Physics A LEVEL

Overview

Cambridge AS and A level Syllabus at GEMS Wesgreen International School aims to provide the students an opportunity to develop attitudes relevant to physics such as; concern for accuracy and precision, objectivity and inquiry. Cambridge International AS and A Level Physics helps learners develop the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for successful university study.

Learning Outcomes

Students should be helped to understand how, through the ideas of physics, the complex and diverse phenomena of the natural world can be described in terms of a number of key ideas which are of universal application and which can be illustrated in the separate topics set out below. These ideas include:

  • the use of models, as in the particle model of matter or the wave models of light and of sound
  • the concept of cause and effect in explaining such links as those between force and acceleration, or between changes in atomic nuclei and radioactive emissions
  • the phenomena of ‘action at a distance’ and the related concept of the field as the key to analysing electrical, magnetic and gravitational effects
  • that differences, for example between pressures or temperatures or electrical potentials, are the drivers of change
  • that proportionality, for example between weight and mass of an object or between force and extension in a spring, is an important aspect of many models in science.

Ongoing Objectives

Throughout each unit, the students are given the opportunity to build on the objectives below:

  • provide an enjoyable and worthwhile educational experience for all learners, whether or not they go on to study science beyond this level.
  • enable learners to acquire sufficient knowledge and understanding to:
  • become confident citizens in a technological world and develop an informed interest in scientific matters
  • allow learners to recognize that science is evidence-based and understand the usefulness, and the limitations, of scientific method
  • develop skills that:
  • are relevant to the study and practice of physics
  • are useful in everyday life
  • encourage a systematic approach to problem-solving
  • encourage efficient and safe practice
  • encourage effective communication through the language of science
  • develop attitudes relevant to physics such as:
  • concern for accuracy and precision
  • objectivity
  • integrity
  • enquiry
  • initiative

Unit Overviews

 A- Level Term 1

For blended learning we will provide video links, live demonstrations of practical investigation as well as access to the relevant worksheets and resources that all students will need.

The principles of circular motion are relevant to many areas of physics, and in particular to the orbits of satellites and moons around planets, and to the movement of charged particles in magnetic fields, so it is important to teach this unit before moving on later to Unit 18 and Unit 21. The study of circular motion follows on from and builds on previous work on linear motion and acceleration. They study some of the many examples of naturally occurring oscillations, and the unit is closely linked to circular motion. The qualitative and quantitative concepts concerning the states of matter, changes of state and internal energy are fundamentally important in developing an understanding of the behavior of matter in the world around us.

Unit 13 Motion in a circle

Unit 14: Oscillations

Unit 15: Temperature

Unit 16: Thermal properties

Unit 17: Ideal gases

Unit 18: Gravitational and electric fields

Unit 19: Capacitance

Unit 20: Electronics

Unit 21: Magnetic fields

Unit 22: Electromagnetic induction

Specific National Curriculum Objectives Covered:

Motion in a Circle

  • define the radian and express angular displacement in radians
  • understand and use the concept of angular speed to solve problems
  • recall and use centripetal force equations F = mrω2

Gravitational Field

  • understand the concept of a gravitational field as an example of a field of force and define gravitational field strength as force per unit mass
  • recall and solve problems using the equation g = GM/r2 for the
  • gravitational field strength of a point mass

Oscillations

  • understand and use the terms amplitude, period, frequency, angular frequency and phase difference
  • express the period in terms of both frequency and angular frequency
  • describe practical examples of damped oscillations with particular reference to the effects of the degree of damping and the importance of critical damping
  • describe practical examples of forced oscillations and resonance
  • appreciate that there are some circumstances in which resonance is useful and other circumstances in which resonance should be avoided

Temperature and Ideal Gas

  • state the basic assumptions of the kinetic theory of gases c)
  • explain how molecular movement causes the pressure exerted by a gas and hence deduce the relationship pV = 1/3Nmc2
  • understand that there is an absolute scale of temperature that does not depend on the property of any particular substance
  • define and use the concept of specific latent heat, and identify the main principles of its determination by electrical methods
  • recall and use the first law of thermodynamics ΔU= q+w expressed in terms of the increase in internal energy, the heating of the system

Electric Field Capacitance and Electronics

  • understand that, for any point outside a spherical conductor, the charge on the sphere may be considered to act as a point charge at its centre.
  • recall and use Coulomb’s law.
  • recognize the analogy between certain qualitative and quantitative aspects of electric fields and gravitational fields.
  • solve problems using the capacitance formulae for capacitors in series and in parallel.
  • show an understanding of the action of a piezo-electric transducer and its application in a simple microphone.
  • understand the effects of negative feedback on the gain of an operational amplifier.
  • recall the circuit diagrams for both the inverting and the non-inverting amplifier for single signal input.
  • understand the virtual earth approximation and derive an expression for the gain of inverting amplifiers.
  • recall the main properties of the ideal operational amplifier.
  • recall and use expressions for the voltage gain of inverting and of non-inverting amplifiers.

Magnetic Field and Electromagnetic Induction

  • understand that a magnetic field is an example of a field of force produced either by current-carrying conductors or by permanent magnets.
  • recall and solve problems using the equation F = BIL sinθ, with directions as interpreted by Fleming’s left-hand rule.
  • define magnetic flux density and the tesla.
  • understand how the force on a current-carrying conductor can be used to measure the flux density of a magnetic field using a current balance.
  • explain how electric and magnetic fields can be used in velocity selection.
  • explain the forces between current-carrying conductors and predict the direction of the forces.
  • recall and solve problems using Faraday’s law of electromagnetic induction and Lenz’s law.
  • explain simple applications of electromagnetic induction.

A-Level Term 2

For blended learning we will provide video links, live demonstrations of practical investigation as well as access to the relevant worksheets and resources that all students will need.

Approximate length: 8 weeks

Unit 23: Alternating currents

Unit 24: Communication

Unit 25: Quantum physics

Unit 26: Nuclear physics

Specific National Curriculum Objectives Covered:

An introduction to the thermodynamics of machines such as petrol and diesel engines which make use of expanding and contracting gases. The idea of an electric field was first met in Unit 4, and Unit 21 on magnetic fields will be found to make use of some similar physics, though there are also some very marked differences. This unit demonstrates an application of the principles of circular motion and links to some ideas concerning force and energy are also important.

Alternating Current

  • understand and use the terms period, frequency, peak value and root-mean-square value as applied to an alternating current or voltage.
  • deduce that the mean power in a resistive load is half the maximum power for a sinusoidal alternating current.
  • understand and use the terms period, frequency, peak value and root-mean-square value as applied to an alternating current or voltage.
  • deduce that the mean power in a resistive load is half the maximum power for a sinusoidal alternating current.
  • understand the sources of energy loss in a practical transformer.
  • explain the use of a single diode for the half-wave rectification of an alternating current.
  • explain the use of four diodes (bridge rectifier) for the full wave rectification of an alternating current.

Communication

  • understand the term modulation and be able to distinguish between amplitude modulation (AM) and frequency modulation (FM).
  • recall the frequencies and wavelengths used in different channels of communication.
  • demonstrate an awareness of the relative advantages of AM and FM transmissions.
  • understand that the digital transmission of speech or music involves analogue-to-digital conversion (ADC) before transmission and digital-to-analogue conversion (DAC) after reception.
  • understand the effect of the sampling rate and the number of bits in each sample on the reproduction of an input signal.
  • understand and use signal attenuation expressed in dB and dB per unit length.

Quantum Physics and Nuclear Physics

  • appreciate the particulate nature of electromagnetic radiation.
  • recall and use E = hf.
  • recall the significance of threshold frequency.
  • explain photoelectric phenomena in terms of photon energy and work function energy.
  • explain why the maximum photoelectric energy is independent of intensity, whereas the photoelectric current is proportional to intensity.
  • describe and interpret qualitatively the evidence provided by electron diffraction for the wave nature of particles.
  • use simple band theory to explain the temperature dependence of the resistance of metals and of intrinsic semiconductors.
  • use simple band theory to explain the dependence on light intensity of the resistance of an LDR.
  • understand the purpose of computed tomography or CT scanning.
  • understand the principles of CT scanning.
  • understand how the image of an 8-voxel cube can be developed using CT scanning.

Assessment

Formative: Throughout the units, the students will complete graded work, quizzes and practical, research activities, which allows the teacher to assess the students’ attainment and inform their planning.

For each unit the students complete a pre and posttest. This allows us to see progress across the units and to inform our planning.

Summative: At the end of first term we complete internal tests – Unit based and combined Units. Students complete standardized tests such as Mock Exam during the month of March. This allows us to measure the students’ progress throughout the term and year.

Next Steps

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