Subject Team

Mrs Wilson (Head of Department): Physics and Astronomy

Dr McCavigan: Physics and Astronomy

Mr Hunter: Physics (GCSE)

Mr McCourt: Physics (GCSE)

Department Aims

In our department we aim to help all students to develop the skills of Physics: the logical approach, the ability to build and test models and the numerical and problem solving skills.  These are high-level skills which are inherent in a Physics student.  An Astronomy student will be able to develop their curiosity and enthusiasm for astronomy and to take an informed interest in current astronomical investigation, discoveries and space exploration.

AS and GB with Moon Maps

Physics and Astronomy basically can mean Rocket Science, but there’s a lot else besides that.  We explore questions like how did the universe start?  What is a black hole?  Is time travel possible? Can our Energy Supplies last forever?  How does and MRI machine work?  If you have an enquiring mind, always asking why things happen, then Physics will help you find the answers. It forms the basis of most modern technologies and holds the future to global well-being.

AH with Optics Kit

GCSE

GCSE Physics

Examination Board: CCEA

 

What is GCSE Physics about?

 

From the smallest parts of the human body to the great clusters of galaxies, Physics helps us understand how our world works.  A typical Physics student is confident both numerically and practically and loves to get to grips with how things work. This GCSE course encourages students to develop their curiosity about the physical world and provides insight into and experience of how science works.   So, if you have an enquiring mind, enjoy a challenge and like solving problems, studying Physics can give you the best chance of success.

What will I study and how will I be assessed?

 

Content Assessment Weighting
Unit 1: Motion, Forces, Moments, Energy, Density, Kinetic Theory, Radioactivity, Nuclear Fission and Fusion  

External Examination

 

37.5%
Unit 2: Waves, Light, Electricity, Magnetism and Electromagnetism and Space Physics  

External Examination

 

37.5%
Unit 3: Practical

Skills

Practical Assessment task (in class)

Practical Applications Written Examination

7%

 

17%

 

 

 

What can this subject lead to?

The career opportunities using Physics are almost infinite.  You might want to pursue a career in science, the media, education, business or a host of other fields and Physics can help give you the edge by providing a good initial training.  Physics students can end up in academic and industrial research, working in Physics-based industries such as electronics, alternative energy development or communications, and the critical and growing area of Medical Physics.  Physicists are also in demand, particularly for their analytical skills; within the finance sector in a range of financial, fund management and research roles; in the law; in management consultancy; as weather forecasters; computer programmers and, in a major shortage area, as Physics and Science teachers.

 

A Level

Physics

Examination Board: CCEA

What is A Level Physics about?

Studying Physics deepens our understanding of the smallest detail of the world around us. Physicists are at the forefront of the pursuit of solutions to some of the biggest questions facing science and technological sectors today.  A-Level Physics students develop competences in a range of research, practical problem solving and mathematical skills. All of these are highly regarded in further and higher education as well as in the workplace. 

What will I study and how will I be assessed?

 AS Content Assessment Weighting
Unit 1 Forces, Energy and Electricity External Assessment 40% of AS

 

16% of A Level

Unit 2 Waves, Photons and Astronomy

 

External Assessment 40% of AS

 

16% of A Level

Unit 3 Practical Techniques and Data Analysis Two 1 hour Externally Assessed papers (90 marks).  One paper to assess practical / experimental skills, another paper requiring analysis of experimental data. 20% of AS

8% of A Level

 A2 Content Assessment Weighting
Unit 1 Deformation of Solids, Thermal Physics, Circular Motion, Oscillations & Atomic and Nuclear Physics

 

External Assessment 40% of A2

 

24% of A Level

Unit 2 Fields, Capacitors and Particle Physics  

External Examination

 

40% of AS

 

24% of A Level

Unit 3 Practical Techniques Two 1 hour Externally Assessed papers (90 marks).  One paper to assess practical / experimental skills, another paper requiring analysis of experimental data. 20% of AS

12% of A Level

Are there any particular qualities or skills I should have to study this course and to what kind of careers can it lead?

The first measure of suitability for A-Level Physics is a proven Physics ability.  This means having a good grade B (min. 300 marks) at Higher Tier in GCSE Physics or AB in Double Award Science (or Core and Additional Science as a Double Award).  Due to the mathematical nature of many aspects of the course, it is essential that potential students have at least grade B in GCSE Mathematics T4/T6 (higher tier or equivalent) combination, with GCSE Further Maths also being desirable.

*Any form of GCSE Foundation or Intermediate Level Mathematics is NOT a suitable platform for progression into the study of Advanced Level Physics.

There is a wide range of careers for which Physics provides a good initial training.  The more obvious career directions for a Physics student include academic and industrial research, working in Physics-based industries such as electronics, alternative energy development or communications, and the critical and growing area of Medical Physics. Physicists are also in demand, particularly for their analytical skills; within the finance sector in a range of financial, fund management and research roles; in the law; in management consultancy; as weather forecasters; computer programmers and, in a major shortage area, as Physics and Science teachers.

Department News / Events

What’s on in the Physics and Astronomy Department? 

There’s always plenty going on in the Physics Department so here is a quick overview of the typical Physics and Astronomy year:

September – Celebrate GCSE and A-Level results

October – Year 12 start Controlled Assessment

Yr 12 CAT 2014

November – British Physics Olympiad Competition for A2 and AS-Level students

A2 Challenge

December – The Physics Department Domino Rally

Domino Rally

January – School Examinations

February – Portadown College borrows the Moon.  GCSE Astronomers get to see samples taken by the Apollo mission Astronauts.

March – 2015 saw a 90% eclipse in the UK, naturally we got very excited about that.

The EclipseSolar Eclipse ViewingMore Crowds

The year 11 GCSE Astronomers were slightly less excited when visiting Oxford Island’s sundial on a rainy day!

Year 11s at the Sundial

April – Year 13 Physicists get a talk from an Optician on Lenses

May – Examinations start with the AS and A-Level practicals,

June – Year 11 students visit Queen’s University for a “Horizons in Physics” day.

Educational Visits / Trips

Year 11 GCSE Astronomers visited Oxford Island’s sundial.

Year 11s at the Sundial

In June – Year 11 students visit Queen’s University for a “Horizons in Physics” day.

CEIAG Links

There is a wide range of careers for which Physics provides a good initial training.  The more obvious career directions for a Physics student include academic and industrial research, working in Physics-based industries such as electronics, alternative energy development or communications, and the critical and growing area of Medical Physics. Physicists are also in demand, particularly for their analytical skills; within the finance sector in a range of financial, fund management and research roles; in the law; in management consultancy; as weather forecasters; computer programmers and, in a major shortage area, as Physics and Science teachers.

Your future matters. So, if you have an enquiring mind, enjoy a challenge and like solving problems, give yourself the best chance by studying physics – the subject of the future. From the smallest part of the human body to the great clusters of galaxies, physics helps us understand how our world works. The applications, like the career opportunities, are infinite. Employers today actively seek out people who can prove their ability to think logically, understand complex ideas and apply them to the real world. Whether you want to pursue a career in science, the media, education, business or a host of other fields, physics can help give you the edge.