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AS/A LEVEL PHYSICS

Advanced Subsidiary (AS level) and Advanced Level (A-level) subjects set out the criteria for knowledge, comprehension, assessment and specifications for that subject at advanced level. Hence, a framework is created wherein different awarding bodies create the details of the specification. The specifications and framework are designed to have equivalence across all awarding bodies. As a prime objective, the specification is designed to provide more knowledge & understanding while at the same time encouraging students to go for higher studies or further research. Development of an insight related to the field of work is one of the other significant criteria. Students come to terms with issues related to social, environmental ethics and learn how to handle them. AS & A-level Physics specifications require students to enhance their knowledge of S.I. units, an understanding of vector and scalar quantities, and awareness of the order of magnitude of physical quantities and the limitations of physical measurements.

Assessment

Assessment Objectives Weighting
  AS Level A2 Level A Level
AO 1 Knowledge and understanding 30-40% 20-30% 25-35%
AO 2 Application of knowledge and understanding 30-40% 40-50% 35-45%
AO 3 How science works 20-40% 20-40% 20-40%

For completion of A-level, a student has to clear six units. Out of these six units, one AS and one A2 unit are internally assessed and are more often than not based on assessment of practical skills.

Three different boards provide specifications for A-level Physics, viz.:

  • Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA)
  • Edexcel
  • Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR)

AQA

Specification A (AS + A2 Level Physics)

1)  AS Level

  • Unit 1 - PHYA1 Particles, quantum phenomena and electricity
  • Unit 2 - PHYA2 Mechanics, materials and waves
  • Unit 3 - Investigative and practical skills in AS Physics

2)  A2 Level

  • Unit 4 - PHYA4 Fields and further mechanics
  • Unit 5 - One of Units PHA5A, PHA5B, PHA5C, PHA5D
  • Unit 6 Investigative and practical skills in A2 Physics
Units in AS & A2 Level Physics
(AS + A2 = A)
Pattern of ExaminationAvailability of different units of A-level Physics
Unit 1
PHYA1Particles, quantum phenomena and electricity
Written Examination(70 marks/120 UMS) 6 or 7 structured questions 1¼ hours
40% of the total AS marks
20% of the total A Level marks
January and June
Unit 2
PHYA2Mechanics, materials and waves
Written Examination(70 marks/120 UMS), 6 or 7 structured questions 1¼ hours
40% of the total AS marks
20% of the total A Level marks
January and June
Unit 3
Investigative and practical skills in AS Physics
Either
PHA3T
Centre Marked Route T - 50 marks
Practical Skills Assignment (PSA - 9 raw marks)
Investigative Skills Assignment (ISA - 41 raw marks)
Or
PHA3X
Externally Marked Route X (55 marks)
Practical Skills Verification (PSV - teacher verification)
Externally Marked Practical Assignment (EMPA - 55 raw marks)
20% of the total AS marks
10% of the total A Level marks
June
Unit 4
PHYA4 Fields and further mechanics
Written Examination (75 marks/120 UMS) 1¾ hours
Section A: 25 multiple choice questions, each worth one mark.
Section B: written paper of 4/5 structured questions50 marks
20% of the total A Level marks
January and June
Unit 5
One of Units PHA5A, PHA5B, PHA5C, PHA5D
A - Astrophysics
B - Medical Physics
C - Applied Physics
D - Turning Points in Physics
Written Examination(75 marks/120 UMS) 1¾ hours
Section A: Nuclear and Thermal Physics - 40 marks
4/5 structured questions
Section B: one among the mentioned options.
Each paper has 4/5 structured questions and 35 marks.
June
Unit 6
Investigative and practical skills in A2 Physics
Either
PHA6T
Centre Marked Route T - 50 marks
Practical Skills Assessment (PSA - 9 marks)
Investigative Skills Assignment (ISA - 41 marks)
Or
PHA6X
Externally Marked Route X (55 marks)
Practical Skills Verification (PSV - teacher verification)
Externally Marked Practical Assignment (EMPA - 55 raw marks)
10% of the total A Level marks
June

Specification B

1.  AS Physics

  • Foundation physics
  • Waves and nuclear physics
  • Experimental work

2.  Advanced (A2) Physic

  • Further physics
  • Fields and their applications
  • Experimental work

For more details, refer to official AQA website.

Edexcel

Specification A

1.  AS Physics

  • Unit 1: Physics on the go
    1. a) Study of mechanics
    2. b) Externally assessed
    3. c) Availability: January and June
    4. d) First assessment: January 2009
    5. e) 40% of AS marks
    6. f) 20% of total GCE marks
  • Unit 2: Physics at Work
    1. a) Study of waves, electricity, wave-particle duality
    2. b) Externally assessed
    3. c) Availability: January and June
    4. d) First assessment: January 2009
    5. e) 40% of AS marks
    6. f) 20% of total GCE marks
  • Unit 3: Exploring Physics
    1. a) Case study on application of Physics
    2. b) Internally or externally assessed
    3. c) Availability: June
    4. d) First assessment: June 2009
    5. e) 20% of AS marks
    6. f) 10% of total GCE marks

2.  A2 Physics

  • Unit 4: Physics on the Move
    1. a) Further mechanics (momentum and circular motion), electric and magnetic fields, and particle physics
    2. b) Externally assessed
    3. c) Availability: January and June
    4. d) First assessment: January 2010
    5. e) 40% of A2 marks
    6. f) 20% of total GCE marks
  • Unit 5: Physics from Creation to Collapse
    1. a) Study of thermal energy, nuclear decay, oscillations, astrophysics and cosmology.
    2. b) Externally assessed
    3. c) Availability: January and June
    4. d) First assessment: January 2010
    5. e) 40% of A2 marks
    6. f) 20% of total GCE marks
  • Unit 6: Experimental Physics
    1. a)  Experiment and analysis
    2. b)  Internally or externally assessed
    3. c)  Availability: June
    4. d) First assessment: June 2010
    5. e)  20% of A2 marks
    6. f) 10% of total GCE marks

Specification Salters Horners

1.  AS Physics (Salters Horners)

  • Unit 1: Physics at work, rest and play; The sound of music; Technology in space; Higher, faster, stronger
  • Unit 2: Physics for life; Good enough to eat; Digging up the past; Spare part surgery
  • Unit 3: Working with physics; Coursework

2.  Advanced Physics (Salters Horners)

  • Unit 4: Moving with physics; Transport on track; The medium is the message; Probing the heart of matter
  • Unit 5: Physics from creation to collapse
    • 5.1 Coursework
    • 5.2 Reach for the stars; Build or bust?
  • Unit 6: Exploring physics; Synoptic test

For more details, refer to Edexcel Official website.

OCR

Specifications A

OCR AS GCE in Physics A

Unit Level Unit Title Jan Jun
2821 AS Forces and Motion
2822 AS Electrons and Photons
2823 AS Wave Properties / Experimental Skills 1
2824 A2 Forces, Fields, and Energy
2825 A2 Options in Physics
2826 A2 Unifying Concepts in Physics / Experimental Skills 2

Option papers include:

Option Code Component to be taken
A 01  Cosmology
B 02  Health Physics
C 03  Materials
D 04  Nuclear and Particle Physics
E 05  Telecommunications

For more details about different specifications OCR A-Level GCE Physics, refer to:

Physics A

Physics B