The King's (The Cathedral) School


Physics is considered the basis of most science. Its study of the universe and the world around us has taken us from the discoveries of fundamental particles at CERN to the creation of new materials that we now take for granted.

‘There is no science in this world like physics. Nothing comes close to the precision with which physics enables you to understand the world around you. It's the laws of physics that allow us to say exactly what time the sun is going to rise. What time the eclipse is going to begin. What time the eclipse is going to end.’

Neil de Grasse Tyson (Astrophysicist)

Physics is regarded as one of the most desirable academic subjects and is used in a wide range of applications from medical to financial. Studying Physics gives the student a broad range of skills and an ability to analyse and plan, much in demand in employment. There is still a shortage of physicists and has an enviable employment record. King’s Physicists have been very successful becoming Physicists, Engineers and entering many other professions.


In Key Stage 3, Physics is taught as part of the Combined Science course alongside Biology and Chemistry. The topics are:

Year 7

  • Forces
  • Space
  • Energy

Year 8

  • Light
  • Sound
  • Electricity
  • Magnetism

The Physics element of Key Stage 3 has a strong practical element that enhances the understanding that students will gain. It includes both formative and summitted assessments for each topic. Homework is set once a fortnight and should not take more than one hour.

KS3 Science aims to develop the scientific skills that students require to embark upon their KS4 studies.


Physics at Key Stage 4, including Year 9, is taught either as either GCSE Physics (AQA 8463) or as part of the Combined Science GCSE (AQA 8464). All teaching is carried out by specialist.

Year 9

All students begin following the Physics component of the GCSE Combined Science Specification.  The Year 9 course covers the umbrella topics of Energy, Particle Model of Matter, and Basic Electricity.

  • Energy: Types of Energy, Specific Heat Capacity, Efficiency & Energy Resources
  • Particle Model of Matter: Density, Changes in State, Internal Energy and Changes in Gases
  • Basic Electricity: Static Electricity & Basic Circuits

Year 10

Students are taught either GCSE Physics or Combined Science. They continue their learning with Electrical Circuits, Forces and Motion and Atomic Structure.

  • Electricity: Investigating Circuits and Components, Power and Efficiency, plus Electric Fields in GCSE Physics
  • Forces: Motion, Graphing Motion, Newton’s Laws, Momentum and Hooke’s Law, plus Gears, Moments & Atmospheric Pressure in GCSE Physics
  • Atomic Structure: Structure of the Atom, Radioactive Decay, Half-life, Hazards and Uses of Radiation, plus Fission & Fusion in GCSE Physics

Year 11

Students complete their courses by studying Waves and the Electromagnetic Spectrum and Electromagnetism. The GCSE Physics students also have an additional unit on Space in Year 11.

  • Waves: Types and Properties of Waves, Measuring Wave Speed, Reflection & Refraction, Uses and Hazards of the Electromagnetic Spectrum, plus Sound & Seismic Waves in GCSE Physics
  • Electromagnetism: Looking at the Motor Effect, the Left Hand Rule, Electromagnetic Induction and Transformers
  • Space (GCSE Physics only): What Makes Up The Universe, Life Cycle of Stars, Red Shift and the Big Bang


GCSE Physics

Paper 1 (1hour 45minutes)


Paper 2 (1 hour 45minutes)


Energy (Year 9)

Electricity (Yearsr 9/10)

Particle Model of Matter (Year 9)

Atomic Structure (Year 10/11)

Force (Year 10)

Waves (Year 11)

Magnetism & Electromagnetism (Year 11)

Space (Year 11)

This paper will also draw on Energy Changes & Transfers, Mechanical & Electrical work and Energy Conservation from the topics in Paper 1.

GCSE Combined Science – Physics Element

Physics Paper 1 (1hour 15minutes)


Physics Paper 2 (1 hour 15minutes)


Energy (Year 9)

Electricity (Years 9/10)

Particle Model of Matter (Year 9)

Atomic Structure (Years 10/11)

Force (Year 10)

Waves (Year 11)

Magnetism & Electromagnetism (Year 11)



At A-Level students follow the 2 year EDEXCEL 9PH0 A-Level course. The approach is very much hands on, with a high level of practical work throughout the course. This approach helps with the understanding and develops the skills needed to pass the practical competency element of the course, Practical Endorsement.

Year 12

In Year 12 students build on prior knowledge from GCSE in their studies of Mechanics, Electricity, Waves and Materials. They also carry out 8 Core Practicals which are assessed against a list of Common Practical Assessment Criteria (CPAC) which is set by the exam board. All practicals are carried out during normal lesson time. At the end of Year 12 all students will sit an exam that will examine all of the content studied.

  • Mechanics: this is the study of Newton’s Laws of Motion, Forces, Momentum and Projectiles
  • Waves and the Particle Nature of Light: This looks at Light and Sound Waves, Wave Particle Duality, the Photo Electric Effect and Lenses
  • Electrical Circuits: this unit looks at Circuits in more depth, studying EMF, Maximum Power Theorem
  • Materials: in this unit both Fluids and Solids are explored. Laminar and Turbulent Wavea are looked at, along with Archimedes' Principle and Stoke's Law. Hooke’s Law and Young’s Modulus are studied under the solid materials

Year 13

Year 13 students build on Year 12 work with Further Mechanics and Oscillations, whilst studying new topics on Thermodynamics, Fields (Electric, Magnetic and Gravitational), Nuclear & Particle Physics and Stars. Another 8 Core Practicals are carried out and assessed, with successful completion leading onto a Pass on the Practical Endorsement.



Advanced Physics I

Advanced Physics II

General and Practical Principles in Physics

Year 12 topics

Working as a Physicist


Electric Circuits

Working as a Physicist


Waves and the Particle Nature of Light

All topics

Year 13 topics

Further Mechanics

Electric & Magnetic Fields

Nuclear & Particle Physics



Nuclear Radiation

Gravitational Fields


All topics

Time and Weighting

1 hour 45 mins


1 hour 45 mins


2 hours 30mins


Department Staff

Mrs Marie White (MLW): Head of Physics Department
Mr Matthew Owens (MJO): Teacher of Physics
Mr Anthony McAleese (AJM): Teacher of Physics
Mrs Rosie McTavish (REM): Teacher of Physics
Mrs Penny Thorndike (PAT): Physics Technician