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 A Level Physics at Shimna

Why study Physics?

Physics asks the big questions – How did the Universe begin? What is everything made of? How does the Sun shine? What made it possible for human life and civilisation to develop on Earth?

Advanced Level Physics allows you to think about these questions, but it also allows you to learn about the world we live in and how it works. What makes a rainbow?  How can we  measure the motion of an athlete? How does electricity flow around a computer?  Why does a neon light glow pink?


Studying Physics is an excellent preparation for a wide range of careers. People with Physics training go on to jobs at all levels in engineering, medical sciences, the electronics and IT industries, sports science, finance and law, and emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and smart materials.

In the UK and Ireland there is a shortage of young people educated in Science and Technology, so those with qualifications in these subjects are in demand, and will probably continue to be in spite of the economic conditions.


Physics is an interesting and rewarding subject which can open many doors to rewarding careers, but it does require hard work and dedication.


Students considering taking Physics at A level should ask themselves these questions:

  • Do you have a science related career in mind?

  • Do you like to use mathematics skills?

  • Do you enjoy laboratory practical work?

  • Are you good at thinking logically and building an argument?

  • Can you think about things that are not easy to visualise?

  • Are you good at problem solving and working with tables and graphs?


Physics at Shimna

We offer courses at AS and A2 level.  Our courses are based on the Northern Ireland CEA specification, which is a fairly straightforward and "traditional" treatment of the important ideas.  In the AS course you will study classical Newtonian mechanics, electricity, optics, wave theory, astronomy, and an introduction to quantum physics.  A2 covers thermal physics, circular and harmonic motion, nuclear physics, gravitational, electric and magnetic field theory, particle accelerators and the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

Class sizes are small, students are expected to play a full part in the discussion and can expect to receive strong individual support.  We aim to balance theory and practical, teacher-led and active learning.  In the run up to exams there are after-school revision and practice lessons.  Students are encouraged to extend their interest beyond the course by entering competitions such as the British Physics Olympiad.

Teaching and Learning

Lessons are planned to include demonstrations and discussion, theory and practical work, worked examples and problem solving.  Homework is regularly set and marked. Progress is assessed by topic tests.  A full bank of past papers is available in hard copy and online for exam practice.   We use a variety of IT to model and simulate phenomena, including the Virtual Physical Laboratory.  Teacher and students also communicate by email, and further resources are made  available in the Virtual Learning Environment.



We have a dedicated Physics laboratory equipped with basic and more advanced apparatus.  We have some electronic dataloggers and the science department has a set of laptop computers and a wireless network.

Assessment and exams

Like all A-levels the courses are unit based. Students study two theory units for exams in June. Practical skills are assessed by exam in May.


We follow the CCEA specification

AS physics has 3 units:


Unit 1: Forces, Energy and Electricity

This unit teaches students to deal with physical quantities and scalars and vectors, which are required in all branches of the subject. Students will build on their knowledge and understanding of Newtonian mechanics and electricity to explain many economic and social applications of physics.



Useful Links

For further information follow these links:

email contact Coordinator of Physics:


Useful websites 

AQA exam board for GCSE    our exam board for A level Physics      

The Institute of Physics 

the latest jobs in physics and engineering  

your guide to physics on the web  

Free support for Physics for You textbook 

Excellent revision site for GCSE Science  

Good revision site for A Level Physics 

BBC guide to science learning reources and online courses 

Website for Bang Goes the Theory - the BBC's guide to popular science.  Lots of great content and links to other excellent BBC Science programmes. 

The best simulations of Physics phenomena on the web  

CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider





What do our graduates do?

Recent destinations include:

Durham University, Engineering

Heriot Watt, Chemistry

University of Ulster, Engineering

SERC, Building Studies


Written Paper:             1 hour  45 minutes

Weighting:            40% of  AS , 16 % of A Level


Unit 2: Waves, Photons and Medical Physics

The ideas about waves in this topic provide vital links to the study of light and sound.

The section on photons introduces the quantum theory and the concept of wave-particle duality, two of the most revolutionary advances in physics. The section on  astronomy introduces one of the subjects physics can lead into and considers the evidence for the real Big Bang Theory.


Written Paper:             1 hour  45 minutes

Weighting:            40% of  AS , 16 % of A Level


Unit 3: Practical Techniques

In this unit students will acquire essential practical techniques, including planning, implementing, analysis, evaluation and communication.


Internal Assessment     

Practical skills exam and written exam

20% of AS

8% of A level


A2 physics has 3 units:


Unit 4: Momentum, Thermal Physics, Circular Motion, Oscillations and Atomic and Nuclear Physics

The work on momentum, circular motion and oscillations extends the mechanics foundation included in Assessment Unit AS 1. Thermal physics introduces an example of a simple model that can be extended to explain the properties of gases. The section on atomic and nuclear physics has important social and economic applications and leads to an introduction to particle physics.



Written paper 2 hours

24% of A level


Unit 5: Fields and their Applications 

This is a fundamental area of physics which has numerous applications in everyday life. Students will study action-at-a-distance forces that arise between bodies that are separated from one another.



Written paper 2 hours

24% of A level


Unit 6: Practical Techniques

In this unit, students will build on the essential practical techniques that they acquired in Unit 3. These include planning, implementing, analysis, evaluation and



Internal assessment 

practical exam and written exam

12% of A level


Please visit the CCEA A-level physics website for more information.

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