Physics AS LEVEL


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 recognise 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

AS 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 first unit provides a more detailed consideration of quantities and units and their notation than learners will have met previously. Skills of measurement will be of crucial importance throughout the entire course. These skills will be required not only in the laboratory, but will frequently be needed in theoretical considerations. Kinematics include equations of uniformly accelerated motion are derived and used in solving problems, including those concerned with free fall (where air resistance is ignored). A study of projectile motion is also included. In dynamics we discuss with a consideration of the behavior of momentum and kinetic energy in collisions of various types. Deformation of solid are particularly relevant to the world around us, since the materials in a multitude of everyday objects are subject to deformation. Waves and wave theory form a highly important aspect of any physics course, since waves and their applications have a vital role to play in many different forms throughout our everyday lives. The concepts learned in this unit will be encountered at many other points in the course.

Unit 1 Physical quantities and units

Unit 2 Measurement techniques

Unit 3 Kinematics

Unit 4 Dynamics

Unit 5 Forces, density and pressure

Unit 6 Work, energy, power

Unit 7 Deformation of solids

Unit 8 Waves

Unit 9 Superposition

Specific National Curriculum Objectives Covered:

Physical Quantities and Units

  • understand that all physical quantities consist of a numerical magnitude and a unit
  • make reasonable estimates of physical quantities included within the syllabus
  • use SI base units to check the homogeneity of physical equations
  • add and subtract coplanar vectors
  • represent a vector as two perpendicular components

Measuring Techniques

  • use techniques for the measurement of length, volume, angle, mass, time, temperature and electrical quantities appropriate to the ranges of magnitude
  • use both analogue scales and digital displays
  • use calibration curves
  • understand and explain the effects of systematic errors (including zero errors) and random errors in measurements
  • understand the distinction between precision and accuracy
  • assess the uncertainty in a derived quantity by simple addition of absolute, fractional or percentage uncertainties


  • define and use distance, displacement, speed, velocity and acceleration.
  • derive, from the definitions of velocity and acceleration, equations that represent uniformly accelerated motion in a straight line.
  • solve problems using equations that represent uniformly accelerated motion in a straight line, including the motion of bodies falling in a uniform gravitational field without air resistance.
  • describe an experiment to determine the acceleration of free fall using a falling body
  • describe and explain motion due to a uniform velocity in one direction and a uniform acceleration in a perpendicular direction.


  • define and use linear momentum as the product of mass and velocity.
  • define and use force as rate of change of momentum.
  • state and apply each of Newton’s laws of motion.
  • describe qualitatively the motion of bodies falling in a uniform gravitational field with air resistance.
  • apply the principle of conservation of momentum to solve simple problems, including elastic and inelastic interactions between bodies in both one and two dimensions (knowledge of the concept of coefficient of restitution is not required).
  • recognize that, for a perfectly elastic collision, the relative speed of approach is equal to the relative speed of separation.
  • understand that, while momentum of a system is always conserved in interactions between bodies, some change in kinetic energy may take place.

Forces, density and pressure

  • understand that a couple is a pair of forces that tends to produce rotation only c) define and apply the torque of a couple.
  • derive and use from the definitions of pressure and density, the equation Δp = ρgΔh.
  • use a vector triangle to represent coplanar forces in equilibrium.

Work, Energy, Power

  • understand the concept of work in terms of the product of a force and displacement in the direction of the force.
  • calculate the work done in a number of situations including the work done by a gas that is expanding against a constant external pressure: W = pΔV.
  • derive, from the defining equation W = Fs, the formula ΔEp = mgΔh for potential energy changes near the Earth’s surface.
  • solve problems using the relationships W= Pt and P = Fv.

Deformation of Solids

  • distinguish between elastic and plastic deformation of a material.
  • understand that the area under the force-extension graph represents the work done.
  • deduce the strain energy in a deformed material from the area under the force-extension graph.


  • understand that energy is transferred by a progressive wave.
  • recall and use the relationship intensity (amplitude)2
  • analyze and interpret graphical representations of transverse and longitudinal waves.
  • determine the wavelength of sound using stationary waves.
  • appreciate that Doppler shift is observed with all waves, including sound and light.
  • state that all electromagnetic waves travel with the same speed in free space and recall the orders of magnitude of the wavelengths of the principal radiations from radio waves to γ-rays.
  • explain the meaning of the term diffraction.
  • understand the terms interference and coherence.
  • describe the use of a diffraction grating to determine the wavelength of light (the structure and use of the spectrometer are not included).

AS Level Term2

Approximate length: 8 weeks

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 physics of the factors which control electric currents in circuits of all types has a very wide range of applications in devices which are now considered to be essential to modern life. Electrical circuits of all types have a very wide range of applications in devices which are now considered to be essential to modern life, including everyday sensors. This unit draws together concepts from different parts of the course and some of these are highly relevant to our need for large-scale energy production (for example, nuclear fusion and fission). The quark model is introduced, and used to explain the mechanics of both types of beta-particle emission.

Unit 10 Current Electricity

Unit 11 D C circuits

Unit 12 Particle Physics

Specific National Curriculum Objectives Covered:

Current Electricity

  • understand the concept of an electric field as an example of a field of force and define.
  • electric field strength as force per unit positive charge acting on a stationary point charge.
  • calculate the forces on charges in uniform electric fields.
  • describe the effect of a uniform electric field on the motion of charged particles.
  • derive and use, for a current-carrying conductor, the expression I = Anvq.
  • sketch and discuss the I–V characteristics of a metallic conductor at constant temperature, a semiconductor diode and a fi lament lamp.

D.C. Circuits

  • distinguish between e.m.f. and potential difference (p.d.) in terms of energy considerations.
  • understand the effects of the internal resistance of a source of e.m.f. on the terminal potential difference.
  • recall Kirchhoff’s first law and appreciate the link to conservation of charge.
  • recall Kirchhoff’s second law and appreciate the link to conservation of energy.
  • derive, using Kirchhoff’s laws, a formula for the combined resistance of two or more resistors in series.
  • solve problems using the formula for the combined resistance of two or more resistors in series.
  • derive, using Kirchhoff’s laws, a formula for the combined resistance of two or more resistors in parallel.
  • solve problems using the formula for the combined resistance of two or more resistors in parallel.
  • apply Kirchhoff’s laws to solve simple circuit problems.
  • recall and solve problems using the principle of the potentiometer as a means of comparing potential differences.

Particle and nuclear physics

  • understand that an element can exist in various isotopic forms, each with a different number of neutrons.
  • use the usual notation for the representation of nuclides.
  • appreciate that nucleon number, proton number, and mass-energy are all conserved in nuclear processes.
  • show an understanding of the nature and properties of α-, β- and γ-radiations (both β– and β+ are included).
  • state that (electron) antineutrinos and (electron) neutrinos are produced during β– and β+ decay.
  • describe a simple quark model of hadrons in terms of up, down and strange quarks and their respective antiquarks.


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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