Year 9 (Block 3)

The physics course in Block 3 extends ideas from KS3 and forms an integral part of the work required for IGCSE. In combination with Biology and Chemistry the emphasis is on developing good scientific thinking and the analytical skills to select, organise and present information clearly and logically, using appropriate scientific terms and conventions. There is a reduced mathematical demand at this stage although there is an introduction to modelling relationships between physical quantities. The topics allow the fundamental concepts to be established with plenty of practical applications.

The topics studied cover:

  • Astronomy
  • Waves
  • Sound
  • The Electromagnetic Spectrum
  • Domestic Electricity
  • Energy resources
  • Heat transfer mechanisms

Students' work is reinforced by regular weekly prep, extended assignments and end of topic tests.  There will be a formal peer assessed presentation of individual research on the Energy Resources topic and a synoptic examination at the end of the year.

Watch a short film about Science at Bedales:

Years 10 & 11 (Blocks 4 & 5)

All Block 4 and 5 students study towards a Double Award IGCSE with the opportunity of extending this with additional material in Block 5 to sit the separate Physics IGCSE papers. This is examined with a two hour Physics paper for the Double Award with an additional one hour extension paper for the Physics IGCSE award. The aim of this course is to provide a comprehensive grounding in the sciences for anyone who is a citizen of the twenty-first century, and also to build a firm platform for anyone wishing to continue with the sciences to AS Level and beyond. The students are set according to their performance in Block 3 tests and exams, though these sets remain flexible through Block 4.

The IGCSE course develops scientific skills and knowledge and covers topics including Motion, Forces, Moments, Deformation, Work, Energy and Power, Electricity Density and Pressure, Kinetic Theory, Astronomy, Optics, Electromagnetism, Radioactivity and Nuclear Power.

Examining Board: Edexcel "Double Award" IGCSE 4SCO and Edexcel Physics 4PH0

Sixth Form

The new linear A Level Physics course from 2015 is the AQA 7408 specification which is similar in content to the old AS/A2 course but with much greater flexibility to teach the material both in terms of order and time. The examination of the practical work now based on 12 core practical experiments that will be indirectly assessed in the terminal written papers rather than through formally assessed experimental tasks thus giving greater opportunity to include more practical work throughout the course. The mathematical content of the course has also been increased to include about 40% of the assessment. Much of the syllabus content extends ideas introduced at IGCSE but allowing development and refinement to produce models and thinking that will be a springboard to many university courses. The emphasis is on establishing a clear understanding of the concepts and developing sophisticated problem solving skills. 

The course consists of the following topics:

Core content

  • 1 Measurements and their errors
  • 2 Particles and radiation
  • 3 Waves
  • 4 Mechanics and materials
  • 5 Electricity
  • 6 Further mechanics and thermal physics
  • 7 Fields and their consequences
  • 8 Nuclear physics


  • 9 Astrophysics
  • 10 Medical physics
  • 11 Engineering physics
  • 12 Turning points in physics
  • 13 Electronics

The assessment consists of three written papers, each of two hours duration taken at the end of the course.

Paper 1 (34%) examines sections 1 to 5 and 6.1 (Periodic motion)

Paper 2 (34%) examines sections 6.2 (Thermal Physics ) , 7and 8.

Paper 3 (32%) has a compulsory section A on Practical skills and Data analysis and section B on one of the options 9 to 13. 

Physics remains an excellent course for those going on to any undergraduate course in Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Architecture and Electronics and is a great benefit in many fields.

We would expect at least AB at GCSE Science and at least an A grade in Mathematics in order to access the demands of the course and students taking the two-year course are strongly advised to take Mathematics at least to AS Level. Many students naturally combine Physics with a full A Level Mathematics course. Those students not studying Mathematics will need to consider developing their mathematical skills with additional exercises and support as required.

Full details of the A Level course are available online via the AQA website, here.


Examining Board: AQA Specification 7408

Head of Department: Tobias Hardy