GCSE Physics

Exam Board: AQA

Why should I choose this subject

Physics is one of the natural sciences and encompasses the study of the universe from both macro and micro perspectives. From the largest galaxies, some millions of light years away, to the smallest subatomic particles such as quarks, mesons and strings, Physics studies them all.

Physics is based on observation and experimentation and seeks to understand how our universe is so finely tuned as to enable life to exist. It is the study of space and time and how they interact with one another. Physics involves using various formulae to define physical quantities and for understanding how the fundamental laws of the universe apply in different circumstances, and how those laws can be applied; from sending astronauts into space on Space X to searching for subatomic particles in the CERN Hadron Collider. Physics explains the fundamental laws of the universe and introduces concepts that are also important for the study of Biology and Chemistry.

What does the subject consist of?

There are four main areas of study over the course. There are chapters within each of these and each chapter is broken down into a number of lessons.
Here are the four main areas of study:

  1. Energy and energy resources: conservation and dissipation of energy, energy transfer by heating, and energy resources
  2. Particles at work: electric circuits, electricity in the home, molecules and matter, and radioactivity.
  3. Forces in action: Forces in balances, motion, force and motion, and force and pressure.
  4. Waves, electromagnetism and space: Wave properties, electromagnetic waves, light, electromagnetism and space.

How is the subject assessed?

The final examination (taken at the end of the Fifth Form) consists of three papers:

  • Paper One (Listening - 35 minutes - 25% of overall marks);
  • Paper Two (Reading and Writing - 1 hour and 45 minutes - 50% of overall marks);
  • Paper Three (Speaking - 10 minutes - 25% of overall marks).

Whom does the subject suit?

Physics suits both young women and young men who have a curiosity about how and why things are the way they are or why they work the way they do. If you have watched TV programmes such as “The Planets” presented by Professor Brian Cox, or the Horizon episode “Hubble: The Wonders of Space Revealed” or “Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity” and found yourself engrossed in them - Physics is undoubtedly for you. If your passion for Physics is not like that but you want to understand more about the physical world you live in, then GCSE Physics is also for you.

What else should pupils consider before choosing this subject?

To be successful in any science a “can do” attitude is extremely important, along with a determination to work independently to understand the difficult concepts; Physics is no exception. A sound grasp of mathematics is beneficial, particularly being able to rearrange equations and interpret their meaning. A good grasp of the English language and an ability to write descriptions and explanations in a concise manner using scientific terms is important. These are skills you will develop throughout the course.