Physics Curriculum

First Year

The First Year study general science in mixed ability groups, with a strong emphasis on practical work. This helps the pupils link the study of all the sciences, as well as developing laboratory and experimental skills.

Second Year

The Second Year course is all about building up an understanding of the basic concepts in Physics (waves, energy and forces), as well as calculation and graphical skills, all in preparation for the IGCSE course.


The Third Year is the start of the Edexcel IGCSE Separate Science course. The course is split across three years, with easier aspects being covered in the Third Year. The topics covered throughout the course are energy, forces, waves, electricity, radioactivity and electromagnetism. Pupils are encouraged to start to use their understanding to explain the world around them: How do safety belts work? Why do we bend our knees when we jump? Why is the sky purple?

AS Level

The OCR B - Advancing Physics course is rooted in using physics to explain the phenomenon in the world around us: how can light be both a wave and a particle? Why do we actually see upside down? The course covers optics, electricity, materials, forces, energy, motion, waves and quantum effects.

A2 Level

Pupils start to use Physics to answer more challenging questions: what are protons made of? Why is the force of gravity at the centre of the Earth zero? How old is the universe? The study of fields (gravitational, electrical and magnetic) is combined with the study of matter; looking at the fundamental particles that make up atoms and how all matter is affected by temperature.

A Level Physics

The information below is for the draft new specification of Advancing Physics B however we may change exam board once the specifications have been finalised.


Physics in Action  
Understanding Processes  
Field and Particle Pictures  

How the course is taught
This course is taught by two subject teachers through a mixture of theoretical and experimental study. Pupils are expected to commit their time to independent study of topics outside lessons and read around the subject to obtain a fuller understanding of the subject.

Subject teachers set homework tasks which are predominately problem-solving (both mathematical and explanation questions). Great emphasis on problem solving and applying knowledge is now placed on homework.

Preparatory Work
Students are provided with a mathematical booklet to complete during the summer before the course.  They will be tested on the material in their second or third lesson.

IB Diploma
Physics can be described as the study of energy and matter. It is the most fundamental of the experimental sciences, as it seeks to explain the universe itself, from the very smallest particles - quarks (perhaps 10/14m) - to the vast distances between galaxies (maybe 10/24m).

Integrated into the teaching scheme is a full programme of practical work, designed to enhance understanding of theoretical concepts and to develop manipulative, analytical and communication skills. All students have to submit a portfolio of their practical work for internal assessment.

Because all diploma students study Mathematics, IB Physics is able to employ a wider range of mathematical techniques and skills than are currently required at A Level. Greater use of mathematics, the language of physics, should be seen as an advantage and should not put off potential students, provided they can achieve at least a grade B at GCSE in Mathematics.

At the end of the course, both HL and SL students sit three papers with the SL papers being slightly shorter.

IB Physics (Higher Level)


  • Measurements and uncertainties
  • Mechanics
  • Thermal physics
  • Waves
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Circular motion and gravitation
  • Atomic, nuclear and particle physics
  • Energy production
  • Astrophysics

(HL Only)

  • Wave Phenomena
  • Fields
  • Electromagnetic Induction
  • Quantum and Nuclear Physics

How the course is taught
The Higher Level and Standard Level Physics courses are both taught by two subject teachers. The teaching methodology is mixture of theoretical (75%) and experimental (25%). 

Subject teachers set homework tasks which are predominately problem solving (both mathematical and explanation questions). Students are expected to engage in lessons, review the material studied and read further around the topic.

The Extended Essay
If a student is considering applying for a Physics or Engineering course then a Physics extended essay should be considered. The extended essay requires a clear experimental focus as students need to analyse raw data as part of the work. Although the data can be obtained from another source, the student will need to understand the methods used to obtain it.

Preparatory Work
Summer work for IB Physics comprises in the first year of the course of a shortened version of a classical mechanics text book where students are taken through in the form of examples and videos the key aspects of mechanics. In the second year summer work is based upon individual needs and tailored to each student.

IB Astronomy – New 2016

IB Astronomy is a recent addition to group 4 subjects within schools. At Brentwood we are delighted to be able to offer this subject, initially as an option to pupils and will be taught outside of normal lesson time.


  • Stars
  • The Planets
  • Galaxies
  • Cosmology

How the course is taught
The course will be taught outside of normal lessons and will be based on a mixture of theoretical and practical aspects.

Subject teachers set homework tasks which are predominately problem solving (both mathematical and explanation questions). Students are expected to engage in lessons, review the material studied and read further around the topic.