMPUTER AIDED LEARNING / SCIENCE / EXAM WIZARD PHYSICS AS-A2

1. Read the initial guidance window to help you with using Exam-Pro

2. Select the topic, type and level of question from the question finder window here.

3. The question you selected is highlighted here and appears in the question viewer here


4. Clicking on the green tick brings up the answer to your question


6. Once you have selected a question, clicking on the create mark scheme button, will automatically create the answers to the question also

5. To print out the question and answers click on the copy to document button here. You will find that the question and answers will appear in the Window at the bottom left of the screen

7. To print out the question and answers Click the standard print icon in the tool bar as usual. You can also export the mark scheme to a word document also and e-mail it to yourself at home, you’ll then save on print credits!


Physics on the MoodLE (Managed Learning Environment) @ Barnet & Southgate College Once you have access to the college computer network there are a number of physics resources available to you. The schemes of work for your course are available on the college MoodLE. (The college will be changing to iLearn in 2013 as its preferred virtual learning environment)

The resources on the MLE have a number of links to web sites that will be useful for your studies. One click is enough also to take you to a number of virtual laboratories and simulations that will help support your physics course.

Formulae Sheet A formulae sheet is always provided in the unit tests at the back of the exam scripts. In class you will need to have this list available to you for problem solving, it is important that you print a hard copy of the formulae sheet and have it available to you in your subject file and in the lessons.

Essential Mathematics It is very useful though not essential to study A2 Mathematics alongside A2 Physics. You will be expected to be familiar with nearly all the Mathematics studied at GCSE and in the AS Physics course. There are regular Maths Workshops that you can drop into if you need to brush up on certain things e.g. changing the subject of an equation. 18

As the course progresses your maths skills will grow stronger. To help you further, there are regular features in the Physics Review, that deal with the mathematics in physics problem solving. The list is not compulsory reading, although all the articles are all relevant and worthwhile.

Physics Conferences At some point in the course students may be offered the opportunity to attend a physics conference which will be addressed by the chief examiners of the Edexcel A2 Physics course. The cost of the trip is about ÂŁ10 to ÂŁ15 so you are advised to save up early for this trip. Think of this as investing in your own education!




2012 13 a2 physics handbook  

Course Handbook for 2nd year of A Level Physics at Barnet & Southgate College 2013/14

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